Have You Been Diagnosed with Mesothelioma, Lung Cancer, Asbestosis or an Asbestos-related condition?
We help people just like you and your family get the justice they deserve, and the compensation they’re owed.
Our firm has helped personal injury clients win over $400,000,000 in settlements and judgements in and out of court.
With over 20 years of experience and more than 5,000+ satisfied clients, we know what it takes to win cases and help individuals and families see the light at an otherwise hopeless tunnel.
Don’t let ‘big insurance’ or corporate lawyers push you around or bully you into a lowball offer. Hire a team with a proven and documented track record of going to bat for it’s clients and aggressively pursuing compensation.
Call or message today. Our award-winning asbestos, lung cancer and mesothelioma attorneys are standing by and eager to learn more about how they can help.
Diagnosed with Mesothelioma or Lung Cancer – you need John Bales Attorneys on Your Side
After a diagnosis of mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis or another asbestos-related condition, you need to focus on your health and treatment. Let our lawyers focus on what we do best, taking the weight and stress of insurance companies, negotiations and more off of your already heavy shoulders.
Mesothelioma litigation can be complex, nuanced and challenging. Good thing we’re up to the task. Our teams combine talented attorneys with leading medical experts, private investigators and more to position your case for the best possible outcome.
No Amount of Money Can Make Things Right – but it can help take care of you and your family
Take the first step towards achieving financial security for your family today. Reach out to our firm and find out why we’ve been able to win over $400 million in awards for our clients.
Why Should You Hire a Mesothelioma Lawyer?
A mesothelioma lawyer can help you determine if you’re eligible to file a claim for compensation. They are also an integral partner in uncovering and proving third-party negligence that led to your asbestos exposure and subsequent illness.
From start to finish, they will be your strongest advocate. Ensuring you get the support, care and financial compensation you deserve.
What’s the Average Settlement for a Mesothelioma Case?
Every case and situation is unique. That said, the average trial verdict is around $2.4 million, while the average settlement across all mesothelioma cases is between $1-$1.4 million.
How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Law Firm for My Case?
No Fees Until We Win.
You have enough bills to worry about. Between hospital expenses, prescriptions, and time off work, finances for those diagnosed with lung cancer, asbestosis or mesothelioma are often tight.
Our attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, meaning you only pay if we are able to win a trial verdict in your favor, a settlement, or a mesothelioma trust fund payment.
Who is Eligible to File a Lawsuit for Compensation?
Many individuals feel like they may not qualify for filing a claim, especially if they are a smoker. This is often not the case, and those eligible to file a claim span a wide range of situations, scenarios and diagnosis.
You May Be Eligible to File a Claim If:
- You were exposed to asbestos at work or on a job site
- You were exposed to asbestos as a student in school
- You were exposed to asbestos by a third party (apartment complex, prison, etc.)
- You were exposed to asbestos in products you purchased
- You are a victim of secondhand asbestos exposure
- You have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and reside in the USA
What Can You Be Compensated For?
You may be eligible to claim compensation for a broad range of things including but not limited to:
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages (current or future)
- Lost earning potential
- Medical bills
- Physical therapy
- And more…
Why Hire John Bales Attorneys?
The Experience You Need
Don’t hire just any law firm to handle your claim. Hire a firm with a documented history of getting clients the awards, verdicts and settlements they deserve. With over $400 million awarded to clients to date, we’re the team you need in your corner.
Award-Winning and Recognized
Our firm is well-recognized and respected within the industry, having won more than nine prestigious awards for our firm’s service to clients and expertise in and out of court. This includes a Top 100 Trial lawyer award from The National Trial Lawyers.
Compassionate and Understanding
We understand that receiving a diagnosis is one of the most difficult things to hear. Your journey is just now beginning and will no doubt be wrought with challenges, from financial to medical. We’re here for you during your time of need, offering a compassionate support system and acting as a strong advocate for you and your family even when you’re too exhausted to advocate for yourself.
What is Asbestos?
Many people have heard of asbestos. Perhaps the word has come up in a news story, or while discussing a home remodeling project, or on one of those commercials on TV for lawyers looking for clients with mesothelioma. But hearing the word and having a vague idea of what it refers to is not the same thing as understanding what asbestos is and what health problems it can cause—or how to avoid or treat those health problems when they occur.
