Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Firsthand and Secondhand Asbestos Exposure

Firsthand and Secondhand Asbestos Exposure:  The air we breathe might not seem to be at the forefront of one’s mind, as we expect it to be free and clean of toxins. This, however, is not a perfect world and the environment is prone to have its flaws. One flaw is asbestos and its tricky fibers that fill the air around us, oftentimes without us knowing. Asbestos exposure is actually more common than people realize, and even today those who have been exposed might not know it.

Silent but Potentially Deadly

Asbestos exposure is no joke. Exposure to asbestos particles can cause such diseases as asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma. At least eight million Americans have had sufficient exposure to asbestos, either through firsthand exposure at work, or using commercial products containing it, or through secondhand exposure such as cleaning the clothes of someone who is exposed to a significant amount of asbestos.

Firsthand Asbestos Exposure

An obvious way to be exposed to asbestos is through inhalation (breathing the fibers into your lungs). The second, less common exposure pathway is ingestion, or swallowing asbestos fibers.

Aside from the natural fibers in the air we breathe, certain places and environments are more susceptible to harmful amounts of asbestos. For example, many Veterans who worked in shipyards or on navy vessels were exposed to asbestos in areas where it was used for insulation. Asbestos resists corrosion and high temperatures and can be used to insulate many common things such as boilers, turbines and pumps.

Miners and construction workers can also be exposed on a daily basis. In fact, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has estimated that 1.3 million employees in construction and general industry are exposed to asbestos on the job doing things such as repair and maintenance.

Secondhand Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos is not just prevalent in those who breathe it on a daily basis. It can resonate at home and in the community as well. Take, for instance, the many wives and children of those who worked in the shipyards during World War II. The fibers transferred to the workers’ clothing, causing the families to fall ill. More recently, in Alabama, a family was awarded a $3.5 million verdict because the mother was exposed to secondhand asbestos and died from mesothelioma. The family sued the Tennessee Valley Authority alleging that she was exposed to asbestos fibers while washing her husband’s work clothes over the span of about 20 years.

Get the Help You Need

Firsthand and secondhand asbestos exposure can have different effects on each individual person. The length of exposure, the time frame, and other medical factors can determine how much compensation you may receive depending on your diagnosis. Michael Throneberry has personal experience, extensive knowledge, and is not limited geographically. Contact the Throneberry Law Group today at 888-506-1131 for your free consultation.

Firsthand and Secondhand Asbestos Exposure

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Asbestos-Related Trust Funds and the Proposed FACT Act

Money does not grow on trees, nor does it appear out of thin air. For victims of asbestos exposure, it is very costly to undergo treatment. Each claim is different, but at the very least, there are medical bills that need to be paid. While the asbestos trust funds (worth an estimated $30 billion) are designed to compensate the victims, the FACT Act would require more paperwork and could actually end up delaying the compensation process.

As it stands, getting compensation is anything but instantaneous. The asbestos-related trust funds are not actually controlled by the companies that went bankrupt. Rather, the funds are in the hands of a designated “trustee” who makes decisions as to what the standards are and what the compensation will be. For instance, the claimant will have to show evidence of the asbestos related injury, but depending on the trustee for the company, the claimant might have to satisfy certain medical criteria. When it comes to the FACT Act, the information that a claimant gives is subject to public review.

Facts and Figures of the FACT Act

Earlier this month, the Senate Judiciary Committee began considering the Furthering Asbestos Claims Transparency Act (FACT). In essence, HR 1927 Section 3 opens doors for those seeking compensation through asbestos trust funds to have their private information on public display.

“(8) A trust described in paragraph (2) shall, subject to section 107—

            “(A) file with the bankruptcy court, not later than 60 days after the end of every quarter, a report that shall be made available on the court’s public docket and with respect to such quarter—”

             “(i) describes each demand the trust received from, including the name and   exposure history of, a claimant and the basis for any payment from the trust made to such claimant.”

What Could the FACT Act Mean for Victims?

Veterans are particularly susceptible to privacy concerns related to asbestos trusts, as they account for about 30% of all mesothelioma diagnoses due to exposure to asbestos containing materials.

Organizations that oppose the FACT Act, such as the Vietnam Veterans of America, National Defense Council, and the Air Force Sergeants Association note that the FACT Act needlessly pries into the private information of mesothelioma victims. The FACT Act exposes the victims to possible identity theft, slows the process, and places an undue burden on the victims to publicly expose what state laws protect as private. The FACT Act raises the possibility that companies could get out of compensating those who are sick and dying (due to asbestos exposure) because of how long it might take to get the compensation and get through the paperwork.

Corporate defendants exaggerate accounts of plaintiff fraud in an effort to limit liability. They suggest that it is intended to decrease the possibility that multiple companies will end up paying the same claims. They argue that the FACT Act is designed so that there are no secrets as to what is being claimed, how much, and by whom. This argument, however, fails to acknowledge that the disclosure of this sensitive information would only lead to the re-victimization of mesothelioma victims by allowing their personal information to be released to the public.

Get the Help You Need from Throneberry Law Group

Michael Throneberry is a compassionate, mesothelioma attorney who will help you understand the process. Mr. Throneberry has personal experience with mesothelioma claims and can discuss your possible trust claim. Contact 888-506-1131 today for a free consultation.



