Mesothelioma and Asbestos Exposure

What you need to know about asbestos claims and mesothelioma

What is the link between Mesothelioma and Asbestos Exposure? Asbestos use was widespread for decades and millions of people were exposed to it at work or secondhand.  Some have developed serious disease as a result of their exposure.  Often, companies knew about the dangers, but did not adequately warn or protect people from exposure.  If you or a loved one suffered injury or death from an asbestos related illness, such as asbestosis or mesothelioma, you should talk to an asbestos lawyer without delay. An asbestosis or mesothelioma lawyer can help you through the legal process to recover the compensation you deserve.

Mesothelioma and Asbestos Exposure Basics

“Asbestos” refers to a family of naturally occurring minerals that can be separated into thin, tiny, flexible threads.  These fibers are soft but highly durable, resistant to heat and chemicals, and don’t conduct electricity.  As a result, asbestos was commonly used for many years as an insulating material in many commercial and industrial settings and products.  Unfortunately, it is also highly toxic. Though this was known as early as the 1950s, it continued to be used without proper warning or safety precautions and millions have been exposed.

Asbestos Related Disease

Whenever an asbestos containing material is disturbed, the tiny fibers can become airborne and be inhaled or ingested.  They can spread widely through the body where they get trapped and can cause irritation, inflammation, scarring, and even cancer.  A number of disabling and life-threatening diseases can result from the exposure, often after many years — as long as 10-50 years later. The diseases are usually due to recurring exposure on the job, but secondhand (in family members) and environmental exposures also happen.  Mesothelioma and Asbestos Exposure-related diseases include:

  • Asbestosis (scarring of the lung)
  • Mesothelioma (a type of cancer)
  • Pleural effusion (water around the lungs)
  • Pleural thickening and plaques (scarring of the lining of the chest cavity)
  • Other cancers: lung cancer, throat cancers, and ovarian cancer

Asbestosis

Asbestos fibers trapped inside the lungs can result in inflammation and eventual scarring of the lung tissue.  When it becomes severe, it can interfere with proper lung function, leading to coughing, shortness of breath, and disability.  The amount of time between inhalation and diagnosis of asbestosis can be as long as 25 to 40 years.  There is no cure and it can get progressively worse even after the exposure to asbestos is long stopped.

Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a relatively rare cancer that affects mesothelium (the thin linings that surround many body cavities and internal organs).  There is clear evidence that asbestos causes mesothelioma, with at least 80% of mesothelioma patients having a known history of asbestos exposure (and the rest possibly being exposed without their knowledge). Although rare, it’s the most common form of cancer associated with asbestos. It’s a very dangerous and aggressive cancer, difficult to treat and often fatal.  Asbestos is the only known cause of this deadly cancer.  There are different types of Mesothelioma and Asbestos Exposure, depending on what part of the body is affected:

  • Pleural mesothelioma — occurs in pleura, the lining of the chest cavity, surrounding the lungs; this is the most common, accounting for 80-85% of cases
  • Peritoneal mesothelioma — occurs in the lining of the abdominal cavity
  • Pericardial mesothelioma — occurs in the lining surrounding the heart, and is the rarest form

Other Cancers

Asbestos has been classified as a known human carcinogen (a substance that causes cancer).  There is evidence that asbestos exposure is linked to increased risk of cancers of the lung, throat, ovary, stomach, and bowel.

Frequently Asked Questions About Asbestos Claims

Who’s at risk for an asbestos-related disease?

People who become ill from asbestos usually were exposed to it on a regular basis, most often on the job, where they worked directly with the material, or through substantial environmental contact (such as near mines or shipping facilities).  However, there is evidence that family members of workers heavily exposed to asbestos face a second-hand increased risk, as a result of exposure to asbestos fibers brought into the home on the shoes, clothing, skin, and hair of workers.

Where was asbestos used?

Asbestos has been used in many industries.  Building and construction industries used it for strengthening cement and plastics, as well as for insulation, roofing, fireproofing, and sound absorption.  The shipbuilding industry used it to insulate boilers, steam pipes, and hot water pipes.  The automotive industry used it in brake shoes and clutch pads.  It was used in many old buildings and household appliances.  In short, it has been used in many products, including:

  • Insulation
  • Pipe coverings
  • Fire proofing
  • Adhesives
  • Insulating cements
  • Caulking material
  • Soundproofing
  • Shingles
  • Drywall taping compounds
  • Ductwork connectors
  • Joint compounds
  • Spackling
  • Elevator brake shoes
  • Flooring backing
  • Old appliances
  • Paints
  • Fireproof textiles
  • Chalk boards
  • Some talc products
  • Wallboard
  • Brake pads
  • Clutches
  • Gaskets
  • Valves

What jobs and workplaces are potential locations for asbestos exposure?

