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Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral used in construction materials, equipment and consumer products for its fire-resistant and strengthening properties. When asbestos is released into the air, it can be breathed into the body and lodge dangerously in the lungs, where it can lurk for decades before producing severe, even fatal, diseases, such as mesothelioma.
Asbestos causes various types of serious disease, including a very rare cancer of the lining of the lung or abdomen, called mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer almost always linked to contact with asbestos. Typically, people suffering from mesothelioma have a history of asbestos exposure. Exposure may have been for a period as short as a few days.
With mesothelioma, the tumor invades the mesothelium – the lining of tissue that surrounds vital organs. The mesothelium has two layers: one around the organ itself and another forming an outer sac. Between these two layers is a fluid that aids organ movement. Mesothelioma causes the mesothelial cells to multiply and to produce excess lubricating fluid. Ultimately, the mesothelium becomes a thick, tumorous coating of the organ accompanied by excessive fluid. This coating and fluid prevent complete, comfortable expansion of the lung.
Symptoms of mesothelioma include: weight loss, trouble swallowing, swelling and fluid buildup, fever, shortness of breath, digestive problems, fatigue and anemia. Mesothelioma can spread to other areas of the body. Because the symptoms of mesothelioma often are not present for more than 20 years, many cases of mesothelioma are not diagnosed until later stages in life.
Treatment for mesothelioma is mostly aimed at alleviating the pain and symptoms. Treatment can include surgery to excise the mesothelial and surrounding tissue, chemotherapy, drug regimens, drug trials, gene therapies, radiation, and draining of fluid followed by the injection of medication.
Workers in the following industries and professions have been historically at high risk: asbestos mining; manufacturing of asbestos-containing products such as insulation, piping, and ceiling and flooring materials; shipbuilding; welding, plumbing, pipe fitting and steam fitting; railroads; building demolition; and construction. Others have also been exposed at work or home, sometimes unknowingly.
Common legal theories under which asbestos victims may recover compensation include product liability, workers’ compensation, and premises liability. Before your attorney can properly advise you, he or she needs to evaluate certain information, including medical records and asbestos exposure history relevant to your potential claim.
Evidence may be difficult to collect and verify because the asbestos exposure usually occurs years before the injury is apparent, complicating the process of locating witnesses, identifying potential defendants, and collecting physical evidence and records.
Asbestos litigation is extremely complex, and in our opinion, there are only a handful of Illinois law firms with substantial experience and success in pursuing mesothelioma lawsuits. If you have any questions about asbestos exposure or mesothelioma or would like a referral to a qualified Illinois personal injury attorney with experience handling mesothelioma lawsuits, please contact us.