How to get compensation in Georgia if you were exposed to asbestos at work
Mesothelioma is a type of cancer commonly also known as asbestos lung cancer. One of the most serious aspects of this disease is that it can take years before the symptoms appear. Although mesothelioma commonly affects the lining of the lungs, it can also impact the lining of other organs in the body, including the testicles and heart—making it a particularly dangerous and harmful work-related illness.
What causes mesothelioma?
In almost all cases, mesothelioma is associated with exposure to asbestos. Asbestos, which was once commonly used in construction materials, consists of extremely small fibers. It’s quite easy to breathe in these fibers, and once they’re inhaled, they can become stuck in the lining of the lungs. Ultimately, this can lead to the development of mesothelioma.
Which occupations are most commonly affected by mesothelioma?
For many years, asbestos was used in many different products, including insulation and textiles. During the first part of the 20th century, asbestos use in the United States increased. Usage of asbestos continued throughout the 1970s and 1980s.
Individuals suffering from mesothelioma may have experienced occupational, secondhand or environmental exposure to asbestos. Occupational exposure occurs when individuals are exposed directly to asbestos as part of their jobs. This is known as first-hand asbestos exposure.
Secondhand exposure happens when individuals are exposed to asbestos through their contact with the skin or clothing of someone else who worked near or with asbestos.
Asbestos is a naturally-occurring mineral, which means it is possible for the fibers from this mineral to be released into the air. When this happens, nearby individuals may receive environmental exposure.
Most asbestos exposure occurs in the workplace. Estimates indicate that as many as 80 percent of mesothelioma cases are occupational in nature. Individuals who work directly with the manufacturing or installation of products containing asbestos are often at the greatest risk for mesothelioma.
The mass production of asbestos-related products ended in the 1980s. Even so, anyone who worked with products containing asbestos prior to that time may be at risk for developing mesothelioma. It’s important to understand that mesothelioma can take decades to develop following initial exposure to asbestos.
Occupations at greatest risk for developing mesothelioma include:
- Drywall installers
- Construction workers
- Mill workers
- Demolition specialists
- Chemical and power plant operators
- Airplane and automobile mechanics
Additionally, veterans of all branches of the military may face an increased risk of developing mesothelioma if they served between the 1930s and 1980s.
Signs and symptoms of mesothelioma
Signs and symptoms of mesothelioma don’t typically develop right away. In fact, it can take years or even decades following exposure to asbestos for symptoms of mesothelioma to occur.
Common symptoms of mesothelioma include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Night sweats
- Persistent cough
- Loss of appetite
- Swollen fingers
While mesothelioma most commonly affects the lining of the lungs, it can also affect the lining of the stomach. When this happens, symptoms may include:
- Swelling of the stomach
- Stomach pain
- Loss of appetite
Diagnosing and treating mesothelioma
If you suspect that you’ve been exposed to asbestos and may be at risk for developing mesothelioma, it’s important to see a health professional. A variety of tests may be necessary to diagnose mesothelioma, including:
- Chest or stomach x-ray
- CT scan
- Biopsy of the affected tissue
Not only do these tests assist in making a mesothelioma diagnosis, but they can also be helpful in determining how far the disease has spread.
Treatment options for mesothelioma depend on a variety of factors, including the general health of the patient and how far the disease has progressed. Unfortunately, in many cases, mesothelioma is already at an advanced stage by the time it’s diagnosed, making it impossible to cure. When this happens, treatment is typically limited to making the individual comfortable by managing their symptoms.
Treatments for early-stage mesothelioma may include radiotherapy, chemotherapy and surgery.
My company exposed me to asbestos. Am I eligible for compensation?
Workers exposed to asbestos on the job in Georgia are eligible for workers’ comp benefits under the law. These benefits can be crucial to helping you pay for the costly medical expenses associated with mesothelioma treatment. Workers’ compensation can help pay for medical care and provide reimbursements for other expenses related to your medical care.
In order to receive benefits for occupational mesothelioma, you must meet certain eligibility requirements. Among these requirements is a statute of limitations for filing a claim. Because it can take years for symptoms associated with mesothelioma to appear after exposure, it’s crucial that affected workers contact an attorney with experience in handling mesothelioma cases as soon as possible.