Asbestos is defined as any of a group of minerals that have a fibrous structure comprised in such as way so that the fibers can be separated into a fluffy mass, or even woven into cloth.
As a group, asbestos minerals share some very useful properties. They are fireproof, resistant to chemical damage, and they never rot or mildew, all highly unusual in a fiber! There are stories of ancient Romans using asbestos tablecloths that never had to be washed—just throw the cloth in a fire to burn off all the spills and stains, and it comes out of the fire clean and good as new.
Unfortunately, the very fact that asbestos fibers can’t be broken down by living things means that if they enter a human body, they stay there. Asbestos fibers can cause several serious and incurable medical problems.
The different types of asbestos differ from each other in color, in chemical make-up, and in the details of some of their properties. Some are more dangerous than others.
What is asbestos made of?
The short answer is that asbestos is made of asbestos. It is an ingredient in many products, not a product all by itself, which is one reason asbestos is hard to recognize; most people only encounter it mixed into other substances.
Asbestos minerals occur naturally in some areas. Natural disasters in places that have high amounts of asbestos in the rocks and soil sometimes send asbestos fibers into the air or water in quantities great enough to be a health risk for people living nearby.
There are six types of asbestos…
One, chrysotile, is part of the serpentine family of minerals (though not all serpentines are asbestos). Chrysotile is known has curly, flexible fibers and is commercially known as white asbestos. It is by far the most commonly used type of asbestos, and hence responsible for the majority of cases of asbestos-related disease. In fact, chrysotile is still in common use. Modern industry groups argue that because their products embed the asbestos fibers in either cement or resin that they pose no public health risk, but health care professionals disagree.
The Other Five Forms
The other five types of asbestos all belong to the amphibole family and have straight fibers. These are actinolite, amosite, anthophyllite, crocidolite, and tremolite. Of these, amosite and crocidolite are considered the most dangerous because their fibers are sharp and brittle and especially easy to inhale. Amosite is still used. Crocidolite, also called blue asbestos, is no longer in use and was never used widely since it is less heat resistant than the other types.
Most types of asbestos are no longer in use
Neither the uses nor the dangers of asbestos are new discoveries. These minerals have been used for thousands of years, and for just as long, workers who handle the material regularly have been known to develop characteristic health problems. Modern medical research has shed light on how these problems develop and how serious the risk is, but the fact that there is some risk is old news. That modern industry attempted to cover up the known health risks of asbestos exposure—even as new research results piled up—is the reason why so many victims have won lawsuits over their illnesses and injuries.
Why is Asbestos Dangerous?
How is Asbestos Harmful to Health?
Although asbestos is now banned in many countries, and heavily regulated in others, such as the United States, asbestos products are still being created. And many older asbestos products remain in use, such as siding or insulation in older buildings. But because it can take decades for asbestos exposure to result in health problems, the more dangerous manufacturing practices of the past are still making people sick.
Almost everyone has had some degree of asbestos exposure at some point and has questions, such as:
- How does asbestos kill you?
- How dangerous is asbestos?
- What are the symptoms of asbestos exposure?
- What does asbestos poisoning look like?
These are important questions for anyone that suspects past exposure or works in an industry where future exposure may be a possibility.
Asbestos-Related Health Issues
Most asbestos-related health problems result from fibers lodging in or near the lungs, irritating and damaging the tissues there, and ultimately making breathing difficult. Some asbestos-related health problems have very high mortality rates, while others can be managed as chronic conditions for decades. All are treatable, but most are never cured. Symptoms vary, but often include difficulty breathing.
No Amount of Exposure is Safe
No amount of asbestos exposure is considered safe, however, the risk rises dramatically depending on how much exposure one has had. Almost everybody has had some asbestos exposure and could develop life-threatening problems as a result, but the vast majority of people who have asbestos-related diseases received heavy exposure for years on end. In most cases, the exposure occurred at work, usually in manufacturing, the military, construction, or firefighting. Second-hand exposure, where workers unknowingly carry asbestos fibers home on their clothing and hair, ultimately sickening their families, is also common.
