About Class Action Lawsuits and 3M Defective Earplugs

If you ever stay up late at night watching television, you have probably seen a couple of infomercials made by law firms asking if you have been affected by a certain party or product. Those type of infomercials target specific individuals with the intent of encouraging them to file a lawsuit against the party that harmed them.

These types of lawsuits are known as Class Action Lawsuits and can provide several benefits to individuals looking to file a claim.

Your team here at Hotze Runkle PLLC has been following the 3M defective earplugs situation and it appears that the growth of the number of cases may turn into a class action lawsuit. Please consider the following information.  

About Class Action Lawsuits

In a class action lawsuit, a large number of people from all over the nation are seeking recovery from a product, company, or entity that has caused them damages. This is referred to as commonality.

While the claims do need to be similar, they do not necessarily need to be identical. The similarity in facts allows for the litigation process to work more efficiently versus each case being handled individually.

For a plaintiff, it can be a lot more cost effective and also provide them the necessary means to seek our compensation. Otherwise, it might be too challenging for the individual to take the defendant to court and secure compensation on their own.

In a class action lawsuit, resources are consolidated, allowing for attorneys, evidence, witnesses, and other aspects of litigation to be used by those participating in the claim. When a class action lawsuit is permitted by a court, a representative plaintiff leads the process. These individuals are intended to adequately represent the claims and circumstances of the entire class without being able to take advantage of their position.

As of the present time, the 3M defective earplugs case appears to be turning into a class action lawsuit or mass tort. Individuals interested in participating in the class action lawsuit may have to “opt-in.”

The Benefits of Class Action Lawsuits

So now that you are more aware of how a class action lawsuit works, you might be wondering how you might benefit.

Several of the advantages of a class action lawsuit include:

  • It is financially more feasible for a plaintiff to participate in a class action lawsuit versus filing a claim on their own. Cost of litigation can be incredibly high for single individuals but combining all these claims makes it much more reasonably affordable for those who have suffered damages.  
  • There is a greater level of uniformity which allow the claims to be resolved in a much more efficient manner. Rather than hundreds (or even thousands) of cases clogging up the courts, a class action lawsuit provides all these individuals with a voice in court within a reasonable amount of time.  
  • Because plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit are able to pull resources, there is a greater likelihood of securing financial recovery. Additionally, class actions lawsuits help to spread the compensation recovered across a greater number of plaintiffs versus a single individual obtaining the vast majority.

The trustworthy attorneys of Hotze Runkle PLLC are ready to fight for you if you have suffered hearing loss as a result of the d+e 3M military earplugs. Contact us today for a FREE, no-obligation consultation at our toll-free number (877) 919-0830. Our attorneys understand the class action lawsuit process and can provide you with more information about the options you have.

About Defective 3M Earplugs & Tinnitus

The company 3M has come under fire for selling defective combat earplugs. The Minnesota-based company began marketing the product in 2008 after acquiring it from original manufacturer, Aearo Technologies. Aearo Technologies knew the earplugs were defective since first being produced in early 2000 but 3M still sold them anyway until they were discontinued in 2015.

In recent years, veterans who were deployed in active war zones between 2003 to 2015 have begun to file lawsuits against 3M, claiming hearing loss and other damages such as tinnitus. While 3M is set to pay the U.S. military $9.1 million for their wrongdoings, veterans are having to seek out compensation on their own.

That’s why the national litigation firm of Hotze Runkle PLLC want to ensure that you are properly treated and receive the recovery you need to begin healing.  

If you are dealing with damages caused by these defective combat earplugs. Contact us today for a FREE, no-obligation consultation at our toll-free number (877) 919-0830.

About Tinnitus

Along with a host of other serious physical and emotional wounds, military veterans are also having to deal with tinnitus as a result of these defective earplugs that were supposed to protect them.

According to the Mayo Clinic, tinnitus is a persistent ringing, buzzing, hissing, chirping, whistling or other irritable sound heard by the sufferer. Tinnitus is not a disease itself but a symptom of an underlying condition of age-related hearing loss, ear injury, or a circulatory system disorder.

As per Military.com, tinnitus is the number one disability suffered by veterans and currently affects at least 1 in every 10 U.S. adults. Additionally, over 150,000 veterans were diagnosed with tinnitus in 2015 and nearly 1.5 million vets are currently receiving disability benefits for it.

