Thursday, March 26, 2015

Dangers of Asbestos Today

The use of asbestos in products ended several decades ago, but it is still very possible that you may come across it, particularly in older homes or buildings. It is very likely that any house built before the 1980s still contains some products with asbestos in them. Therefore, if you plan on completing work on your home, you should be aware of what to do in the event you come across asbestos.

Some Background on Asbestos

Asbestos was widely used in a significant number of products until the 1970s when it was publicly recognized that exposure to asbestos fibers was dangerous. While most products manufactured today do not contain asbestos, it still may be found in many places. Some of the products that asbestos was used in include, but are not limited to:

1.     Steam pipes, boilers, and furnace ducts;
2.     Soundproofing material that was sprayed on walls and ceilings;
3.     Patching and joint compounds for walls and ceilings;
4.     Resilient floor tiles, backing on vinyl sheet flooring, and adhesives used for installing floor tile;
5.     Brake pads, clutches, mufflers and gaskets in older vehicles; and
6.     Significant amounts of insulation material.

Before the dangers of asbestos fibers were known, asbestos was used frequently because it provided excellent strength and fire resistance, among other versatile features. Unfortunately, the long-term risks of exposure to asbestos far outweigh the potential beneficial uses of it.

The Danger of Asbestos

It is important to note that asbestos, itself, is not dangerous. The danger comes from microscopic asbestos fibers that are released into the air and breathed into the lungs. Breathing any level of asbestos fibers for any period of time may lead to an increased risk of the development of either lung cancer, mesothelioma or other type of cancer.

Asbestos that is damaged is more vulnerable to releasing these fibers, especially if it is hit, rubbed, handled, or exposed to vibration or air flow. Asbestos that is damaged may be repaired or removed entirely, which should be done by a person specifically trained in the handling of asbestos. Repairing asbestos involves sealing or covering it. If you come across what you believe to possibly be asbestos, it is best to leave it alone and have it inspected by a professional. Remember that you will not be able to see if fibers have been released into the air because they are microscopic.

Mesothelioma Attorneys

Today, we know that exposure to asbestos fibers can lead to significant health consequences. While the use of asbestos in new products has almost ended, there are still many older products still in use today that contain it.  Limited exposure may increase health risks, so it is still advisable to avoid handling asbestos altogether.

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and believe it developed as the result of exposure to asbestos fibers, contact the experienced attorneys at the Throneberry Law Group.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Mesothelioma and Product Liability

In mesothelioma lawsuits, the burden of proof is on the victim (known as the plaintiff). Simply being diagnosed with mesothelioma is not enough to make a successful claim. The Throneberry Law Firm has extensive experience in helping victims of mesothelioma obtain the compensation they need in order to fight this terrible disease.

Asbestos in Products

The use of asbestos in products was widespread for a majority of the 1900s. It is not uncommon for people to come across asbestos today, particularly when renovating homes or other buildings. The theory of product liability makes manufacturers responsible for certain injuries caused by the products they make. For example, a defective product that injures people who use it in the manner in which it was designed to be used may give rise to a product liability claim.

As part of his or her employment, a person may have used many different component products in the creation of a new product. The manufacturers of those products that contained asbestos may be liable to people who developed mesothelioma due to exposure to asbestos fibers.

Negligence and Strict Liability

Under a product liability claim, a manufacturer of a product that contained asbestos may be held liable under the theories of negligence or strict liability. The elements in a negligence claim include a duty to use reasonable care, a breach of that duty, a causal connection between the breach and the injury, and damages. In mesothelioma cases, proving negligence can be difficult because what constituted reasonable care changed as the dangers of asbestos exposure became more apparent. A somewhat easier theory to prove a defendant was at fault is under strict liability.

A plaintiff suing under strict liability claims that the defendant manufactured an unreasonably dangerous product, which hurt the plaintiff. Importantly, under strict liability, the defendant does not need to be aware of the danger or mean to injure the plaintiff. In mesothelioma cases, a plaintiff claims that a defendant made a product containing asbestos that the plaintiff was exposed to, and as a result of this exposure, the plaintiff developed mesothelioma.  In a negligence and strict liability asbestos cases, causation often becomes most difficult element to prove for the plaintiff.

