Mesothelioma is asbestos-related cancer that usually affects the protective lining of the lungs or abdomen. Inhaling or swallowing airborne asbestos is the number one cause of mesothelioma over a long period of time. People who have been diagnosed with this form of cancer should contact an experienced Virginia asbestos and mesothelioma attorney to explore what legal options they may have.

Asbestos Exposure

One of the most common ways mesothelioma victims are exposed to asbestos is through their job. Unfortunately, for many families, it is not only the person who was exposed to asbestos at work who is at risk of developing these cancers, but also their family members. There are many documented cases of family members developing mesothelioma from asbestos exposure because of the asbestos dust workers brought home every day, such as on their hair, skin, clothing, and even their lunch box.

Although the dangers of asbestos exposure were known for years, many industries instead chose to put profits over the safety of their employees and continued to expose workers to the dangerous substance. It wasn’t until the past couple of decades that the federal government and unions stepped in to put a stop to these practices.

But for many people, that action came too late. It can take anywhere from 20 to 50 years between the time of exposure and for symptoms to finally develop. The average latency period for men is 47.9 years and for women is 53.3 years.

Railroad Workers

One industry particularly affected by mesothelioma is the railroad industry. Carmen, conductors, engineers, shop workers, and track maintenance workers may have been exposed to deadly asbestos at some point in their career before railroads were forced to remove it from equipment. There are some workers who had potentially decades of exposure to asbestos before it was banned.

Unlike other workers who are usually covered by workers’ compensation benefits if they are injured or develop an occupational illness, railroad workers are protected under the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) for these situations.

FELA is a federal law – enacted in 1908 – that protects and applies to railroad workers hurt on the job, working in interstate commerce. It is the exclusive remedy for railroad workers who are hurt on the job as far as claims against their own railroad employer. FELA covers accidents, diseases, and illnesses arising from the railroad workplace, or occurring at places or at times that are part of the worker’s job.

Under FELA, an injured worker – or the worker’s family – can collect a claim against a railroad if the injury was caused, either in whole or in part, by the negligence or fault of the railroad, including failure of the railroad in providing a safe environment for workers.

Filing a FELA Claim for Mesothelioma

Our Virginia asbestos and mesothelioma attorneys have successfully represented the families of many railroad workers who have lost their loved ones to the fatal disease.  If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, or have lost a loved one to the disease, contact Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn to find out what legal options you may have.

 

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