Pennsylvania Mesothelioma Lawyers
Pennsylvania may be synonymous with coal mining and steel mills, but that also means it’s synonymous with asbestos use. In fact, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency identified several facilities statewide for potential asbestos exposure and ordered the state to clean them out.
In addition, Pennsylvania is also home to plenty of other industries, including shipbuilding, power plants, railroads and metalwork. All of these used asbestos in their equipment, machines and protective clothing because of its ability to withstand extreme heat, a major part of these businesses. While the southeastern part of the state at one time had four active asbestos mines, asbestos was still trucked in from Libby, Montana from 1948 to 1993, exposing thousands of people across the state.
Asbestos exposure is so dangerous because it is the primary cause of a cancer called mesothelioma, which affects the lungs, heart and abdomen. The disease develops over several decades and is difficult to treat. Often, victims don’t realize they have the deadly disease, confusing its symptoms for common ailments such as a cold or the flu. Between 1999 and 2008, nearly 2,000 Pennsylvania residents died from asbestos-related conditions, although some experts think it could be many more. Pennsylvania has the third-highest number of asbestos-related deaths in the country.
Asbestos Across the State: Steel Mills to Shipyards
Pennsylvania borders New York, the birthplace of the asbestos industry, so the state actively used asbestos in its burgeoning steel, shipbuilding, pipefitting, manufacturing and construction businesses, particularly in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. As a result, more than 40 jobsites have seen problems with asbestos exposure, including chemical plants, landfills, mines, mills and shipyards.
One of these jobsites was the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, the nation’s first naval shipyard. During World War II alone, workers there built and repaired nearly 650 ships. Asbestos was used in the shipyard’s pipes and boilers, exposing thousands of workers to the material.
Even more have been affected by the W.R. Grace mine in Montana, which delivered 4,394 shipments of asbestos totaling 424,648 tons to jobsites in New Castle and throughout Pennsylvania. Truckers, workers and nearby resident all had the potential for being exposed to asbestos.
Pennsylvania Asbestos Regulations
To lower the risk asbestos poses to Pennsylvania residents, the state Department of Environmental Protection dictates how the material may be used and disposed. The state Department of Labor and Industry requires that contractors provide at least five days notice before they work on asbestos projects in public, commercial and industrial buildings. It also requires contractors, planners, project designers, supervisors, inspectors and all workers be trained and certified. Philadelphia and Allegheny Counties have additional regulations.
As a result of the significant amount of asbestos has been mined, shipped and used across Pennsylvania, some locations have a higher mesothelioma risk than others. Among the Pennsylvania cities hardest hit by asbestos-related diseases are New Castle, Port Kennedy and Bethlehem. In addition, worksites in Philadelphia, Delaware and Allegheny counties have been hard hit.
Medical Criteria for Mesothelioma
Workers and other injured Pennsylvania residents may sue responsible companies for damages if they are exposed. However, the state has specific criteria that an individual must meet before a claim can be filed. Among other things, the injured worker must provide documented proof of the mesothelioma diagnosis. To file a lawsuit, the patient must further prove that the condition was a result of exposure by specific companies.
Pennsylvania has an additional rule that benefits mesothelioma patients: the two-disease rule. This means that if an patient files a lawsuit as a result of an asbestos-related condition such as lung cancer and then later develops mesothelioma, the person may make a second claim.
Filing a Mesothelioma Lawsuits in Pennsylvania
If a Pennsylvania resident decides to file suit to recover damages for injuries, the patient must do so quickly. The Pennsylvania statute of limitations is just two years from the time of discovery. However, if that individual dies as a result of mesothelioma, family members may file on behalf within another two years.
In addition, state rules specify that injured workers are not required to person a group lawsuit, despite the high number of asbestos and mesothelioma claims. However, lawyers in Philadelphia have been limited to taking on two cases per year.
If you are concerned that you or a loved one has been exposed to asbestos, please visit your doctor. Then contact our attorneys today to discuss your legal options.