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Louisville Personal Injury Blog

Mesothelioma compensation available to help with medical care

Each year, 3,000 people in Kentucky and across the United States are diagnosed with mesothelioma, a rare type of lung cancer that forms due to asbestos exposure. Most people who have mesothelioma were exposed to the asbestos while working. Mesothelioma has approximately a 40 percent survival rate if it is caught and treated while in its early stages, so getting a proper diagnosis and prompt medical treatment is crucial. Because most cancer cases are work-related, people with the disease may be able to receive compensation.

The average date of exposure to asbestos and the time when cancer forms is typically 40 years. This means that many people who are diagnosed with mesothelioma were exposed to it many years ago and may not realize that they can receive medical compensation. In order to receive compensation, it must be shown that a business acted negligently. Businesses have the responsibility to provide a safe work environment for their employees. Many businesses whose employees were exposed to asbestos knew about the dangers of the asbestos prior to hiring employees; this indicates negligence on the business' part.

Shorter-duration radiation therapy may help mesothelioma patients

For Kentucky patients living with mesothelioma, the prognosis often isn't all that good since this is an aggressive form of cancer that's usually detected in later stages. While some cancer specialists believe that immunotherapy - the artificial stimulation of the immune system's natural disease-fighting abilities - has the potential to help patients respond better to treatment, there isn't clear evidence that it is effective with more aggressive types of cancer. This is why there is now a focus within the medical research community on a type of shorter-duration radiation therapy known as hypofractionated radiation.

Linked to long-term asbestos exposure, mesothelioma is an aggressive and incurable form of cancer that may not affect individuals until many years after their initial exposure. Since asbestos was widely used in the military, many patients are veterans. According to one estimate, military veterans may account for more than 30 percent of newly diagnosed mesothelioma cases each year.

Kentucky Supreme Court strikes down malpractice panels

Residents of Louisville should be aware that Kentucky's Supreme Court has rejected medical review panels, a move that makes it much easier for medical malpractice lawsuits to favor affected patients. The decision was unanimous and struck down a preexisting law meant to impose limits on these lawsuits.

The law that was struck down required that all claims filed against health care providers, hospitals and nursing homes must first go through an evaluation process before proceeding in court. This process put each request before panels of medical providers, and the opinions of the panels could be used as evidence in each case. However, the law resulted in a substantial backlog of hundreds of malpractice cases that got stuck in the process, and relatively few cases had gone before the panels.

The benefits of genetic testing for mesothelioma

Kentucky residents may be interested in recent medical developments related to mesothelioma, a condition caused by asbestos exposure. A doctor at the University of Hawaii Cancer Center claims that genetic testing could lead to a more accurate prognosis for malignant mesothelioma, help identify the best possible treatment plans and also help family members determine their risk for the cancer. Back in 2011, this doctor identified the BAP1 gene mutation, which is the only recognized biological mechanism that makes patients more susceptible to mesothelioma.

He was also part of a research group that studied the survival advantages of mesothelioma patients with the BAP1 gene and other mutations. Their findings were published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology on Oct. 30. Specifically, 70 percent of mesothelioma patients had the BAP1 mutation, but only 20 percent had cancerous tumors. Median survival among those with the mutation was five years after diagnosis; 15 percent lived at least 10 years.

15 states with the most asbestos-related deaths

According to the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, more than 107,000 people around the world die each year from diseases linked to asbestos exposure. Louisville residents should know that while this mineral has long been banned by most developed countries, the U.S. has not taken such a step.

The following 15 states combined have seen over 100,000 asbestos-related deaths between 1999 and 2013. Kentucky residents can be happy that the Bluegrass State did not make the list. Starting at the bottom, Minnesota saw nearly 5,000 deaths with a high concentration in the Minneapolis area. North Carolina comes next; many mining and manufacturing workers have been exposed over the years. Then come Wisconsin, Massachusetts and Virginia. Shipbuilders in the last two states freely use asbestos.

