Answers to Our Frequently Asked Questions
When you are involved in an accident or a loved one is the victim of medical malpractice or abuse, you may not even know the right questions to ask at first. Browse our collection of frequently asked questions to see what others have asked and read our answers to learn all you can about your case.
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Can nursing home understaffing be a form of neglect and abuse?
Understaffing is an issue that affects the vast majority of nursing homes, with some studies indicating as many as 90% of facilities lacking the staff necessary to ensure resident safety. If your loved one has suffered injuries due to understaffing, you may be to take legal action by filing a claim for nursing home abuse.
Issues Contributing to Understaffing
A number of issues can contribute to a nursing home failing to have the necessary number of staff employees on duty. For example:
- High staff turnover due to the stress of the work environment
- Employees being unable to work due to the flu or other contagious illnesses
- Scheduling conflicts such as parents of young children not wanting to work weekends or holidays
- Inability to replace staff members who quit due to low pay or a tight local job market
- A deliberate effort by management to keep costs down by having minimal staff on duty
How Poor Staffing Leads to Nursing Home Neglect
Poor staffing can lead to a number of issues that might be considered neglect. For example:
- Bed sores
- Broken bones
- Chronic infections
- Poor hygiene
- Resident-on-resident abuse
- Unexpected weight loss
Understaffing affects all residents, but those who are confined to a wheelchair or suffering severe cognitive impairment are most at risk. When staff members are forced to care for a large number of residents in a short time period, those who have the highest needs are inevitably shortchanged.
How Understaffing Creates a Toxic Environment
Employees who are forced to work in a facility that is chronically understaffed are likely to become frustrated with their jobs. They may realize that residents need more care, but they feel powerless to provide the necessary assistance due to a simple lack of time.
If they are forced to work overtime to compensate for short staffing, they may suffer from chronic fatigue. This can lead to mistakes due to inattentiveness or oversights as staff members rush through tasks in an effort to finish their work as soon as possible.
Identifying Nursing Home Understaffing
Many different people work in a nursing home, but understaffing is most problematic when it involves positions that directly provide resident care. These include:
- Registered Nurses (RNs)
- Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVNs)
- Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs)
- Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs)
- Physical Therapists (PTs)
The law only requires that a nursing home have different staff to provide proper resident care. There is no requirement to have a specific staff/resident ratio. To determine if a nursing home is understaffed, you will want to look for the following:
- Are staff members constantly rushing through their tasks?
- Do staff members seem tired or distracted when you attempt to ask questions about your loved one's care?
- Does your loved one mention being unable to obtain assistance for essential tasks such as going to the restroom or showering?
- Does the facility seem to have an unusually high number of new employees?
If You Think Your Loved One Is a Victim of Nursing Home Abuse
The first step whenever you have concerns about the care your loved one is receiving is to report the issue to the facility administrator. The nursing home office is required to investigate your complaint and file a report to the state authorities.
If the issue is not resolved to your satisfaction, contact adult protective services or the office of aging in your area, and call an attorney to initiate a nursing home neglect or abuse claim.
A nursing home neglect or abuse claim is a civil proceeding that includes compensation for medical treatment and pain and suffering. If your loved one receives Medicaid or Medicare benefits to cover the cost of nursing home care, however, these programs will have a lien on a percentage of any funds recovered in the claim.
The experienced attorneys at Neblett, Beard & Arsenault can help you obtain justice for a loved one who has suffered injuries due to nursing home understaffing. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation case review.
Is a nursing home liable for abusive acts committed by one resident against another?
When most people think of nursing home abuse, they imagine acts committed by nurses or other caregivers. However, nursing home abuse can also involve residents who mistreat others in the facility.
Types of Abuse Committed by Nursing Home Residents
It is estimated that about 20% of nursing home abuse cases involve acts committed by residents. Types of abuse residents may perpetuate against each other include:
- Screaming, yelling, or using foul language
- Pushing, shoving, kicking, or other acts of aggression
- Throwing things or purposely damaging someone's personal possessions
- Invasion of privacy
- Sexual abuse
Resident-on-resident abuse is most common when two people are sharing a single room, but abusive acts can also occur in dining areas, recreation rooms, and shared spaces within the facility. Chaotic and noisy environments can increase stress levels in many elderly people, thus increasing the risk of abusive behavior.
Causes of Resident Abuse
When nursing home residents perpetuate abuse against other residents, it is most often attributed to the effects of dementia. Aggression and anger are common dementia symptoms, especially in patients with Alzheimer's disease or those who have a past history of mental health disorders. The behavior may be triggered by frustration with the limitations of the nursing home environment or the occurrence of physical pain. However, abusive behavior can also occur without any provocation at all.
