Florida faces among the most mesothelioma deaths in the country, but patients and their families have options to prevent exposure and seek legal help.
Florida suffered 2,801 mesothelioma deaths between 1999 and 2015.
The mesothelioma death rate is about 9 people per million.
Mesothelioma patients have 4 years after diagnosis to file a personal injury claim.
Surviving family members have 2 years to file a wrongful death claim in Florida.
Asbestos is found in countless homes and industrial buildings in Florida. But despite health risks associated with asbestos exposure, the mineral is still used in a number of industries across the state.
When inhaled, asbestos fibers can cause mesothelioma. A malignant tumor of the tissue lining the lungs or stomach, this rare cancer does not currently have a cure. Florida is home to a number of cancer centers that provide specialized treatment for mesothelioma patients to reduce pain and prolong survival.
The use and removal of asbestos is heavily monitored in Florida, in compliance with both state and federal regulations. High penalties are set for non-compliance.
Many lawsuits have been filed in the state by residents who developed mesothelioma after exposure to asbestos, often in the workplace. As a result of the high volume of claims, the Florida Senate tightened its criteria for viable asbestos-related lawsuits in 2005. The “Lawsuits” section of this page provides more information on how this court decision may affect your claim.
Asbestos Exposure in Florida
Exposure to asbestos is most likely to occur in the workplace. Many industries operating in Florida require employees to work with the mineral on a regular basis, including shipyards and power plants. Regular inhalation of asbestos fibers increases the likelihood of developing mesothelioma, but the disease is slow to develop, with the first symptoms typically showing up a lengthy 15-60 years after initial exposure.
Asbestos has been found at NASA facilities such as the one at Cape Canaveral. The mineral was used in many processes vital to the U.S. space program, as well as in the construction of dozens of buildings. These facilities are being closely monitored for evidence of asbestos exposure.
Working with asbestos can also result in secondary exposure to family members if a worker inadvertently spreads asbestos dust in their home from their clothing, shoes, or hair. Such exposure is responsible for an estimated 20% of all mesothelioma cases in the U.S. and other industrialized companies.
Florida has one of the highest rates of mesothelioma diagnoses in the U.S. In the years 2001 to 2010, 1,713 deaths from malignant mesothelioma were reported in the state. This was second only to California, which recorded 2,637 deaths during the same period. Given the disease’s long latency period and the high percentage of people who move to Florida upon retirement, it is not clear whether these deaths were the result of asbestos exposure in the state or elsewhere.
Treatment Options for Mesothelioma Patients in Florida
Although there is currently no cure for mesothelioma, many patients are able to relieve their symptoms and improve their quality of life with treatment. Treatment options for mesothelioma patients include chemotherapy, surgery, radiation therapy, or a combination of these three. As with any cancer, the cost of diagnosis and treatment can be high, but it is often possible to recover some or all of these costs. Visit our page on treatment costs to find out more.
Florida is home to three cancer centers offering dedicated mesothelioma treatment programs led by specialized doctors. In some cases, these centers are also involved in research dedicated to the discovery of new treatments. Patients living with mesothelioma in Florida may be eligible to participate in a clinical trial for emerging treatments like gene therapy and p53 restorative drugs.
Click the links below to learn more about these Florida cancer clinics or to receive help in contacting them.
- H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute, Tampa
- MD Anderson Cancer Center, Orlando
- Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, Miami
Despite the slow development of the disease, symptoms worsen quickly after first presenting. For this reason, it is important to seek medical advice immediately if you or someone you love is showing symptoms.
Mesothelioma and Asbestos Exposure Lawsuits in Florida
While there is no federal legislation currently in place to compensate those affected by an asbestos-related illness, mesothelioma patients in Florida can still file a lawsuit against the people and entities responsible for their exposure. This has to happen within four years of your discovery of harm according to the relevant statute of limitations.
In response to an increased number of asbestos-related lawsuits in the state, in 2005 the Florida Senate tightened legislation relating to the filing of mesothelioma claims. This was done in part to protect uninvolved successor corporations from liability. In many cases, lawsuits were being filed despite a lack of resulting physical impairment or cancer.
Under the Asbestos and Silica Compensation Fairness Act, claimants are now required to produce a medical report that shows you are experiencing physical impairment as a result of asbestos exposure. Evidence from a qualified doctor is also required in cases where a claim is filed on behalf of a deceased patient. In 2008, the Florida Supreme Court concluded that this ruling could not be applied to cases filed prior to the legislation’s passage in 2005.
The limitations period for filing a claim begins when you discover (or could be reasonably expected to have known) that you are physically impaired as a result of asbestos exposure. Despite the four-year window for filing a claim, it is reasonable to contact a lawyer specializing in mesothelioma cases early to ensure you have time to gather the evidence you need.
Florida Laws and Regulations Concerning Asbestos
In most cases, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) is the agency responsible for the enforcement of nationwide asbestos regulations in the state. This is guided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP), as well as standards set by the Department of Labor’s (DOL) Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). In addition to this, the FDEP closely monitors asbestos levels in drinking water.
The FDEP assess strict penalties against those who fail to comply with asbestos regulations in the state. Fines range from $500 to $10,000 depending on the nature of the noncompliance and the number of previous violations. These regulations are in place to limit public exposure to airborne asbestos fibers.