If you have mesothelioma and have lived, worked, or served in the military in California, you have options. Learn about the dangers of asbestos exposure in California, and find a local California mesothelioma attorney who can help you receive compensation to pay for mesothelioma treatment and related costs.
Asbestos is found all over California. It even occurs naturally in serpentine, the state mineral. Due to its resistance to heat, it was once used liberally in commercial and industrial products, from roofing felt to toilet seats. Asbestos is still present in millions of buildings including many homes, particularly those constructed or refurbished before 1975. For decades, it was also widely used in the automotive industry in the manufacturing of clutches and brakes.
When damaged or disturbed, asbestos releases fibers into the air that can cause mesothelioma, a rare and malignant cancer. Although mesothelioma is currently incurable, there are a number of treatment options available to help reduce symptoms and prolong survival. Many cancer centers across California have dedicated mesothelioma treatment programs.
Asbestos use and removal is heavily regulated in California. As a result of state and federal regulations and increasing awareness about the risks of asbestos exposure, many mesothelioma patients have filed asbestos-related lawsuits in the state, with varying results.
Asbestos Exposure in California
Workers regularly exposed to asbestos are at greater risk of developing mesothelioma, as are residents whose homes are located in the proximity of an asbestos mine or facility related to asbestos, such as oil refineries, mining and smelting operations, shipyards, and power plants.
Less common but still significant is the risk of secondary exposure. This typically occurs when family members of workers are exposed to asbestos fibers carried into their home on clothing, shoes, and hair. An estimated 20% of mesothelioma cases in the U.S. and other industrialized countries result from non-occupational exposure.
Of all states, California records the highest number of deaths from malignant mesothelioma. Between 2001 and 2010, the state recorded 2,637 mesothelioma-caused deaths, a number that is dramatically higher than Florida, the second-most fatal state for mesothelioma, which reported 1,713 deaths over the same 10-year period. These patients lived an estimated 13.7 years fewer than the life expectancy of those unaffected by mesothelioma in the state.
Mesothelioma is typically a slow-developing disease. After exposure to asbestos, the first symptoms of the disease may not present themselves for 15-60 years. For this reason, cases of mesothelioma in California might still rise before they fall, even now that protective regulations are in place.
Despite the long latency period, California currently offers just a one-year statute of limitations for asbestos cases. The clock starts ticking when you begin suffering a disability caused by exposure to asbestos that makes you unable to return to your regular job. In cases where a loved one passes away as a result of an asbestos-related disease, you have a year to file suit for wrongful death.
This short timeframe makes it vital for California-based mesothelioma patients and/or their families to seek out a mesothelioma attorney and file a claim before the statute of limitations is up to avoid forfeiting their right to claim compensation.
Treatment Options for Mesothelioma Patients in California
While mesothelioma cannot currently be cured, treatment options are available to many patients. With surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radiation, the symptoms of the disease can be lessened and your quality of life improved. Some California residents living with mesothelioma may also be eligible to participate in clinical trials for emerging therapies, such as immunotherapy or gene therapy.
Some mesothelioma patients may be eligible for Medicare or Medicaid coverage. The San Francisco Regional Office can provide you with details about government-sponsored treatment options in the state. You can also visit our page on treatment costs for information about recovering costs. For veterans affected by the disease (whether service-connected or otherwise), treatment may be provided at a cancer clinic like the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System: West Los Angeles Medical Center. Visit our dedicated veterans page for more information on mesothelioma treatment for veterans, including a list of VA health centers and help with filing a claim.
If you or someone you know is exhibiting symptoms of mesothelioma, there are a number of oncologists in California who specialize in treatment of mesothelioma. We have put together the following list to help you find the treatment you need, just click the link contact information.
Many cancer centers across the country offer mesothelioma treatment programs, some of which contribute to research or the discovery of new treatment options. Click the links below to learn more about these cancer centers in California.
Los Angeles Mesothelioma Clinics
- Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
- University of California Los Angeles Medical Center
- USC/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center
La Jolla Mesothelioma Clinics
Mesothelioma Clinics in Other California Cities
- Duarte: City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center
- Orange: University of California Irvine Medical Center
- Pleasant Hill: Diablo Valley Oncology and Hematology
- Stanford: Stanford Cancer Institute
- San Francisco: UCSF Medical Center at Mount Zion
With the right treatment, it is possible to slow the spread of mesothelioma and alleviate pain. Your primary care physician or oncologist can advise the best treatment options available to you.
Mesothelioma and Asbestos Exposure Lawsuits in California
There is currently no federal legislation to compensate people affected by asbestos-related illnesses. But mesothelioma patients often receive compensation by filing a claim against an asbestos trust fund, and/or by filing an asbestos lawsuit.
In the 1980s, numerous companies facing asbestos lawsuits in California filed for bankruptcy and set up trust funds (also known as compensation funds) to compensate mesothelioma patients and other victims of asbestos exposure. In the past, the majority of asbestos lawsuits within California were filed in Alameda, Los Angeles, and San Francisco counties.
If you have developed mesothelioma and the company responsible for exposing you to asbestos has established a trust fund, you are entitled to file a claim, regardless of how long ago you worked for them. You do not need to go to court to file a claim against one or more of these trust funds. An experienced California mesothelioma lawyer can help guide you through the process.
It is also possible to file an asbestos lawsuit against the company responsible for exposing you. These cases often settle, with mesothelioma patients receiving compensation both before and during trial.
When asbestos cases do proceed to a jury verdict, jurors often find in favor of plaintiffs when one or more of the following conditions is met:
- An employer deliberately concealed or misrepresented the health risks of asbestos-related work.
- An employer did not provide adequate warnings to employees performing asbestos-related work.
- An employer was negligent in ensuring the safety of employees when performing asbestos-related work.
- An employer did not adequately protect the families of employees from para-occupational exposure.
As a reminder, mesothelioma patients and their survivors only have one year after diagnosis of disability or date of death to file an asbestos-related lawsuit in California, lest their claims be barred.
The statute of limitations in California is not affected by your knowledge or ignorance of the defendant’s identity. This means that you have a year to file a claim even if you’re not sure who is responsible for the exposure. Contact a mesothelioma attorney in California to discuss the best the best course of action for you and your family.
California Laws and Regulations Concerning Asbestos
Contrary to popular belief, asbestos is not entirely banned in the U.S., although its use is strictly regulated in all states.
Due to the abundance of naturally-occurring asbestos in California, the Air Resources Board (ARB) of the California Environmental Protection Agency (CA EPA) implemented two sets of laws called Airborne Toxic Control Measures (ATCMs). These measures cover different activities relating to asbestos exposure, and can be summarized as follows:
- ATCM for Surfacing Applications
This law regulates the supply, sale, and use of “aggregate material” such as sand, crushed stone, and gravel. Barring some exceptions, the regulation makes it unlawful to use aggregate containing asbestos for any application that will remain exposed (like an unpaved road) or is at high risk of disturbance (like a gravel driveway).
- ATCM for Construction, Grading, Quarrying, and Surface Mining Operations
In areas where naturally-occurring ultramafic rock, serpentine, or asbestos is present, this law enforces mitigating measures for activities that generate dust containing asbestos, such as construction and mining.
The General Industry Safety Orders chapter of the California code contains a subchapter imposing rules to protect employees against the health risks associated with asbestos in the workplace. This includes requirements about the wearing and handling of protective clothing around asbestos.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) detail guidelines that minimize airborne asbestos fibers. In addition to this, it is necessary to follow California asbestos removal requirements when renovating or demolishing a building. The ARB oversees NESHAP applications across the state.