Washington Mesothelioma Lawyer
The state of Washington ranks high in the U.S. for the number of deaths caused by asbestos exposure. From 1999 to 2013, more than 7,000 residents or workers died because they were exposed to asbestos and developed related illnesses, including mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis. These illnesses are progressive and difficult to treat and are almost always fatal.
Many of the people in Washington, who were affected by asbestos, including the loved ones of those who died, are fighting back against the companies responsible for their exposure. They are relying on a Washington mesothelioma lawyer to help them file lawsuits, get justice, and get compensation for medical and other expenses through settlements, jury awards, and asbestos trust funds.
Naturally-Occurring Asbestos and Asbestos Mines in Washington
Northern Washington has several deposits of naturally occurring asbestos, and while the state never produced a lot of asbestos, it does have formerly-active asbestos mines, as well as former prospects. Any time a state has natural deposits of asbestos, whether they were mined or not, they pose risks to residents. If the natural asbestos is disturbed by construction and other activities, the fibers may contaminate the local air, ground, and water. The two once-active asbestos mines in the state were located in Skagit and Okanogan Counties. These mines did not produce much, but while operational, they exposed workers to asbestos fibers.
Libby, Montana Vermiculite in Washington
Washington, like many states, received shipments of the mineral vermiculite from the W.R. Grace mine in Libby, Montana. The vermiculite was shipped to facilities where workers processed it to make insulation and other products. The Libby vermiculite is notable because it was contaminated with asbestos. Decades of mining produced hundreds of thousands of tons of asbestos-laden vermiculite before the harm was realized. By then the damage was done and thousands of workers and residents who lived near the mines or processing facilities in other states were exposed to asbestos. Multiple processing sites in Washington received Libby vermiculite shipments, most located in and around Seattle and Spokane.
Shipping and Asbestos Use
Washington, and especially Seattle and the surrounding area, have long been important regions for the maritime industry. Shipping, shipbuilding, naval facilities, and commercial fishing are all important industries here and major employers for residents. Unfortunately, ships have historically contained a lot of asbestos. For many decades anyone who worked building or repairing ships, or just on or around ships and shipyards, were put at risk for asbestos exposure. Many people were exposed and became ill because of the asbestos used to protect ships from fire and to insulate them.
Other Sites in Washington with Known Asbestos
Washington has also long been home to other industries that have been important economically, but that also exposed workers and residents to asbestos. Many industrial and manufacturing facilities used asbestos throughout the buildings, in machinery and equipment, in protective gear, and even in the materials and products that the workers were handling directly. Some of the many sites in Washington that were known to have had asbestos include:
- Fairchild Air Force Base, Spokane
- Crown Zellerbach Paper Mill, Camas
- Alcoa-Wenatchee Aluminum Plant, Malaga
- Lockheed Shipbuilding and Construction Company, Harbor Island
- Puget Sound Bridge and Dredge Shipyard, Seattle
- United States Naval Air Station, Seattle
- Boeing Aircraft, Seattle
- Vancouver Shipyard, Vancouver
- Atomic Energy Plant, Pasco
Asbestos Laws in Washington
Laws relating to the use, abatement, and disposal of asbestos in Washington are administered by the State Department of Labor and Industries. The department enforces the state’s regulations as well as those set by federal agencies. Professionals who inspect buildings for asbestos and those who work with and abate asbestos must be certified and trained by the state. Construction projects have to be inspected for dangerous asbestos before they can begin. Any project that will involve working with or removing asbestos has to be disclosed to the state at least ten days in advance. Private homeowners are exempt from many restrictions, but still, have to use trained professionals to remove any asbestos.
Cancer Care in Washington
Diagnosing and treating mesothelioma is challenging. This is an aggressive type of cancer and it requires expert care from cancer and mesothelioma specialists. If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or you have been exposed to asbestos but not yet diagnosed with a related illness, it is crucial that you seek out expert care and treatment. You can do this by looking for a National Cancer Center-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center. These facilities are staffed by cancer experts who use cutting edge treatments and participate in the latest research. In Washington, the Fred Hutchison/University of Washington Cancer Consortium in Seattle is one of these cancer centers.
Statute of Limitations
Taking legal action over asbestos exposure and illness has a time limit in Washington, as it does in most states. Here the statute of limitations is three years. That means that if you want to file a lawsuit to seek damages for your illness, you must do so within three years of the time you were diagnosed. For wrongful death cases in Washington, which are often filed by spouses of someone who died from an asbestos illness, the statute of limitations is also three years from the time of death.
A Major Washington Mesothelioma Lawyer Victory
Lawyers in the state have long been helping residents and workers get justice for the harm they suffered because of workplace asbestos exposure, and there have been many success stories. One of these victories occurred in 2009 when a jury awarded a plaintiff $10.2 million. The asbestos victim was a former paper mill worker who was diagnosed with mesothelioma. He worked for Crown Zellerbach Paper Mill but sued the makers of some of the materials he used on the job at the paper mill. The jury agreed that the products had design flaws that caused him to be exposed to asbestos.
Work with a Washington Mesothelioma Lawyer
To have the best chance of success in a lawsuit for your own illness or in a wrongful death lawsuit in the name of a deceased loved one, you need expert advice and guidance. This can be provided by a Washington mesothelioma lawyer. Your lawyer should be someone who specializes in asbestos litigation and settlements, who knows the laws related to asbestos and mesothelioma, and who has a proven record of winning compensation for other victims. When you work with someone like this, you are more likely to be able to put together a strong case to get the justice and the compensation that you deserve.
Page Written by Rod De Llano, Esquire
Page edited by Dave Foster
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