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Pittsburgh Wrongful Death Law Blog

What are the symptoms of mesothelioma?

Disease symptoms sometimes develop slowly. Mesothelioma patients may not feel sick, for 20 or even 50 years after inhaling cancer-causing asbestos fibers. Many Pennsylvania victims unknowingly suffered damage from dangerous jobs they held decades ago, when asbestos was widely used in U.S. manufacturing and construction.

The harm done in the past is evident today with diagnoses of asbestos-related diseases, including life-threatening mesothelioma. To complicate matters, quickly diagnosing the rare cancer isn't easy. Symptoms can be similar to other medical conditions: dry cough, weight loss, breathing difficulties and chest pain, among others.

Statute of limitations impact on Pennsylvania liability claims

Pennsylvania accident liability claims address losses inflicted upon individuals harmed by another party's careless or reckless actions. Injured victims may recover compensation for economic and non-economic hardships like medical expenses, lost income and pain and suffering. Additionally, wrongful death actions can be filed by family members for personal losses suffered due to a loved one's death.

Defendants in Pittsburgh auto accident cases may be at-fault drivers and third parties responsible in some way for a victim's injury or death. For example, a carmaker can be held accountable for auto design or manufacturing defects that were responsible for an accident, injuries or deaths.

What’s known and isn’t known about mesothelioma

Doctors know the origin, but they haven't got a cure. Allegheny County patients frequently don't develop mesothelioma symptoms until several years after they've been exposed to asbestos, a known cause of the rare cancer. Most mesothelioma patients, diagnosed at the rate of 2,000 to 3,000 people annually, came in contact with asbestos at work.

Asbestos is a natural substance found in soil, water and air. Manufacturers, attracted to the heat and chemical resistant properties of the mineral fibers, incorporated asbestos in a multitude of everyday products. Banned in 55 countries today, the use of asbestos in the U.S. is restricted but hasn't disappeared entirely.

Proof of distraction vital to Pennsylvania wrongful death claim

Accident investigators are fault finders, whether a probe is conducted by law enforcement agencies, insurance companies or law firms. Blame is assigned to one -- sometimes more than one -- driver in many Pittsburgh fatalities. However, liability sometimes is not confined to the parties involved in a crash.

A Pennsylvania lawsuit alleges the influence of third parties was partly to blame for a fatal 2012 tractor-trailer accident. A Lancaster County woman recently requested damages exceeding $75,000, in a complaint alleging a tractor-trailer driver was responsible for the death of the plaintiff's husband. Three other defendants were also named.

Dangerous products responsible for child injuries and deaths

Strollers, cribs and high chairs are among the products routinely purchased for or by Pittsburgh parents for babies and young children. Products geared toward children are marketed as convenient and safe. Child product designers, manufacturers and retailers are expected to keep those promises.

Nursery products, a description used by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, include the products mentioned earlier and others used to facilitate transporting, entertaining, bathing, dressing and feeding children. Not all of these products are safe to use or used safely. Tens of thousands of children are rushed to U.S. emergency rooms each year, after accidents involving nursery products.

What health problems are related to asbestos exposure?

The air we breathe is not free of harmful substances. Most Allegheny County residents come in contact with asbestos at some time, since the cancer-causing mineral fibers are naturally present in the environment. People subjected to limited, occasional amounts of asbestos normally aren't sickened, but regular exposure can cause life-threatening health problems.

Symptoms of mesothelioma and other cancers sometimes take decades to manifest following a buildup of asbestos fibers in victims' lungs. Many people diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases today inhaled or ingested fibers years ago while working with asbestos materials or products. Some victims were exposed unwittingly to asbestos by living near companies using asbestos or by living with workers who transported fibers on their bodies or clothes.

How do lost wages affect Pittsburgh wrongful death cases?

Allegheny County compensation claims may be filed by family members, whose loved one died due to a defendant's careless or intentional actions. Wrongful death actions address financial hardships suffered by the decedent's children, parents or spouse. A separate and often simultaneous survival action is a claim filed on behalf of a decedent's estate.

The same people often benefit from damages awarded in these legal actions, as estate proceeds are distributed among beneficiaries. However, the types of damages in Pennsylvania wrongful death and survival actions do not overlap. For example, a decedent's post-injury pain and suffering prior to death is compensable through a survival action, but family members' emotional distress is not a consideration in wrongful death cases.

The most life-threatening occupation in Pennsylvania

The Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries reported 163 Pennsylvania employees died as a result of workplace injuries in 2012. The Bureau of Labor Statistics preliminary report recorded 4,383 fatalities nationwide. Reasons for those deaths were similar at national and state levels.

The majority of all deaths – 41 percent nationwide, 39 percent in our state -- occurred in transportation accidents. Twenty-one percent of Pennsylvania on-the-job fatalities were linked to employee contact with equipment or objects. Fatal slips, trips and falls were responsible for 14 percent.

Wrongful death claim alleges Pennsylvania paramedics were inept

First-responders can be lifesavers for Allegheny County patients. Like other medical professionals, paramedics must be licensed and well-trained to perform their duties. You don't have time to check credentials, when a family member is suffering from a dangerous health condition.

Paramedics must act correctly and quickly. Any delays or errors can cost a life. A recently-filed Pennsylvania lawsuit alleges the incompetence of two Philadelphia paramedics contributed to the wrongful death of an asthmatic in 2012.

Awareness helps but doesn't prevent all defective product harm

Pro-active consumers can track safety information about products through a U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission website. Pittsburgh consumers also may report product injuries or risks of injuries through saferproducts.gov. The public has access to complaints, manufacturers' responses and recall information.

Realistically, even the most cautious consumer wouldn't have the time to run safety checks before every product purchase. Consequently, Pennsylvanians are forced to trust product manufacturers or at least, laws that regulate how products are made. Awareness of an unsafe product often happens when you or someone you love experiences a close call or injury.

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