Virtually Invisible Killer
It is important to recognize that asbestos fibers are often too small to see. They have no scent and no taste. There are usually no symptoms at all for at least twenty years, and it is possible for symptoms to be delayed forty, fifty, or even more years. There is no way to be sure that the fibers have not lodged in the body, and no way to prevent those fibers from causing disease once they’re there.
But the vast majority of people who have brief or incidental exposure are not sickened.
What medical issues can asbestos cause?
Asbestos is not exactly a poison in that is does not cause damage by chemical interaction with the body. In fact, asbestos is dangerous precisely because it does not chemically react with much—being almost inert, it cannot be destroyed by the body, nor is there any way to expel the fibers. They simply stay in the body, causing irritation, and the irritation is cumulative, leading to disease, sometimes even decades after the exposure.
Asbestosis is scarring of the lungs or other tissues, due to the physical irritation from asbestos fibers. Because the scar tissue cannot expand the way lung tissue normally does, the more scarring there is, the harder it is to breathe. Asbestosis itself is not terminal, but can progress into COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), a life-threatening condition. Asbestosis also makes certain cancers more likely to develop over time.
Cancers, Including Deadly Mesothelioma
Asbestos exposure can lead to many types of cancer, including lung cancer and mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma is sometimes erroneously described as a kind of lung cancer. Actually, it is a cancer of the pleura, the tissues lining the cavity in which the lungs hang, or the lining of the cavities holding the heart or stomach. While pleural mesothelioma does interfere with lung function, its treatments, risk factors, and disease progression all differ from those of lung cancer.
The most striking differences between the two cancers stems from the fact that while lung cancer has many different possible causes, the vast majority of all mesothelioma cases are caused by asbestos. As a result, it is possible to lower one’s risk for lung cancer after asbestos exposure, but the risk for mesothelioma only goes up.
Risk Factors – a compounding effect
The reason is that the risk factors for lung cancer can exacerbate each other. A person who has had heavy exposure to both asbestos and tobacco smoke has a much higher risk of lung cancer than either risk factor can cause alone. So a person who has been exposed to asbestos can lower their risk of lung cancer by quitting smoking—the body can heal from tobacco smoke exposure, and the cancer risk will fall.
But tobacco does not cause mesothelioma. With some extremely rare exceptions, the only thing that causes mesothelioma is asbestos, and the body cannot heal from asbestos exposure. Avoiding further contact with asbestos prevents the number of fibers in the body—and thus the disease risk—from going even higher. But however many fibers get in the body, they stay and cause damage. Since that damage is cumulative over time, the longer those fibers are in the body, the higher the risk of developing mesothelioma.
What are the symptoms of asbestos-related diseases?
Symptoms of asbestosis are many, and can range in appearance and severity deepening on several factors, including duration of exposure, type of exposure, type of asbestos, use of protective gear (or lack thereof) when handling the material, and more.
Common Symptoms Include
- A persistent, dry cough
- Loss of appetite
- Chest pain or tightness
- Fingertips and toe tips that grow wider and rounder than they had been.
Difficulty in Diagnosis Based on Symptoms
Despite the range of well-known symptoms, this condition is difficult to diagnose, because many other problems have at least some of the same symptoms as part of their etymology.
Both lung cancer and mesothelioma are also difficult to diagnose for the same reasons; their symptoms are the same as many other, much more common problems. Often, there are no symptoms at all until the cancer has reached advanced stages, at which point it is much more difficult to treat effectively and the prognosis for long-term survival is greatly diminished.
Mesothelioma is even harder to identify because it can occur in any of three different sites, each of which has a different set of symptoms, all of which could also belong to other diseases. Misdiagnoses are common. The best bet may simply be for people with a history of asbestos exposure to make sure their doctors know about their risk.
Serious Warning Signs
Particular warning signs of lung cancer include a persistent cough that does not go away, bloody mucus or phlegm, wheezing, hoarseness, or infections such as pneumonia that keep returning.
How are asbestos-related health problems treated?
Asbestosis cannot be cured, except with a lung transplant. Only patients in the advanced stages of the disease are candidates for transplants. Patients who smoke should quit, as tobacco use speeds up asbestosis. Treatment usually revolves around slowing progression and helping the patient stay as comfortable as possible. Supplemental oxygen can help.
