Asbestos Facts: What Is Asbestos and What Are the Exposure Risks?

If you think you have a case to sue after potential asbestos exposure, it's crucial you know the facts.

Many people aren't aware of what this highly toxic (yet naturally occurring) mineral substance is, nor how or why it can affect you.

If you're looking to clue yourself up on asbestos facts - and decide whether or not you are within your rights to sue - read on.

Asbestos Facts: What is Asbestos?

Broadly categorized, asbestos is a group of minerals that are fibrous and resistant to chemicals, heat and electricity. Because of these properties, it became commonplace in the construction industry and increasingly used as a building material.

As a result, many buildings in America were constructed using it. In some cases, it was combined with the likes of cement, cloth, paper and plastic, forming a foamy insulating material.

Because of the tiny fibers getting trapped in this material, disease started to thrive within asbestos.

The US government recognizes six types of asbestos. This includes the so-called white asbestos, brown asbestos, and blue asbestos.

Many corporations covered up their use of asbestos when the health hazards were uncovered. This was an attempt to save themselves from legal action.

Asbestos Facts: Hidden Danger

One of the major worries with asbestos is that the fibers are microscopic,  odorless, tasteless and near-on invisible. This means it is difficult to prove it is present somewhere. It is also hard to prove whether you are being affected by it or not - largely because of the following...

Asbestos poisoning does not tend to affect someone immediately. Ingesting it - for example, via dust inhalation - can often mean the fibers will reside in your body indefinitely. What's more, their effects are likely to not become sympomatic until much later on in life.

As the fibers become trapped internally, they can aggravate the body. This can cause scarring, cell damage, internal bleeding, inflammation, and potential genetic damage.

Sometimes illness via asbestos can take between 20-50 years to show up. Disease can develop the longer you are exposed to asbestos, and if you are exposed to a high density.

Mesothelioma Facts: Disease

As a result of asbestos fiber exposure, those who have ingested it can find themselves with lung problems.

This may lead to less-severe cases of breathing difficulties, but it can be much more serious.

Lung cancer can develop, as can pleural mesothelioma and peritoneal mesothelioma. Asbestos is the top cause for cancer in the workplace on the planet.

Asbestos Facts: Who is at Risk?

Disease from these fibers are typically found in males, 60 or older. This is a result of the time frame in which asbestos was used in industry and construction.

This is also thanks to the trait of symptoms developing over time, rather than immediately.

The fact that mostly men are affected is due to workplaces featuring asbestos historically being staffed by this gender. For example, men tended to work in the factories that manufactured asbestos-driven products. This created an obvious high risk of exposure.

As mentioned above, these fibers were largely used in construction. This meant that laborers and workmen in this trade would historically encounter it.
Mining is another sector which has proven to be a high-risk profession where such mineral exposure is prevalent.

The armed forces, and professions such as firefighting, are synonymous with asbestos exposure. This is due to the nature of the work. As are shipbuilding and electricity generation. Certain sectors of research are also linked to this kind of dangerous exposure.

By default, loved ones of those who work in these industries are also at a higher risk. Secondhand exposure is likely. For example, from the clothing or tools of a firefighter or a construction worker.

In addition, living close to a mine contaminated by asbestos creates a major risk. The town of Libby, Montana fell prey to one of the worst environmental disasters in history when mining caused the microfibers to travel into the town and cause hundreds of deaths.

Asbestos at the Brooklyn Navy Yard:

The pipe shop at New York's - Brooklyn navy yard used asbestos in the lagging it manufactured. That material was then used to act as insulation around hot water and steam pipes in some of the country's most famous naval ships that were manufactured or repaired at the navy yard. The central power plant also used asbestos-containing material produced at the same location as insulation.

Thousand's of civilians and countless veterans were exposed to and breathed in this harmful material.  Many of these people ultimately developed lung diseases including mesothelioma as a result of being exposed at the shipyard.

Asbestos Facts: The History

Asbestos was revered throughout history among the wealthy and powerful, unbeknownst to them that it was toxic.

Ancient Egyptians who would cover their embalmed pharaohs in everlasting asbestos cloth. Medieval kings were cremated in it. Ancient Romans commissioned asbestos napkins and tablecloths. They would burn instead of launder them. This could cause it to travel, poisoning the air of course.

One Roman historian figured out the problem, however, and wrote of the warning signs. This was largely disregarded at the time.

By the time industry bosses cottoned on to the benefits of asbestos, it became used in its droves. Any concerns were ignored and there were cover-ups to protect themselves and their businesses. Employees were fine as symptoms didn't show, and so they could continue to work, unaware.

This was eventually reported on when things became much more apparent. Lawsuits began to take place, starting most notably in 1973.

Hundreds of thousands of claimants have sought compensation since this. And hundreds of companies have gone bankrupt as a direct result. Asbestos litigation continues to be the longest running mass tort in US history.

When to Sue?

Now you know the asbestos facts, could you be entitled to a compensation claim yourself? Have you suffered personal injury or the wrongful death of a family member due to asbestos exposure in the workplace?

The key step to make next is to consult a mesothelioma lawyer. They will be up to speed on asbestos manufacturers and assist with identifying if they could be responsible. They will also know all about existing case law and the current movements in asbestos claims.

