Maryland Asbestos Attorney
In Maryland, as elsewhere, asbestos exposure was a common workplace occurrence right up to the end of the 1970s when the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) and the Environmental Protection Agency began regulating occupational asbestos exposure. If you have been exposed to Asbestos, you should contact a Maryland asbestos lawyer today to learn about your options. Filing a personal injury claim in Maryland can be complicated, and it can pay to have a legal advocate on your side.
Asbestos was found in over 3,000 different commercial products including:
- Industrial sealants, paints and cement
- Brake linings
- Paper and plastic products
- Floor tiles
- Insulating materials
Public health officials estimate that 27 million American workers may have been exposed to asbestos between 1940 and 1979. The list of professions at risk for asbestos exposure is a long one that includes construction workers, auto mechanics, electricians, ship builders, members of the military, workers in steel mills, oil refineries and power plants, and many others.
Considerable evidence exists that suggests companies that manufactured asbestos-containing products understood the risks to which they were exposing workers and failed to warn them adequately. Under Maryland state law, this can make those companies liable for injuries sustained through occupational asbestos exposure.
If you or a loved one has been injured from asbestos exposure, speak with a Maryland asbestos attorney as soon as possible to explore the legal options open to you.
What Is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a naturally-occurring, fibrous mineral that’s been prized for thousands of years for its heat-resistant and flame-resistant properties. Asbestos is extremely strong, lightweight and inexpensive. Asbestos is also a poor electrical conductor, which would make it seemingly ideal for use as an insulation material – except for one caveat. Public health officials have conclusively linked asbestos to the development of serious diseases.
What Kinds of Diseases Are Associated With Asbestos?
Substantial scientific research and legal findings in lawsuits conducted by asbestos lawyers over several decades have shown that over time, the asbestos in commercial products becomes friable. Asbestos fibers float loose from them. These razor-sharp fibers are easily inhaled. Once inside a person’s lungs, asbestos fibers create chronic lung inflammations that can result in a number of asbestos-related diseases, including:
- Mesothelioma: Mesothelioma is a malignant cancer that causes tumors in the delicate linings of the thoracic cavity, the abdominal cavity and the pericardium. While it is a relatively rare form of cancer, almost all of the approximately 2,000 cases diagnosed every year are associated with asbestos exposure.
Many of the people who develop mesothelioma are individuals who handled asbestos-containing materials directly. Others, however, are individuals who shared workspaces with asbestos handlers, or who lived with asbestos handlers and inhaled the fibers their loved ones brought home on their clothes, skin and hair.
There is no cure for mesothelioma. Life expectancy depends upon the stage of the cancer at diagnosis, but on average is only eight months. Early intervention improves survival rates, but mesothelioma has a long latency period that can be anywhere between 20 and 50 years, and the majority of mesothelioma patients are diagnosed in late stages of the disease.
- Asbestosis: Asbestosis is a chronic pulmonary disease caused when asbestos fibers create fibrotic scars in lung tissue. Asbestosis symptoms include shortness of breath, persistent dry cough, pain with breathing and clubbed fingers.
Like mesothelioma, asbestosis has a long incubation period between 20 and 50 years. Unlike mesothelioma, secondary exposure to asbestos is rarely implicated in the development of asbestosis, and different occupational groups show different latency periods. Individuals who worked with asbestos insulation products have the shortest mean latency period of 29.6 years. It’s difficult to obtain statistics on the number of Americans with asbestosis since the disease is often misdiagnosed as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Public health officials say, however, that approximately 600 people die of asbestosis in the U.S. every year.
- Lung cancer: Asbestos-related lung cancers can be difficult to distinguish from lung cancers linked with smoking. Doctors say, however, that individuals who’ve been exposed to asbestos and who smoke have 90 times the risk of developing lung cancer than individuals who neither smoke nor have sustained asbestos exposure.
Asbestos and Legal Redress
Many types of legal redress may be available for Maryland residents who are the victims of occupational asbestos exposure. A Maryland asbestos lawyer can explain them in greater detail. These include:
- Asbestos lawsuits: State and federal lawsuits have targeted manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, marketers and retailers of asbestos-containing products, as well as employers overseeing workplaces where asbestos-containing products were used.
- Product liability: Many companies associated with asbestos-containing products knew the risks involved with these products, but did not share this information with the public. This potentially makes these companies liable for negligence, breach of warranty or failure to warn of danger.
- Workers’ compensation: In Maryland, workers can file a claim with the Workers’ Compensation Division when an individual has been diagnosed with an occupational disease arising from employment.
A Maryland asbestos attorney can advise you about which course of legal action will best ensure that your rights are upheld.