Residents who are cognitively impaired but physically mobile may be more likely to lash out at residents who are confined to wheelchairs or otherwise unable to defend themselves. Those who are socially isolated can also become easy targets for abusive behavior.
How Understaffing Contributes to the Problem
Nursing homes are required to have staffing levels that ensure adequate resident care, but there is no mandatory staff/resident ratio. As a result, it's estimated that 90% of facilities are understaffed. This can be due to high turnover, a lack of qualified candidates, and the desire to maximize profits in a facility.
When a nursing home is understaffed, caregivers must focus on meeting specific medical needs. This gives them less time to monitor residents and look for signs of abusive behavior. Since residents who are being mistreated are often reluctant to report the problem due to fear or embarrassment, understaffing allows the abuse to continue.
Understaffing can also contribute to abuse by making it more difficult to determine who is the aggressor in an incident. If the staff doesn’t clearly witness a confrontation, they may be reluctant to take sides and instead label both residents as equally responsible for the problem.
Additionally, understaffing minimizes opportunities for resident activities that provide stimulation and relieve boredom. Keeping residents active and engaged in their surroundings is often thought to be the best way to diffuse abusive behavior.
Liability for Abusive Acts Committed by Residents
A nursing home has a legal and moral obligation to provide a safe environment for residents. This means providing medical care as well as preventing residents from being victimized by others in the facility.
If you are concerned that a loved one is being abused by a fellow resident, report the issue immediately to the facility administrator. If the administrator is not able to resolve the issue to your satisfaction, file a report with adult protective services or the office of aging in your area. At this time, you may also wish to call an attorney to initiate a nursing home abuse claim.
Civil proceedings involving nursing home abuse committed by other residents can include compensation for medical treatment and pain and suffering related to the abusive behavior. However, it is important to keep in mind that Medicaid or Medicare will have a lien on a percentage of funds recovered in the claim if these programs are currently being used to pay for your loved one's care.
Neblett, Beard & Arsenault's legal team is committed to advocating for the rights of elderly and disabled nursing home residents. Our attorneys can help you gather evidence, document damages, and negotiate with the insurance company on behalf of your loved one. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation.
How do complications from burn injuries affect my personal injury claim?
Second- or third-degree burns can take months or even years to heal, which means that it's important not to rush to accept a personal injury settlement. Although you may be offered a settlement shortly after the accident, you should not accept an offer until you have a solid understanding of your prognosis.
Possible Burn Injury Complications
The risk of complications increases according to the severity of the burn injury and the percentage of the body that is affected. Some of the possible complications include:
- Infection. Since the skin is the body's main barrier to keep out harmful bacteria, infection is the most worrisome burn injury complication. Infections can take several different forms, but the most serious is sepsis. This type of infection causes inflammation in the main organs of the body and is fatal if not treated.
- Low blood volume. Known as hypovolemia, this complication occurs when burns damage the blood vessels and prevent the body from maintaining the necessary blood flow.
- Blood clots. Burn victims typically require extensive bed rest, which increases their risk of developing dangerous blood clots. The risk for blood clots is highest when the burns cover a large portion of the victim's body.
- Respiratory problems. Breathing hot air or smoke can burn the airways, causing damage to the lungs.
- Hypothermia. Since the skin helps regulate body temperature, burns covering a large portion of the body can lead to a dangerously low body temperature.
- Reduced mobility. Although scarring is expected with severe burns, thick scar tissue that forms near the joints can affect the victim's range of motion.
- Mental health disorders. Suffering serious burns can be very traumatic, putting victims at risk for depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Those with a previous history of mental health disorders are most at risk of this type of burn injury complication.
The Importance of Reaching Maximum Medical Improvement
It is impossible to predict with certainty who will experience burn injury complications. The risk of complications is highest immediately following the burn injury, but anyone can experience unforeseen problems in the healing process.
When you accept a personal injury settlement, you're not allowed to go back and ask for any additional funds if your injuries turn out to be more extensive than you expected. Therefore, it's vital that you wait until you've reached maximum medical improvement (MMI) before agreeing to a settlement. Reaching MMI means you've either fully recovered or your condition has stabilized and your care providers can make a reasonable assumption as to what your future medical needs will entail.