Contact us now to discuss your potential compensation claim?

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An Overview of Train Accidents

In the United States, there is an average of over 11,300 train accidents per year and over 850 fatalities annually since 2013. 

If you or a loved one were injured by a train, either as a passenger or bystander, you may have a cause of action against the company that runs the train. That company is most likely a government entity. 

Suing an entity like Long Island Railroad, the MTA or Amtrak is not like pursuing a case against a private company or an individual. There are certain special legal issues which may come in to play

Here are seven things you should know if you or your loved one has sustained an injury due to a train accident. 

1.  Riding on a Train that Derails

Accidents, where a train goes off the tracks, are happening more and more frequently. The infrastructure in many cities and across the country is in dire need of repair.

Additionally, trains are still run by human beings, who make mistakes, get sick or fall asleep. Like drowsy driving, the consequences of running a train while sleep deprived or otherwise impaired can have disastrous consequences. 

If you have been injured while riding on a train that went off the tracks, you may have suffered physical and psychological injury.

The experience may prevent you from going to work, pursuing your everyday hobbies and pleasures, and living your life the way you did before the accident. You might be entitled to be compensated for this damage to your life and livelihood. 

2. Employee of the Railroad?

Passengers are not the only ones who can get hurt in a train accident. Often the engineer or conductor, porters and other employees may get hurt as well. 

If the accident happened during the course of your employment, your legal rights may be covered by Workers' Compensation. This is a different process than filing a personal injury claim.

As an employee of a railroad, you might also be covered by the Federal Employees Liability Act or FELA, which protects the safety of federal workers. You have to prove that the railroad was negligent for your case.

The railroad employer will be liable if their negligence played even the slightest part in the injury or death of the employee. Negligence could be failing to provide adequate training or safety equipment, asking employees to work unreasonable hours or under severe time pressures, or not providing proper supervision. 

3. Accident on the Tracks

A train accident which hurts someone who was not on the train can still provide a cause of action for a lawsuit. If you were in a car crossing the tracks and you were hurt by a train, you might want to sue. 

If a railroad did not adequately secure its property and keep the tracks safe from trespassers, it may even be liable for someone who took their own life by going onto the train tracks.

In these tragic situations, railroad employees like engineers and conductors may suffer deep trauma from witnessing suicides. Railroad companies must often provide counseling and time off for these employees or they may be found liable under The Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008.

4. Damage to Property 

A derailed train can cause lots of damage to property if it derails and runs into a building or other vehicles.

If the train was operated in a negligent manner and caused damage to your property which affected the property's value or prevented it from being used in the manner for which it was intended, you may seek recovery. 

If the accident occurs involving a freight train, there may be numerous commercial claims if goods are damaged or delayed getting to their destination. However, these would likely be contractual claims rather than personal injury. 

It's recommended that you discuss with an attorney the possible claims you may have arising from a train accident in order to fully pursue all potential avenues for recovery.

5. Bodily Injuries 

A personal injury suit in the wake of a train accident requires proof that you have sustained a physical injury which is quantifiable. That means that the court can put a value on what you lost, whether it is the loss of function of a limb either permanently or temporarily, or the overall ability to earn a living. 

You will need to collect and submit evidence of the injury, including all medical reports. Your lawyer will need to establish that the injury was caused by the accident and that you did not have this injury prior to the event.

You will also need documentation of the impact of the injury, including affidavits from doctors and your employer testifying that you cannot work. You may need to collect sworn statements from family members or friends describing how your activities are now limited. 

6. Psychological Impact 

If you have been hurt in a train accident, you may experience other issues in addition to physical consequences. Psychological pain and suffering are compensable as well, provided that you can provide evidence of their impact on your life and that they were directly caused by the defendant's negligence. 

If you are suffering from depression after being in a crash, get a psychiatrist's or psychologist's report and diagnosis. If you've dealt with depression, your doctor might be able to show that the incident significantly increased the pre-existing condition.

7. Special Rules Regarding Governmental Entities 

If the operator responsible for running the train involved in your accident was a governmental entity, you may have a limited time in which to file a claim. 

Speak to an attorney experienced in suits against governmental agencies in order to understand the specific issues at stake in your case.

For example, if you choose to sue NJ Transit, you have 90 days to complete a Tort Claim notice or else you may lose the right to sue. If you are suing the NY-NJ Port Authority, you may have a one-year statute of limitations instead of the usual two years allowed for personal injury claims. 

Train Accidents: Know Your Rights 

If you have been injured in an incident involving a train, speak to a personal injury attorney as soon as you can. Depending on the circumstances, you have certain rights to be made whole by the person or entity responsible for your injuries.

Because many railroads are run by the government, you may have limited time in which to assert your rights. Contact a lawyer as soon as you can to help you figure out your options.

For more information on personal injury claims arising from train accidents and other transportation events, check out our blog

We are here to help you choose a Lawyer.

Have you or a loved one been injured from a train accident? An experienced injury lawyer will help you win your case. 
We are here to assist you with finding the right injury lawyer in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, or Connecticut for your case.  Contact us now for a free consultation.