Asbestos & Mesothelioma Injury Attorneys in St. Louis, MOMesothelioma is a rare but virulent form of cancer affecting the mesothelium — connective tissues lining the inside of the chest and separating the internal organs. Most commonly, it affects the tissues surrounding the lungs (pleural mesothelioma), but it may also attack tissues around the heart (pericardial mesothelioma) or in the abdomen (peritoneal mesothelioma). It does not respond well to traditional cancer treatments, and is generally inappropriate for surgery because of its location. Because of those factors and difficulties diagnosing mesothelioma, the median survival time after diagnosis is very short, with studies placing it from six months to two years.
Mesothelioma is almost always caused by exposure to asbestos, a mineral that was once widely used in construction and industry. Asbestos is made of microscopic fibers that can float away during handling, allowing victims in the vicinity to inhale them. Once inhaled, they become caught in the lungs and cannot be exhaled. Over time, they can travel from the lungs to the mesothelium surrounding the lungs, where they change the cells around them, leading to the formation of cancer cells. Typically, it takes ten to sixty years for asbestos inhalation to lead to mesothelioma.
That very long incubation period is one reason that the early 21st century saw a sharp rise in cases of mesothelioma. Asbestos was used very widely in the middle of the 20th century, in industrial applications including building insulation, shipyards, brake pads and sometimes even cigarette filters. People who worked in any related jobs — or in an asbestos mine — would have been exposed to large amounts of asbestos, but may not have felt the effects for decades. Asbestos is no longer widely used in the United States due to its status as a carcinogen, but it is still not banned in our country despite bans in the European Union and Australia.
In fact, asbestos has been recognized as a health risk since at least the late nineteenth century, when British factory workers began to fall ill from asbestos inhalation. The risks were widely known in the United States well before World War II. However, companies that stood to profit from asbestos production and use downplayed or ignored the risks, and the mineral stayed in wide use, even by the U.S. military. Millions of workers, mainly men, were exposed. (Family members may also have been exposed through fibers carried home on the worker’s body or clothes.) Asbestos use started to decline in the 1970s, after the mineral was recognized as a pollutant in the Clean Air Act, but attempts to ban it completely in the U.S. have been unsuccessful.
Because nearly every mesothelioma diagnosis can be traced to asbestos exposure on the job, almost every single case of this deadly disease could have been avoided with warnings, alternative materials or protections for employees. Victims of mesothelioma and their families are also victims of an employer’s negligence — extreme carelessness or indifference to human life. If you or someone you love is affected by mesothelioma, you have the right to hold the employer (or its corporate descendant) legally and financially responsible for its actions. In a mesothelioma lawsuit, you can win money for medical care and other costs caused by the disease, as well as compensation for pain, suffering and the loss of a loved one.
Carey, Danis & Lowe can help. Our St. Louis, Missouri asbestos and mesothelioma injury attorneys have successfully represented many clients who suffered a catastrophic diagnosis or lost a loved one because of someone else’s carelessness. Based in St. Louis and southern Illinois, we represent clients throughout the United States and the Midwest. If you are not feeling well enough to travel, we can come to your home or the hospital for a free consultation. To speak with us about your case and your legal options, please call 1-877-678-3400 or fill out our free, no obligation case review form. Learn how we can put our experience to work for you.