Components of a Personal Injury Settlement
A personal injury settlement includes compensation for:
- Prior medical care received as the result of the accident
- Anticipated future medical needs, if the injuries resulted in a permanent disability
- Prior lost wages due to the accident
- Anticipated loss of future earning potential, if the injuries resulted in a permanent disability
- Pain and suffering
Damages must be appropriately documented. Medical bills, insurance statements, pay stubs, and statements from your employer can be used to document prior medical expenses and lost wages. Testimony from qualified experts can be used to support your claim for future medical expenses and/or loss of future earning potential.
How Fault Affects Your Settlement
If the accident that caused your burns was partially your fault, you're still entitled to compensation for your expenses. However, your settlement will be proportionally reduced by your assigned percentage of fault to reflect your responsibility for your injuries.
In car accident cases, there is no set formula used to determine percentage of fault. An experienced personal injury attorney can often negotiate a lower percentage of fault for your case and increase your eligibility for compensation. Negotiating a lower fault percentage can prove key in cases where you've been left permanently disabled as the result of your burns.
How Neblett, Beard & Arsenault Can Help
When you're recovering from burn injuries, your full attention needs to be on getting the care you need to move forward with your life. Neblett, Beard & Arsenault's experienced Louisiana personal injury attorneys can help you resolve your personal injury claim by gathering evidence to prove liability, documenting damages, and negotiating with the insurance company on your behalf. Contact us online or call us directly at 318.588.6303 today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation.
What factors influence the value of my mesothelioma case?
While many mesothelioma claimants were awarded a million dollars or more, others received amounts to cover medical costs only—and those unable to prove their cases didn't recover anything. The amount a person receives in a mesothelioma lawsuit varies widely depending on the details of the case and the ability of his or her lawyer to link asbestos exposure to the defendant.
Factors That Impact Damages in a Mesothelioma Lawsuit
Mesothelioma lawsuits are similar to other injury claims in that the goal is to compensate the victim for any losses caused by the illness. The first consideration is your economic damages or the amount you've lost as a direct result of your condition.
If you were forced to retire early or were unable to earn a living, your lost wages must be calculated into your damages.
In addition, the amount you've spent on past and future medical expenses can form a significant portion of your settlement, especially if you needed mesothelioma surgery, chemotherapy, or other expensive treatments.
In addition to economic damages, the amount you might receive depends on:
- The number of defendants. In most cases, more than one company or former employer is liable for damages. If you're seeking payment from multiple defendants, the amount paid by each can be significant.
- Proof of negligence. The compensation you receive is directly related to the strength of your case. Your attorney has to prove the extent of liability for each defendant, including whether the company was aware of the potential risk of using asbestos.
- Your diagnosis and medical history. The defendants may attempt to escape liability based on the details of your claim. Your overall health, your specific diagnosis, your potential to have suffered exposure somewhere else, and even your status as a smoker or former smoker can all be called into question.
- Settlement or trial. While trial awards are often higher than settlements in mesothelioma cases, most of these lawsuits are settled out of court. Your attorney will help you determine whether settling or proceeding to trial is the best option for you.
When so many factors can affect the amount you'll receive for the rest of your life, you need an attorney who will fight aggressively on your behalf. The attorneys at Neblett, Beard & Arsenault can explain your options in your free consultation, and we don't charge for our services until after your claim is settled.
Fill out the contact form on this page or call us to get started.
Does a wet floor sign prevent me from filing a slip and fall claim?
If you've suffered ankle, head trauma or back and neck injuries in a slip and fall accident, you might think that you're not entitled to compensation if the area was marked with a wet floor sign. However, this is not necessarily the case.
Wet Floor Signs Don't Automatically Protect Property Owners From Liability
Plastic wet floor signs are intended to warn people of the safety hazard caused by a slippery wet floor. They are often used after mopping or in an entrance where rain or snow is likely to be tracked in.
Wet floor signs are considered evidence that a property owner was trying to take reasonable precautions to prevent injury, but they do not provide 100% protection from liability. A wet floor would not prevent you from seeking compensation if your fall was also caused by another safety hazard. For example:
- If the facility was poorly lit, you might not have been able to see the sign or the wet or slippery area.
- Cracked tiles near a slippery spot on the floor could compound the danger caused by a wet surface.
- Overly waxed or polished flooring could make the floor excessively slippery.
- Obstructions in your path may have left you no choice but to travel through the slippery area.
A wet floor sign would also be insufficient if it was used as an attempt to avoid cleaning up or fixing a hazard in a prompt manner. For example, if an employee spills oily salad dressing in high traffic area of a restaurant, a wet floor sign would be an acceptable temporary fix. However, it would be unreasonable for the restaurant to leave the oily and clearly hazardous spill in place all day when hundreds of customers were traveling through the area.
