Occupational diseases kill more Americans than gun violence does

Jan 25 2016

Workplace accidents and injuries are often the focus of conversations about workers’ compensation. This is probably due to the fact that these incidents are observable and have immediate consequences. What often gets lost in the conversation is discussion about work-related diseases and illnesses.

Occupational diseases kill an estimated 50,000 Americans each year. By way of comparison, gun violence is responsible for about 30,000 deaths annually. But unlike gun deaths, occupational diseases often kill the victim slowly and out of public view. Family and friends may know that a loved one’s disease was work-related, but these deaths rarely make headlines or get reported for statistical purposes.

A good example is mesothelioma, which is caused by exposure to asbestos. The material is so dangerous that 50 countries have banned its use. The United States, which consumed about 400 metric tons of asbestos last year alone, is not among them.

While the use of asbestos in new products is far more limited than it used to be, many workers continue to face exposure hazards by working in demolition and construction (and various trades within that industry), or simply by working in older buildings that contain asbestos.

Mesothelioma and other diseases caused by asbestos exposure continue to sicken and kill workers at alarming rates. And because mesothelioma often takes decades to develop, patients diagnosed with the disease may be unable to hold their employers (or former employers) liable. In some cases, victims even have difficulty filing workers’ compensation claims due to unreasonable statutes of limitation.

If you have suffered an occupational disease that now threatens your life and your financial wellbeing, your options for relief may include workers’ compensation. Please speak to an experienced attorney who can help you better understand your rights and options.