A diagnosis of malignant mesothelioma is frequently the result of occupational exposure to asbestos, the mineral that is the single proven cause of the disease. But under the current laws in the state of Pennsylvania, many employees who were exposed to the carcinogenic material and who later diagnosed with mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases have been kept from taking legal action against their employer. This is because the state’s law places a 300-week limitation from last exposure for bringing a claim of occupational disease, and this roughly 6-year period does not take into account illnesses that take longer than 300 weeks to appear. But now State Representative Eli Evankovich, a Republican from Allegheny, Pennsylvania, has proposed a change to the law that would waive the 300-week limitation for those who are diagnosed years later with a disease that is known to have a long latency period.
Mesothelioma has an exceptionally long latency period. Many victims of the illness, as well as other asbestos-related diseases, do not begin to exhibit symptoms of their disease until forty or fifty years after their exposure to asbestos, and even once their symptoms begin to manifest themselves, it often takes additional months to positively confirm a diagnosis because the initial symptoms of mesothelioma are so similar to those of other, more benign illnesses like bronchitis or pneumonia.
The proposed change in the law would provide a waiver of the 300-week limitation that specifically applies to those with mesothelioma or similar illnesses, allowing them to file a civil action against an employer for work-related exposures when they aren’t able to recover via a workers’ compensation claim. Representative Evankovich based his proposed waiver on a Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision handed down in 2013, which provided this right to a plaintiff who had filed a claim against AK Steel.
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, you need to work with an attorney who understands all the ins and outs of the law as it applies to these challenging conditions. For information on how we can help, contact us at 1-800-966-2244.