Railroad Related Mesothelioma And Lung Cancer Caused By Asbestos | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

Asbestos is a dangerous material that was widely used throughout the railroad industry. Its heat and fire resistant properties made it popular for insulation, parts, and railroad equipment on both steam and diesel locomotives from the 1930s throughout the 1970s. Unfortunately, it was only after railroad workers had already suffered extensive exposure that railroads began taking steps, grudgingly, to make the railroad workplace safe. 


At Shapiro & Appleton, we protect railroad workers who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and asbestos-related lung cancer. Through the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA), you and your family may be able to hold the railroad accountable for medical expenses and other losses you suffer caused by asbestos induced cancers. As experienced railroad accident and injury lawyers, we provide the knowledgeable, trusted legal representation you need when filing a FELA claim. 


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Asbestos Use In The Railroad Industry


Asbestos is a bundle of fibers comprised of six naturally occurring minerals, which can be separated into strands and woven into various products. Highly prized for its ability to resist heat, fire, electrical jolts, and chemicals that would likely destroy other substances, it was widely used throughout the United States during World War II. Railroads were some of the largest companies in the USA by the 1930’s and employed staff doctors and held annual medical seminars for the nation’s railroad surgeons and physicians, and these professionals already knew asbestos caused asbestosis lung disease by the 1930’s.  By the early 1960’s the railroads knew of mesothelioma and other asbestos induced cancers also. During the 1970’s the Federal Railroad Administration notified railroads of 100’s of asbestos containing products used at railroads, and during the 1980’s the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began issuing alerts regarding the potential dangers of asbestos and its links to mesothelioma and lung cancer. 


Prior to this, the insulating qualities of asbestos made it well suited for the railroad industry and it was used extensively throughout locomotives, but also it was used to insulate walls, pipes and ceilings in many railroad shops and buildings. Asbestos brake pads and linings, clutches,  gaskets, ceiling and flooring tiles, pipe coverings, and rail ties were all common, as was asbestos insulation in boiler and engine rooms, and in electrical panels on diesel locomotive engines. Railroad employees who likely came into contact with asbestos include:  


  • Engineers and trainmen, conductors;
  • Mechanics and maintenance equipment technicians;
  • Machine operators, bridge tenders, and others charged with operational tasks;
  • Railroad yard conductors and yardmasters;
  • Railroad track inspectors;
  • Railroad shop workers and carmen. 


Unfortunately, if you held any job associated with the railroad industry prior to the 1980s, there is a strong likelihood you were exposed to asbestos in some way.  Workers on diesel engines daily in the 1970’s, 1980’s, 1990’s typically were unaware the asbestos wrapped pipes ran under the engine crew cabs, they never saw airborne asbestos, but may have breathed hundreds and thousands of invisible fibers on every shift they worked in enclosed crew cabs on engines.


Exposure To Asbestos Increases Lung Cancer Risks For Railroad Workers


When asbestos is in any way disturbed and vibrated, or when it breaks down due to age and exposure, it releases microscopic fibers in the air which can be inhaled or swallowed.  This is called entrainment of fibers. When fibers can become airborne due to vibration or jarring the asbestos condition is called “friable.” The airborne invisible fibers become lodged in the lungs, and cause scarring in the lungs and other body organs, sometimes resulting in mesothelioma (cancer of the outer lining surrounding the lung) or lung cancer (cancer within the lungs). Due to the amount of asbestos used in the railroad industry, railroad workers are among those most at risk. 


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns that railroad workers represent nearly 20 percent of all cases involving occupational mesothelioma. While the manufacture and sale of asbestos products was stopped in the late 1980s due to safety concerns, many railroad companies continued using rail cars that contained asbestos insulation and other components for years after. In more modern locomotives, asbestos may still be found in engine dust and diesel fumes. 


Even if you are long retired from the railroad industry, your health could be at risk. On average, it can take between 15 to 60 years for symptoms of mesothelioma and other asbestos related lung cancers to manifest. 


Compensation For Railroad Workers With Mesothelioma and Lung Cancers


Asbestos is a known carcinogen which, when breathed in or swallowed, can attack body tissues in the lungs or abdomen. The Mayo Clinic advises that common symptoms of mesothelioma and asbestos related lung cancer include painful coughing, shortness of breath, unexplained weight loss, and unusual lumps or pain in the chest and abdominal areas. 


When railroad workers develop mesothelioma or other lung cancers due to asbestos exposure, they may be entitled to compensation under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA). This provides benefits for railroad employees who were injured on the job and those who suffer occupation illnesses as a result of their employers negligence. If you can show the railroad company was at fault in exposing you to asbestos or in not providing warnings regarding the risks, you may be entitled to the following types of damages through a FELA claim: 


  • Current and future medical expenses;
  • Lost wages and future losses in income or benefits due to ongoing disabilities;
  • Compensation for the physical pain and suffering you experience;
  • Compensation for the mental anguish and loss of enjoyment in life your disease causes you and your family members. 


Contact Our Railroad Injury Law Firm Today

At Shapiro & Appleton, our firm is nationally recognized due to our dedication and skill in handling railroad worker FELA claims.  We have successfully settled or had jury trial verdicts involving asbestos cancers in railroad worker clients. Our goal is to ensure you and your family get the maximum amount of compensation you are entitled to for contracting mesothelioma and asbestos related lung cancers. To discuss your situation and may be able to help, call us at (833) 997-1774 or contact our railroad worker injury lawyers online to request a free confidential consultation today.