Workers and workplaces involved in the manufacture, installation, use, demolition or removal of any asbestos containing products may have been exposed to asbestos.  That obviously includes a lot of people, including:

  • Electricians
  • Miners
  • Military personnel (especially Navy)
  • Auto workers
  • Drywall workers
  • Engineers
  • Factory workers
  • Railroad workers
  • Machinsits
  • Pipefitters & Steamfitters
  • Carpenters and Masons
  • Textile workers
  • Construction workers
  • Demolition workers
  • Firefighters
  • Mechanics

Remember though, that, in some years, the second most common occupation among those dying of Mesothelioma and Asbestos Exposure has been “homemaker/housewife”.  This reminds us that families of workers are also extremely vulnerable to inadvertent asbestos exposure.

What about asbestos exposure in Illinois?

Over the years, the state of Illinois has had a wide range of industries in which asbestos was used.  These have included manufacturing, power generation, petroleum processing, and a lot of facilities that received shipments of asbestos contaminated materials from other states.  Many buildings throughout Illinois had asbestos used in their construction.  Illinois has ranked in the top 10 states for asbestos related diseases resulting in fatalities.

What kinds of companies might be legally responsible for my asbestos injury?

  • Manufacturers of products
  • Asbestos contractors
  • Bankrupt former companies
  • Raw asbestos fiber companies
  • Building owners
  • Mining companies
  • Asbestos products suppliers
  • Designers or engineers
  • Employers in rare cases

How can I get compensation for asbestos-related disease and injury?

There are a number of ways to receive compensation or recover damages from those responsible for the consequences of this dangerous product. The best approach will vary from case to case and sound recommendations can be made only after careful evaluation with a lawyer.  Some of the possibilities include:

  • personal injury claim — compensation is sought from responsible parties for the personal suffering and pain associated with the illness, which can occur from direct or secondhand exposure. Damages can also be sought for medical expenses, lost wages (including future income), travel expenses for treatment, etc.
  • wrongful death claim — the goal of this type of claim is to compensate the survivors and beneficiaries for their loss after a loved one’s asbestos related death.  Damages can be sought for medical bills, funeral expenses, lost income, counseling related to the death, legal advice, personal costs, other illness related services, and, in the case of spouses, for the loss of emotional support and comfort from the death of their spouse.
  • Asbestos Bankruptcy Trust Funds — over the years, a number of companies that manufactured, distributed, sold, or used asbestos products and materials have either gone out of business, merged with other companies, or gone bankrupt, often directly related to the liability from their use of asbestos.  Even though such companies no longer exist, it may still be possible to receive compensation from “asbestos trusts” that they were required to establish.  There are over 60 such trusts with over $30 billion in funds that can be dispersed to those who meet the established criteria for compensation from the fund.
  • Compensation for Veterans — retired military (especially those who served in the Navy, Merchant Marine, Coast Guard, and U.S. Army transport service) make up one of largest populations of people who were exposed to asbestos.  As a result, the VA has designated Mesothelioma and Asbestos Exposure as one of several diseases that qualify for disability benefits.  Of course, availability of benefits is dependent on meeting certain criteria.
  • Workers’ Compensation — this is tricky in Illinois, since most disease doesn’t show up for a long time after exposure.  Under Illinois law, there are restrictions and limitations on claims against employers outside of the workers compensation process, and there are also strict time limitations on when these claims can be made.  Under rare circumstances, workers’ compensation can be obtained. And, the restrictions apply only to the employer.  Legal claims against all other parties, such as manufacturers, suppliers, etc. are permitted.

It’s important to know that most legal claims related to asbestos never go to court.  Over 90% are rapidly settled before ever going to trial.  This can save you from a stressful and costly process and a result in more rapid compensation.

When do I have to make a claim?

Of course, the sooner you start the legal process, the sooner you may receive compensation to help with medical bills and other expenses.  Also, legal actions against responsible parties must be made within a limited time frame allowed by law (known as the statute of limitations).  It’s possible to lose legal rights by waiting too long to submit your claim.  In Illinois, personal injury and wrongful death claims must be made within two years. However, because of the long period of time between exposure and when asbestos caused diseases appear, courts have recognized that this two-year period generally starts when your diagnosis was made or at the death of your loved one, and when you “also know or reasonably should know that the injury was caused by the wrongful acts of another.”

How much can I recover for my asbestos claim?

Of course, every claim is different and no result can be guaranteed.  Each case has to be evaluated individually and the amounts of damages will depend on a wide variety of factors. Suffice it to say that asbestos-related disease is often devastating and so the compensation can be substantial.

How much will the legal process cost?

These cases can be complicated and costly.  However, most attorneys will accept the case based on a contingency fee.  Payment of fees is contingent on the outcome of the case.  This means you pay no legal fees unless compensation is recovered in your case.  My initial consultation for these cases is always free.

Get Help Now

You can see that these cases can be complicated and the issues complex. A lot depends on the evaluation of your situation and the facts of your case.  I’ll meet with you and carefully listen so that I can understand your concerns and what happened to you or your loved one. I’ll work to have your claim evaluated and clearly explain the options and answer any questions you might have. I can help get the information we need to consider all your options and make the right choices for your case.

If you are in the Decatur, IL or Bloomington, IL or anywhere in Central Illinois, and you feel you might need an attorney because you or a loved one have a claim related to Mesothelioma and Asbestos Exposure, please contact me for more information.

