Asbestos, a strong and heat-resistant mineral, was made into products such as insulation, gaskets, cement, auto brakes, and floor tiles. It was widely used by the steel, glass, and chemical industries. Additionally, it was used in insulation that was used at oil refineries, power plants, shipyards and railroads. Asbestos fibers are virtually indestructible. They do not evaporate into air or dissolve in water. They do not deteriorate over time.
In addition to mandating benefits for workers who are involved in on-the-job accidents, the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act also covers occupational diseases such as diseases caused by continuous exposure to asbestos and/or asbestos-containing products. Asbestos-related diseases are latent injury diseases: They gradually develop over a period of years after exposure to asbestos or asbestos-containing products. Once a worker has been diagnosed, a workers’ compensation claim can be filed against the employer for whom the claimant was working the last time he/she was exposed to the hazards of asbestos.
The North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act provides several remedies for a worker who is injured by asbestos. There is a separate statutory framework for claimants diagnosed with asbestosis:
When a worker is diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, benefits available to him/her will depend on his/her current medical status. If the worker is currently disabled from his/her lung condition, payment of weekly compensation may be available.
Workers who are diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness, may be eligible to receive up to $20,000 per lung for permanent damage to an important internal organ.
Sometimes exposure to asbestos can cause the development of life-threatening diseases such as lung cancer or mesothelioma. In the unfortunate event that an asbestos-related disease causes the death of a worker, then disability, death benefits and funeral expenses may be available to the worker and/or his dependents or next of kin.
Payment of disability benefits or death benefits is based on 66 2/3 % of the average weekly wage the worker earned at the time of the last injurious exposure.
If you have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease or believe you were exposed to asbestos and/or asbestos-containing products at any point in your work history, please contact one of our asbestos workers’ compensation attorneys today to discuss your options.