Product liability is an area of law providing victims legal pathways to pursue compensation for injuries caused by consumer products. In many product liability cases, establishing the cause of an injury can be straightforward– such as when a defective tire experiences a blowout and causes a car accident. In this type of scenario, manufacturers, distributors, and other parties responsible for making defective products can be held accountable for negligence that leads to preventable harm. In some cases, however, including those where victims develop diseases such as cancer, creating an effective claim requires more than simply documenting the after-effects of an accident.
When victims develop cancer due to harmful products, they face difficulties in the personal injury claim process, as well as in wrongful death claims brought by families who have lost their loved ones to a preventable disease. This is due to challenges in proving causation (the dangerous product more likely than not caused the cancer), challenges caused by latency periods (time between when a victim was exposed to a harmful product and when they developed symptoms), and difficulties in documenting evidence to prove the underlying cause.
At Crumley Roberts, our personal injury lawyers are committed to fighting for clients like they are our own families, and to providing caring and compassionate support as clients navigate their legal journeys. We understand the heartbreaking consequences of a cancer diagnosis. See below for a few important tips to help victims protect their rights:
- Mesothelioma – Mesothelioma is a rare and deadly form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, which was used widely in numerous industries and products for its strength and resistance to fire. While asbestos is now a known carcinogen and closely regulated by the federal government, numerous Americans are still diagnosed with mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases largely because of its latency period – which means that victims may not develop disease until 10 to 50 or more years after first being exposed. Given the lengthy latency period, it becomes critical for victims to do all they can in documenting asbestos exposure as the cause of their illness. This can be done through documentation of a victim’s work history, as occupational exposure is a leading cause of mesothelioma, especially in industries where the product was widely used, such as industrial and construction work. Victims can also document when and for how long they were exposed to asbestos in other ways, such as second-hand exposure from a loved one who worked with asbestos or asbestos-containing products, environmental exposure from nearby asbestos mines, exposure through older homes or buildings, and more. Other risks factors, such as military service, can also be documented and explored as an underlying cause.
- Talcum Powder – Talcum powder products, including those manufactured by Johnson & Johnson, have recently come under scrutiny for being associated with greater risks of ovarian cancer in women who used talcum powder for female hygiene. Documenting the cause of cancer in these types of cases may involve the accumulation of evidence that a victim regularly used talcum powder, such as through product receipts and witness testimony. Further documentation can also be provided through medical records and the testimony of medical expert witnesses who can explain how and why the cancer may have been caused by prolonged use of the dangerous product.
- Morcellator Cancer – Medical experts have found that the use of fibroid morcellation, a surgical technique that uses a medical device known as a power morcellator, can increase a patient’s risk of developing cancer (uterine, abdominal, and uterine leiomyosarcoma (ULMS). This is particularly the case when morcellation is used in hysterectomies, myomectomies, and surgical procedures to remove uterine fibroids. Documenting the cause of morcellator cancer depends on medical records, including records that highlight the use of a power morcellator, a patient’s lack of cancer prior to the procedure, and their subsequent diagnosis. Due to the complex medical nature of these cases, medical experts can also provide valuable documentation and supporting evidence for how a power morcellator likely caused cancer to spread during a procedure.
Victims and families confronted with a cancer diagnosis face profound and life-altering setbacks, and they should never be forced to bear the burden of the financial, physical, and emotional damages when those setbacks result from dangerous products. If you have questions about product liability cases involving cancer, your rights, and how we can Stand Up For You, call (866) 691-0607 for a FREE consultation. Our phones are open 24/7, and we are happy to address any questions and concerns you have.
Christopher H. Roberts is the CEO of Crumley Roberts. He has numerous bar admissions and memberships throughout North Carolina and holds a Juris Doctor from Campbell University School of Law.