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Railroad Worker Asbestos Mesothelioma: How attorneys prove the railroad case

If you believe that you or someone you love has developed mesothelioma or another asbestos-related illness, it is important to reach out to an experienced attorney so that an investigation into the possible source of your asbestos exposure can begin. Unfortunately, speed is critical in these cases as the process of proving that the railroad is responsible for your injuries is complicated and can take some time.

Where were workers exposed to asbestos on railroads?

The railroad industry began using asbestos in trains more than a 100 years ago after discovering that the insulation proved useful in protecting the trains from the heat generated by the powerful engines, a discovery that would eventually prove deadly for thousands of workers. 

Given the prevalence of asbestos in so many facets of a train, employees could find themselves exposed in a variety of ways. Asbestos was used to insulate train carriages and engine parts from the high heat generated by steam and coal engines. Railroads also used asbestos to insulate pipes inside trains. Ceilings, walls, floors and all manner of other surfaces inside train carriages were lined with asbestos. Brake shoes and gaskets were also covered in the material.

These myriad applications meant that workers across the railroad industry, from track workers to mechanics to engineers, may all have been breathing in microscopic amounts of asbestos for decades before the industry finally decided to begin cleaning up its act.

If it was not visible to the worker, does that mean the case can't be proved?

Though it can be hard for most people to understand, just because you could not see something does not mean it was not there. Railroad workers might believe that just because they never saw any asbestos particles or felt themselves breathing it in that their lung conditions must have been caused by something else. The reality is that because of certain unique properties of asbestos it is nearly impossible for a person to know that they have been exposed to it until years or even decades later when health problems begin to arise.

Asbestos and asbestos dust is an invisible, odorless and tasteless substance that can be harmless, except for when it enters a person’s lungs. When inhaled, asbestos can create damaging lung scaring, lead to shortness of breath, pain, coughing and a variety of serious health conditions such as asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. Just because you didn’t smell or taste it at the time does not mean that you were not seriously harmed by your career in the railroad industry.

What if the worker is not sure where it was?

One problem for those suffering from an asbestos-related health condition is pinpointing when and where the exposure to asbestos occurred. Mesothelioma, and many other asbestos-related health problems have exceptionally lengthy latency periods, meaning that the time between initial exposure and the development of symptoms can be quite long. In fact, it has been found that some patients only begin to show symptoms 30 or even 40 years after their initial asbestos exposure. This gap, though challenging, does not prevent you from successfully filing a claim for compensation against your former railroad employer.

What types of railroad workers have developed mesothelioma?

It’s very important for railroad workers to understand that mesothelioma and other asbestos-related health problems do not discriminate based on the type of work that an employee was engaged in. Everyone who worked in and around locomotives, roundhouses, mechanic shops, repair facilities, rail yards, etc., may have been exposed to asbestos.

Mechanics who were in charge of handling and repairing gaskets are prime examples of workers that may have been exposed to asbestos. Same goes for maintenance men, railroad inspectors, brakemen and switchmen. The reality is that even workers who did not directly interact with asbestos-containing products are at risk because the tiny particles of the harmful substance can permeate the air of the train or railroad facility, meaning that engineers, conductors, carmen and many others also face danger.

What proof has our law firm developed?

There are many ways our firm has found to develop evidence demonstrating how railroad asbestos harmed workers. We rely on expert witnesses who have knowledge of how the railroad industry used and then failed to remove asbestos from its trains and other machinery. We also call on safety experts who describe to judges and juries where to look for asbestos and how a worker may have been exposed. Doctors, with backgrounds in treating asbestos conditions can also be useful at establishing a solid case connecting a client’s lung disease with asbestos exposure. Our asbestos injury law firm has handled numerous mesothelioma cases for railroad workers that have been impacted by exposure and we understand the best arguments to make to ensure that our clients fare well in the litigation process.

To get more information about the connection between asbestos and mesothelioma, take a moment to read these in-depth articles, written by experienced railroad-asbestos mesothelioma attorneys:

Richard N. Shapiro
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Personal Injury & Wrongful Death Lawyer Serving Va Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake & all of Virginia