In other words, the plaintiff must prove the asbestos exposure from the product caused his or her mesothelioma.  This is complicated by the fact that the effects of exposure to asbestos may not become apparent for several decades. Because of this long period of dormancy, a defendant may claim that the plaintiff was exposed to asbestos manufactured by another company and that those factors caused the development of mesothelioma. 

Experts in Mesothelioma Cases

The attorneys at the Throneberry Law Group have experience using many different legal theories to help victims recover for their exposure to asbestos. We would like to put that experience to work for you.

For a no-cost case evaluation, please call us at 888-506-1131 or contact us online.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Mesothelioma Compensation

For victims of mesothelioma, obtaining compensation to help pay for medical treatment is a major concern. Fortunately, there are several ways in which compensation can be obtained. The Throneberry Law Firm has extensive experience in obtaining compensation for victims through each of the following means.

Bankruptcy Trust Funds

Many victims of mesothelioma developed the disease as a result of exposure to asbestos, often in relation to employment. Companies that used asbestos can be held liable through lawsuits. However, it is possible that these companies filed for bankruptcy, which provides them protection from being sued. But, in exchange for this protection, companies entering bankruptcy are required to set up trust funds that compensate victims who make successful claims.

There are many factors that contribute to how much compensation a victim will receive from a trust fund, such as the severity of the condition and the age of the victim. Approved claims are liquidated, which means they are assigned a monetary amount. The actual compensation received is usually a percentage of the liquidated amount. This is to help ensure that there will be enough funds in the trust to make all payments to future claimants.


After a defendant is notified of impending legal action, it is possible for a settlement to occur at any time going forward. For both sides, settlement avoids the potential of losing at trial. A victim of mesothelioma may be in need of compensation, making settlement an attractive option.

A settlement is a negotiation between the two parties, meaning the amount of money received could be anything. Under bankruptcy trust funds and trial verdicts, the amount of compensation is usually regulated or capped. It is important to realize that, as part of the settlement, the person will have to agree to relinquish any right to sue the defendant in the future.

Trial Verdict

If a settlement cannot be negotiated, the case will go to trial. If the defendant is found to be at fault, the jury will make a determination as to the amount of damages the plaintiff should be awarded. This amount must be approved by the judge. As with determining trust fund compensation, the amount awarded at trial is affected by many factors. If the jury finds the victim’s situation particularly moving, the amount awarded may be significant.

Social Security Disability

The Social Security Administration (SSA) considers mesothelioma a disabling condition. As a result, individuals diagnosed with the disease can apply for Social Security disability benefits. A person may apply online, by phone, or by visiting a local Social Security office. The process usually takes between three and five months. A good deal of information must be provided regarding the person’s work and medical history.

Helping You Get the Compensation You Deserve

At the Throneberry Law Firm, we can help you obtain this critical compensation. We understand how important it is for you and your family to have financial security as you face this terrible disease.

For a no-cost case evaluation, please call us at 888-506-1131 or contact us online.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Mesothelioma Settlements

The majority of mesothelioma cases never make it to a trial. Instead, it is often beneficial for both sides to agree to a settlement. A defendant may wish to settle to avoid the possibility of having to pay a large award if the case goes to trial. An injured person may find settlement advantageous because it allows faster recovery of compensation and avoids the potential of an unsuccessful lawsuit. The Throneberry Law Group has successfully negotiated for millions of dollars in settlements for the victims of mesothelioma.

How are Settlements Obtained?

The first step towards obtaining a settlement is contacting an attorney with experience in mesothelioma claims. Your attorney will begin collecting materials to prepare for the filing of a lawsuit against the parties responsible for exposing you to asbestos. At this point, and any time after this, a settlement may be agreed to.

