When it comes to mesothelioma, most people think construction workers, electricians and industrial workers are the ones who are diagnosed more frequently with the disease.
However, auto mechanics have also fallen victim to the asbestos-related disease because of their work on car parts containing asbestos. A recent public awareness campaign launched by the Mesothelioma Victims Center in Washington, D.C., is bringing the plight of auto mechanics to the forefront.
Certain auto parts including brake linings, brake pads, valve rings, gaskets, and clutches that were made from the 1950s through the 1980s contained asbestos. Auto mechanics were exposed to the fibrous silicate minerals while filing or grinding brake parts, cleaning brakes, removing clutches or repairing gaskets. Also, since asbestos fibers can become airborne when they are disturbed, it would have been common for auto mechanics to inhale asbestos as they were working with the car parts.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, mesothelioma can be latent for 20 to 40 years, from the time an individual is first exposed to asbestos. From 1999 to 2005, 18,068 malignant mesothelioma deaths were reported in the United States, the CDC says in a 2009 report.
Asbestos-Related Cancer Symptoms
The symptoms of mesothelioma depend on where the cancer is found in the body. For instance, signs of pleural mesothelioma, found in tissues near the lungs, include:
- Weight loss
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty swallowing
- Fluid buildup in the lungs
- Persistent, painful coughing
- Lower back pain or chest pain
Another form of the cancer, peritoneal mesothelioma, affects tissue in the abdomen and causes:
- Abdominal pain and swelling
- Abdominal fluid buildup
- Weight loss
- Blot clots
Doctors say that pericardial mesothelioma, which develops in the lining around the heart, is tougher to diagnose because the symptoms are similar to those of other heart problems. Also, the symptoms are not always present until the cancer is in the late stages.
Auto Mechanics Filing Asbestos Claims
Like workers in other industries, auto mechanics who have mesothelioma symptoms or have been diagnosed with mesothelioma are seeking compensation for their exposure to asbestos.
One of the most well-known cases involves the family of Stephen Brown who won $53 million in February 2002. This was the largest compensation for the disease in the state of New York. Stephen Brown was a brake mechanic who was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2000.
He filed a negligence claim, with the help of a New York City mesothelioma attorney, against 48 friction product companies for failing to inform him that the brake linings he used contained asbestos. Brown died in December 2000 but his family members continued the lawsuit.
Filing asbestos claims must be done in a timely manner since each state has a filing deadline. For instance, claimants in Pennsylvania must file their asbestos lawsuit two years from the date their mesothelioma was diagnosed.
Potential plaintiffs in North Carolina must file their lawsuits within three years from the date of their diagnosis. Family members whose relatives died of mesothelioma can file wrongful death claims but again, there are filing deadlines in these situations also.
Auto mechanics who suspect they are suffering from this deadly condition or family members whose loved one died of it should contact a local attorney who specializes in asbestos related conditions or contact the Mesothelioma Victims Center.
Jamica Bell is a freelance writer and blogger. She contributes this article to highlight the risk auto mechanics face of developing this deadly cancer. New York City mesothelioma attorney group, The Perecman Law Firm is dedicated to defending the legal rights of individuals who have been adversely affected by the development of mesothelioma.
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