Boasting a population of over 20 million, Florida is a popular state for families, vacationers and retirees alike. During the 20th century, its booming oil, shipbuilding and mining industries provided thousands of jobs. But those occupations and others exposed workers to asbestos and put them at risk of developing serious diseases.
Mesothelioma Cases in Florida
The legacy of asbestos is significantly impacting Florida. From 1999 to 2013, over 14,200 Floridians died from asbestos-related diseases. Its death rate of 5.3 per 100,000 people ranks high above the U.S. average of 4.9.
The following Florida counties experience a much higher death rate:
- Hernando County (13.2)
- Sumter County (12.3)
- Citrus County (11.7)
- Indian River County (11.3)
- Charlotte County (10.5)
Mesothelioma and other asbestos-related conditions may take up to 50 years to develop. Many patients are retired by the time symptoms begin. Florida’s high percentage of senior citizens (#1 in the U.S.) combined with the above statistics suggest the state’s asbestos problem will not decrease anytime soon.
Florida laws make it difficult for some victims to file lawsuits for wrongful asbestos exposure. Under the Asbestos & Silica Compensation Fairness Act, plaintiffs must meet specific medical criteria and submit detailed evidence supporting their claim. The act aims to hear more cases by decreasing the number of claims.
Still, victims across Florida are filing claims and receiving compensation:
In a recent monumental case, former tile worker Robert Lord filed an $11.5 million lawsuit against Vanderbilt Minerals. The case went to jury deliberations, but the two sides reached a private settlement before the jury entered a verdict.
Asbestos Use in Florida
Asbestos was used widely in Florida during the 1900s. Its heat-resistant, light-weight and anti-corrosive qualities made asbestos a useful material. A broad range of industries used asbestos for construction, product manufacturing and employees’ protective equipment.
Florida’s location on the Atlantic made it a successful shipbuilding hub during the 20th century. Shipbuilders produced naval, commercial and pleasure vessels up and down the coast. Asbestos was used as insulation in drywall, flooring and pipes, and for fireproofing equipment and machinery.
Many Floridians worked at offshore oil platforms and drilling sites in the 1900s, such as Gulf Oil, Conoco and Chevron. As fire prevention is vital on oil rigs, asbestos was used in drilling fluid and around the platform in pipes, equipment and tanks. Asbestos was also used for workers’ uniforms and gloves to protect against high temperatures.
Florida ranks 3rd-highest in U.S. population, and its construction industry has worked to meet the demand. During the 20th century, asbestos was used in insulation, shingles, flooring tiles, plaster and many other purposes. Construction workers who spent time on residential, business and industrial sites may have been exposed.
Florida’s balmy temperatures make the state a favorite vacation spot. Resorts, hotels and entertainment venues built before the 1980s may contain asbestos. Asbestos has also been confirmed at attractions like Disney World and Sea World. While visitors today face little risk, former construction workers may have been exposed on the job.
Florida residents who worked in the following occupations also faced a high risk of asbestos exposure and developing mesothelioma:
- Military veterans
- Power station technicians
- Chemical plant specialists
- Demolitions workers
- First responders
- Boiler workers
- Pipefitters and plumbers
Employees who worked with asbestos indirectly or spent time in other departments of a hazardous worksite were at risk of asbestos exposure.
Some high-risk Florida worksites include:
- Asbestos processing plants
- Military bases
- Food processing centers
- Old buildings that underwent major renovation
Florida Asbestos Laws and Regulations
Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection oversees the state’s asbestos laws. One of the department’s main objectives is to prevent asbestos exposure during demolitions and renovations. Florida contractors and building owners must submit notice to the division before starting any work that will disturb asbestos fibers.
Statute of Limitations on Asbestos Cases
If you live in Florida, you should be aware of the state’s unique statute of limitations surrounding asbestos litigation. Victims have 4 years from the date of diagnosis to file a claim. Direct family members have 2 years from the date of death to file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of a loved one.
Retaining a Florida Mesothelioma Lawyer
Asbestos litigation is especially complex in Florida. State requirements for evidence of exposure involve considerable resources, time and expertise to build a strong claim. An accredited mesothelioma lawyer has the knowledge and experience to negotiate the compensation you deserve in as little time as possible.
If you developed mesothelioma as a result of asbestos exposure in Florida, contact our Justice Support Team today.