For more than 45 years, our lawyers have helped people who have been diagnosed with lung cancer and other asbestos-related medical conditions. Our attorneys understand the significance of this diagnosis and how it impacts families emotionally and financially.
“Bobby Hatten and the people at PWHD, they are the people to call.”
– Kathy and Mark D.
Our Hampton Roads lung cancer lawyers are available to discuss your concerns and what steps you may like to consider taking after an asbestos-related medical diagnosis. You may be eligible for compensation for medical treatment, lost wages and a variety of other damages. We have recovered significant amounts of compensation on behalf of our clients in the Norfolk area – many of whom worked in the shipbuilding industry, including at Norfolk Naval Shipyard and Newport News Shipyard.
Partner Robert Hatten is an industry leader in asbestos cases, having prosecuted the very first mesothelioma jury trial in Virginia.
He has also obtained numerous multi-million-dollar verdicts, including verdicts of $25 million and $10 million. He was named Best Lawyer of the Year in Virginia in 2019.
If you have questions, we encourage you to contact our legal professionals today for a confidential consultation. Our initial consultation is free, no face-to-face meeting is required and there are no upfront fees while we work to build your case.
How We May Be Able to Help
The lawyers at the firm of Patten, Wornom, Hatten & Diamonstein (PWHD) have worked on landmark cases and they know what it takes to build a strong case.
Partner Robert Hatten has been working with victims of asbestos diseases since 1975. He won the landmark case Jones v. John Crane, secured the first punitive damages verdict in an asbestos case, and secured asbestos verdicts listed in the Top 10 in Virginia for six consecutive years.
If we can validate your claim and you choose to hire our firm, there are no upfront fees for us to take on your case and there are no upfront fees while we work on your case.
Our attorneys are prepared to manage the legal process for you to help relieve the stress that can be associated with pursing a damages claim. We keep our clients updated and informed throughout the litigation process and handle any and all communications with the representatives of the Defendant.
How Do I Know if I Can Pursue Compensation?
Before contacting a lawyer, many Plaintiffs are unsure if they have a case. A primary goal for our attorneys during your initial consultation is for us to help determine if you have sufficient grounds to file a damages lawsuit.
During the initial, free consultation, we can review and discuss the specific details of your claim, including diagnosis, work history, previous employers, job requirements and when it’s believed that you or, the victim, may have been exposed to asbestos. This can help us determine if you may have a valid case and how we may be able to assist you.
“Bobby Hatten and the lawyers at PWHD continue to fight for people like me.”
– Jennifer, PWHD client
The attorneys at our firm have extensive knowledge of the asbestos industry, particularly the industries and occupations that put workers at high risk for asbestos exposure and asbestos-containing products that were used in these industries. For example, those involved in shipbuilding in Virginia often worked in confined spaces for extended periods of time with asbestos-containing products, putting them at great risk for exposure.
The sooner you speak with us about your potential claim, the sooner we may be able to help you.
Will I Need to File a Lawsuit?
Most personal injury claims never make it to court. Often, these types of claims are settled outside of the courtroom.
Many companies that exposed their workers to asbestos have received a numerous lawsuits from other individuals that have also become victims of their employers’ negligence. In an effort to resolve those lawsuits, trust funds were established to address. Depending on the details of your specific claim and while every case is unique, our Hampton Roads lung cancer lawyers may be able to file a claim with an asbestos trust that has been created by your former employer.
Our attorneys are committed to protecting your best interests and holding negligent parties accountable for their actions.
Filing a Claim with an Asbestos Bankruptcy Trust
An asbestos bankruptcy trust is designed to pay compensation to former employees who developed an asbestos-linked disease. Many companies have set up these trusts in the past few decades as more and more people file asbestos lawsuits. Some of the companies that have established trust funds made or sold products that may have been used right here in Virginia, such as:
- Johns Manville
- Babcock & Wilcox Company
- E. Thurston & Sons, Inc.
