Frequently Asked Questions
As attorneys we know that a lot of myths and half-truths exist about lawsuits,
trial attorneys and even the legitimacy of certain types of injuries.
The purpose of this page is to provide some facts about these types of
issues and questions that we get asked frequently.
Toxic Exposure Questions
We always hear about this toxic thing called asbestos, what is it anyway?
Asbestos is a name for several commonly occurring fibrous minerals. It was mined
from the ground in huge quantities throughout the 20th century. Due in
part to its adaptable properties, its resistance to heat and fire, its
vast availability and its relatively inexpensive cost, many American companies
incorporated it into their products. American industry used asbestos for
everything from acoustic insulation, fire proofing, brake pads, gaskets,
transmission parts, fire blankets, stage curtains, pipe insulation, brake
blocks and heat shields, to various other everyday items.
Why does asbestos cause harm to humans?
A: Bundles of asbestos fibers become airborne when they become disturbed
or damaged. This leads to tiny particles becoming airborne which are easily
inhaled by those around them. Inhaled asbestos particles cannot be easily
expelled by the body. These foreign and toxic asbestos particles can remain
in the body for decades, and can often times cause serious illnesses, such as
mesothelioma, asbestosis, as well as various forms of cancer.
This is the 21st century, do people really still become sick from exposure
A: Yes. Medical science has shown that it often takes between 15 and 50
years before someone who was exposed to asbestos will start to show signs
of the damage it has done. This means that workers exposed to asbestos
in the 1940’s, 1950’s, 1960’s or even the 1970’s
might only now be beginning to show signs of the damage that asbestos
exposure has done to them. While OSHA and the US government began to outlaw
the use of asbestos many years ago, much of it has yet to be abated.
Also, strikingly, in response to restrictions on asbestos processing and
use in the US, some companies have continued to produce and use vast quantities
of asbestos in Third World countries where few safety or environmental
laws governing asbestos exist. In 2006 an estimated 2.3 million tons of
asbestos were mined worldwide. Several sources predict that the use of
asbestos will continue to increase in developing countries. Thus, in 20
to 30 year's time, these countries will experience the devastating
diseases that American workers now suffer from.
I’m always reading about new things that cause cancer, how do we
know that mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos?
A: The only known
cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos.
How is mesothelioma different from lung cancer?
A: While both forms of cancer can be caused by exposure to asbestos, Mesothelioma
is a rare form of cancer which affects the mesothelium, which is the cellular
lining of major organs. It shows up in the lungs, the heart, the area
around the heart, and the linings of the abdominal cavity. While industrial,
construction, and railroad workers were commonly exposed to asbestos,
and thus the most likely to be diagnosed with mesothelioma, family members
and people sharing a household with a worker who has been exposed to asbestos
have also been diagnosed with mesothelioma. Symptoms include: shortness
of breath, wheezing, coughing, chest pain, hoarseness, fatigue, weight
loss, and coughing up blood. Diagnosis can be difficult because it shares
symptoms with many other disorders. Various tests can be used to diagnose
mesothelioma, such as an X-ray, CT scan, and biopsy.
Diesel fuel is widely sold and used throughout the country, how can it
A: Like any product that is widely used and sold, overexposure can cause
significant health problems. Many of us occasionally come into contact
with diesel fuel and its emissions when we use heavy power equipment or
when we follow a large truck up a hill. However, workers in industries
such as the railroad, construction and trucking often breathe in large
amounts of diesel exhaust every day on the job. Studies show that occupational
exposure to diesel fumes is the leading cause of toxic exposure. Diesel fumes contain carbon monoxide
and certain carcinogens, which can cause cancer. Respirators can help
slow negative effects of inhalation when properly used.
For years I worked around products that contained asbestos and now I have
been diagnosed with cancer. However, I also used to smoke cigarettes.
Does this mean I cannot bring a claim?
A: No. Epidemiologic studies have established tobacco smoke and asbestos
exposures synergistically interact to enhance cancer risks. While those
companies responsible for exposing individuals to asbestos often defend
lawsuits by blaming the individual’s tobacco use exclusively, a
knowledgeable attorney and the medical doctor can present these synergy
studies, which have been accepted by courts throughout the country.
I used to work on the railroad, how do I know if I was exposed to asbestos?