Josh Rohrscheib | Bloomington IL attorney | Financial Exploitation of the Elderly

Financial exploitation of the elderly: what you need to know

Financial exploitation of the elderly or a person with a disability

Illinois law protects victims of financial exploitation of the elderly.

“A person commits financial exploitation of an elderly person or a person with a disability when he or she stands in a position of trust or confidence with the elderly person or a person with a disability and he or she knowingly and by deception or intimidation obtains control over the property of an elderly person or a person with a disability or illegally uses the assets or resources of an elderly person or a person with a disability.” 720 ILCS 5/17-56(a)

Illinois law allows victims to recover three times the amount of their loss

“A person against whom a civil judgment has been entered for financial exploitation of an elderly person or person with a disability shall be liable to the victim or to the estate of the victim in damages of treble the amount of the value of the property obtained, plus reasonable attorney fees and court costs.” 720 ILCS 5/17-56(g).

Who can bring a claim?

Any person over 60 can bring a claim for financial exploitation of the elderly.

What defendants are covered by the act?

A person stands in a position of trust and confidence with an elderly person or person with a disability when he (i) is a parent, spouse, adult child or other relative by blood or marriage of the elderly person or person with a disability, (ii) is a joint tenant or tenant in common with the elderly person or person with a disability, (iii) has a legal or fiduciary relationship with the elderly person or person with a disability, (iv) is a financial planning or investment professional, or (v) is a paid or unpaid caregiver for the elderly person or person with a disability.

Other potential claims

Victims of financial exploitation should also consider claims for:

  • Breach of Fiduciary Duty
  • Breach of Contract
  • Common Law Fraud
  • Conversion
  • Replevin
  • Tortious Interference with Expectancy
  • Petition to Set Aside Fraudulent Transfers
  • Appointment of Guardian
  • Action for an Accounting

Past results

  • Recovery of approximately 80 acres of farmland and $62,500 in breach of fiduciary duty case for an elderly client.
  • Judgment for $565,000 plus recovery of $250,000 in real estate for a disabled man.
Josh Rohrscheib | Bloomington IL attorney | Car Accidents

In an accident? Follow these helpful tips.

So you are involved in an auto accident. What should you do at the scene? First, take a deep breath and get control of your emotions. Whether immediately or in the days after, be careful not to act or speak out of anger, confusion, panic or fear. Many insurance companies provide a simple form or guide to assist you in recording details in the immediate aftermath of the accident. It’s a good idea to keep one of these with your insurance information in the glove compartment. Follow these recommendations to:

  1. Notify police and get proper medical attention for everyone involved immediately. Make the scene as safe as possible while waiting for their arrival.
  2. Be polite, but never make unnecessary comments or statements — certainly do not admit liability. Don’t discuss your accident with anyone except the police or a known representative of your insurance company.
  3. Don’t assume or state you’re uninjured if you’re not sure. That little bump on the head, minor headache, brief loss of consciousness or period of being dazed and confused, little bruise or swelling, or “crick” in the neck maybe more significant than you think and may be much more severe the next day. Don’t hesitate to get it properly evaluated.
  4. Write down the names and driver’s license numbers and contact information of any persons involved as vehicle operators or owners. Get their insurance information if possible. Get names, contact information, and a brief description of the nature of injuries for any injured party.
  5. Briefly describe the vehicles involved and write down their license numbers
  6. Be sure to write down the names and contact information of any witnesses.
  7. Write down the name and badge numbers of any police officers investigating the accident and find out how you can obtain a copy of the police report.
  8. Take advantage of today’s technologies, like your cell phone, to photograph damages, injuries, or accident scene details.
  9. Don’t rely on memory. As soon as practical, jot down notes about what happened. Even make a simple sketch to illustrate the movements and directions of the vehicles involved.
  10. Finally, you should contact your insurance agent or company as soon as possible. And, especially if you feel another driver was at fault, you should probably get independent experienced legal advice.

Need representation for your auto accident case? Please contact me for a free case evaluation today.

Josh Rohrscheib | Bloomington IL attorney | Dog Bites

Dog bites on the rise

Each year, approximately 4.5 million dog bites occur in the United States—many lead to infection, life-threatening injuries, and some even death. Over the past 20 years, we have seen a significant increase in dog bites and attacks in the United States. These attacks are the sole responsibility of the dog owner, regardless of whether or not he or she has registered the animal. In addition to possible criminal penalties, owners of animals that attack are subject to civil liabilities.

It is important to protect yourself and others from dog bites by addressing the potential problem as soon as possible. If you feel comfortable, speak directly with dog owners who do not leash their pets or let their pets run loose. If you are not comfortable with confronting owners, contact animal welfare or law enforcement personnel in your city or county to file a formal complaint. Often the first offense is a warning, but repeated issues either with unleashed animals or threatening dogs will result in elevated action to protect the community.

Dog bite injuries can lead to emotional distress such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), expensive medical bills, loss of income due to injury and ongoing health issues. Avoid minimizing the harm that an animal attack has done to you or your loved ones. Hold the owner responsible for his or her negligence.

Have you or is a member of your family a victim of a dog bite? Contact me today for a free evaluation of your case.