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For smokers who work on the railroad, heed this warning – there is a disturbing synergistic effect between smoking and asbestos exposure in the proliferation of mesothelioma cancer. If you have been exposed to asbestos and smoke, you are at a much higher risk of developing mesothelioma, an incurable form of cancer.

Mesothelioma and Smoking

Numerous studies have shown that smoking and asbestos exposure collectively can raise the risk of asbestos-related diseases up to 90 percent in some cases, while having little to no casual effect on other diseases. This is referred to as ‘synergy’ and it dramatically raises the risk of developing cancer for railroad workers who smoke and who have been exposed to asbestos over the course of their career.

To further make matters worse, the railroad industry failed to warn workers of the increased risk so many didn’t know their lung cancer risk was vastly increased due to exposure to asbestos and regular smoking. For this reason, if you or a loved one was diagnosed with mesothelioma or any other cancer and has a history of both asbestos exposure and smoking, they may have grounds to file a claim under the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) against the railroad that employed them.

Our firm has represented smokers who were also exposed to asbestos and wound up developing cancer. In fact, my law partner, Rick Shapiro, was able to secure an $8.6 million jury verdict (final amount undetermined; still on appeal) for a railroad worker who died after being exposed to asbestos, radiation, and other toxic chemicals (he was also a smoker for many years).

The Federal Employers Liability Act

Congress passed the FELA in response to a high number of railroad deaths in the late 19th Century and early 20th Century. Under the FELA, railroad workers who were not covered by regular workers’ compensation laws were afforded the right to sue companies over injury claims. FELA allows monetary payments for pain and suffering and is decided by a jury based on comparative negligence. It was not intended to be awarded automatically and requires the injured railroad worker to prove negligence on behalf of the railroad.

For this reason, railroad workers should seek consultation from a lawyer experienced in handling mesothelioma cases that involve smoking; you may have a claim. To get more information about mesothelioma, the link with smoking, and your legal rights, visit our firm’s mesothelioma info page here.

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