How Comparative Negligence Affects Your Slip and Fall Claim
Slip and fall cases where a wet floor sign was used to warn of potential danger involve considering many factors to determine who is at fault. In some cases, you might be considered partially at fault for your injuries. Examples of behavior that would be viewed as comparative negligence include:
- You were talking or texting and didn't see the sign.
- You were running or engaged in horseplay.
- The area was designated as off limits and, you ignored the warning.
- You failed to take reasonable precautions to prevent injury to yourself.
If you're determined to be partially responsible for your injuries, you can still file a slip and fall claim for compensation. However, your settlement will be proportionally reduced by your percentage of fault. For example, if you were found to be 30% liable for your injuries, you would receive only 70% of the compensation you would be entitled to if the defendant was 100% at fault.
Protecting Your Right to Compensation in a Slip and Fall Case
Your slip and fall claim can include compensation for:
- Prior medical care received as the result of the accident and any anticipated future medical expenses due to permanently disabling injuries
- Prior lost wages due to the accident and anticipated loss of future earning potential due to permanently disabling injuries
- Pain and suffering, including the physical pain from your injuries as well as the emotional trauma you suffered from the incident
After suffering injuries in a slip and fall accident, it's vital that you seek immediate medical attention. A prompt medical evaluation helps establish a clear link between your injuries and the accident.
Once your immediate medical needs have been dealt with, you should consult an experienced personal injury attorney. Since personal injury attorneys accept cases on a contingency fee basis, there is no upfront cost for representation. You will simply need to pay a percentage of your final settlement as the fee for legal services.
Neblett, Beard & Arsenault's legal team is committed to protecting the rights of Louisiana residents who've suffered injuries as the result of a slip and fall accident. Contact us online or call us directly at 318.588.6303 to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation.
What if the defendant says my bad vision caused my slip and fall accident?
If you've suffered injuries in a slip and fall, you may be eligible for compensation. However, if you have a condition that affects your vision, you should keep in mind that the defendant may try to use your impairment as a way to avoid paying damages. In this case, you'll need an experienced slip and fall attorney who can advocate for your rights throughout the process of resolving your claim.
How Visual Impairments Can Affect a Slip and Fall Claim
A number of conditions can cause visual impairments that might contribute to a slip and fall. For example:
- Hereditary visual impairment
- Migraines or other conditions that cause sensitivity to bright lights
- Medications causing dizziness or drowsiness
However, if you suffer from a medical condition that affects your vision, this doesn't necessarily mean you're at fault for a slip and fall accident. A property owner has a duty to provide reasonably safe areas for visitors or customers.
In a public place, such as a restaurant or retail store, the property owner should expect that many different types of people will enter the establishment. This includes people with visual impairments, as well as those with mobility issues or young children who might not be attentive to potential risks. Therefore, property owners can't simply expect customers or guests to be solely responsible for their own personal safety.
Regardless of your level of visual impairment, the property owner can be held liable for a slip and fall claim if he failed to fulfill basic safety obligations. This includes:
- Clearing obstacles in walking paths
- Cleaning up wet or slippery areas
- Fixing torn carpeting or loose flooring that would be a tripping hazard
- Ensuring bright lighting for maximum visibility
- Providing handrails on stairs or in bathrooms
- Regularly inspecting public areas for dangerous conditions
Your own responsibility for your safety depends on what steps your doctor has recommended to deal with your condition. For example, if you were purposely not wearing your glasses or using your cane when the accident occurred, you could be found partially at fault.
If it is determined that you are partially at fault for your injuries, this does not mean you are ineligible for compensation. Rather, your settlement will be reduced by your percentage of fault to reflect your own role in the incident.
Slip and Fall Claims as a Form of Medical Malpractice
A slip and fall claim might constitute medical malpractice if your vision was temporarily impaired by having your eyes dilated or having a similar procedure performed on your vision. If the individuals providing your medical care knew you were unable to see clearly because of the care they provided, it would be reasonable to expect them to provide an escort before sending you into poorly lit or cluttered areas of the facility.
Claims for slip and fall damages can include the following types of compensation:
- Prior medical care received as the result of the accident such as stitches and diagnostic tests to evaluate you for a concussion or broken bones
- Anticipated future medical needs, if your slip and fall injuries resulted in a permanent disability
- Prior lost wages due to the accident, if you were unable to work because your injuries affected your ability to perform your current job
- Anticipated loss of future earning potential, if your slip and fall injuries resulted in a permanent disability
- Pain and suffering, including both physical pain and emotional trauma
Documentation of damages is an essential part of pursuing a successful slip and fall claim. Expenses you've already incurred can be documented with bills and invoices, but expert testimony will be necessary if you're asking for compensation for future medical expenses or an anticipated loss of future earning potential. Pain and suffering is calculated based on a multiplier of your medical expenses or using a per diem method.
