The Mn Criminal Defense, Personal Injury & Family Law Blog
If a Doctor Says I Have Mesothelioma, Should I Call a Brainerd, MN Personal Injury Lawyer?
July 10, 2019
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the answer to this question was “probably not.” Back then, bloated asbestos trust funds had plenty of money. So, filing paperwork was usually enough to obtain compensation. Moreover, mesothelioma survival rates were very low. Therefore, medical treatment options were limited.
Today, if you receive this diagnosis, you should definitely reach out to a personal injury lawyer in Brainerd, MN. Victim claims have sharply depleted asbestos trust funds. So, claims examiners are much stingier than they used to be. As a result, you need a forceful and experienced advocate. Additionally, cancer survival rates have increased significantly since the 1990s. A Brainerd, MN personal injury lawyer can arrange for the treatment you need.
The Nuts and Bolts of Asbestos and Mesothelioma
Once upon a time, construction engineers hailed asbestos as a miracle mineral. It was plentiful and cheap. Furthermore, it was a very effective fireproofing agent and insulator.
But researchers quickly discovered that the miracle mineral had a dark side. Toxic asbestos fibers are the sole cause of mesothelioma. This rare and aggressive cancerous tumor forms in the delicate lining between the heart and lungs. One microscopic asbestos fiber is enough to trigger mesothelioma.
Nevertheless, many companies kept using asbestos for many years. They intentionally put workers and their families at risk. Asbestos-exposure diseases are still a problem today. Many times, workers on renovation and demolition projects come into contact with asbestos fibers. And, many employers fail or refuse to take the proper safety precautions.
For many years, mesothelioma did not respond very well to traditional surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy treatments. These therapies are much more effective now, and they are also much more expensive. Brainerd, MN personal injury lawyers arrange for victims to receive the assistance they need at no upfront cost.
Brainerd, MN Personal Injury Lawyers and Mesothelioma Medical Malpractice
As mentioned, mesothelioma is a very rare and aggressive kind of cancer. As a result, doctors do not always diagnose it immediately. In fact, doctors fail to properly diagnose the disease in about 40 percent of cancer cases.
To many doctors, cancer is a lifestyle or a genetic disease. So, if a patient comes into the office complaining of chest tightness and shortness of breath, yes the patient is a nonsmoker with no applicable family history, lung cancer is probably not on the doctor’s radar. Instead, the doctor is much more likely to diagnose something like chronic bronchitis or COPD.
Misdiagnosis problems continue once doctors determine that the patient does, in fact, have cancer. Since mesothelioma is so rare, when doctors see lung tumors, they identify them as Adenocarcinoma, or Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC). The conservative treatment regimen they prescribe may be effective in NSCLC cases, but it does little good against mesothelioma. So, the cancer continues to spread.
Minnesota’s two-year statute of limitations is sometimes an issue in cancer misdiagnosis cases. By the time doctors correctly diagnose the condition, that two-year period has expired.
Fortunately, the discovery rule generally comes into play. The clock does not begin ticking down until victims discover the full extent of their injuries and connect those injuries to the defendant’s wrongful conduct. The discovery rule also affects other medical malpractice cases as well, such as dangerous drug injuries. Although construction defects are similar in nature, Minnesota has a statute of repose, so they are procedurally different.
Your Claim Against Operating or Defunct Asbestos Companies
Thankfully, the discovery rule also applies in asbestos exposure cases. Mesothelioma’s latency period could be up to seventy years. So, many people reading this post might have mesothelioma and not know it.
Some victims are directly exposed to asbestos. These people generally worked on construction projects or in shipyards that used asbestos. Typically, these victims do not have to prove fault or negligence to obtain compensation. However, a personal injury lawyer in Brainerd, MN may be limited to economic losses, such as medical bills.
Additional noneconomic losses may be available in direct exposure cases as well. Workers’ compensation is not the exclusive remedy for workplace injuries. If the victim/plaintiff establishes that the company acted with reckless disregard for worker safety, as is often the case, compensation for noneconomic damages, like pain and suffering, may be available.
Ambient exposure cases work a bit differently. These claims are quite common. Many times, workers unintentionally carried asbestos fibers home on their shoes or clothes. Other times, people who lived near construction sites or shipyards may have been exposed to this toxic substance.
These victims are automatically entitled to noneconomic damages. There is no need to make an additional evidentiary showing.