Located in the Appalachian region, some of the country's most rugged lands can be found in West Virginia. When the Industrial Revolution hit, West Virginia was one of the most significant bituminous coal developments in the U.S. Nicknamed ‘The Mountain State,’ West Virginia’s economy relied heavily on industries that used asbestos abundantly and put many residents at risk of mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma Cases in West Virginia
West Virginia’s industries, primarily power plants and coal mines, are the cause of many mesothelioma cases in the region. West Virginia has an above average rate of mesothelioma mortality, with around 14 people per million annually. Between 1999 and 2013, there have been 416 mesothelioma deaths in West Virginia alone.
In 2002, the Kanawha County Circuit Court consolidated 7,715 claims of asbestos negligence and conducted the trails in groups to get through such vast numbers.
Many residents who worked at industrial or military sites were exposed to the material unknowingly. There are hundreds of locations throughout the state which were affected, and lawsuits have been filed by numerous residents who worked on the sites. The workers were not only subjected to asbestos on a regular basis, but they also brought fibers home on their clothing, putting their families at risk.
At this moment, the West Virginia Mesothelioma Victims Centre is calling for U.S. Navy Veterans with mesothelioma to come forward. High-risk workers in the Navy could be eligible for financial compensation for their ill health. Similarly, mechanics, machinists, constructions workers and miners are also being encouraged to seek legal advice and receive the compensation they deserve.
Asbestos Use in West Virginia
While there are multiple laws around using asbestos in workplaces today, workers are still being diagnosed with mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases due to their exposure decades ago. Exposure in West Virginia came from a variety of industries, including coal and oil most notably.
The highest-risk West Virginia occupations for asbestos exposure and developing mesothelioma were:
- Coal mining
- Oil refineries
- Steel works
- Power plants
At the time of the Industrial Revolution, one of the leading industries was coal mining. Mines were famous for uncovering natural asbestos, though, there was none to be found in West Virginia. However, the workers were still exposed to the dangerous substance through their equipment. Mining equipment, such as welding blankets, was known to include asbestos to protect people working with high temperatures and open flames. Coal mining is still a large industry today, but nowadays every precaution is taken to ensure the health of the workers.
Oil refineries were another economic boost for the state. Because of the high heats used in processing, many plants used asbestos as a fire-retardant material to protect the equipment. Many of the people working in oil refineries from the 1950s to the 1980s may have inhaled toxic asbestos fibers and could be at risk of mesothelioma.
West Virginia Asbestos Laws and Regulations
The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection is the state’s primary regulatory body. It is in charge of the asbestos-related laws in the state, including the National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) standards. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) helps to govern these laws but has not approved an official plan for West Virginia. Businesses can avoid violating asbestos rules by adhering to the Occupational Safety and Health Extension Service offered at West Virginia University.
The Department of Environmental Protection also regulates standards for those who remove asbestos. West Virginia’s law says that only those who have full training and licensing documents can handle any asbestos project in the state. The West Virginia Department of Health can distribute the license upon the completion of standard training courses.
Retaining a West Virginia Mesothelioma Lawyer
Filing successful lawsuits for mesothelioma is easier than it was in the past because the severe impact of asbestos is now understood. The challenge is usually in finding out where the victim was exposed to asbestos, especially if they have worked in many different industrial plants. By hiring a lawyer who specializes in mesothelioma cases, you have a better chance of identifying which worksites contained asbestos to help build a strong case.
In West Virginia, a victim can file a personal injury lawsuit up to 2 years after their diagnosis. If the patient dies before a personal injury claim is complete, the family can file a wrongful death lawsuit within 2 years of death.
If you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma as a result of asbestos exposure in West Virginia, contact our Justice Support Team today.