Some of the common causes of tinnitus in military vets include:

  • Exposure to loud noises: The most common cause of tinnitus in U.S. military personnel, veterans often deal with explosions, gunfire, machinery, and aircraft, which all make substantial amounts of noise.
  • Ear bone change: When abnormal bone growth occurs, it affects your middle layer of the ear and again affect the hearing and cause tinnitus.
  • Other health conditions: There are a number of additional health issues that can lead to tinnitus including issues involving the heart, issues involving the blood vessels, jaw misalignment, head or neck trauma (a very real issue for military vets), and stress (PTSD can be a catalyst for veterans).

There are two kinds of tinnitus sufferers may be dealing with:

  • Subjective tinnitus is the most common type. It can be caused by problems with the hearing (auditory) nerves or part of your brain that interprets nerve signals as sound (auditory pathways). This leads to the sufferer hearing the noise only within their head.  
  • Objective tinnitus is much more rare type that can be observed by a doctor during examination. This could be caused by a blood vessel problem, a middle ear bone condition, or muscle contractions.  

Unfortunately, the majority of cases suffered by our US veterans come as a result of exposure to loud noises during active duty tours. When coupled with the fact that these individuals were provided defective equipment, the severity of the situation becomes much more upsetting.    

Preventing Tinnitus from Intensifying

There are certain behaviors and health-related activities that can aggravate your condition. It is important to take the necessary precautions to limit its effects on your life. Avoid:

  • Exposure to loud noise without protection
  • Smoking
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Drinking caffeine
  • Listening to music through headphones

Additionally, regular exercise and healthy eating is another way to keep your blood vessels healthy and could assist in reducing the impact of tinnitus. You’ll also want to avoid physical and emotional stress that can intensify the issue.

It is absolutely vital to your health and mental well-being that you seek out medical care as needed to help you with controlling your tinnitus.

If you were a service member in an active war zone between 2003 to 2015, and have suffered severe hearing loss or tinnitus as a result of defective 3M combat earplugs, then contact Hotze Runkle PLLC today for a FREE, no obligation consultation.

How Hearing Loss is Devastating Our Military Personnel

United States paratroopers airborne infantrymen in action in the desert

The sense of sound is one of the greatest gifts we are born with. The ability to hear can provoke so many different emotions; whether it’s the sound of roaring thunder, the joy of hearing your favorite song, or the sound of cries from your newborn, this sense is a monumental factor that can affect our quality of life.

Unfortunately, military personnel that served between 2003 through 2015 are facing appalling rates of hearing loss as a result of the defective 3M Combat Earplugs they were provided. Health issues associated with the product include hearing impairment, loss of hearing, and tinnitus, which is a constant ringing or buzzing in the ears.

But the soldiers that sacrificed for our country aren’t just dealing with the physical tolls of hearing loss but the emotional damages as well.

The committed and compassionate team of litigation lawyers at Hotze Runkle PLLC want you to know that you are not alone if you are dealing with damages caused by these defective combat earplugs. contact us today for a FREE, no-obligation consultation. We want to help you right their wrongs.

About Hearing Loss & 3M

Hearing loss is actually a common disability in the United States with over 200,000 new cases reported every year. In total, hearing loss affects more than 28 million Americans, and sadly, more than half of those are over the age of 75.

In a whopping statistic, hearing loss is the most common disability when it comes to American Veterans. In some cases, the hearing loss may be temporary and reversed through surgery or other medical means. In others, hearing loss is permanent, with the only support coming from hearing aids.

While there are various forms of hearing loss, those relevant to our topic are Conductive and Sensorineural (or mixed hearing loss when these both affect the victim).

  • Conductive hearing loss occurs when there is damage or blockage/infections in the outer and/or middle ear. The sounds cannot be conducted properly through the ear canal to the eardrum and affect hearing.
  • Sensorineural hearing loss, on the other hand, is caused by aging, diseases such as meningitis, exposure to certain chemicals, and by damages caused by extremely loud noises such as explosions, gunfire, jet engines, and other military-related activities.

Many US veterans who served in the Iraq and Afghanistan operations between 2003 through 2015 were exposed to frequent blasts and gunfire. When coupled with the fact that many of them were provided with defective Duel-Ended Combat Earplugs from the company, 3M, many of these same individuals are now suffering hearing loss as a result of their experiences out in these warzones.

According to the Department of Justice, in order to comply with government standards, the company manipulated test results and were well aware that their earplugs were too short to properly fit within the ear. Regardless, this negligent and irresponsible company still sold the product to the military without disclosing the design defect. Now, veterans are suffering from hearing loss and tinnitus, a high-pitched ringing sound that never goes away.