- Kaiser Aluminum
- Porter Hayden Company
If you or a loved one developed lung cancer and you believe it was due to asbestos exposure from a company that has a trust fund, or if you are unsure if there is a trust, give our offices a call today to discuss your potential claim.
Who May File a Lawsuit?
Both victims and their families may be eligible to file a lawsuit for asbestos-related lung cancer. Sadly, life expectancy for those diagnosed with asbestos-linked lung cancer is not very long. It could be anywhere from a matter of months to a year or year and a half.
If your loved one has passed away or is too sick to speak with us about his or her potential claim, you may call our offices on his or her behalf to see what legal options are available. If your spouse or immediate family member died as a result of lung cancer caused by asbestos exposure, you may be able to file a wrongful death suit on their behalf.
Compensation We May Help You Recover
As every case is unique, our lawyers will carefully review your claim to determine if you have grounds to file a lawsuit and if so, the types of damages you may be able to claim. Victims of asbestos-related lung cancer often require significant medical care and experience a greatly reduced quality of life as a result of their illness. Some of the areas that a lawsuit may address include (but are not limited to):
- Medical bills
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Lost care and guidance
There may also be costs associated with medical treatment after the conclusion of the lawsuit and if so, provisions may be required to include the cost of future treatment and whether that treatment is meant to combat the cancer or simply relieve pain and other symptoms caused by your treatment or the progression of the disease. For example, you may be able to claim compensation for tests like MRIs. You may also be able to claim compensation for chemotherapy, radiation and surgeries. The cost of providing health care at home may also be compensable.
Our Hampton Roads lung cancer lawyers have a proven track record of recovering compensation for asbestos victims. Partner Robert Hatten’s verdicts against the asbestos industry were listed in the Top 10 Verdicts for the entire state of Virginia for six years in a row. This includes the following verdicts:
- $7.5 million in 2016
- $25 million in 2011
- $5.977 million in 2010
*Disclaimer: Verdicts are specific to the facts of that case and create no inference of the value of other cases. Further, verdicts are frequently appealed which can result in reversal or reduction of the verdict or settlement for less than the verdict.
Who Can Be Held Liable for My Diagnosis?
Companies that manufacture products that used asbestos and employers who knowingly exposed their employees to asbestos products are typically the liable parties in asbestos-related claims.
There are many things that must be proven to establish an employer or product manufacturer may be liable for asbestos-linked lung cancer. That is why it is so important to seek representation from a qualified Hampton Roads lung cancer lawyer.
Your attorney must prove an employer knowingly exposed employees to asbestos, even though the risks were known or should have been known. In a product liability claim, your lawyer also needs to prove the manufacturer knew the risks of asbestos but made asbestos-containing products anyway.
What is Asbestos?
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, asbestos is the name given to a group of naturally occurring minerals that are resistant to heat and corrosion. Asbestos has been used in many products over the years, including asbestos containing gaskets, packing, brakes, insulation or other products.
The types of mineral fibers found in asbestos include:
What are the Dangers of Asbestos?
Asbestos fibers can become airborne when they are disturbed. If you breathe in these fibers, they could very easily become trapped in your lungs and slowly cause scar tissue to form. Decades after your exposure you could develop a serious health condition, such as mesothelioma, lung cancer or asbestosis.
Even a small amount of exposure could cause health problems decades later. However, many people who end up with health problems were exposed to asbestos many times over a period of years.
Types of Jobs with a High Risk of Asbestos Exposure
Certain jobs come with a high risk of exposure to asbestos or products containing asbestos. Some of the most common jobs/industries where exposure is a concern include:
- Railroad workers
- Refinery and power plant workers
- Boiler mechanics
- Construction workers
- Phone company workers
- Shipyard workers (draftsmen, pipefitters, engineers, architects, welders, engine fitters, sheet metal workers, etc.)
