Mesothelioma is a devastating disease, not only debilitating the lungs, but debilitating families as well. Many employees were exposed to asbestos via their employers.
Mesothelioma is cancer of the mesothelium, which is the membrane covering most of the body’s internal organs. Although not all mesothelioma cases arise from exposure to asbestos in the work place, at least 70 to 80 percent of mesothelioma cases are caused by exposure to asbestos. Asbestos are natural minerals that have been used to create numerous products. (The above according to the Mesothelioma Fact Sheet from the National Cancer Institute.)
Workers’ Compensation, Mesothelioma, and Occupational Disease
Generally, an individual can file a claim with the Workers’ Compensation Commission when that individual has an accidental personal injury or occupational disease arising out of said employment. Mesothelioma, because of its nature as a potentially fatal cancer, would fall under the category of occupational disease rather than an accidental personal injury from employment. As stated in the case Pierce v. Johns-Manville Sales Corp, mesothelioma is a “latent disease” that often takes years to manifest. An “occupational disease” is defined by statute as “a disease contracted by a covered employee (1) as the result of and in the course of employment; and (2) that causes the covered employee to become temporarily or permanently, partially or totally incapacitated.” Md. Code Ann., Lab & Empl. §9-101. “As a result of” and “in the course of employment” are conditions that must be satisfied in order for the claim to be compensable under workers’ compensation. “As a result of” employment requires a causal connection between the end injury or occupational disease and the circumstances surrounding that particular employment where the injury or occupational disease was caused. Schemmel v. T.B. Gatch & Sons Contracting & Bldg. Co. “Under this test, if the injury can be seen to have followed as a natural incident of the work and to have been contemplated by a reasonable person familiar with the whole situation as a result of the exposure occasioned by the nature of the employment, then it arises ‘out of’ the employment.”
In addition to meeting the requirements for occupational disease, mesothelioma claimed under workers’ compensation must also be compensable for a claim to be successful. The only way to guarantee a claim’s compensability is to find that the occupational disease
“(i) is due to the nature of an employment in which hazards of the occupational disease exist and the covered employee was employed before the date of disablement; or (ii) has manifestations that are consistent with those known to result from exposure to a biological, chemical, or physical agent that is attributable to the type of employment in which the covered employee was employed before the date of disablement.”
Md. Code Ann., Lab & Empl. §9-502(d)
Mesothelioma and Non Workers’ Compensation Lawsuits
Maryland mesothelioma cases have also been litigated in the Circuit Court system as either products liability cases, wrongful death claims, personal injury, survival actions, or negligence claims.
What Should You Do?
If you have a mesothelioma case in Maryland, you need to hire an attorney. Only an attorney can tell you whether mesothelioma under workers’ comp or a mesothelioma lawsuit is the best course of action. Furthermore, just because you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, does not mean you necessarily have a case. Unfortunately, because of its nature and complexity, this website’s Maryland workers’ compensation calculator is not able to estimate mesothelioma claims. You may contact us for assistance in finding a qualified attorney.