For many years, exposure to asbestos was part of the job for people in a range of professions. For these unfortunate people, the potential for serious, even life-threatening diseases is very real. Mesothelioma, an aggressive and frequently deadly cancer, is often correlated to ongoing asbestos exposure.
For those who got exposed to asbestos in a professional setting, workers' compensation may be available when an asbestos-related disease develops. People in a broad range of professions, including mining, manufacturing, construction, chemical remediation, and even vehicle maintenance and repair may experience dangerous levels of asbestos exposure. It has been used for insulation, brake shoes, ceiling and floor tiles, paints, and even garden products and crayons.
Work-related diseases can take time to develop
Work injuries are often easy to obtain workers' compensation coverage for. There are likely witnesses, even security camera footage of the accident to corroborate how you obtained your injuries. Medical costs begin accruing immediately, so it is relatively straightforward to file a claim and document your expenses related to the injury.
Work-related diseases, on the other hand, can take many years to fully develop. You may have retired or moved on to another career by the time you realize that you have an asbestos-related disease. That doesn't mean you don't qualify for workers' compensation.
How asbestos can impact your health
For many people, asbestos-related diseases and symptoms are primarily respiratory. When particles of asbestos get released into the air, people can breath them in. These particles can remain trapped in people's lungs for years. These particles can build up with continued exposure, causing scarring and inflammation of the lungs.
For many years, the government has recognized asbestos as a carcinogen. That means that exposure causes cancer, including mesothelioma and cancers of the lungs, ovaries and larynx. Even people who don't develop cancer can develop asthma-like symptoms, called asbestosis. This inflammatory condition makes it harder to breathe, resulting in coughing and permanent lung damage.
Pleural plaques and collections of fluids in the layers of tissues lining the lungs can also result from asbestos exposure. These conditions don't cause cancer, but developing them indicates an increased risk of lung cancer in the future.
Workers' compensation can offer medical or survivor benefits
If you have to go through treatment for a condition caused by asbestos exposure, workers' compensation can cover your medical expenses. From surgery and chemotherapy to prescription medication, these expenses can cost quite a bit. Additionally, if you can't work because of your asbestos-related illness, you may qualify for lost wage coverage.
In situations where an asbestos-related illness proves fatal, the surviving dependents of the exposed individual could receive survivor's benefits. Adequately documenting your medical condition and filing a claim for workers' compensation as soon as you realize the illness is work-related can improve your chances of receiving coverage.