Asbestos-Related Trust Funds and the Proposed FACT Act

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Asbestos-related Diseases Other Than Mesothelioma

The use of asbestos in products was extremely prevalent during much of the twentieth century. Unfortunately, as a result of this, exposure to dangerous asbestos fibers was also common. For some individuals, this exposure led to the development of serious diseases. While mesothelioma is often the disease most associated with asbestos fiber exposure, there are other very serious diseases that can develop, as well.

Dangers of Asbestos

Asbestos was used in residences and buildings up until the 1980s because of its resistance to heat. While asbestos was very well-suited for the jobs it was asked to complete, it also was very dangerous to people exposed to its fibers. These microscopic fibers are released into the air when asbestos is disturbed. When breathed in, they may remain in the lungs for years or, in some cases, decades, before the signs of a health issue begin to appear. While asbestos is no longer used today, it still can be found in homes and other buildings, particularly in older structures.

Serious Diseases

Asbestosis is a chronic lung disease caused by the inhalation of asbestos fibers and involves scarring of the lung tissue. It can lead to a greater risk of the development of lung cancer, particularly if the individual also smokes. The symptoms of asbestosis usually do not appear for many years after the exposure. Those symptoms include shortness of breath, a persistent, dry cough, loss of appetite, fingertips and toes becoming wider and rounder than normal (a condition called clubbing), and chest tightness or pain.

Pleural effusion is the development of excess fluid building up in the pleural space, which is the area between the lungs and the chest wall. While usually pleural effusion is not a serious health threat by itself, it may be an indication of a more serious problem. This is because pleural effusion may be caused by cancer. Further, there are some instances of pleural effusion which require treatment to avoid the development of other issues. The symptoms of pleural effusion include shortness of breath, chest pain, fever, and cough.

Pleural effusion that is free of serious inflammation or infection and that rarely causes permanent lung problems is known as uncomplicated pleural effusion. Alternatively, complicated pleural effusion involves significant inflammation or infection. If left untreated, it can lead to the fluid hardening into a constricting ring around the lung through a process called “organization.” This can cause a permanent impairment to the individual’s ability to breathe. To avoid this issue, draining of the fluid is required, which usually involves the placing of a tube in the chest.

Help for Victims of Asbestos Exposure

The above briefly discusses just two of the conditions the health issues that can result as a consequence of exposure to asbestos fibers. If you have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, it is possible that you are facing significant medical costs. It may be possible for you to obtain compensation from those responsible for you exposure to asbestos. For more information about recovering for asbestos exposure and asbestos related cancers, speak with an experienced attorney at the Throneberry Law Group.


Asbestos-related Diseases Other Than Mesothelioma

Monday, February 1, 2016

Asbestos in Electrical Panels

Asbestos in Electrical Panels

As the use of electricity entered every home and building throughout the 1900s, safety measures also had to be put into place. For much of the twentieth century, this involved the use of asbestos. Unfortunately, exposure to microscopic asbestos fibers can lead to the development of serious diseases such as mesothelioma and asbestosis.

Making Electricity Safe

Electrical panels accept electricity from the main power supply and distribute it throughout a building. It accomplishes this by using cables to connect the power supply to a distribution box within the panel. Within the distribution box are fuses or breakers that connect the main power to electrical cables throughout the house or building.

Electrical currents produce heat and, if not grounded properly, can create a fire. In order to combat against this possibility, early electrical panels used asbestos as an insulator. Asbestos is a poor conductor of electricity and is also resistant to heat and fire. By using asbestos, electrical systems could be made safer.

While using asbestos made electricity in homes and other buildings safer, it also created a health risk for many individuals. This is because asbestos fibers that are breathed into the lungs can lead to the development of serious health conditions. These fibers can remain in the lungs for many years and slowly cause the development of mesothelioma or other cancers. Some of the individuals placed at high risk for asbestos exposure related to electricity are the workers who made electric panels, electricians that installed them, and maintenance workers.

By the 1930s, most homes and buildings had electricity. Companies such as Westinghouse Electric, General Electric, and Johns-Manville (among many others) began creating electrical supply systems with electric panels. Frequently, these panels were made with materials that contained asbestos, including cement, millboard, plastic, tar, or ebony wood. Other parts in the electrical supply systems also contained asbestos, including wiring, which was often covered with asbestos cloth to provide insulation and to protect the wires from flames. Other materials with asbestos included arc chutes, insulation paper, and braided rope. The practice of using asbestos-containing materials continued until the 1980s.

The dangers of asbestos were particularly high during preparation of compounds use in asbestos panel. During this process, asbestos was crushed and refined, which released fibers into the air. In addition, cutting finished electrical panels increased the risk of asbestos exposure. Individuals who installed, drilled, removed, or maintained electrical panels were also placed at risk. The risk was often greater when individuals worked in confined spaces, which placed electricians that worked on naval ships at particular risk.

Compassionate Legal Help

In some cases, it is possible for victims of asbestos exposure to hold those responsible for such exposure accountable. This is often very important because the cost of medical treatment for asbestos-related disease is often significant. For more information, speak with an attorney experienced in handling claims related to asbestos exposure. At the Throneberry Law Group, our attorneys will travel the country to where you live to provide help. We look forward to hearing from you.


Asbestos in Electrical Panels