Asbestos Exposure & Mesothelioma Risk

Asbestos is a naturally occurring group of minerals that contain strong, flexible and easily separated fibers. A poor conductor of heat and electricity, asbestos was used in thousands of products across a number of building, manufacturing and commercial applications.

However, exposure to asbestos can cause a number of cancers, like mesothelioma — a rare form of cancer that can attack the lungs and abdomen. If you or a loved one was diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may be eligible for compensation from the asbestos companies that caused you harm.

Call (800) 326-8900 now to see if our asbestos attorneys can help your family. It costs nothing to speak with us.

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Asbestos Exposure Information

The qualities that make asbestos a highly desirable material also make it deadly. Once disturbed, asbestos fibers turn into microscopic airborne dust particles. Lingering in the air for hours or days, these fibers can attach to clothing or work instruments. If these fibers are inhaled or ingested, they can cause serious health problems.

Use the information below to learn more about the dangers and sources of asbestos exposure.

Asbestos Exposure History

Although the known history of asbestos dates back to ancient Greece, the mineral became most popular in the United States during the mid 20th century, post-War boom.

Known as the “miracle mineral” for its tensile strength, electrical resistance and fireproof properties, asbestos is a multipurpose material used in a number of building, manufacturing and commercial applications.

It was commonly used in factories, refineries, steel mills, foundries, construction, shipyards and railroad yards.

Products containing asbestos included:

  • Asbestos gloves
  • Blankets
  • Boilers
  • Brakes
  • Ceiling tiles
  • Cement boards
  • Cement pipe
  • Clutches
  • Electrical Equipment
  • Fireproofing
  • Floor tiles
  • Furnaces
  • Gaskets
  • Insulating cements
  • Joint compound
  • Packing
  • Pipe Insulation
  • Plaster
  • Pumps
  • Refractory insulation
  • Roofing
  • Siding
  • Talcum powder
  • Tape
  • Turbines
  • Valves
  • Vermiculite
  • Wiring

Over time, asbestos found its way into over 3,000 household and industrial products, particularly in the automobile and construction industries.

If you were diagnosed with mesothelioma, an experienced asbestos exposure lawyer with Simmons Hanly Conroy can help you determine which asbestos-containing products you may have been exposed to.

Call (800) 326-8900 or fill out our contact form today for a free consultation.

Growth of Asbestos Exposure Lawsuits

By the middle of the 20th century, it was clear asbestos was dangerous. Articles and reports were making connections between workplace asbestos exposure and diseases such as lung cancer and asbestosis.

Despite the newfound awareness of the dangers of asbestos exposure, many companies continued to manufacture and use asbestos products while failing to provide warnings to customers and workers. They chose to protect their profits over the health of their employees and consumers.

Asbestos use finally began to decline in the early 1970s, when Congress passed the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSHA) and asbestos lawsuits became more commonplace.

Prior to this, asbestos usage was so widespread that generations of exposed workers were starting to become sick, as asbestos-related diseases can take 10-50 years to develop. They began filing lawsuits against asbestos companies to obtain compensation for their injuries.

Many companies were forced to seek bankruptcy protection due to the number of lawsuits they were facing, while others ceased asbestos use in an effort to avoid additional litigation.

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History of Mesothelioma Litigation

The history of mesothelioma litigation dates back to the Industrial Revolution when asbestos use was in full force. Since mesothelioma has a latency period of up to 50 years, mesothelioma lawsuits have increased dramatically within the past 30 years.

Below, we detail the history of mesothelioma litigation — from some of the earliest cases to asbestos litigation today.

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Early Mesothelioma Cases

Prior to 1982, in the early days of asbestos litigation, non-malignant asbestos cases received the majority of legal attention.

Two primary categories of these non-malignant cases included:

  • Asbestosis – scarring of the internal lung tissue
  • Pleural Scarring – scarring or thickening of the lining of the chest cavity

Early cases commonly involved workers in pipe fitting, construction and shipyard occupations. Even though mesothelioma was being diagnosed in other occupations, such as steam fitters and oil refinery workers, mesothelioma and asbestos cancer cases accounted for only a small portion of early asbestos claims at this time.

Later Mesothelioma Cases


With the influx of non-malignant asbestos cases, many asbestos companies declared bankruptcy in an effort to avoid paying out large personal injury claims. Some of these companies included Keene, Eagle-Picher, Johns-Manville and Unarco.

Following these bankruptcies, the companies were forced to create asbestos trust funds to pay all present and future claims against them. There is an estimated $30 billion remaining in these trust funds as of 2024.

Tort Litigation Becomes Popular

In 1965, a publication by the American Law Institute of The Restatement of the Law of Torts made it clear that anyone who sells or provides dangerous or defective products to a consumer is liable for the harm the product causes.

Since the courts decided that asbestos manufacturers knew of the dangers of asbestos, this led to a substantial increase in the filing of tort litigation, which involves an injured victim seeking legal compensation from the individual or individuals who harmed them.

