Railroad Pulmonary Fibrosis Lawyer
There is no cure for pulmonary fibrosis although certain drugs such as Pirfenidone (Esbriet) and Nintedanib (Ofev) may slow the progression of this horrible disease. There are certain types of treatment which can also assist with maintaining quality of life. These treatments include supplemental oxygen, pulmonary rehabilitation, and lung transplant surgery. A lung transplant may involve one lung or two which are surgically placed from an organ donor. This surgery is very complicated and not everyone is a candidate.
It is important to understand that pulmonary fibrosis and chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD) are two different conditions. Pulmonary fibrosis is a type of interstitial lung disease that damages lung tissue such as alveoli (air sacs). COPD is also lung disease and includes conditions such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis. COPD typically causes inflammation and swelling of lung tissue.
There are different causes of pulmonary fibrosis. Exposure to dust and fumes is a well known and accepted cause of this condition. Other causes include smoking cigarettes, prior radiation exposure, certain drugs (ie- amiodarone) which are toxic to the respiratory system and certain autoimmune diseases (ie- rheumatoid arthritis).
There are many different types of pulmonary fibrosis. For instance, asbestosis is one type of pulmonary fibrosis caused by asbestos exposure. Similarly, silicosis is another type caused by silica exposure. Pulmonary fibrosis can also be caused by mixed dust exposure, ie- exposure to multiple different types of dust such as asbestos, silica, wood dust, metal dust, and other dusts and fumes. Often times physicians diagnose patients with “idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis” (also known as IPF) when they don’t know the case. This can happen in situations where the person has no known risk factor for developing pulmonary fibrosis. Sometimes physicians can diagnose idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis when they don’t know about a patient’s exposures to dusts and fumes.
Doran and Murphy PLLC has represented many railroad workers over the years for pulmonary fibrosis caused by dust and fume exposure. Such exposures include asbestos from railroad brake shoes or pipe insulation, silica from locomotive sanders or ballast dust, metal dust cutting steel rail, welding fumes from railroad car and equipment repair or any other dust or fume exposure. Our firm has accumulated thousands of pages of documents establishing that the railroads were well aware many decades ago that dust and fumes could cause lung injury. Despite this knowledge, most railroads failed to take any action to protect workers. These same railroads failed to warn workers that such exposure could cause terminal lung diseases such as pulmonary fibrosis and they failed to provide railroad workers with adequate respiratory protection. These failures can make railroads responsible to pay damages to injured railroad workers under the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA). Similarly, the FELA can make the railroad liable to pay damages to family members who have lost a loved one from pulmonary fibrosis as a result of railroad workplace exposures to dusts and fumes.