However, it is likely not in the best interests of the plaintiff to agree to a settlement very early in the process. A defendant may offer a low amount early in the hope that the plaintiff will jump at the opportunity to secure compensation. A defendant may offer a greater amount to settle as more information is discovered about the claim. However, in some circumstances, a plaintiff may need immediate compensation due to their particular financial situation. In these situations, accepting an early settlement offer may be the best option.

What Affects the Settlement Amount?

There are several factors that impact how much a defendant is willing to offer to settle a case, including the following:

      the age of the plaintiff;
      the length of time the plaintiff was exposed to asbestos;
      the diagnosis;
      the plaintiff’s past medical issues;
      the lost wages (both past and future) of the plaintiff as a result of the mesothelioma; and
      the plaintiff’s medical bills.

Another factor is the number of defendants named in the lawsuit. It is common that a person diagnosed with mesothelioma handled many asbestos-filled products that were made by different manufacturers. In situations like this, each manufacturer may be named as a defendant, which could result in a larger total settlement amount than if only one defendant was involved.

Speak with an Attorney

The Throneberry Law Group can help you obtain the resources and compensation you need to fight this horrible disease. In addition, we understand and have compassion for what you are experiencing. Our principal attorney, Michael Throneberry, lost his father to mesothelioma. As a result of this tragic loss, we fight with passion for mesothelioma victims and their families.

For a no-cost case evaluation, please call us at 888-506-1131 or contact us online.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Mesothelioma and Disability Benefits

Exposure to asbestos fibers can lead to the development of mesothelioma which is a form of cancer. The most common form is pleural mesothelioma, which develops in the tissue surrounding the lungs.  More than 2,000 people are diagnosed with this form of cancer each year.

It is possible to file a lawsuit against those responsible for your exposure to asbestos fibers. The possible modes of recovery include a settlement, winning the lawsuit, or, if the company has filed for bankruptcy, successfully making a trust fund claim. However, it is also possible that the development of mesothelioma will make an individual eligible for disability benefits.

Social Security Administration

The Social Security Administration (SSA) publishes a Listing of Impairments to aid in the evaluation of claims for disability. Under §13.15, there are two forms of mesothelioma listed under the category of impairments. They include:

1.     Malignant mesothelioma of the pleura; or
2.     Tumors of the mediastinum with metastases spreading to or beyond the regional lymph nodes or recurrent following initial treatment.

If an individual has either of these forms of mesothelioma, he or she will be considered disabled. For these purposes, “disabled” means a person has an impairment that prevents them from working.

Compassionate Allowances

The SSA recognizes that in some circumstances, it is critically important for an individual to obtain benefits as quickly as possible. As a result, the SSA processes certain claims faster than others if the disease or condition is easily documented and very serious. There are two forms of mesothelioma that are considered compassionate allowance conditions: peritoneal and pleural. If a person has either of these forms of mesothelioma, their claim will be processed quickly, assuming all other eligibility requirements for disability benefits have been met. 

Residual Functional Capacity

For individuals who have a condition that may allow them to work, the SSA determines a person’s residual functional capacity (RFC). A low RFC would indicate that there are very few, if any, jobs a person could perform, given that person’s condition. To determine RFC, the SSA considers:

1.     the individual’s statements on the limitations caused by the condition;
2.     the opinion of the individual’s doctor on the limitations caused by the condition; and
3.     the individual’s medical records.

Using the RFC, a determination is made as to whether a person could perform a job that he or she has performed in the past. If this is possible, the disability claim will be denied. If a person cannot perform work that he or she did in the past, a determination will be made as to whether that person can perform other work, given the person’s RFC, age, education, and skills. If a person is deemed incapable of working, he or she will receive benefits known as a medical-vocational allowance.

Mesothelioma Attorneys

If you have had to quit working as a result of mesothelioma, you may be faced with financial uncertainty. It is important to remember that there are several ways in which you can receive the compensation you need during this difficult period. At the Throneberry Law Group, we have the experience to help you explore all of your legal options. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.