Can someone’s history of smoking prevent an asbestos claim?

On Behalf of | Aug 16, 2023 | asbestos

Some of the factors that increase an individual’s risk of developing cancer are outside of their control. Everything from genetics to the medications parents took before having children could influence someone’s health throughout their life. There are other risk factors that people may know about and accept. Smoking is a prime example. Many people who smoked for decades started before the cancer-causing potential of tobacco was common knowledge. Now that the relationship between tobacco consumption and certain kinds of cancer has become well known, people know that they should follow up on symptoms with their doctor more quickly.

In some cases, individuals who develop cancer after years of tobacco use will wrongly assume that their tobacco use will lead to everyone blaming them for their diagnosis. Other people may even reinforce that belief by judging or blaming them for their cancer. However, compensation could still be an option for many individuals with cancers related to asbestos.

Asbestos worsens the impact of tobacco

Tobacco has a significant impact on someone’s likelihood of developing lung cancer and certain other forms of cancer. However, asbestos exposure also has a strong association with increased cancer risk. Those who both use tobacco products and have environmental exposure to asbestos have far higher chances of developing lung cancer than those who only used tobacco. Their smoking does not impact the likelihood of developing mesothelioma, at least according to current medical research.

Therefore, tobacco use does not automatically mitigate a business’s responsibility for exposing someone to asbestos. Those who develop either lung cancer or mesothelioma that they believe connects to prior workplace asbestos exposure could potentially bring a claim against their former employers.

There is plenty of research affirming how a combination of asbestos exposure and tobacco use put people at significantly elevated risk. Employers that have workers handling asbestos, especially without appropriate protection, may have some liability for when workers fall ill years later. In some cases, workers may be able to bring a claim against the company itself or against a special trust used to compensate those sickened through environmental exposure to asbestos.

Understanding that personal choices don’t absolve employers of their responsibility to workers may help those hoping to pursue an asbestos-related claim after a recent diagnosis.