Spouses of workers exposed to asbestos can also end up sick

When people think of mesothelioma, a cancer correlated with asbestos exposure, they often think of men who work in manufacturing, construction or mining occupations. While it is true that those who work in certain fields may risk environmental asbestos exposure, those employees are not the only ones at risk.

Workers who come home with asbestos on their person or on their clothing can unwittingly expose their families to this dangerous carcinogen as well. Wives of men who work in fields with asbestos exposure may wind-up developing mesothelioma, even if their spouse never becomes sick. Second-hand exposure to asbestos, also called secondary exposure, is dangerous just like first-hand exposure for workers.

Talc joins asbestos as risk factor for cancer or mesothelioma

For a long time commercial buildings in Kentucky regularly included asbestos products in their construction to make buildings materials resistant to heat and fire. Subsequent damage or decay of materials could release asbestos fibers that workers breathed into their lungs. This exposure heightened the chance of developing mesothelioma, a serious cancer that invades the pleura or air sacs of lungs. Recently, researchers have begun to link talc exposure to mesothelioma and others cancers. Talc, like asbestos, is a naturally occurring substance, and it is sometimes mined in the same areas that produce asbestos.

Women more than men tend to use talc. As they apply the powder to their bodies, they could breathe in particles of talc and possibly asbestos. The talc connection partially explains the rising incidence of mesothelioma among women. Greater workforce participation among women has also increased their risk of asbestos exposure.

Early detection of mesothelioma may soon be a realit

Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that develops from the mesothelium, a thin layer of tissue that covers most of the internal organs. The most commonly affected areas are the linings of the lungs and chest wall, and the most common cause of mesothelioma is occupational exposure to asbestos. Mesothelioma is a particularly insidious disease because it may take decades for the symptoms to appear, which severely limits treatment options in most cases. New hope for potential Louisville sufferers, however, is on the horizon.

New research suggests it may soon be possible to detect the presence of malignant mesothelioma with a simple blood test. Currently, a diagnosis is made by a combination of detailed imaging tests and invasive tissue biopsies. Unfortunately, by the time a positive diagnosis is made, the disease has progressed to later stages, which gives the average patient 6 - 18 months to live.

Honeywell facing probe for underestimating asbestos liability

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission announced that it was investigating Honeywell International's accounting on Oct. 19. In particular, the SEC said that it was investigating the Louisville company's accounting for its liabilities related to asbestos. According to a regulatory filing, Honeywell filed a revised estimate for these liabilities as of the end of 2017. They amounted to $2.61 billion, a jump of $1.09 billion over previous estimates from the firm.

Honeywell previously owned a company called Bendix Friction Materials, a manufacturer of automotive brake linings. While the company sold off Bendix in 2014, it is responsible for liabilities related to Bendix' manufacture of automotive brake linings that contained asbestos. Thousands of people have filed personal injury claims citing illnesses caused by their exposure to asbestos in the brakes, particularly people involved with manufacturing and repairing the asbestos-containing devices. As a result of the revision, Honeywell revised its reported earnings per share for 2017. They fell 14 cents lower to $2.00.

Supreme Court looks at third party liability for asbestos deaths

The dangers of asbestos exposure have been understood by people in Kentucky for years, but courts continue to sort out the legal consequences of its use in manufacturing and construction. A case now being heard before the Supreme Court of the United States has pitted two widows against a manufacturer. At issue is the company's potential liability for the toxic exposure that resulted when its equipment was used with asbestos insulation.

Legal counsel for the company insists that no liability exists for the men who died from lung cancer after being exposed to asbestos while working on U.S. Navy vessels. According to the company's legal argument, they do not bear responsibility because the asbestos insulation was applied to their products after they were sold.

You do not have to stand alone. Call 855-385-9532 to talk to a lawyer at Satterley & Kelley PLLC in Louisville.

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