Protecting Your Legal Rights
Slip and fall claims can present complex liability issues, especially when you suffer from a visual impairment that the defense might try to use as a way to avoid taking full responsibility for your injuries. To protect yourself, you need to seek legal representation as soon as possible. Contact us online or call us directly at 318.588.6303 to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation with Neblett, Beard & Arsenault's legal team.
I've been diagnosed with mesothelioma. Do I have a case if I don't know how my asbestos exposure occurred?
While the only known cause of mesothelioma is asbestos exposure, it's a little more difficult to know where and when your exposure to asbestos took place. If you're going to pursue a mesothelioma claim, you'll have to identify the most likely place and time where your exposure occurred—but you don't have to do it alone.
Pinpointing the Time and Place of Your Asbestos Exposure
A knowledgeable attorney can be a vital resource in determining the source of your asbestos exposure.
In addition to filing your claim and explaining your options at each step of the case, your lawyer will review your history and identify who's responsible for causing your mesothelioma.
Only after a thorough investigation will your attorney be able to tell you which party or parties are liable for damages.
Mesothelioma can take decades to develop, so an investigation may go all the way back to your distant past. The most common places people are exposed to asbestos include:
- Work. The majority of mesothelioma sufferers were exposed to asbestos in their former workplaces. Many occupations such as mining and construction involved handling asbestos materials, which wasn't regulated until the 1970s. Your attorney should closely examine all work history, dating back to the first job you ever had.
- Military service. All branches of the armed forces use asbestos as an industrial insulator, and many veterans have developed mesothelioma because of daily exposure during their service.
- In the home. Although its use in homes and public buildings is now limited, asbestos was once commonly found in building materials. If you live in an older home, you may have inhaled asbestos fibers that became airborne due to disrepair or renovation.
- Through close contact. There weren't work safety regulations for asbestos in the past, so there was nothing to prevent workers from carrying asbestos fibers home on their clothes and exposing family members. If someone else in your family suffered from lung cancer or asbestosis, you could have been exposed by the same source.
The attorneys at Neblett, Beard & Arsenault can identify which party is at fault for your condition and gather all the information needed to file your lawsuit. We won't charge anything for our services until your claim is settled.
To schedule a free consultation, fill out the contact form on this page or call us. To learn more about options, order our free eBook, Mesothelioma and Your Legal Rights.
Which products contain asbestos, and how do I know if I have been exposed?
If you have recently been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you probably have a lot of questions and fears about your condition, including how you acquired it and what the treatment and prognosis of your disease will be.
For some people who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, taking legal action against the party responsible for the exposure to asbestos—the only proven cause of mesothelioma—makes sense.
If you are suffering from mesothelioma but are unsure of its origin, the following guide—and our experienced mesothelioma attorneys—may be able to help.
The Asbestos and Mesothelioma Connection
Asbestos is a collection of minerals that naturally occur in the environment. Because the nature of these minerals makes them resistant to heat, fire and many chemicals, the minerals were once popular in building materials. In fact, the NCI reports that asbestos was used in buildings as far back as the late 1800s.
However, asbestos was banned by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in the late 1970s. The building materials that may contain asbestos are discussed in more detail below.
Products That Contain Asbestos
Asbestos was most commonly used in the construction and building industries. However, it is occasionally found in other industries as well.
It was used primarily for the purposes of fireproofing, insulation, roof and sound absorption. Specifically, products that have been found in the past to contain asbestos are:
- Roofing products made from asbestos cement, such as Gold Bond Corrugated Roofing, Century Asbestos Corrugated Roofing, Panelstone Asbestos Cement Sheeting, and others.
- Side shingles made from asbestos cement, including Ambular Corrugated Roofing and Siding, Transite Corrugated Roofing and Siding, and others.
- Building insulation such as Zonolite, Hi-Temp, Gold Bond, and others.
- Ductwork connectors made by companies such as Johns Manville, Celotex, Nicolet, and others.
- Textured paint.
- Acoustical and decorative plaster.
- Wall and ceiling patching compounds.
- Ceiling tiles and lay-in panels.
- Ashes and embers manufactured for gas fireplaces.
- Stovetop pads.
