Texas Mesothelioma Lawyers
With its proximity to the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, Texas is home to a large number of oil refineries and shipyards, including the country’s largest refinery, ExxonMobil. Because these operations require constant intense heat, companies for decades used asbestos to line their equipment and pipes as well as required workers to wear asbestos-laden protective clothing. Consequently, thousands of Texas residents have been exposed to asbestos, putting them at risk for developing mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases.
At the same time, even more people have been exposed to asbestos simply because of where they live. Residents who live near locations along W.R. Grace vermiculite mine truck route were exposed until 1992, when the company stopped shipping thousands of tons of asbestos to 24 locations throughout the state. Because of this, scores of people in these areas and along the truck travel routes have developed mesothelioma, a cancer that impairs lung function.
When asbestos breaks, it releases microscopic fibers that become lodged in the body. Over time, they build up, mutate and create cancerous cells and tumors. This is a serious issue for Texas residents. Between 1990 and 2008 alone, more than 1,620 Texas residents have died from asbestos-related conditions, giving Texas the fourth-highest asbestos deaths in the United States.
Texas Oil Workers, Shipyard Crews at Highest Risk
While residents living near asbestos mines are at risk for developing mesothelioma, the biggest risks are to those who worked in oil refineries and shipyards. Typically, oil workers, including those at the ExxonMobil refinery, were subjected to poorly ventilated working conditions and were required to work directly with asbestos because the material’s fire- and heat-resistant properties. Asbestos has been used in boilers, pipes and clothing, just to name a few.
In addition, workers in the more than a dozen shipyards and ports that dot the Gulf Coast face serious risks. Those in the Barbours Cut Container Terminal in the Houston area have been exposed to substance, as have many who work in the businesses operating in and around the Port of Houston. Workers at the Galveston wharves and the Port of Galveston have been exposed as well, and many of them have filed suit as a result. In the coming months, even more workers and local resident are expected to step forward with asbestos claims because of the destruction left by Hurricane Ike in 2008. Because of this, Houston residents and workers are among those with the highest risk of developing an asbestos-related condition in the state. Dallas and San Antonio residents have similar risks.
Texas Asbestos Regulations
To prevent more people from being injured, the state government has enacted several regulations, which are part of the Texas Asbestos Health Protection Rules. Approved in 1992 to minimize the possibility of exposure, the laws state that people who remove asbestos must be appropriately licensed or registered, including electricians, plumbers and carpenters. These individuals must also use specific protective clothing while removing asbestos.
Medical Criteria for Mesothelioma
Texas residents who develop mesothelioma may want to sue for damages, but they must meet specific medical criteria to do so. For example, State Bill 15 separates the claims of those who have been rendered impaired by their condition from those who have not, allowing only the injured parties to sue. It does, however, allow unimpaired people who later get sick to sue.
Filing Mesothelioma Lawsuits in Texas
Between 1998 and 2000, Texas led the nation in the number of asbestos lawsuits as a result of the high levels of exposure. To help unclog the legal system, state legislators created narrow restrictions for those wanting to sue. In addition to limiting lawsuits to people who are impaired as a result of their exposure, the state allows claimants only two years to file a suit, called a statute of limitations. The clock starts when a patient gets an official diagnosis. Claimants are also required to consent to becoming part of a multiclaim suit. Non-residents are not allowed to file suit. Rules for oil workers differ slightly.
If you are wondering if you have a case, contact our attorneys at (800) 383-4861.