- Steel mill workers
- Textile mill workers
- Boiler workers
- Auto mechanics
- Chemical technicians
- HVAC repair
Products that Included Asbestos
American industries used asbestos-containing products through much of the 20th century. Here is a list of some products that contained asbestos. However, this is certainly not an exhaustive list, as asbestos was used in so many products:
- Roofing sealant
- Roof tar
- Glassblower mitts
- Pipe lagging
- Duct tape
- Furnace cement
- Glue for flooring
- Wall panels
- Ceiling tiles
- Interior fixtures
- Duct connectors to connect HVAC parts
- Electrical shielding
- Molded cement bases
- Wire insulation
- Cable wrap
- Firefighter gear
- Brake pads on vehicles
Asbestos was also found in consumer products such as cookware, ashtrays and makeup. Between 1952 and 1956, one brand of cigarettes even used asbestos to line the filters of their cigarettes.
Job Sites in Virginia Where Workers Were Exposed
According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 5.4 of every 100,000 people in Virginia die from an asbestos-related disease each year. This is most likely due to the types of jobs that are common among the people of the state.
Shipbuilding is one of the largest industries in the state. Newport News Shipbuilding is the largest industrial employer in the state and has been one of the largest industrial employers in the state for many years. Other shipyards include Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Colonna’s Shipyard and Lyon Shipyard.
For decades, asbestos was used extensively in the construction of military and commercial ships. Many components contained asbestos and had to be sanded to fit snugly, causing fibers to be released into the air. Shipbuilders often spent long hours in confined spaces with poor ventilation, making it very likely they would breathe in these fibers.
Even after the ships were built, the members of the U.S. Navy who used them were still at risk for asbestos exposure. One of the largest groups of people affected by asbestos-related diseases is veterans.
According to the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy, there are asbestos deposits in at least 24 out of the 95 counties in the state. Those involved in mining asbestos had a very high risk of breathing in asbestos fibers. Although this dangerous mineral is no longer mined today, asbestos can be found in other types of mines such as coal or talc mines.
Employees who worked in chemical plants such as DuPont, Olin Mathieson Chemical Corporation and Allied Chemical Corporation have a significant risk of asbestos exposure.
Power generation facilities in Virginia also used asbestos because it could insulate electrical cables.
What is Lung Cancer?
Lung cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the lungs when cells begin to grow out of control. While other types of lung cancer may develop quickly, it may take about 15 to 35 years to develop asbestos-linked lung cancer.
Types of Lung Cancer
There are two types of lung cancer: small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer.
Asbestos-related lung cancer caused more than 34,000 deaths in 2016 alone, more than 11 times the number of people killed by mesothelioma.
Small cell lung cancer accounts for up to 20 percent of all lung cancers. This is also known as oat cell cancer because the cells look like oats when viewed under a microscope. This type of cancer tends to grow faster than non-small cell cancer. Almost 70 percent of the people who are diagnosed with this type of lung cancer will see that it has already spread by the time it is discovered.
Non-small cell lung cancer affects between 80 to 85 percent of lung cancer patients. There are different types of non-small cell lung cancers, based on where tumors are found in the lungs, including:
- Squamous cell
- Large-cell undifferentiated carcinoma
Causes of Lung Cancer
Smoking is by far the leading cause of lung cancer. A small percentage of lung cancer can be attributed to asbestos. Smokers who have been exposed to asbestos have the highest risk of being diagnosed with lung cancer. If you smoked and worked in a high-risk job, you are at significant risk for developed asbestos-related health problems, like lung cancer, asbestosis or mesothelioma.
How is Lung Cancer Different from Mesothelioma?
Although both lung cancer and mesothelioma may develop after being exposed to asbestos, these two diseases develop in different parts of the body and in different ways.
Lung cancer develops in the lung(s). This type of cancer tends to grow in masses also known as nodules with defined boundaries. When lung cancer grows, or metastasizes, it may spread to other organs.