Many employers and their insurers challenged workers’ compensation claims to avoid admitting asbestos was the cause of their harm. Because of this, individuals exposed to asbestos instead turned to tort litigation, and court cases against asbestos companies rose dramatically between the early 1980s and 2000s.

In 1990, a group of federal judges coordinated all pending asbestos cases in the federal courts and sent them to a single judge in Philadelphia. This caused a delay in mesothelioma litigation across the country and led to the filing of mesothelioma lawsuits in state courts rather than federal courts.

As a national law firm, Simmons Hanly Conroy can help victims of asbestos exposure in all 50 states take legal action and get the compensation they deserve.

Learn more about filing a mesothelioma lawsuit in your area.

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Asbestos Exposure Lawsuit Settlements & Verdicts

Since 1999, Simmons Hanly Conroy has recovered more than $9.6 billion for mesothelioma patients and their families.

Past mesothelioma settlements and verdicts have included: 

  • $13.1 million for a carpenter with pleural mesothelioma
  • $20 million for a mechanic in St. Louis
  • $4.3 million to a U.S. Army veteran in Florida

Please note that mesothelioma compensation will vary on a case by case basis, as each amount is determined by factors such as an individual’s exposure, age and diagnosis.

Asbestos Exposure Today

While many countries have completely banned asbestos, other countries, like the U.S., have placed heavy regulations on its use. This means that asbestos is still present and continues to be used in certain products throughout the United States.

More than 1 million U.S. workers were exposed to asbestos during the 20th century, and many face serious health risks to this day.

View a list of occupations most at risk for asbestos exposure.

At-Risk Occupations
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Simmons Hanly Conroy: Skilled Asbestos Exposure Lawyers

As a national mesothelioma law firm, Simmons Hanly Conroy has the experience and resources necessary to help victims of asbestos exposure across the country.

If you have a case, we will:  

  • Travel to you to discuss your work history and the details of your asbestos exposure
  • Handle every step of the legal process for you, including collecting evidence and filing your claim
  • Provide access to our on-staff medical professionals, so you can learn more about your diagnosis and treatment options

Our team is passionate about working with asbestos exposure victims and their families to get the compensation they deserve. We’ve helped over 6,000 clients take action against negligent asbestos companies.

If you or a loved one developed mesothelioma, don’t delay — fill out our contact form or call (800) 326-8900 for a free legal consultation today.

Asbestos & Mesothelioma FAQs

How much asbestos exposure causes mesothelioma?

Unfortunately, there is no safe level of asbestos exposure. Accidentally inhaling or ingesting any amount of asbestos fibers can cause you to develop dangerous diseases such as mesothelioma or asbestosis decades after your exposure.

What are asbestos exposure symptoms?

There are no symptoms of asbestos exposure immediately after coming into contact with this toxic material. However, asbestos-related diseases can develop 10-50 years after you are exposed to asbestos fibers.

Early symptoms of diseases caused by asbestos poisoning may include: 

  • Chest pain
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weight loss

Can I sue for asbestos exposure?

In many cases, yes. Not everyone who is exposed to asbestos will develop a serious disease such as mesothelioma or lung cancer.

However, if you do develop an asbestos-related illness, an asbestos company may be legally responsible for your injuries. In these instances, you may have a case to sue.

Simmons Hanly Conroy provides free, no-obligation consultations. Contact us today to learn more about whether or not you are able to pursue an asbestos lawsuit.

How much do asbestos exposure attorneys cost?

At Simmons Hanly Conroy, we work on a contingency basis. That means there are no upfront or out-of-pocket costs.

We don’t get paid unless we successfully recover financial compensation in your case.

What is the average settlement for asbestos exposure?

Every case is different and can never guarantee compensation. That said, some of our past clients with mesothelioma have received millions of dollars in compensation.

Some of the results we’ve secured nationwide include:

  • $20 million for a mechanic in Missouri
  • $15 million for the family of a construction worker in New Jersey
  • $5.1 million for an HVAC worker in California
  • $4.6 million for a former welder in New York
  • $4 million for an electrician in Illinois
  • $3.8 million for the family of a laborer in Pennsylvania

That being said, our asbestos attorneys will fight for as much compensation as possible in any mesothelioma cancer case. The amount you may receive depends on the facts of your unique situation.

Simmons Support Team
Legal Reviewer Nick AngelidesReviewed by:Nicholas J. Angelides

Partner, Simmons Hanly Conroy

  • Fact-Checked
  • Legal Reviewer

Attorney Nick Angelides is a partner at Simmons Hanly Conroy. He joined the firm in 2003, and currently helps direct the legal strategy for all of the firm’s asbestos and mesothelioma cases. Nick has nearly 15 years of litigation experience and has handled asbestos cases throughout the country, recovering hundreds of millions of dollars on behalf of individuals and families impacted by asbestos-related diseases.