A district court recently approved a $43 million settlement against state officials, on behalf of 1,128 people who fell ill from asbestos exposure from a former vermiculite mine. According to the complaint, mineworkers were exposed to the asbestos during work in the mine, and have since suffered a myriad of serious ailments, including cancer and early death.
Asbestos exposure cases are a relatively recent form of Illinois workplace injury cases and Illinois personal injury lawsuits. Before the health risks became apparent, asbestos was originally mined to use in construction of buildings. As a building material, it was sound-absorbent, and resistant to heat, fire, and electrical and chemical damage. As a result, manufacturers and builders regularly used it in the 19th century. Many workers were exposed both in the mines and in constructing buildings using asbestos.
Inhalation of asbestos fibers can lead to serious illnesses, such as lung cancer, asbestosis, and mesothelioma. The greater the exposure to asbestos, the higher the risk of associated health problems. When workers are exposed to asbestos in their work environment, the corporations for which they work may be liable for the injuries they suffer as a result of the asbestos exposure.
Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that most often occurs in the thin membrane lining the lungs or abdomen. Approximately 2,000 to 3,000 cases are diagnosed each year in the United States, and this rate is steadily rising. Mesothelioma can appear and progress very rapidly. However, it usually does not manifest itself until several decades after the first exposure to asbestos.
This monumental settlement is one of many that are paving the way for injury cases to be filed against workplace managers and managing corporations that expose their workers to the dangerous inhalation of asbestos toxins.
To date, a number of these injured workers have had their medical treatment paid by Medicare. Part of the money won in the settlement will go towards repayment of the Medicare liens and moneys spent, which will not only free up Medicare funds for other people who need healthcare funding, but will also hold the right people responsible for paying for treatment of the injuries that arose out of the unsafe workplace conditions.
Our Chicago personal injury attorneys have handled a number of cases involving unsafe work environments that led to worker injuries, including a $5.7 million settlement for a 27-year-old roofer in a workplace injury case who was paralyzed when he fell from a roof as a result of the general contractor’s failure to provide appropriate safety devices.
If you or a loved one have suffered an injury at work – including exposure to asbestos – see a doctor immediately for medical treatment. Special laws are in place to protect employees from dangerous work environments, and a personal injury attorney may also be able to help you ascertain your rights under the law.