However, mesothelioma is a cancer that usually develops in the lining of the lung and may also develop in the lining of the abdomen, heart or testes. Instead of one well-defined mass, mesothelioma begins as small tumor nodules that spread across the lining of the organs. Tumors then gradually grow together to form a blanket-like tumor. That is why mesothelioma can be much harder to treat than lung cancer, although there is no cure for either disease.
Symptoms of Lung Cancer
Like any disease, the symptoms of lung cancer vary depending on the person. While some people may experience symptoms related to their lungs, others, whose cancer has spread to other organs before detection, may feel the symptoms in other parts of their body. Some of the most common symptoms of lung cancer include:
- Severe, persistent coughing
(sometimes with blood)
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Weight loss with no known cause
- Exhaustion without explanation
If you experience symptoms you believe may be related to lung cancer, speak with a medical professional who may be able to diagnose the problem and start treatment. As you may have heard, the earlier cancer is diagnosed and treated, the better the prognosis is likely to be.
How is Lung Cancer Caused by Asbestos Diagnosed?
As only a small percentage of lung cancer is caused by asbestos, the Helsinki Criteria was established in 1997.
These criteria, named for where the group of scientists who developed the standards for diagnosis met, establishes two things: latency period and evidence of asbestos exposure.
The latency period is the amount of time after the initial exposure to asbestos. Usually, asbestos lung cancer patients are diagnosed at least 10 years after exposure.
To determine if a lung cancer patient’s disease is linked to asbestos, evidence of asbestos exposure must also exist. Acceptable evidence may be the diagnosis of asbestosis, which is characterized by a higher than normal presence of asbestos fibers in the lung tissue. These levels must be greater than 25 fibers per milliliter of air per year.
What Should I Do After I am Diagnosed with Lung Cancer?
The first question that comes to mind after a lung cancer diagnosis is what step to take next. The first thing is to learn about the cancer you have, as there are different types. This may help you prepare for possible treatments.
If you are diagnosed with lung cancer, you should seriously consider getting a second opinion to confirm the diagnosis, no matter how much you trust your doctor.
Developing a support system can also be very important. For example, you may need to determine who can help you out with things around the house or drive you to and from treatment. This is where family and close friends can be invaluable.
If you believe the lung cancer diagnosis is a result of exposure to asbestos, you should consider legal representation. Many of the employers who allowed asbestos to be present at their worksites knew or should have known of the dangers of this mineral.
What are the Different Stages of the Disease?
After a patient is diagnosed with lung cancer, a medical professional must then determine which of the two cell types of cancer it is. If it is non-small cell lung cancer, doctors will try and figure out if it has spread and if so, how serious the situation is. This type of lung cancer begins at stage 0 and goes through stage IV (4), which is the most severe.
Small-cell lung cancer is usually split into two stages: limited stage and extensive stage. The limited stage means the cancer is only on one side of the chest and thus may be treated with a single radiation field. If the cancer has reached the extensive stage, it has spread widely through both lungs, to lymph nodes and other parts of the body and treatment may be more extensive.
What Treatments Are Available?
Patients who have non-small cell lung cancer may be treated with surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation therapy or a combination of all three. Those who have been diagnosed with small cell lung cancer may be treated with chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
Different doctors and specialists may work together to help treat a patient’s lung cancer, such as oncologists, pulmonologists and surgeons.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, new treatment options are available for lung cancer patients using clinical trials. Other medicines, such as complementary and alternative medicine, may be used in addition to traditional cancer treatments. For example, a lung cancer patient may undergo hypnotherapy, acupuncture or use herbal supplements.
Call Today to Schedule a Free Consultation
If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with lung cancer and you believe it is the result of negligent exposure to asbestos, do not hesitate to contact us.
You may have legal options to pursue compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and more. We do not charge you upfront fees before taking your case or while working on your case.
Our experienced attorneys have recovered billions of dollars on behalf of our clients for over four decades. We work for you and can help to recover compensation for the injuries that you have sustained.
Our office is located at 12350 Jefferson Avenue in Newport News, just a few miles from the Hampton University Proton Therapy Institute.