Other Treatment Options
Both lung cancer and mesothelioma can be treated with chemotherapy, radiation, immunotherapy or, if diagnosed before the tumors have metastasized (spread through the body), surgery. The specifics for treating the two diseases with these therapies differ, however. Drugs that work on one don’t always work on the other.
Mesothelioma patients sometimes also receive surgery to drain fluid from the affected body cavity. Draining fluid does not alter the course of the disease, but does relieve pain and discomfort.
Life Expectancy and Prognosis of Treatment
Any cancer has a chance of coming back, even if the patient has been declared cancer free, so it is difficult to say whether asbestos-related cancers can be cured, but some therapies are aimed at eliminating the cancer from the body, and some patients remain cancer-free long-term.
Unfortunately, both diseases are often terminal. The five-year survival rate for mesothelioma is particularly intimidating, at less than ten percent.
A terminal diagnosis does not mean giving up. Doctors focus on keeping the patient as healthy as possible for as long as possible. The longer a patient lives, the greater the chance that a cure will be developed.
What Products and Materials Contain Asbestos?
Of course, knowing what asbestos is and what it does, the next question is how to avoid it. Fortunately, asbestos is now heavily regulated, so it is less common than it used to be, but it is still around, especially in older buildings.
How to identify asbestos
Unfortunately, this one is kind of a trick heading, because there is no straightforward way to identify asbestos. It can be mixed into many different kinds of products and processed to look like almost anything. That is why specialists must be hired to inspect older buildings prior to any kind of renovation or demolition.
Asbestos is only dangerous if the fibers become loose. Living in a house that has asbestos siding, for example, is not a problem, but replacing the siding could cause a problem, since breaking a shingle will release fibers. That is why the focus is on identifying asbestos before renovation or demolition—that’s when the material could become a hazard.
The best bet is to know what kinds of products were commonly made with asbestos in what decades and to call in specialists to investigate before risking damage of any such product of the right age.
It is important to note that some materials, such as certain types of insulation and certain types of asbestos concrete, can release asbestos fibers spontaneously as they degrade with age.
Asbestos can also be released during fires, meaning anyone in or near a burning building that contained asbestos can be exposed. The decision to leave asbestos products in place is therefore not simple.
A shortlist of common materials that may contain asbestos include:
- Loose asbestos in floor or ceiling cavities
- Sprayed coatings on ceilings, walls and beams/columns
- Asbestos insulating board
- Floor tiles, textiles and composites
- Textured coatings
- Asbestos cement products
- Roofing felt
- Rope seals and gaskets
- Ductwork connectors
- Vinyl products
- Electrical cloth
- Talcum powder
- And more…
Please keep in mind that the above list is not comprehensive. The list also does not mean that every product in those categories contains asbestos.
Why was asbestos used?
Asbestos was—and in some contexts still is—used for fireproofing and as a strengthening agent. It was also a very popular form of thermal insulation for a very long time. The fact that it does not rot or chemically degrade is also part of the appeal. When the United States was actively mining asbestos, American manufacturing found the material very inexpensive and found ways to get it into as many products as possible.
Asbestos can also occur as an accidental contaminant in products that contain minerals mined near deposits of asbestos, such as talc and vermiculite. The talc sold for home use in the United States has been asbestos-free, by law, since the 1970’s. Vermiculite is used in both insulation and an additive to potting soil mixes, but vermiculite from the mine known to be contaminated has not been sold since 1990. Other mines could also be contaminated, but so far have not been found to be.
What is Asbestos used for?
The list of products that could contain asbestos is very long. Creating an exhaustive list is difficult, given the very wide use of the material in the mid-twentieth century.
- Fireproofing and acoustical texture products
- Spackling, patching, and taping compounds
- Gaskets and packings
- Asbestos-cement pipe and sheet material
- Textiles, such as gloves, specialized clothing, and fire blankets.
- Tiles, wallboard, siding and roofing
- Friction materials, such as brake pads and clutches
- Laboratory hoods and tabletops
- Home appliances (such as coffee pots and toasters)
- Portable heaters
- Wood stoves
- Gas-fired decorative fireplaces
- Hand-held hair dryers
Most of these products have not been made in the United States using asbestos for decades (depending on the product, the cut-off date could be anywhere from the mid-1970’s to 1990). Most of the danger from asbestos comes from buildings that predate the regulations, though some people are exposed while attempting to fix old consumer products, such as coffee pots, that may be valued collectors’ items now.
