Illinois Mesothelioma Lawyer
Illinois ranks high among the 50 states for the number of deaths related to asbestos. In fact, the state is in the top ten for this dubious distinction. Thousands of people in Illinois have become sick from asbestos exposure and have died from mesothelioma and other related illnesses.
These victims were unknowingly exposed, most often at work. They didn’t realize the dangers of their workplace. Illinois mesothelioma lawyers have helped many of them get compensation and justice for their suffering. Some of the industries that have been responsible for asbestos use and exposed workers in the state include timber, agriculture, power, coal, and manufacturing.
Asbestos Use in Illinois
Asbestos use in the state has been heavy, which explains the high number of deaths related to it. Between 1999 and 2013, 9,720 people in Illinois died from asbestos-related conditions. Nearly 2,000 of those were from mesothelioma, 364 were from asbestosis, and the remaining 7,500-plus deaths were the result of asbestos-related lung cancer. Chicago and Cook County is the area in the state with the highest rates of exposure to asbestos and resulting deaths.
Asbestos was used heavily in several industries and hundreds of workplaces throughout Illinois. Although there are federal and state laws in place now that aim to protect workers, there was a time when people were exposed without knowing that there were such serious risks to their health. Oil refineries and power plants, chemical plants, manufacturing plants, steel foundries, and other industrial workplaces used asbestos heavily. The most common applications were for insulating and fireproofing in these industries.
Some school buildings in the state have also been found to be contaminated with asbestos, putting both workers and students at risk. Any older building in the state may have asbestos in the insulation and other materials, and it becomes a health risk if it is disturbed or deteriorates, releasing fibers into the air. Several schools in the state have had to be demolished because of the presence of asbestos.
Vermiculite is a natural mineral with several uses for homes and industrial plants, but it has to be processed before use. Several processing sites in Illinois received vermiculite mined from the W.R. Grace site in Libby, Montana. For decades that site produced vermiculite that was heavily contaminated with asbestos. The mine itself caused a large amount of exposure in workers and residents in Libby. People were exposed who worked and lived near processing plants around the country that received the mine’s vermiculite.
One example of such a site was in Chicago and processed nearly 300,000 tons of vermiculite from the Libby mine between the 1970s and 1996 when operations ceased at the facility. The workers there were exposed to significant levels of asbestos and were at risk for becoming sick later. As recently as 2003 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found traces of asbestos still remaining in the soil at the site.
The Johns Manville Corporation in Waukegan, Illinois is another well-known site in the state for asbestos exposure. Not only were workers here put at risk, but the company dumped millions of cubic yards of waste at the site, near public beaches and state parks on Lake Michigan. This means that residents and vacationers enjoying the parks, lake, and beaches, could also have been exposed to asbestos.
The Johns Manville facility was closed in 1998 and the EPA declared it a Superfund site in need of federal cleanup funding. The process of cleaning it up is still on going and the EPA continues to monitor soil, water, and air outside of the official site.
Other Sites in Illinois with Known Asbestos Exposure
In addition to these major sources of asbestos exposure in Illinois, there are many others all over the state. Workers and residents alike have been put at risk of becoming sick from exposure. Some of these industrial sites include:
- Amoco Oil, Joliet
- Dresden Nuclear Power Plant, Morris
- Great Lakes Naval Station, Chicago
- Peoria Power Plant, Peoria
- Shell Oil Refinery, Wood River
- US Steel Corp, Chicago
- Wisconsin Steel, Chicago
- Monsanto Chemical Company, Sauget
- Inland Steel, Chicago
- International Harvester, Peoria
- John Deere Company, Moline
- Commonwealth Edison, Chicago
Illinois Asbestos Laws
The Illinois Department of Health and the Illinois EPA are responsible for state-level regulations for the management of asbestos. The laws in the state require that any building project that includes asbestos abatement cannot begin until the state has been notified and a fine paid. Asbestos abatement projects can only be done by professionals trained and licensed through the state.
Projects involving asbestos must include large, visible signs to warn the public. Projects must also include air samples taken regularly to monitor for fibers in the air. Certain locations in the state, including Cook County, have their own additional rules regarding asbestos.
According to the state of Illinois, local education agencies are responsible for protecting students from airborne asbestos. The state’s Asbestos Abatement Act and Code states that one person in each local agency must be designated to oversee the management of existing asbestos in schools and any necessary abatement by trained professionals.
Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations on lawsuits related to asbestos exposure and asbestos-related illnesses varies by state, and in Illinois is two years from the time of diagnosis. A victim of asbestos exposure who has become sick has a right to find representation and file a lawsuit to seek compensation and justice from the responsible party, but it must be done in the two years following a diagnosis. The same is true for the loved ones of those who died from the exposure. The statute of limitations on wrongful death suits in the state is two years from the time of death.
Working with an Illinois Mesothelioma Lawyer
People who became sick after being exposed to asbestos in the state should seek out the assistance of an Illinois mesothelioma lawyer. Trying to handle an asbestos lawsuit without good representation is challenging and limits successful outcomes.
There have already been many examples of lawsuits led by experienced legal teams that won compensation for victims or their families. These include a case from 2011 in which a jury awarded the wife of a man who died from mesothelioma $1.5 million. Her husband had worked for three decades at a steel plant in Chicago and was exposed to asbestos while working with wires that were insulated with asbestos.
Madison County in Illinois has seen more asbestos-related cases than anywhere in the state. Illinois mesothelioma lawyers there set the record for the biggest award for a plaintiff. Most of the lawsuits never go to court—the lawsuits are more often settled out of court—but in 2003 a plaintiff won a $250 million verdict, the largest asbestos verdict for a single plaintiff in history.
If you are living with mesothelioma, or you have lost a loved one to the disease or another asbestos-related illness, let an Illinois mesothelioma lawyer help you make a case for compensation. This professional can guide you through the steps you need to take to make sure you have the best possible chance of winning.
Page Written by Rod De Llano, Esquire
Page edited by Dave Foster
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