Mesothelioma is a type of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. The only known cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos. Commonly, the cancer forms in the layer of tissue lining the lungs, although it can also affect the stomach or heart.
If you’ve been exposed to asbestos or have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may be entitled to compensation. By consulting with a personal injury lawyer at Miskin Law, you will have a better sense of your legal options.
Asbestos Mining in Canada
Historically, Canada was a major player in the booming asbestos mining industry. “Asbestos” actually refers to 6 mineral types, but one called Chrysotile was by far most commonly used. Desired for its strength and resistance to fire, asbestos became a common ingredient in many everyday building materials, such as insulation, cement, shingles, tiles, panels, and siding. However, once the health hazards of inhaling asbestos dust became widely known, efforts were made to ban asbestos use. Inhalation of asbestos fibers can cause serious and fatal illnesses, including mesothelioma. Finally, in 2018 that the federal government passed legislation banning asbestos use.
Incidence of Mesothelioma
Although most asbestos mines have closed down, past exposure to asbestos continues to be a significant problem in Canada. Symptoms can appear decades after the exposure. In most cases, the illness does not manifest until 20-50 years after exposure. According to the industry, about 2.1 of every 100,000 Canadians are diagnosed annually. Further, asbestos exposure continues to be a top cause of occupational death in Canada, with one third of workplace deaths in Canada linked to mesothelioma since 1996.
Canada also has one of the highest rates of mesothelioma in the world, and the rate of occurrence has risen steadily in the past couple of decades. The rate of mesothelioma is expected to rise further over the next few years.
High-Risk Occupations for Asbestos Exposure
Workers in the following occupations are particularly at risk of asbestos exposure:
- Asbestos Miners, Ship Loaders, and Truck Drivers — Due to close proximity, asbestos miners, ship loaders, and truck drivers are at a significantly increased risk of asbestos exposure.
- Factory Workers — Factory workers, including textile workers, involved in the production of asbestos-containing products also have far greater exposure to asbestos.
- Construction and Maintenance Workers, and Shipbuilders — Many construction and maintenance workers have been exposed to asbestos-containing raw materials while building, renovating, or demolition of the country’s aging buildings. Due to the materials used, shipbuilders are also at risk of exposure to asbestos. Moving, dropping, and handling asbestos-laden materials increases the risk of airborne particles entering the lungs.
- Firefighters — As asbestos is used in drywalling, flooring, and roofing, the risk of asbestos inhalation during a fire lung is high. Normally, asbestos is “dormant” in drywalling, for example, but a burning or collapsing wall can cause particles to become airborne and inhaled by firefighters.
If you believe that you may be suffering symptoms of mesothelioma, your doctor will review your medical history and send you for a chest x-ray, CT scan, or MRI. This may reveal pleural thickening commonly seen after asbestos exposure. If a large amount of fluid is present in the lungs, doctors may also check for abnormal cells by removing some fluid with a chest tube. Generally, a biopsy or removal of a sample piece of tissue is needed to confirm a diagnosis of malignant mesothelioma. Researchers are working on ways to determine whether the cancer is present by using blood tests, as elevated amounts of particular substances may be present in the blood. However, this research is not yet at an advanced stage.
Treatment and Prognosis
Treatment of mesothelioma usually involves a combination of surgery, radiation, and/or chemotherapy. The recommended course of treatment will depend on the subtype of cancer (i.e. pleural mesothelioma or peritoneal mesothelioma), its stage, the size and location of the tumor, and the patient’s age.
Mesothelioma generally has a poor prognosis, as the cancer is aggressive. Most patients do not survive even a year after being diagnosed with cancer.
When it comes to the devastating effects of mesothelioma, it is important to know your legal rights and the compensation available to you. The Mesothelioma Centre estimates that fewer than 50% of affected workers actually seek compensation, often because they believe no one knew of the dangers of asbestos and therefore no one is at fault.
In Canada, mesothelioma is recognized as an occupational illness and compensable disease if the asbestos exposure happened in the workplace. Accordingly, if you worked in an industry where you were exposed to asbestos and you have since developed mesothelioma, it is assumed, or deemed, that the illness was caused at work.
You may be able to obtain compensation through your provincial worker’s compensation board without having to prove that your illness was caused at work. Alternatively, you may be able to get a greater amount of compensation through applications to U.S. trust funds. While the majority of major asbestos companies have filed for bankruptcy, these trusts were created to ensure that victims in both Canada and the U.S. can collect compensation through an out-of-court simplified process. Your personal injury lawyer at Miskin Law can inform you further based on your particular situation.
Learn About Your Options from Miskin Law, Personal Injury Lawyers in Peterborough and Whitby
If you or a loved one is suffering from mesothelioma in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, or elsewhere in Canada, a personal injury lawyer can help you understand the legal complexities of seeking compensation. Our Peterborough and Whitby law firm is highly experienced in this area of law and will help you navigate the most effective route to seek compensation in your circumstances. Contact our firm for your free consultation at 1-877-565-8621.