While a settlement has been reached between 3M and the US military, veterans are still dealing with their damages and have yet to receive any compensation for the injuries they have suffered.

Additional Problems Caused By Hearing Loss

If the hearing loss wasn’t bad enough, our veterans are also having to deal with the consequences of these damages. The problems caused by hearing loss will differ from veteran to veteran, but for most who suffer hearing impairment and noise-induced hearing injury, they may deal with:

  • Issues with socializing as they are no longer able to communicate effectively. Social isolation can have a profoundly negative impact on veterans who are already dealing with a host of other issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • Issues with pursuing higher education and other forms of training because of their damages.
  • Fewer job opportunities caused by their communication impairment. This can lead to financial issues.
  • Psychological and emotional issues can arise including shame, depression, and low self-esteem.
  • Physical issues such as headaches, muscle tension from stress, and increased blood pressure are also associated with hearing loss.
  • An increased risk of accident or injury.
  • A lowered quality of life.

The reality is that hearing is extremely important to the emotional, physical, and psychological well being of our veterans. They do not deserve to be mistreated as such and the manufacturers of these defective combat earplugs need to be brought to justice.

As a member of the armed forces, you sacrificed in your fight for freedom. Now you deserve somebody to fight for you. If you were a service member in an active war zone between 2003 to 2015 and have suffered severe hearing loss as a result of defective 3M combat earplugs, then call Hotze Runkel immediately at (877) 919-0830  for a free consultation.

We will fight to earn your trust and secure you full compensation for all you have suffered.

Defective 3M Combat Earplugs Result in U.S. Veteran Hearing Loss

Soldier walking on the battlefield. It´s a doll

U.S. military personnel that served between 2003 and 2015 in active warzones and who were provided 3M Combat Earplugs, Version 2, are experiencing hearing related issues as a result of these defective earplugs. Health issues associated with the product include hearing impairment, loss of hearing, and tinnitus (ringing or buzzing in the ears).

Individuals in the military are especially vulnerable to hearing damage due to the constant sounds of gunfire, explosions, jet engines, blasts, and other such noises. Oftentimes, military personnel must deal with these sounds consistently over long periods of time.

Hearing damage can occur at 80 to 85 decibels, which is the level of noise present when moving in a tank. Even the best hearing protection can only cut noise intensity by 20 to 25 decibels. The peak decibel level of gunfire is around 150 decibels and other military weapons, such as grenades, can reach 180 decibels.

If you were a service member in an active war zone between 2003 to 2015, and have suffered severe hearing loss as a result of defective 3M combat earplugs, then contact Hotze Runkle PLLC today for a FREE, no obligation consultation.

Settlement Under the False Claim Act

The lawsuit brought against 3M was initiated by Moldex-Metric, Inc., a 3M competitor that was attempting to develop their own earplugs. In the process of developing their own earplugs, Moldex discovered that 3M had falsified their data and test results.

A lawsuit was brought under the False Claims Act.

As a result of the lawsuit, 3M was required to pay a $9.1 million settlement for selling defective combat earplugs to the Defense Logistics Agency. Although 3M and its predecessor, Aearo Technologies, agreed to pay, they did not admit any fault for allegations that they knowingly caused harm to U.S. service members by supplying them with ineffective products.

Nearly half a million veterans are currently receiving a distributed $1 billion in compensation from the Department of Veteran Affairs for hearing loss.

The Earplugs Technical Design

The dual-ended earplugs were created for selective-attenuation (hearing.) They are supposed to allow the users to select from two levels of hearing.

Inserting one end was said to allow individuals a normal hearing experience while still providing protection from noise damage. The other end was meant for higher level noises, like traditional combat earplugs that can filter and protect the ears from gunfire and explosions.

How Is the Product Defective?

The 3M Company and Aearo Technologies neglected to fix or discontinue the sales of their defective product even after it failed a safety test in 2000.

The Combat Arms Earplugs, Version 2, are defective because they are too short to fit the ear canal properly. Due to poor design, the earplug gradually slips out of place. These loose fitting earplugs thus offer no hearing protection.

You may be eligible to file a claim if:

  • You served in the military between the year 2003 to 2015
  • You were issued 3M Combat Earplugs
  • You have since suffered from hearing loss and other related issues

Hearing impairment, loss, or tinnitus is affecting those that have served our nation at an alarming rate. Contact the hardworking product liability lawyers at Hotze Runkle PLLC to seek compensation for your 3M Combat Earplug hearing loss case.

