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Manufacturing and other industries that have thrived in Indiana for decades have been an important part of the state economy and have provided work. Unfortunately many were also responsible for harming many of those workers by exposing them to asbestos. Ranking 21st in the country for asbestos-related deaths, Indiana has seen hundreds of deaths from mesothelioma and asbestosis, and even more from lung cancer.
If you live in Indiana or worked in the state and were exposed to asbestos, you may have been put at risk for developing a serious and life-threatening illness. An Indiana mesothelioma lawyer will act as your advocate to guide you and help you through the process of filing a lawsuit in the state and seeking compensation for medical bills and other expenses.
Asbestos Use in Indiana
Through when regulations went into effect in the 1970s, the use of asbestos across the U.S. was heavy throughout the post-war period. This natural mineral was used in many industries because of its unique properties of being lightweight, fireproof, chemical resistant, and heat resistant, as well as for being abundant and cheap .
The downside to asbestos use, which wasn’t fully realized until the 1960s, is that it is harmful to human health. The fibers of asbestos readily become airborne when disturbed and can be extremely harmful to people when inhaled; they cause illnesses like mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis.
In Indiana, there have been high rates of asbestos-related illnesses and deaths because the mineral was used throughout many of the thriving industrial jobs here, like steel, petroleum, chemical, and automotive industries. From 1999 through 2013, nearly 4,000 people in the state died from lung cancer related to asbestos, 873 people died because of mesothelioma, and 159 people died from asbestosis, a non-cancerous lung disease.
Steel Workers and Asbestos
Some of the workers most in need of the guidance of an Indiana mesothelioma lawyer are those who worked in the steel industry. Steel mills and foundries in the state used asbestos heavily because of its ability to prevent fires and insulate from heat.
Gary, in Lake County in the northwest corner of the state, was a major center for steel production and processing. It was also a major location for asbestos exposure. In fact, the majority of asbestos-related illnesses and fatalities reported in the state come from Gary and the surrounding area.
One of the largest jury awards given to a single person with an asbestos-related illness was won by a U.S. Steel worker from Gary, Indiana. Although the case was tried in Illinois the plaintiff worked in and was exposed to asbestos in the Gary steel works. He won $250 million after being diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2001.
The Automotive Industry
The automotive industry has also had a long presence in the state of Indiana. Workers constructed and repaired cars and other vehicles using asbestos in many components. Even today, brakes and clutches in many cars contain asbestos because of its ability to resist fire and heat.
Manufacturers of these parts have not always protected their employees from the dangers of asbestos. For example, in 1984, workers at Nuturn Corporation—a company that makes automotive brakes—in New Castle, Indiana requested an asbestos evaluation from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
OSHA sets regulations for safe, threshold levels of asbestos that employers must meet to keep their workers safe. OSHA found that Nuturn had let asbestos levels exceed the safe threshold and put their workers at risk. Over 150 workers were screened for related health problems and many were found to perform poorly on lung function tests and had difficulty breathing. One worker showed signs of asbestosis, a progressive and ultimately fatal disease caused by asbestos exposure.
Other Indiana Sites with Asbestos
Steel and automotive plants have been responsible for a significant portion of the illnesses and deaths related to asbestos in the state. Several different employers and work sites have been known to have asbestos, and these also include other types of industries. Some of these are:
- S. Rubber Company, Fort Wayne
- Central Indiana Lighting Company, Bloomington
- Aluminum Company of America, Evansville
- Pennsylvania Railroad Company, Fort Wayne
- General Motors
- Southern Indiana Railway Company
- Franklin Electric Company
- Indiana and Michigan Electric Company
- Raybestos Friction Materials Company
- Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical
- Allison-Bedford Foundry
- Owens-Corning Fiberglass Corporation
Asbestos Laws in Indiana
Asbestos laws and regulations in the state of Indiana are administered through the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and the Indiana Environmental Health Department. These laws include requirements for licensing and training of asbestos abatement professionals, how asbestos waste is handled and disposed of in the appropriate facilities and compliance when working on asbestos projects or demolition of older buildings.
State laws also require that these departments be notified before any kind of construction work is done on a building that contains asbestos. Licensing varies depending on the type of person working with asbestos: contractors, inspectors, waste handlers, and others each have different requirements.
Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations on asbestos-related lawsuits is a little bit longer in Indiana than in some other states, which is helpful because there are so many victims in this state. For those who are struggling with mesothelioma, lung cancer caused by asbestos, or asbestosis, the statute of limitations on a lawsuit is three years from the time of diagnosis.
The three-year statute gives plaintiffs time to find good representation, to gather evidence, and to make a strong case. For the loved ones of someone who died because of asbestos exposure, the statute of limitations on a wrongful death lawsuit is also three years, but it starts at the time of death.
Finding an Indiana Mesothelioma Lawyer
If you are hoping to file a lawsuit in the state of Indiana related to asbestos, whether on your own behalf of on the behalf of a deceased family member, don’t do it without the guidance of an Indiana mesothelioma lawyer. Filing these lawsuits can be complicated and often mean going up against big corporations with much more legal experience than you have. An experienced mesothelioma lawyer understands the laws in the state, how to make a strong case, how to gather the right evidence, and how to file a lawsuit.
Page Written by Rod De Llano, Esquire
Rod De Llano was born and raised in Laredo, Texas. He graduated from Princeton University with a B.A. in Economics, and earned a law degree from the University of Texas. After working for an international law firm for several years, Rod formed a law firm dedicated to representing persons injured by exposure to asbestos products. For over 20 years, Rod has fought for persons diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis. His clients have recovered over $1 billion over the years.