When a business owner or landlord exposes tenants or customers to asbestos, it falls into the legal category of premises liability. Asbestos, which is a mineral fiber that was previously used in some building construction materials for insulation, has been discovered to cause serious health problems in adults and children. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) have banned numerous products that contain asbestos. However, many old buildings still have harmful amounts of this mineral fiber.
Exposure to asbestos can occur when materials that contain asbestos are cut, sanded or disturbed by remodeling activities. If asbestos is improperly removed, it can cause elevated concentrations of airborne asbestos, which endangers the people that are living or working in the area. Some of the main sources of asbestos include deteriorating, damaged or disturbed insulation, fireproofing materials and floor tiles. Asbestos-containing materials that crumble when handled or that have been scraped, sawed or sanded into powder are more likely to cause a substantial health hazard.
Health Risks Associated with Asbestos Exposure
Asbestos fibers are not visible, which makes it difficult to know if this dangerous material is floating in the air. If asbestos fibers are inhaled, they can build up in the lungs and lead to serious, life-threatening diseases. The risks of these diseases depend on the amount of fibers inhaled. Breathing in high levels of asbestos fibers can increase the risk of developing one of the following illnesses:
- Lung cancer
- Mesothelioma – a cancer of the chest and abdominal linings
- Asbestosis – lung scarring that is irreversible and can be fatal
The symptoms of asbestos exposure can take years to surface. Symptoms of asbestosis may include shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, coughing and decreased physical activity.
Legal Action for Asbestos Exposure
If the asbestos exposure resulted from living or working in a building owned by another person, then that property owner can be held liable for medical expenses, lost wages and any other associated costs. Property owners can be held responsible even if they allege that they were unaware of the problem. Adequate inspections should have been able to ensure that the property was safe. An experienced Florida premises liability attorney can review the evidence in the asbestos case to determine who was to blame. A successful asbestos exposure lawsuit can help pay for expenses, both present and future.
If you have been exposed to asbestos due to another person’s negligence contact David M. Benenfeld today to determine if you can be compensated for losses and medical expenses.