Call (512) 476-7771 today for a free legal consultation if you have suffered hearing damages caused by the 3M defective earplugs.

How Much Do You Know About Asbestos? How the Carcinogenic Material Has Hurt 1000s of Americans

Asbestos Claim
Many Americans have come to suffer from asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma. But few are even aware of what the substance is and how it is still affecting Americans today.

Your national asbestos lawyers at Hotze Runkle PLLC would like to shed some light on this infamous material and how 1000s of individuals are still being diagnosed with mesothelioma each year in the United States.

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral with a thread-like structure that can make it stronger than steel. It’s durable design, as well as its resistance to heat, electricity and chemical corrosion, made it a go-to item in construction and consumer products.

Unfortunately, it was ultimately discovered that the mineral was highly carcinogenic. Having been used for decades, this was troubling news for thousands of Americans.

A Brief Overview of Asbestos Use in the United States

Asbestos first came into use in the late 1800s as a response to the Industrial Revolution. From then on, the use of asbestos in the industry grew as manufacturing expanded. During this time, asbestos was used heavily for insulation, from homes to oil refineries and everywhere in between.

World War II was another turning point for the use of asbestos. The military created a massive demand for it, using it in military equipment, bases, and transportation. After the war, the use of asbestos continued to expand as the carcinogenic material was used in homes, appliances, and in the construction industry.

The height of production of asbestos was in the 1960s. By 1973, 813,000 tons were being used annual. Many commercial products were made with it, even common household products such as baby powder and children’s’ toys had traces of asbestos.

It wasn’t until the late 1970s and 80s that the American public was finally told about how dangerous the material was.

Individuals and professions who experienced the worst asbestos exposure included:

  • Military
  • Heavy industry
  • Construction
  • Shipbuilding
  • Mining
  • Asbestos product manufacturing

It’s worth noting that family members of individuals who worked in these industries were also susceptible to the effects of asbestos. Workers often, and unknowingly, brought home these tiny fibers on their clothing and tools, spreading asbestos around their homes where they were absorbed by family members.

The Effect of Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos fibers can stay airborne for 72 hours, even remaining afloat in a room with no air movement.

The fibers are essentially invisible to the naked eye, cannot be felt or even tasted, and this is where the danger lies. Individuals can inhale massive amounts of asbestos fibers without ever realizing it.

These asbestos fibers can then stick to the lining of the lungs, where the body reacts by forming a scar tissue over them. As the scar tissue accumulates, tumors can begin to grow. Sometimes, the damage caused by asbestos exposure is irreversible.

Asbestos-related diseases can take decades (20-50 years) to develop and it can be just as long before any symptoms arise in the victim. This can affect diagnosis and treatment.

One of the most dangerous diseases caused by asbestos is mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma is a form of cancer caused by asbestos exposure. In the United States, 3,000 individuals are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year.

Will Asbestos Ever Be Banned in America?

The EPA has passed laws such as the Clean Air and Clean Water Act to help regulate asbestos use. In 1989, the EPA made a law banning all asbestos products, however, it was overturned after an intense court battle.

Another federal agency that has worked to get rid of asbestos products is the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA). They have made it mandatory for companies to control access to places where asbestos is being used and to also regulate the levels of asbestos fibers circulating the air.

The Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA) oversees levels of asbestos in commercial products. They do recall and create bans on products with levels that can pose danger to consumers. Toys, crayons, talcum, paints, patching compounds and more have all been recalled or even banned for noticeable traces of asbestos.

Despite efforts made to limit the use of the carcinogenic material, there have been recent discussions about allowing companies to once again use the substance in the United States. The Environmental Protection Agency recently proposed that there be no limitation on the use of asbestos.

The new rule goes that the manufacturers must alert the EPA and seek approval if they are trying to use asbestos in products.

Despite all the pain and suffering many victims and families have suffered as a direct result of asbestos-related diseases and mesothelioma, it appears that the substance may make a comeback.

Did you face exposure to asbestos in the workplace? Get compensated for your pain and suffering with the help of national asbestos litigation lawyers at Hotze Runkle PLLC.

Contact Hotze Runkle PLLC today at (512) 476-7771 to learn more about your ability to seek a legal claim against the parties that caused you damage. Your pain deserves a voice.

Shipyard Workers & Mesothelioma

Shipyard Mesothelioma
Many workers across various industries have been exposed to toxic asbestos-containing materials. One such field where hazardous materials were widely used was in shipyard work. Shipyard workers constructed a wide range of ships made for both military and civilian use.

