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Oklahoma mesothelioma lawyers to help residents and workers exposed to asbestos get justice and recover damages. Between 1999 and 2017, more than 2,600 Oklahomans died from illnesses related to asbestos exposure.Get Financial Help Now
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How Oklahoma Mesothelioma Lawyers Help Asbestos Victims
Mesothelioma and asbestos attorneys work with people exposed to asbestos throughout the state, including in:
- Oklahoma City
- Broken Arrow
- Fort Sill
- And more
If you were exposed in these or any other areas of Oklahoma, you need an experienced lawyer to explain your legal rights and options:
- Personal injury claim. Most asbestos exposure was negligent, so if you are sick now, you have a right to sue the responsible companies for damages.
- Wrongful death lawsuit. If your loved one died because of asbestos illnesses, you can sue the responsible companies.
- Asbestos trust fund claim. If the companies that caused your exposure are now bankrupt, a lawyer will help you find the right trust fund to file a claim for compensation.
- VA Benefits. If your exposure occurred during military service, you can file a claim for benefits through the Veterans Administration.
An asbestos firm can investigate your past exposure to asbestos, find the companies responsible, and help you take legal action to recover damages or get compensation.
How Was I Exposed to Asbestos in Oklahoma?
All states have had trouble with asbestos because many companies used it extensively until the mid-1970s. This was when federal regulations restricted its use after its dangers became widely known.
Inhaled fibers of asbestos cause illness in many people years after they came into contact with it. Most of these illnesses are fatal.
In Oklahoma, as in other states, asbestos was used in construction and today poses a health risk for many residents. That old asbestos can be damaged or may deteriorate, exposing harmful fibers.
Oklahoma has no natural deposits of asbestos and no history of mining it, but it does have a large oil and gas industry, which uses asbestos and can expose workers.
The state is also home to several Superfund sites that continue to put residents at risk of being exposed to asbestos in the air, soil, and water. Cleanup efforts are ongoing.
Oil and Gas Industry
Oklahoma is one of the country’s biggest oil and natural gas producers. These industries help the economy thrive but also create health and environmental problems. Drilling and refineries use a lot of asbestos, even today because it is a good insulator.
There is a lot of heat involved in refining oil and gas, and there is always a fire risk. Asbestos has been used extensively in these operations because it protects against heat and the spread of fires.
Asbestos is not limited to insulation and fireproofing in the oil and gas industry. It was also used in machinery and equipment to drill, transport, and refine oil and gas. Gaskets, brakes, sealants, and other components in machinery and equipment contain asbestos.
The buildings that support these operations also used a lot of asbestos in roofing, flooring, insulation, and other materials. Studies of refinery workers from various locations show they are more susceptible to asbestos-related illnesses and have higher incidences of mesothelioma than other workers.
Many refineries and other places in Oklahoma are EPA Superfund sites. These are highly contaminated areas with asbestos and other toxins that put nearby residents at risk. The Hudson Refinery in Cushing operated from the 1920s to the 1980s when the site was abandoned.
The EPA designated it as a Superfund site because of toxic materials, including friable asbestos. Cleanup began in the early 2000s, but as late as 2011, asbestos was still being found and removed.
Another Superfund site in the state is the former Fourth Street Refinery in Oklahoma City. The abandoned facility was contaminated with asbestos and other toxic materials, and cleanup concluded in 2008. The site had contaminated groundwater and put 20,000 nearby residents at risk of asbestos exposure.
Unfortunately, recent evaluations found that there is still asbestos in the area, and while the EPA is set to remove it in the future, there is no definite date.
Other Job Sites with Asbestos
Oil and gas industries have been responsible for much of the asbestos exposure that Oklahomans experienced, but not all of it. Other jobs put people at risk, including airplane mechanics, power plant workers, vermiculite and asbestos insulation processors, and others:
- Douglas Aircraft Company, Tulsa
- American Airlines, Tulsa
- McDonnell Douglas Aircraft Company, Tulsa
- MW Kellogg, Tulsa
- ACC Machine Tool Co., Oklahoma City
- General Motors Plant, Oklahoma City
- Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma City
- Midwest Insulation and Material Company, Oklahoma City
- National Zinc Company, Bartlesville
- Standard Asbestos Manufacturing and Insulating Company, Oklahoma City
- Oklahoma Gas and Electric Company, Drumright
- Duncan Oil Company Refinery, Duncan
- Cushing Oil Terminal, Cushing
- Vance Air Force Base, Enid
- BC Fertilizer Plant, Enid
- Enid Asbestos Co., Enid
- Phillips Petroleum Refinery, Okmulgee
Could I Still Be Exposed to Asbestos in Oklahoma Today?