But asbestos is still being used.
In the United States, while new types of asbestos-containing products cannot be brought to market, traditional product types can still be made and sold, provided they contain no more than 1% asbestos—and the product does not have to be labeled as containing asbestos.
These traditional uses include construction materials (like roofing tiles and prefabricated cement), insulation, fireproof clothing (now made only for firefighting and for other specialized uses), and vehicle parts (including parts for aircraft, boats, and ships). In many cases, alternatives to asbestos have become popular. Vehicle parts containing asbestos, for example, are no longer made in the United States, but since they are still being imported from other countries, mechanics are still at high risk of asbestos exposure.
Regulations on asbestos products vary from state to state. In some areas, there may be a legal requirement to call a specialist before beginning work on a structure that could contain asbestos.
What alternatives are there to asbestos?
Fortunately, there are workable alternatives to many asbestos products that do not pose a health risk, or do not cause the same health risks. In most cases, the decision to use asbestos-free products is made by manufacturers or builders, not by consumers, but consumers do have some options. The following is a partial list.
- Amorphous silica fabric is essentially fiberglass cloth. It is used for insulation and other applications where a fabric that won’t burn, rot, or mildew comes in handy.
- Fiberglass batting is a popular insulation material, although it loses its insulating value when wet (as with a leaking roof) and can mold.
- Mineral wool is made from a combination of mined rock and industrial slag. It is very fire-resistant, is not damaged by water, and has excellent insulation value. It is a little more expensive than some other alternatives, though.
- Cotton or sheep’s wool can be chemically treated to make it resistant to both fire and pests. It requires less energy to produce than many alternatives.
- Cellulose fiber is made by shredding newsprint and treating it with chemicals to reduce moisture and reduce flammability. It is used as an insulation, and can be made with post-consumer paper.
- Polyurethane foam is a sprayed-on insulation often used inside roofs. It is also used in floatation devices and as a stuffing for seating of various kinds. Unfortunately, it is flammable.
- Flour fillers are actually ground-up plant matter, including wheat flour, but also less edible substances, such as rice hull ash. They are non-toxic and used to fill cracks and crevices. No word on whether they can rot, though.
- Thermoset plastic flour is a powder that becomes a liquid when heated and then hardens to fit whatever shape it’s squirted into. It is used to fill cracks, as a thermal insulator, and as an electrical insulator. It has the potential for use in brake pads.
No one product works as a perfect but completely safe replacement for asbestos for all possible applications. Some lack the fire-proofing or rot-resistance of asbestos, some carry health concerns of their own, and most are not as versatile. For one application, one replacement product may be appropriate, but a different application may require something else. But, generally speaking, asbestos can be replaced by substances that do not cause cancer, with little to no loss of function.
Asbestos – a once favored material, now a looming threat
Asbestos is an incredibly useful, almost miraculous substance, except for the fact that it sickens and kills people. While asbestos is not commonly used in the production of products, and has been banned or regulated in many countries, the dangers it poses are not a thing of the past.
Older products persist, especially in old buildings, and new asbestos-containing products are still being made, especially in countries where regulations or enforcement are less restrictive or oversight not as tight. And since symptoms can take decades after exposure to manifest, industrial practices that are now banned are still making people sick.
Asbestos was used—and is still being used—because it fills a need. Few other fibers are as durable, as strong, as rot-resistant, and, above all, as fire-resistant, as asbestos. Debate continues between industry groups and health advocates as to whether asbestos use in some circumstances might be considered safe, in part because the benefits from such use are very tempting. But the costs are enough to give most people pause.
Phasing out asbestos requires using an entire suite of replacement substances, both natural and synthetic, each of which is helpful in some of the applications of asbestos, but few if any can be used in all applications.
Fortunately, that suit of replacement products exists and they are, in fact, being used. And as medicine advances both avoiding and treating asbestos-related health problems should become ever more effective.
If you or a loved one have developed lung cancer, mesothelioma, asbestosis or other condition, and believe that you may have been exposed to asbestos in your life, reach out today.