Mesothelioma and other forms of cancer have impacted the lives of tens of
thousands of railroad families. In some instances asbestos exposure as a young worker
leads untimely to death.
For 30 years, we have had the privilege of representing former railroaders. They
worked hard to support their families never dreaming that they were working with or
being exposed to a substance that could, in the future, cause injury.
Asbestos cancers occur many years after the worker is initially exposed. This is
referred to as “latency”. Asbestos diseases commonly manifest late in life. This is why
retirees are most affected.
Asbestos diseases could have been avoided had the Railroad taken measures to
minimize or eliminate exposures. As far back as 1935, eliminating asbestos use on
American railroads had been discussed by railroad doctors. Unfortunately, management
chose to ignore the doctors’ recommendations for protection, seemingly more concerned
about the “bottom line”.
The Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) was enacted over 100 years ago to
protect railroad workers requires that railroads must “maintain a safe workplace”. Under
FELA, those who have been diagnosed with an asbestos related cancer may be entitled to
compensation if they can establish negligence on the part the railroad carrier. Generally,
once diagnosed with an asbestos related illness, an individual must file a compensation
case within 3 years of the date of diagnosis. When a worker or retired worker dies as a
result of an asbestos related cancer, 3 years from the date of death is the absolute time
limit allowed for surviving family members to file. In some cases, the deadline can be
earlier, depending on when and how the cancer was diagnosed. This is a complex issue
that requires legal review on a case by case basis.
Even though various types of cancer can be related to asbestos exposure, the following cancers have been linked most strongly in the medical literature (in order of strength of association):
(ASBESTOS-SPECIFIC CANCER OF THE LINING OF THE LUNG OR
LUNG CANCERS (ALL TYPES)
LARYNGEAL CANCER / ORAL CANCER
COLON/ GASTRIC CANCER
We have seen instances where a railroader’s wife or surviving children,
not knowing that his cancer was related to his work, failed to act within the 3 year legal
time limit, forever barring the family from receiving compensation.
What About Railroad Veterans Who Are Already Deceased?
Often asbestos-related deaths and cancers can be documented by a thorough review of medical records. In general, the family of a deceased railroader has three years in which to investigate and file their claim for compensation. Time limits may be shortened in some circumstances.
If you have had a
retired or deceased workers diagnosed with cancer within the last three years, contact
Roven-Kaplan, L.L.P. so that we may determine if the cancer could be related to your
railroad employee’s work at the railroad. Widows and adult children have the right to
bring these types of claims for a deceased railroad worker.