- The floors and walls surrounding wood burning stoves which may have asbestos paper, millboard, or cement sheets.
- Vinyl floor tiles, sheet flooring and wallpaper made by companies such as Sears-Roebuck, Amtico Floors, GAF Corporation, and others.
- Felt flooring such as Hydrocord Flooring Felt, Fiberock Felt, FlexFelt, and others.
- Asphalt floor tiles.
- Hot water and steam pipes.
- Oil furnaces.
- Coal furnaces and door gaskets.
- Vehicle brakes pads, clutch facings, and gaskets.
- Gaskets used to seal pipes and machinery such as Chempro Gaskets, Palmetto Folded Asbestos Packings and Gaskets, Target Gasket Sheet, Melbesto Superheat Gaskets, and others.
- Cigarette filters in the Kent Micronite cigarette which was sold in the United States from 1952 through 1956.
- Children’s cosmetics sold by Claire’s.
- Electrical panels and wire installation including Deltabeston wires, Ebony Electric Boards, Bakelite Panels, and others.
- Fireproofing spray including Monokote, Cafco, Limpet, Spraycraft, and others.
- Molded plastics made by companies such as Armstrong World Industries, Mobile Oil Corporation, Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Corporation, and others.
- Textiles including things such as aprons, canvas, carpeting, fire curtains for theaters, gloves, ironing board covers, prison cell padding, upholstery and more. Brand names include Therm-A-Gard, Fire King Protective Clothing, 3M Rubber Coated Asbestos Cloth, and many more.
- Construction adhesives such as Hydroseal, Stic-On Cement, Armorcote Adhesives and others.
- Cement pipes, wallboards, and siding.
- Laboratory equipment such as hoods, tables, and gloves.
- Elevator equipment panels and brake shoes.
- HVAC duct insulation.
- Boiler insulation.
- Heating and electrical ducts.
- Thermal paper products.
- Fire doors.
- Caulking and putties.
- Joint compounds.
- Spackling compounds.
If you live in an older home or have worked in an industry where exposure to the above materials was common, then you may have been exposed to asbestos. This is especially true if any of the above materials were disturbed, causing the asbestos to enter the air. Inhaling asbestos is particularly dangerous.
Common Work Environments Where Asbestos Is Found
As mentioned above, those workers who have worked in the construction or building industry may have been exposed to asbestos—particularly if building new homes or buildings prior to the year 1970. However, construction workers who performed home or building remodels or demolition on older homes after 1970 may also have been exposed to asbestos.
Other workers who may have been exposed to asbestos include those who were employed in the manufacture or distribution of asbestos-containing products such as insulation, textiles and building materials and workers who were employed in automotive brake and clutch repair work, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Other Possible Causes of Mesothelioma
The American Cancer Society reports that other possible risk factors for mesothelioma include:
- Zeolites. Zeolites are minerals that are chemically related to asbestos. They are found in the rocks and soil of certain geographic areas, specifically in the country of Turkey.
- Radiation. Evidence indicates that those persons who are exposed to high amounts of radiation are at a higher risk of developing mesothelioma, the ACS states. For example, patients who have been treated with radiation therapy may be at a higher risk.
- SV40 virus. Evidence also suggests that those who have contracted the SV40 virus (simian virus 40) may also be at a higher risk of developing mesothelioma. However, this belief has been illustrated only in laboratory studies involving hamsters.
A person may also be more at risk for developing mesothelioma if he or she is of an older age. Two-thirds of persons who develop mesothelioma are older than the age of 65.
Mesothelioma is much more common in men than it is in women, although this is believed to be mostly due to the fact that men more commonly are employed in industries where exposure to asbestos is common.
How Do I Prove That My Mesothelioma Was Caused by Asbestos Exposure?
If you believe that your mesothelioma was caused by exposure to asbestos, you may have a claim against the responsible party—be it your employer or the manufacturer of an unsafe and asbestos-containing product.
To prove that your mesothelioma was caused by asbestos exposure at work or elsewhere, a thorough investigation is necessary. You need a legal team on your side that has the resources to conduct an exhaustive and in-depth investigation that demonstrates how your mesothelioma would not have incurred but for your exposure to asbestos in a particular location.
If you are not sure if you were exposed to asbestos, a mesothelioma and asbestos attorney can help you to find out.
Reach Out to an Experienced Mesothelioma and Asbestos Attorney Today
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, our experienced Louisiana mesothelioma and asbestos attorneys at Neblett, Beard & Arsenault, Attorneys at Law, are ready to work with you to help you to explore your recovery options. We are ready to get to work on a contingency fee basis. You won’t have to pay any legal fees until after your claim is settled. Please call 318.541.8188 at your earliest convenience or fill out our contact form online for a quick reply.
