Texas is a state rich in resources such as oil, which may be the most predominant. With so many industrial companies in the state, Texas has had a large share of mesothelioma cases due to the strong use of the material in oil refineries, manufacturing and shipbuilding, for instance. While asbestos is prohibited to be used in new products, it still remains in many old buildings and worksites, meaning that individuals who were unknowingly exposed to the material decades ago are discovering asbestos-related diseases now.
Mesothelioma Cases in Texas
Between 1999 and 2015, there have been nearly 3,000 deaths from mesothelioma in Texas. The state has a mesothelioma mortality rate of about 5 people per million annually, and currently has 8 sites where asbestos is known to be.
The counties of Orange and Jefferson have experienced higher mortality rates than the rest of the state between 2000 and 2009, with around 25 and 22 people per million annually.
Texas has been fighting strongly on behalf of mesothelioma patients and now has strict laws to help support its residents. Between 1998 and 2000, there were more asbestos suits filed in the state than any other, causing a strong reaction from Texas legislators and leading them to create a series reforms in the law.
Asbestos Use in Texas
Asbestos has also been found in several old schools, abandoned buildings as well as several military sites across the state. Power plants, utility companies and storage sites are all examples of where asbestos exposure may have occurred. Asbestos is extremely resistant to heat and cold and was also a prime material in the building of ships.
Shipbuilding in Texas
Both company workers and residents of Texas risk exposure at several shipyards along the coastline in Texas. The shipyards are some of the sites with the highest use of asbestos, including AMFELS Shipyard in Brownsville, Bloodworth Bond Shipyard and Port Freeworth.
AMFELS Shipyard was established in the 1970s and is known for constructing large, commercial vessels. Since its induction, the shipyard frequently used asbestos aboard its ships while its workers were not required to wear protective gear.
For several decades there have been thousands of workers potentially exposed to asbestos. Bloodworth Bond Shipyard is now known as the Bollinger Company, and is located both in Houston and Texas City. Both locations concentrated on repairing ships and employed hundreds of workers that may have been exposed to asbestos all across the ships, particularly within the boiler rooms which created a more concentrated, airborne asbestos atmosphere.
The Orange Shipbuilding Company was established in the early 1907s, with most towboat engine rooms and other ships in the yard built with asbestos-containing materials.
Lastly, Port Freeport is one of the oldest operating ports on the Gulf Coast, having been in operation for more than a century. While an important port for both national and international trading, it, unfortunately, has a long history of asbestos exposure.
Texas Asbestos Laws and Regulations
The Texas Department of State Health Services is in charge of overseeing the majority of asbestos law under the Asbestos Health Protection, which closely mirror federal laws. The law requires Texans not be permitted to handle asbestos unless they are trained and certified in the state.
Any applicants from outside of Texas must undergo an additional 3 hours of training by a licensed and approved provider in Texas. Overall, training courses are valid only for a full year and asbestos workers will need to refresh and renew each consecutive year. The training is comprised of 8 hours of lectures, demos and interactive work, to which a state licensing exam will follow. More details and additional regulations are detailed in Chapter 295 of Title 25 of the Texas Administrative Code.
It is important to note that Texas has a statute of limitations of 2 years after mesothelioma diagnosis for personal injury and 2 years after death from mesothelioma for wrongful death claims. After such high volumes of asbestos lawsuits, the state made a point to narrow and tighten regulations for mesothelioma claimants.
Initially, Texas law required any claimants to have documented proof of their diagnosis as well as proof the exposure occurred at least 10 years prior. However, in the early 2000s, the Texas Supreme Court additionally ruled that any claimants must prove the level of asbestos exposure they have.
Retaining a Texas Mesothelioma Lawyer
Mesothelioma litigation is a complex and emotional path to navigate. Patients suffering from mesothelioma should look for an experienced attorney who has specialized in mesothelioma. An experienced mesothelioma lawyer has the knowledge and resources to successfully negotiate the highest possible settlements in the shortest time frames.
If you developed mesothelioma as a result of asbestos exposure in Texas, please do not hesitate to reach out to our Justice Support Team today.