Asbestos Exposure on the Job Can Cause Serious Injuries
Workers With Asbestos-Related Diseases May Be Entitled to Compensation
Pennsylvania workers who develop occupational diseases due to asbestos exposure may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. However, the laws regarding workers’ compensation and asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma vary by state and can be complicated. Therefore, workers who were exposed to asbestos may wish to seek the counsel of an experienced attorney in their local area to discuss their legal options. The Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyers at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. are experienced in handling Pennsylvania occupational disease claims and can help you get the maximum compensation to which you are entitled.
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring silicate mineral found in rocks and soil. Due to its affordability and versatility, asbestos was used in many consumer and industrial products in Pennsylvania and throughout the U.S. during the 20th century. After it was discovered that exposure to asbestos causes mesothelioma (an aggressive form of cancer), it became strictly regulated. Despite this, many U.S. industries still work with asbestos-containing products.
Due to its lengthy latency period, people often do not exhibit symptoms of mesothelioma until decades after their initial exposure to asbestos. Latency periods for the disease typically range from 20 to 40 years, but can last up to 71 years, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report. The number of mesothelioma cases continue to increase as the effects of previous asbestos exposure surface.
Who is at Risk for Asbestos Exposure?
More than 3,000 cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed each year in the U.S., according to the Mesothelioma & Asbestos Awareness Center (MAAC). Early diagnosis can improve overall prognosis. Therefore, workers who may have been exposed to asbestos should be aware of the symptoms of mesothelioma, which include shortness of breath, coughing, fatigue, fever, chest pain, and weight loss. However, there is currently no cure for mesothelioma and the MAAC reports that most patients live between 6 months and two years after diagnosis.
Our Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyers have helped workers in many different industries obtain the benefits to which they are entitled. Workers in certain industries are at higher risk for developing mesothelioma than others based on the amount of asbestos to which they were exposed and duration of their asbestos exposure. Those at increased risk include:
- Construction workers
- Paper mill workers
- Power plant workers
- Shipyard workers
- Steel mill workers
Workers’ Compensation for Asbestos Exposure
Asbestos exposure is covered under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act). It is considered an occupational disease, therefore the time limitation for filing a claim is longer than the normal 120-day deadline for work injury claims.
Generally, occupational diseases must develop no more than 300 weeks from the worker’s last exposure to the hazard, or their last date of employment, to be compensable. Workers who file later than 300 weeks after their last exposure are generally not eligible for medical expense compensation, disability, death benefits, or any type of workers’ compensation.
However, due to the long latency periods of diseases associated with asbestos exposure, courts may be willing to make an exception to the 300-week time limitation. In a recent case, Tooey vs. AK Steel Corp., the Pennsylvania Supreme Court considered whether individuals who contracted mesothelioma more than 300 weeks after their last date of employment were entitled to workers’ compensation under the Act. The Court held that those who file occupational disease claims for asbestos exposure outside of the 300-week window are not necessarily barred from receiving workers’ compensation benefits.
Therefore, Pennsylvania workers who discover they have an occupational disease due to asbestos exposure more than 300 weeks after leaving their jobs may still be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Workers may also be able to recover additional damages such as pain and suffering from any third parties, such as manufacturers or suppliers, who are responsible for their development of the disease.
Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. Help Workers Obtain Benefits for Asbestos Exposure
If you developed a disease due to workplace asbestos exposure, contact a Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyer at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. We can evaluate your case, explain your legal options, and fight to recover maximum compensation in your case. Our experienced attorneys proudly represent clients in Philadelphia and throughout Pennsylvania. For a free consultation, please complete our online contact form or call us at 888-PITT-LAW today.
We proudly represent workers in Berks County, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, Philadelphia County and throughout Pennsylvania, including those in the communities of Abington, Ambler, Ardmore, Bala Cynwyd, Bensalem, Clifton Heights, Crum Lynne, Darby, Downingtown, Doylestown, Drexel Hill, Essington, Folcroft, Glenolden, Haverford, Havertown, Holmes, Kutztown, Lansdowne, Media, Merion Station, Morton, Narberth, Norristown, Norwood, Philadelphia, Prospect Park, Quakertown, Reading, Roxborough, Sharon Hill, Upper Darby, West Chester and Wynnewood.