The use of asbestos-containing products was especially prevalent until the 1970s. Until that point, the U.S. military had allowed for more than 300 asbestos-containing products to be used during ship construction.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the United States, an estimated 27 million workers were exposed to aerosolized asbestos fibers between 1940 and 1979. Additionally, a 2008 study found that shipyard workers carried a mortality rate 16 times greater than the average of other occupations.

Despite their dedication to our country, military shipyard workers have some of the highest numbers of asbestos exposure and those who were in the Navy have been most affected.

If you or a loved one had previously worked in a shipyard and is currently dealing with an asbestos-related illness, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit against the party responsible for your injury. Contact Hotze Runkle PLLC today at (512) 476-7771 for help from experienced and qualified asbestos litigation lawyers.  

Where and how did asbestos exposure occur?

As previously mentioned, the U.S. military had authorized the use of more than 300 asbestos-containing products until the 1970s. Many components and general areas of ships contained high levels of asbestos including:

  • Boiler rooms
  • Engine rooms
  • Hallways
  • Sleep quarters
  • Insulation
  • Paint
  • Gaskets
  • Sealants
  • Valves
  • Adhesives
  • Furnaces

Because of the heavy use of asbestos in shipyard work, the vast majority of individuals working in the shipbuilding industry were likely exposed to this deadly carcinogen. Any worker that helped in the construction of the ship, performed maintenance and repairs, overhauls, or even decommissions likely faced exposure. Shipyard workers who may have been exposed include:

  • Welders
  • Plumbers
  • Steamfitters
  • Janitorial and cleanup crew members
  • Ship lifters
  • Pipefitters
  • Machinists
  • Painters
  • Electricians
  • Boilermakers
  • Servicemen aboard vessels

Ships used asbestos for insulation because of its ‘safety features’ such as being fire retardant and resisting corrosion. It was a way to preserve the vessel, therefore, it was used in such staggering quantities.

Not only was asbestos used in military ships, but also civilian luxury liners such as cruise ships. The lack of ventilation aboard vessels caused exposure to the toxic material, even when workers were not in direct contact with it.

Anyone in contact with a vessel that was heavily lined with asbestos could be at risk for damages.

How is asbestos in shipyards still impacting people today?

There are 106,000 shipyard workers employed nationally today, all who face a moderate rate of exposure to the hazardous material. Due to previously placed asbestos insulation in the vessels, lingering amounts of asbestos can present harm to current shipyard workers.

The highest levels of asbestos-related illness and exposure are in California. With its long coast darted with countless shipyards, and even its large prevalence of natural asbestos deposits, this state is number one in deaths by mesothelioma and other asbestos-caused illness.

Call the national asbestos litigation lawyers at Hotze Runkle PLLC if you or a loved one suspects that you have been exposed to asbestos while on the job in a shipyard.

Our knowledgeable asbestos lawyers know which companies in the shipyard industry are responsible for the asbestos-related illnesses suffered by workers.

We are prepared to fight and help get you the compensation necessary to help treat or deal with mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases. Call us right now at (512) 476-7771 for a free consultation with our national asbestos lawyers.

How to Choose a Quality Asbestos Attorney to Secure Compensation

Quality Asbestos Attorney
Asbestos-related illnesses, such as mesothelioma, can result in life-altering physical and emotional damages, as well as financial issues for victims. Negligent companies and employers who have hurt clients and workers are responsible for the pain and suffering they have caused.

It is only fair that victims of asbestos-related illnesses be compensated appropriately by liable parties to help victims and their families recover from damages suffered. However, filing a claim to recover damages can be difficult in the face of big companies, complex legal issues, and insurance adjusters.

Your knowledgeable asbestos trial lawyers here at Hotze Runkle PLLC know you may have quite a few questions when it comes to choosing the right asbestos attorney for your claim. You want to make sure you choose the best option for your needs.

Please consider the following information regarding how to choose a quality asbestos attorney to secure you the recovery that you and your family deserve.

Tips for Choosing the Right Mesothelioma Lawyer

The truth is that there are many mesothelioma lawyers out there who are eager to take your case. Unfortunately, many may not have what it takes to secure financial relief for you, while other attorneys may not be experienced enough to take your case to trial – which can be a highly likely scenario in claims regarding asbestos.