What is mesothelioma?
According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 3,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma in the United States each year. Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that begins in the tissues, known as the mesothelium, that line the lungs, stomach, heart, and other organs.
While there are different forms of mesothelioma, there are some things that are true for all forms of the disease. Mesothelioma is almost always caused by asbestos exposure decades prior to diagnosis; mesothelioma is difficult to treat; and mesothelioma patients have the right to explore their legal options.
Different Types of Mesothelioma
The different types of mesothelioma are identified based on where the cancer originated in the body. These types include:
- Pleural mesothelioma. This is the most common form of mesothelioma. It develops in the lining surrounding the lungs. Pleural mesothelioma may develop 20 to 50 years after asbestos exposure. Symptoms of this type of cancer include shortness of breath, persistent cough, fluid around the lungs, hoarseness, difficulty swallowing, chest pain, and lower back pain.
- Peritoneal mesothelioma. This type of mesothelioma develops in the lining of the abdomen, called the peritoneum. It can be caused by the inhalation or ingestion of asbestos fibers. Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma may include abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, night sweats, fever, weight loss, fatigue, nausea, and vomiting.
- Pericardial mesothelioma. Pericardial mesothelioma develops in the pericardium, which is the lining surrounding the heart. The pericardium is thin and the tumors may grow into the heart and spread to other parts of the body. Asbestos is the only known cause of this type of cancer. Symptoms of pericardial mesothelioma may include chest pain, difficulty breathing, cough, fever, heart palpitations or irregular heartbeat, heart murmurs, fatigue and night sweats.
If you experience symptoms of mesothelioma, then your doctor may suggest medical tests so that an accurate diagnosis can be made. These tests may include medical imaging tests such as X-rays, CT scans and PET scans, blood tests to look for proteins that would be consistent with mesothelioma, and biopsies to confirm the diagnosis and identify the specific type of cancer in your body so that a treatment plan can be developed.
The prognosis and outlook for mesothelioma is grim and difficult to accept. However, people with mesothelioma should not give up hope. The survival rate for mesothelioma depends upon a number of factors, including:
- The stage of the cancer at the time of diagnosis.
- Whether or not the tumor is operable and removable.
- Whether or not the patient is suffering from any other disease or illnesses.
- The treatment that a patient receives.
- The form of mesothelioma from which the patient is suffering.
Currently, the American Cancer Society only reports mesothelioma survival rates for people with pleural mesothelioma. According to the American Cancer Society, the five-year survival rate for people with pleural mesothelioma is as follows:
- Stage IA – 16%.
- Stage IB – 13%.
- Stage II – 10%.
- Stage IIIA – 8%.
- Stage IIIB – 5%.
- Stage IV – 1%.
Early detection of mesothelioma is a key part of improving chances of survival. Thus, if you may have been exposed to asbestos and you experience any symptoms of mesothelioma then it is important to talk to your doctor as soon as possible.
While your prognosis may be frightening, there are treatments available for mesothelioma sufferers. Treatment options include:
- Surgery. Surgery may be recommended to remove mesothelioma from your body or to alleviate your symptoms. For example, cytoreductive surgery or removing an entire lung may be recommended to eliminate or reduce the cancer in your body. If this is not possible, then surgery to remove fluid from your lungs or other surgeries to manage your symptoms may be recommended.
- Chemotherapy. Chemotherapy kills cancer cells. It may be used to shrink tumors or to kill any cancer cells that are not surgically removed.
- Radiation. Like chemotherapy, targeted radiation treatments may be used to kill cancer cells. Radiation can also be used to manage pain by reducing the size of mesothelioma tumors.
- Complementary treatments. Alternative treatments may help you control your pain and manage your symptoms. These treatments could include acupuncture, aromatherapy, craniosacral therapy, therapeutic touch therapy, homeopathy, massage, meditation, and cannabis.
- Experimental treatments. Researchers are working on new treatments to treat mesothelioma. You may qualify for a clinical study or be able to receive experimental treatment. Some of the experimental treatments that are being tried include gene therapy, immunotherapy, photodynamic therapy, virus therapy, targeted therapy, and new chemotherapy medications.
More than one of these treatments may be useful for you. All treatment options should be discussed with your doctor who can make individualized recommendations that are in your best interests.
