There are more than 3,000 new mesothelioma cases diagnosed each year within the United States, and hundreds of these occur in Pennsylvania and Virginia given the prevalence of industries that have heavy asbestos exposure.
The rights of mesothelioma patients come from a Supreme Court Decision in 2013, namely a diagnosis of the disease qualifies for worker’s compensation coverage if reported within a specific parameter. If the diagnosis falls outside of this timeline, victims are free to file a lawsuit.
Timeline of a diagnosis
Unfortunately, the damage that asbestos does often goes unnoticed until severe symptoms of mesothelioma appear. These include respiratory problems, coughing, fever, weight loss, difficult swallow and the development of pleural plaque. Workers diagnosed with this disease are eligible for coverage under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, given that it is an occupational disease. However, the timeline for filing a claim is 300 weeks after the last exposure or last date of employment. This becomes a problem when it could take 20 years or more for the disease to develop after initial exposure.
Recourse for mesothelioma patients
Although the Tooey decision in 2013 allows former employees to file suit against employers for occupational diseases that develop after the 300-week timeline, there is potential for those with the disease to pursue compensation through workers’ comp benefits through the legal system. Recovering damages from third parties is also possible.
It is important for individuals to report workplace exposure to asbestos as soon as possible. Waiting to report exposure will jeopardize people’s health as well as compensation or legal options.