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More than 1,000 people who claim they were injured after the World Trade Center Twin Towers collapsed following the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York recently had to decide whether they wanted to pursue lawsuits or attempt to get money through a compensation fund, the Associated Press reports.
Our mesothelioma lawyers reported on our blog in September that a recent study showed that firefighters, medical personnel and others around the towers after the collapse were more likely to end up with exposure to asbestos compared to others who weren’t near the aftermath that day.
As we have reported time and time again, asbestos exposure can lead to major medical problems, including mesothelioma. This is a rare and incurable form of cancer.
It is so devastating because patients don’t realize they have mesothelioma until years and sometimes decades after they have first been exposed. Many men and women who were teenagers when they enlisted in the armed forces were exposed to asbestos before most realized it was dangerous and they are now suffering today. Others who worked in steel mills, in the oil and gas industry or in manufacturing may have worked on equipment or with products that contained asbestos.
On January 2, the deadline passed for people to decide whether they wanted to go forward with lawsuits claiming their health was ruined by dust and smoke from the collapsed towers or if they would rather drop the litigation and apply for benefits from the government.
Lawmakers set aside $2.76 billion in federal taxpayer dollars last winter, though that amount was lower than a previously proposed amount, that would pay for those who were diagnosed with illnesses that were a result of spending time in the disaster zone. As many recall, a haze of ash spread over the Ground Zero area for many months following the attacks.
Rescue crews scoured for live bodies, while recovery crews later worked to clean up the rubble from the giant towers. To be considered for part of the money, applicants had to dismiss any lawsuits and give up the right to sue ever again. Anyone who still had a lawsuit pending on Jan. 3 forfeited the right to apply for the compensation fund.
The program allows people to get money for their sickness without having to prove it was a result of the terrorist attacks. But it could take months or years before the applicants know how much money they could eventually get. They must endure the gamble of not knowing whether a trial would be quicker or more profitable. This program is as suspect as many other such government programs.
The other problem is that the fund was limited to some breathing ailments, such as asthma, scarred lungs and other respiratory problems. The list of illnesses doesn’t include cancer, which scientists have yet to conclusively link to the toxins within the trade center. Some have dropped their lawsuits even if cancer is one day added to the list.
The article suggests that New Yorkers other than emergency crew workers could one day apply for the fund as well, spreading its money thin. If the list of illnesses is expanded, that could cut down on how much is available as well.
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Frequently Asked Questions: Mesothelioma & Asbestos
What is asbestos?
Asbestos is a carcinogenic, naturally occurring fibrous mineral. Known for its heat resistance and durability, asbestos has historically been used in insulation, construction materials, automotive parts, and shipbuilding materials.
Why is asbestos dangerous?
Asbestos is made up of small shard-like fibers that can easily become airborne when disturbed. If inhaled or ingested, these fibers can embed within the lining of the lungs, heart, stomach, or testes where they can cause cancer to form years or decades later.
What are asbestos-related diseases?
Asbestos exposure can cause mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer.
What causes mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is an aggressive and incurable form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. Unfortunately, symptoms of mesothelioma may not appear until decades after exposure.
What are the different types of mesothelioma?
Three of the most common types of mesothelioma are pleural mesothelioma, peritoneal mesothelioma, and pericardial mesothelioma.
What are common mesothelioma symptoms?
Common symptoms of mesothelioma include difficulty breathing and chest pains. Peritoneal mesothelioma, which affects the stomach, may cause abdominal swelling, loss of appetite, constipation, abdominal pain, and nausea.
Do I qualify for compensation if I have mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a preventable form of cancer most commonly caused by asbestos exposure. If you were exposed to asbestos while serving in the U.S. military or while working in construction, mechanics, or a similar field, you may be eligible for compensation. Contact The Ferraro Law Firm for a free legal consultation.
What is the life expectancy for someone with mesothelioma?
There is no cure for mesothelioma. However, patients can receive treatments for mesothelioma that may extend their initial prognosis with proper treatment. Those diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma usually have a life expectancy that is greater than three years, though a large part of this depends on the stage the patient is diagnosed. The earlier the diagnosis, the longer the life expectancy and chance of long-term survival.
Do I qualify for compensation if I have mesothelioma?
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you should immediately seek long-term medical treatment. After that, you should contact our firm to examine your legal rights. Since 1985, The Ferraro Law Firm has represented individuals with asbestos-related diseases and pursued fair compensation on their behalf. Our firm is one of the top five law firms in the U.S. handling mesothelioma and asbestos cases.