It can be difficult for you to make the right decision when choosing a lawyer. Keep the following tips in mind when choosing an asbestos attorney should you decide to file a claim:

1. Seek Assistance from a National Litigation Firm

Local asbestos attorneys may not be equipped with the same aptitude of knowledge to help you recover full compensation for your asbestos-related injuries. However, national firms are able to work across multiple states and will take your case wherever the value of compensation may be higher. National litigation firms also have no problem traveling to accommodate to the needs of national clients in order to win a case. Local firms may be more limited and not as flexible.

2. Experience and Success Matters

Your potential legal team should have experience in asbestos-related cases, as well as the numbers to back up their success claims. Make sure your attorney has a proven record in asbestos-related cases before deciding to choose them.

It’s also important that they have a high number of cases won in court. Securing a trial attorney can make all the difference in the world as inexperienced attorneys may tell you to accept less than what your case is actually worth just so they don’t have to take your case to court.

3. Payment Based on Contingency

If you don’t get compensated, your lawyer should not get paid. This deal will ensure your legal team is working hard to get you the recovery you deserve. If your asbestos attorney does not work under this contingency agreement, then reconsider the relationship.

4. Legal Team Handles the Trouble

As a client, your responsibility should essentially come down to recalling the events that led to your injury and helping to secure a few documents such as medical bills linked to your asbestos-related illness. All other legal work should be conducted by your attorney.

Mesothelioma victims are already under enough stress, so a quality team of attorneys should alleviate legal concerns including paperwork, investigation, and litigation.

5. Place Communication and Timeliness as Priorities

Mesothelioma cases should be handled in a timely manner. The right team will work hard to uncover the details regarding your claim to start the process of securing compensation right away.

Solid and open communication, as well as frequent updates about your case, will help you feel at ease, knowing that your situation is in trusted hands. You don’t want to wait around impatiently for a team that drags your case along.

Choose Hotze Runkle PLLC For Quality Legal Help

If you or a loved one has become ill in the face of asbestos exposure, contact the asbestos trial lawyers of Hotze Runkle PLLC now. We work hard to earn your trust and to help you obtain the compensation needed to recover.

Seek help from the trustworthy team of asbestos attorneys with a track record of success in similar cases. Call (877) 919-0830 to speak with one of our dedicated national asbestos lawyers at Hotze Runkle PLLC today.

Railroad workers: have you been exposed to asbestos?

Railroad going into the fog

Railroads have played an essential role in growing the U.S. economy, travel, and the development of this great nation. However, the hardworking individuals who have dedicated their blood and sweat to the industry have been impacted in a very negative way.

During the 20th century, railroad cars and other railroad equipment were manufactured with asbestos, a mineral fiber which serves as a great insulator but which is terribly toxic to humans when inhaled.

Due to working conditions, chances are that many railroad workers were exposed to this mineral and could be suffering from a number of respiratory ailments, or even mesothelioma, a rare and aggressive form of cancer.

If you or someone you love worked as a railroad worker and are now suffering from asbestos-related illnesses, look to the national asbestos lawyers a Hotze Runkle PLLC to defend your rights and help you find the closure you and your family deserve.

Risks of Exposure

Unfortunately, despite how toxic asbestos is, the product was still used for decades in various industries including the railway system. Many products and equipment used in railroads contained these toxic fibers, including, but not limited to:

  • Insulation: Asbestos was used to insulate parts of steam and diesel locomotives. Some of these parts included the boiler, outside of the engine, boxcars, ceilings of cabooses, under the metal body of the train, driving cabins, carriages, and pipe coverings.
    Asbestos could also be found in roadhouses and railroad shops.
  • Railroad Equipment: Asbestos was used in the creation of plaster, wallboards, cement ties, gaskets and sealing cement.
  • Locomotive Parts: Asbestos fibers could be found in brake linings, brake pads, clutches, floor tiles, and in the ceilings of passenger cars.

Due to the variety of duties a railroad worker could have, chances are that they were exposed to asbestos fibers throughout their workday. However, there are some tasks which could have potentially exposed a railroad worker to dangerous levels of the mineral including:

  • Brake inspection and replacement
  • Coupling and separating cars
  • Locomotive inspections
  • Repairing signals on tracks or yards

It’s worth noting that the risks of asbestos exposure did not only occur for those working directly in the railroads but for their families as well since asbestos fibers can linger in clothing and be transported in that way.

Additionally, employees at or around roadhouses and/or railroad shops were also possibly exposed to asbestos by the fibers carried by the railroad workers who visited these locations.

What You Can Do

Unfortunately, railroad workers in the U.S. are not protected under the worker’s compensation program.

But there is hope.

An injured railroad worker can file a claim under the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) to get the compensation they deserve from their employers.