A: The railroad industry in general was a heavy user of asbestos throughout
most of the twentieth century. Steam locomotives and some diesels locomotives
were insulated with asbestos. Insulation was commonly used on and around
locomotives, boxcars and cabooses, refrigeration units, pipes in and around
the locomotive cabs, and steam and hot water lines. Asbestos was also
commonly used by railroad workers in packing, rope, cement, gaskets, and
in floor tiles for passenger cars. Railroad brakes pads and clutch linings
also commonly contained asbestos. Doran & Murphy has worked with railroad
employees in every craft and is knowledgeable about the various sources
of asbestos exposure faced by persons in those crafts.
What type of diseases do people develop from exposure to asbestos or diesel fumes?
A: Besides mesothelioma, which is caused exclusively by asbestos exposure,
studies have shown that exposure to asbestos and/or diesel fumes can cause
significant other diseases. Studies have linked asbestos and/or diesel
exposure to lung cancer, bladder cancer, esophageal cancer, laryngeal
cancer, throat cancer, colon cancer, kidney cancer and stomach cancer,
as well as asbestosis and COPD.
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Railroad Injury Questions
Why aren’t railroad workers covered by Workers Compensation insurance?
A: Unlike most American workers who are eligible for workers compensation
benefits if they are injured on the job, railroad workers are not. Instead,
railroad workers who want to seek recovery for a work place injury must file a lawsuit
under the Federal Employers Liability Act (“FELA”). Railroad
workers who are unsuccessful in bringing a
FELA claim are left with no recourse, which makes it all the more important for them
to hire an experienced lawyer in bringing FELA actions.
Shouldn’t railroad workers expect certain risks just by the nature
of their job? What gives them the right to sue the railroad?
There is no doubt that historically the railroad industry has been a relatively
dangerous industry. However, when an employee takes a job on the railroad,
the law requires the railroad to provide a reasonably safe place to work.
If the railroad breaks this promise and an employee is injured, the railroad
is held responsible. The law does not allow them to defend themselves
by asserting that the employee knew it was dangerous when he took the job.
It seems like the railroad is a dying industry. If people are suing them,
won’t a large verdict put them out of business?
A: Actually, the commercial freight railroad industry is not dying and
is quite healthy. With the ever rising costs of fuel, many companies have
turned to the railroad to transport large amounts of goods, rather than
use commercial trucks. For example, CSX Transportation, Inc. submitted
fourth quarter earnings of $692 million in January of 2009 and revenue
rose 4 percent to $2.7 billion. Similarly, Norfolk Southern Railway Company
reported fourth-quarter net income of $452 million in January of 2009,
with quarterly revenue up 2 percent to $2.5 billion.
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Train Derailment Questions
I know that the FELA protects injured railroad workers, but who protects
injured passengers in train derailments?
A: While the FELA only applies to railroad employees who are injured on
the job, many state and federal laws are in place to protect passengers
train derailments and railroad accidents. Depending on where the train derails and determining
why the train derailed will be imperative to pursing the appropriate legal action.
Do I really need an experienced national law firm in a train derailment
or train crash? How hard can it be, the train left the tracks, somebody
is at fault?
A: After a disaster such as a train derailment takes place, many complex
and fast moving issues come into play. Investigations by the NTSB and
the FRA often take place as well as by the railroad and federal, state,
and local agencies. Doran & Murphy has experience in working with
those injured in train derailments and the families of those killed in
train derailments, which can be vital to your recovery. Doran & Murphy
understands that it is not just about recovery when a disaster strikes,
but it is also about getting answers and making sure the same thing does
not happen to somebody else. Make no mistake, after a large disaster such
as a train derailment, the railroad hires the best national railroad lawyers
they can. It is important for those passengers suffering to also hire
the best national representation they can.
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General Lawsuit Questions
It seems like the number of lawsuits is increasing year after year. Is
A: Actually, it is not true. According to the Justice Department, the number
of federal personal injury cases fell by 79 percent between 1985 and 2003.
Additionally, the most recent statistics from the Administration’s
Bureau of Justice Statistics show the number of trials at the state level
has decreased as well.
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Doran & Murphy Questions
There are so many personal injury lawyers on TV and in the phone book,
what makes Doran & Murphy, PLLC any different?
A: Doran & Murphy does not advertise on television. They do not plaster
their pictures on the sides of phone books or on billboards. Rather they
get clients from referrals from past clients and other lawyers who know
of their trial reputation and experience. They believe this says a lot
more about the type of lawyers they are than any 30 second television
ad could do. They are among the nations most experienced and best lawyers
in the fields they practice.
Where does Doran & Murphy, PLLC practice law?
A: Doran & Murphy has successfully represented clients from over 30
states. They are a
national law firm, which means they will be able to assist your needs no matter where you
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