Invisible to the Eye
George R.R. Martin once said, “The unseen enemy is always the most fearsome.” This is the case for railroad workers that fall victim to mesothelioma cancer caused by asbestos. The serious health risks associated with inhaling asbestos fibers have been documented in medical and scientific publications. Railroad workers who breathe in these toxic asbestos fibers are at risk of developing an incurable form of cancer known as mesothelioma. As North Carolina mesothelioma lawyers with over 20 years of experience we know that railroad companies like Norfolk Southern (NS), CSX, and Conrail know about asbestos and its connection to mesothelioma cancer decades ago but continued to allow railroad workers to be exposed.
A Failure to Act
There are currently 22 freight railroads and 2,254 railroad employees in North Carolina, operating 3,245 miles of track. Many railroad workers have been loyal employees for many years which has put them at risk, because most railroad companies did not start removing asbestos from diesel freight locomotive engines until the 1990s.
Mesothelioma is a horrific, incurable form of cancer that develops after being exposed to asbestos. You don't even have to be exposed for very long. Infrequent, intermittent exposure can still result in a mesothelioma diagnosis. Unfortunately, many railroad workers including, brakemen, conductors, equipment operators, engineers, ironworkers, locomotive machinists, mechanics and switchmen were exposed to asbestos on a daily basis. As a result, numerous workers are now going to their doctors and receiving the gut-wrenching news that they have mesothelioma.
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A Ticking Time Bomb
Mesothelioma has a long latency period. Typically 35 to 40 years will pass between exposure to asbestos and diagnosis of mesothelioma; however, cases have been diagnosed in as few as 20 or as many as 50 years after exposure. This is one of the most dangerous, and well-known, things about asbestos, that it takes decades for the cancer or other permanent lung disease to develop. What is less well-known is how many types of railroad employees can be affected.
Getting Specialized Help
Many family members of railroad workers as well as the general public has never seen a railroad yard office, or rode in a railroad diesel freight engine, or even know what the switching of diesel freight locomotive engine entails. For this reason, experienced FELA railroad cancer/mesothelioma attorneys like our North Carolina law firm must often serve as virtual investigators for railroad workers and their families to discover exactly what asbestos-laden railroad equipment a worker was exposed to decades ago.