A FELA lawsuit is categorized as a civil lawsuit in which the railroad worker must prove their employer’s negligence and how it contributed to the injuries suffered. These types of lawsuits can be brought to a federal or state court.

However, in order to be able to file a claim against an employer under FELA, the railroad company which the injured party worked for must available in several states. If not, the worker can sue the individual manufacturers who used asbestos for the railroad equipment.

It is best to hire an experienced attorney who specializes in asbestos claims to handle the nuances and details of these complicated cases.

Contact the experienced Texas asbestos lawyers at Hotze Runkle PLLC today at (512) 476-7771.

How Asbestos Exposure Can Affect Your Health

Asbestos and Your Health
The disastrous effects of asbestos in the lives of many hardworking Americans is no secret. Many Americans were exposed to this dangerous substance well into the early 80s, even though its dangerous side effects had been detected years before.

But not everyone who had substantial contact with asbestos developed the same health problems.

The national asbestos lawyers at Hotze Runkle PLLC want you to obtain the justice you deserve if you have suffered an illness caused by asbestos exposure. We wholly believe that the more you understand about this dangerous substance, the better a decision you can make when it comes to filing a claim against the party responsible for your illness.

Please consider the following information about how asbestos can affect your health.

What are the chances I am suffering from asbestos exposure?

Between 1940 and 1978, 11 million American were exposed to asbestos in one form or another. In the decades that followed, the true damages of asbestos were to be felt.

Between 1999 and 2015, there were 54,418 documented cases of mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer caused by asbestos exposure. Additionally, there were 45,009 deaths from mesothelioma reported during that same time frame.

Perhaps most alarmingly is that 20 million people in the United States are estimated to be at risk for developing mesothelioma at some point in their lives.

The risk of developing an asbestos-related disease, such as mesothelioma, depends on a number of factors, including:

  • The amount of asbestos that was in the environment you were exposed in.
  • How often and for how long the exposure occurred.
  • How long the exposure lasted.
  • Previous lung conditions.
  • Whether or not you smoked.

Asbestos-Related Diseases

If you were exposed to asbestos fibers over a long period of time, there are several illnesses you could potentially develop. These include but are not limited to:

    • Asbestosis

Asbestosis is lung scarring due to asbestos fibers. Because of the scar tissue in the lungs, oxygen and carbon dioxide cannot pass as easily through the system, making it much hard for a sufferer to breathe.

This generally occurs in people with very high exposure and can take years to develop detectable symptoms.

    • Pleural Effects

Asbestos fibers in the lungs can also cause a variety of abnormalities in the lining of the chest cavity, known as pleura:

      • Pleural plaques: abnormal collagen deposits
      • Pleural effusion: fluid in the lining
      • Fibrosis of the pleura
      • Folded lung: an area of pleural fibrosis folds into itself creating an airless space in the lung

These pleural abnormalities can be found in 10-60% of the workers exposed to asbestos.

They are also common in their family members, possibly due to asbestos fibers being carried in the workers’ clothes.

    • Laryngeal Effects

In uncommon cases, individuals who have been exposed to asbestos have been shown to have an increased risk of suffering from laryngitis.

    • Immune System Issues

The immune system is often weakened in individuals with asbestosis. It is still not clear if this decrease is the cause or a result of asbestosis. In individuals exposed to asbestos but who do not suffer from asbestosis, mild to no decrease of the immune system has been detected.

    • Lung Cancer

These malignant tumors can take over and obstructs air passages in the lungs. Smoking tobacco, combined with asbestos exposure, dramatically increases the chance of developing lung cancer.

It normally takes about 20 to 30 years after the exposure (latency period) before developing lung cancer. While lung cancer is commonly associated with long periods of asbestos exposures, there have been cases where individuals with one to 12 months of exposure exhibit a  greatly increased risk of developing the illness.

    • Mesothelioma

A rare form of cancer which affects the membrane covering the lungs and chest cavity (pleura), the membrane lining the abdominal cavity (peritoneum), or other membranes surrounding other major organs.

It can take up to 30 to 40 years after an individual has been exposed to asbestos before mesothelioma symptoms become evident.

    • Other Forms of Cancer

Asbestos exposure is mainly known to cause lung cancer and mesothelioma. However, asbestos exposure can also cause larynx or ovary cancer.

If You Believe You Were Exposed to Asbestos

If you are concerned about possibly having been exposed to asbestos, visit your doctor or medical provider as soon as possible. Depending on your medical history and the details of your experiences, your doctor may conduct testing.

