Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that has been used in a variety of industries for centuries. Originally, the ancient Greeks and Romans prized the mineral for its use as an insulator and resistance to fire.
It is during this period, however, that some of the dangers of the material were first discovered. Pliny the Elder, a naturalist and doctor in ancient Rome, wrote about slaves who had worked with the material developing "sickness of the lung." He also noticed that those who had been exposed to asbestos by working in asbestos mines had a higher rate of dying early.
While these ancient Greeks and Romans did not have much of an opportunity to seek legal counsel when they developed conditions as a result of exposure to the dangerous material, people these days can contact an asbestos lawyer to attempt to receive the compensation they deserve.
By the mid-1960s, it was known that exposure to asbestos could cause a range of serious illnesses including asbestosis, lung cancer and malignant mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer that occurs in the tissues surrounding a majority of the body's internal organs. According to the Mayo Clinic, asbestosis is a "breathing disorder caused by inhaling asbestos fibers. Prolonged accumulation of these fibers in your lungs can cause scarring of lung tissue and shortness of breath." The World Health Organization estimates that 107,000 people around the world die of asbestos-related diseases each year.
With these statistics, the value of an asbestos lawyer has only increased over the years, particularly as the symptoms of many of these diseases may not appear for decades after initial exposure to the material. People in a wide variety of industries may have unknowingly been exposed to asbestos on the job, including shipbuilders, construction workers and auto mechanics.
As such, an asbestos lawyer can assist victims of asbestos-related diseases in finding when and where their initial exposure occurred and who was responsible for allowing it to happen. An asbestos lawyer can also be extremely helpful in finding former colleagues who may have crucial information for building a case for compensation against the victim's former employers.
Asbestos lawyers can also help in the rare case of family members developing asbestos-related diseases as a result of indirect exposure. In some cases, people who come into contact with those who have worked around asbestos can develop these deadly diseases themselves. In these cases, an asbestos lawyer can help to discover where the indirect exposure occurred and how it could have potentially been prevented. This has been the key question in a number of asbestos settlements over the years.
It is important for those who feel they may have contracted an asbestos-related disease to contact a doctor if they are experiencing symptoms such as shortness of breath, pain in the chest, difficulty swallowing or loss of appetite, according to the National Cancer Institute. If a person is ultimately diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, another step to take would be to contact an asbestos lawyer in order to get to the bottom of the exposure and fight for the deserved compensation.
In many cases, cures for asbestos-related diseases are not currently available, so it is important for victims to protect their families by seeking this compensation. By doing so, one can ensure that his or her loved ones will be protected in case the illness ultimately proves fatal. Thus, people who feel they may have unknowingly been exposed to asbestos should make it a point to contact an asbestos lawyer to ensure that their future - as well as that of their families - is financially stable.