Yes, you can still be exposed today. Most cases of mesothelioma today resulted from past exposure because the disease takes decades to develop. But people are still at risk today.
The main contributor to the current exposure risk is asbestos in older buildings, including workplaces, industrial sites, public buildings and schools, and homes.
Asbestos continues to be an issue throughout Oklahoma. The historic First Christian Church in Oklahoma City was recently demolished, but the building was known to contain asbestos. Demolishing buildings with asbestos requires careful abatement to avoid exposing area residents.
Norman also had an issue with asbestos recently. The city was renovating a former library when it discovered asbestos. This delayed the work because it poses a risk to workers and anyone in the area.
What Are the Asbestos Laws in Oklahoma?
Oklahoma’s asbestos laws are supposed to prevent ongoing exposure to asbestos. Other laws affect negligence lawsuits and how victims of past exposure recover damages.
Asbestos Safety Regulations
Several state departments ensure that residents and workers remain protected from asbestos. The Department of Labor dictates how to abate asbestos in older buildings under the Oklahoma Asbestos Control Act. This requires public buildings to be inspected for asbestos and that all buildings be checked before renovation or demolition.
The department also licenses contractors to work with asbestos. The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality ensures the state follows federal guidelines regarding asbestos contamination, including the National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants.
Statute of Limitations
Residents and workers in Oklahoma exposed to asbestos have two years from a medical diagnosis to file a lawsuit against the responsible party.
Those with loved ones who died because of asbestos exposure also have just two years from the time of death to file a wrongful death suit. These statutes of limitations mean that those people harmed by asbestos do not have time to wait. They must act quickly to get justice.
Secondhand Exposure and Take-Home Duty
Secondhand exposure occurs when someone working with asbestos unknowingly brings the fibers home on clothing, exposing members of the household. Each state has taken its own approach to litigation from secondhand exposure victims.
States vary in whether or not they recognize the take-home duty of an asbestos company, that is whether or not the company had a duty to warn anyone in the home of the risks of secondhand exposure.
Oklahoma has no laws regarding take-home duty, but one case from 1992 set a precedent that does not favor victims. The case came from the estate of a woman who died from mesothelioma because her husband worked with asbestos insulation. She was exposed to fibers on his clothes.
The Oklahoma 10th Circuit found that the insulation manufacturers did not have a duty to warn her because they could not foresee that their products would harm family members of workers.
This precedent makes it harder for some victims of asbestos exposure to recover damages, but it is not impossible.
Asbestos Claims Transparency Act
Oklahoma is one of a growing number of states with laws that require plaintiffs to disclose information about asbestos trust claims. Trusts are the funds bankrupt companies set up to compensate future claimants for past asbestos exposure.
In 2013, Oklahoma passed a law that requires plaintiffs suing for past asbestos exposure to disclose any claims they have made with trusts or plan to make. They have 90 days to do it. This allows the court to offset any award amounts by the amount a plaintiff has received from a trust.
For the asbestos exposure victim, this means that they cannot recover as much in damages as they would have been able to otherwise.
Working with Oklahoma Mesothelioma Lawyers
Because of the short period for action and because asbestos laws and lawsuits are complicated, it is best for anyone harmed by exposure to rely on a good Oklahoma mesothelioma lawyer.
If you are sick with mesothelioma, your time is limited. It makes sense to work with an experienced professional, so you can take action quickly and ensure that your precious time is not wasted. Your lawyer can help you get through all the administrative hoops and advocate on your behalf to ensure you get the compensation and the justice you deserve.Get Your FREE Mesothelioma Packet
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.