If you have been exposed to asbestos and are suffering from an asbestos-related illness, contact the experienced Texas asbestos lawyers at Hotze Runkle PLLC today at (512) 476-7771.

Overview of Statistics for Mesothelioma in the United States

Doctor is checking patient x-ray film
The national litigation team at Hotze Runkle PLLC firmly believes that keeping our clients informed is essential to developing a strong relationship. By providing as much information as possible to those we serve, we hope to deliver a better experience.

Because of this, we would like to share with you information regarding mesothelioma caused by exposure to asbestos. Statistics regarding mesothelioma can help individuals living with the condition better understand the disease as well help them to make a more informed decision on how to go about treating it.

If you believe that you are suffering from mesothelioma or some other illness as a result of asbestos exposure, do not hesitate to contact the experienced asbestos exposure lawyers at Hotze Runkle PLLC immediately.

Mesothelioma-Related Statistics

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as the National Health Institute,  provide statistics about mesothelioma in the United States according to mortality, age, gender, and even location.

Asbestos in the U.S. Throughout the Years

  • 1973: Peak of asbestos importation into the U.S. with over 803,000 tons of asbestos imported.
  • 2002: Last U.S. asbestos mines shut down.
  • Between 1999 and 2015 there were 54,418 documented cases of mesothelioma.
  • From 1999 to 2015, 45,009 mesothelioma deaths were recorded.
  • Between 1940 to 1978, 11 million Americans were exposed to asbestos.
  • Mesothelioma symptoms typically appear 20 to 50 years after exposure to asbestos.

Age-Related Statistics

  • Mesothelioma occurs more commonly in older age groups.
  • Recent research reveals that 91 percent of all mesothelioma cases occur in individuals 55 years and older.
  • 74 years old is the average age individuals are diagnosed in the United States.
  • Between 1999 and 2015, the age group with the most reported cases -10,188 – occurred in ages 75-79.
  • Between 1999 and 2015, the age group with the least reported cases – 40 in total – occurred in ages 15-19.

Gender-Related Statistics

  • Men are at a higher risk of developing mesothelioma in comparison to women, with males accounting for 75 percent of all mesothelioma deaths from 1999 to 2016.
  • Men are 4.6 times more likely to be diagnosed with mesothelioma.
  • From 1999 to 2015, 35,850 men and 9,159 women died in the United States from mesothelioma
  • From 1999 to 2015, 42,808 men were diagnosed while only 12,338 women were diagnosed.

Location-Related Statistics

The state in which you live can also have a significant impact on your risk of asbestos exposure. The following are mesothelioma diagnoses from 1999-2016 by the top five states with the highest population:

  • California
    • Diagnoses: 5,570
    • Deaths: 4,539
  • Texas
    • Diagnoses: 3,060
    • Deaths: 2,347
  • Florida
    • Diagnoses: 3,960
    • Deaths: 2,969
  • New York
    • Diagnoses: 3,469
    • Deaths: 2,476
  • Pennsylvania
    • Diagnoses: 3,500
    • Deaths: 2,930

Occupations with the Greatest Risk of Asbestos Exposure

  • Construction
  • Firefighting
  • Manufacturing
  • Chemical refining
  • Power generation
  • Shipbuilding
  • Military service

Survival Rate Statistics

  • Mesothelioma patients survive an average of 12 to 21 months.
  • For individuals with stage 1 pleural mesothelioma, the two-year survival rate is around 41-46% with a five-year survival rate at approximately 13-16%.
  • For individuals with stage 2 pleural mesothelioma, the two-year survival rate is around 38% with a five-year survival rate of around 10%.
  • For individuals with stage 3 pleural mesothelioma, the two-year survival rate is around 26-30% with a five-year survival rate of around 5-8%.
  • For individuals with stage 4 pleural mesothelioma, the two-year survival rate is around 17% with a five-year survival rate of less than 1%.

Additional Mesothelioma Statistics

  • There are 2,400 to 2,800 new mesothelioma cases reported in the U.S. each year as per the CDC.
  • 20 million people could possibly develop mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure.
  • About 1 million people around the world are exposed to asbestos each year.
  • There are approximately 2,500 mesothelioma related deaths each year, similar to the number of cases discovered each year.
  • Mesothelioma is more common in whites and Hispanics/Latinos than in African Americas or Asian Americans.

In order to recover damages for your suffering caused by an asbestos-related disease, seek consultation from your national asbestos lawyers at Hotze Runkle PLLC by contacting us today at (512) 476-7771.