Legal Action Can Help After a Mesothelioma Diagnosis
Treating mesothelioma is very expensive. While the exact expenses vary from patient to patient, you may face significant medical costs, the need for in-home healthcare, lost wages, and other financial and emotional losses.
Mesothelioma is not known to be a cancer that develops without an external cause. If you developed mesothelioma because of asbestos exposure then you may have a legal claim against your past employer or another negligent party and you may be able to recover the compensation that you need and that you deserve. Financial compensation can help you to live with your mesothelioma more comfortably, and provide you with the resources you need to explore all relevant treatment options.
In the event that you have recently lost a loved one to mesothelioma, a lawsuit can help you to recover compensation for the decedent’s lost wages, medical expenses, funeral and burial expense, and loss of guidance, consortium, and companionship.
Call Our Experienced Legal Team Today
Being diagnosed with mesothelioma can be scary and emotional. This devastating news can be very traumatic to deal with, and the treatment process can be painful, exhausting, and expensive.
Let us help you through this difficult time. We would be pleased to meet with you for a free, no-obligation consultation and to work for you on a contingency fee basis. That means that you won’t pay any up-front legal fees for our services and instead, your legal fees will only be paid as a percentage of any settlement that we recover for you. Call us today or reach out to us via this website to learn more.
If I'm injured in a work-related car accident, can I receive workers' compensation benefits?
When you're involved in a car accident at work, it can sometimes be difficult to determine what compensation you may be eligible to receive. Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to receive both workers' compensation benefits and a civil settlement from the driver at fault.
Requirements to Receive Workers' Compensation Benefits
Workers' compensation benefits cover most Louisiana workers, including part-time, full-time, temporary, and seasonal employees. Coverage starts on the first day of employment, even if the worker is a minor. Notable exceptions to workers' compensation coverage include domestic employees, the majority of real estate salespeople, uncompensated officers and directors of selected non-profit organizations, and public officials.
Workers' compensation benefits cover all work-related duties. If you were involved in a car accident, this includes activities such as:
- Running an errand requested by your boss or employer
- Transporting another employee to a meeting or other work task
- Making deliveries of supplies or products
- Traveling to attend a work-related conference or meeting with a client
- Performing a job that involves driving for a living
- Performing a job that involves traveling for work and has no fixed office location
Typically, you can't receive workers' compensation benefits if the accident occurred during your commute. However, if you were running an errand for your boss or employer before heading into the office and were involved in a car accident, you might be considered eligible for benefits.
Receiving workers' compensation benefits only requires that you be performing job-related tasks at the time of your injury. Therefore, it does not matter whether you were driving a company car or your own personal vehicle at the time of the accident.
Fault is irrelevant in a worker's compensation claim, so you can still receive benefits even if the accident that caused your injuries was the result of your inattentiveness or carelessness. However, you may lose your right to benefits if you don't report the incident to your employer within 30 days. Your employer will complete Louisiana Department of Labor Form 1007 (Employer Report of Injury or Illness) to submit to the Office of Workers' Compensation. You should request a copy of this report for your own records.
Workers' compensation benefits include necessary medical care from the doctor of your choice, indemnity wage benefits, and vocational rehabilitation services if you've suffered an injury that will prevent you from returning to the work you previously performed. Death benefits are paid to spouses and children in the event of a fatal car accident.
Your employer is not allowed to terminate your employment because you've filed for workers' compensation benefits. However, in certain circumstances, your employer may not be required to hold your position open until you are ready to return to work.
Civil Claims for Car Accident Injuries
If you were performing job-related tasks for your employer and the accident was not your fault, you may also have a civil claim against the driver responsible for the incident. If you were partially at fault, you can file a claim for damages, and your settlement will be reduced by your assigned percentage of fault to reflect your own responsibility for your injuries.
If you are eligible to pursue both workers' compensation benefits and a civil claim, it's in your interest to take both types of action. Civil claims can provide payment for property damage, including repairs necessary if you were driving your personal vehicle. Civil claims also provide payment for pain and suffering damages, which can be significant if your injuries resulted in the need for extensive medical treatment and time away from work.
Civil claims can take several months or even years to resolve. Once you receive a settlement, the workers' compensation insurer will have a lien on the funds to seek repayment of the benefits you received for medical care and lost wages. The funds covering other damages are yours to keep.
The Value of Skilled Representation
An experienced workers' compensation attorney can help evaluate the circumstances surrounding your car accident to determine what benefits you may be eligible to receive. Please call the legal team of Neblett, Beard & Arsenault at 318.588.6303 to schedule a free, no-obligation case review. You can also contact us online for more information.