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What options do I have if I was exposed to asbestos on the job?

Asbestos has long been known to be a toxic fiber. However, up until the 1980s, it was still widely used to make materials for home construction, automobiles, railroads, ships and plumbing. And even though people in the U.S. are largely aware of how dangerous asbestos is, it is still not completely banned in this country.

Because of all this, the reality is that it is not unheard of for a person to come into contact with asbestos on the job. Whether a person is demolishing a building that was built with asbestos decades ago or is working on an automobile that was recently built with asbestos-containing products, it can be crucial to know what options exist if someone has been exposed to asbestos.

To begin with, workers who are exposed to asbestos on the job will generally qualify for workers' compensation. These benefits are intended to at least partially replace a worker's wages and cover medical expenses for illnesses suffered on the job. Many instances of asbestos exposure are the result of workplace conditions, so workers' compensation is typically available.

There may also be grounds to pursue a negligence claim if you have been exposed to asbestos. The party named in these claims will depend on how you were exposed. Were you working with a product you didn't know contained asbestos? The manufacturer or seller may have failed to properly warn consumers about the use of asbestos. Were you working in unsafe conditions, breathing in asbestos without knowing it or being properly protected? You may have a claim against a contractor or subcontractor.

Not all instances of exposure to asbestos are grounds for legal action and financial awards. However, you may not know for sure until you discuss your situation with an attorney who understands the dangers of occupational illnesses like mesothelioma and the importance of collecting benefits.

Source: FindLaw.com, "Asbestos Basics," accessed on Sept. 28, 2015

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