With the image of a hard-driving tough guy, commanding the screen in Hollywood blockbusters such as The Great Escape and Bullitt, McQueen was rarely seen without a cigarette dangling from his mouth. Thus, is the Hollywood myth that smoking caused the death of Steve McQueen in 1980.
The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) is bent on changing that misconception. In actual fact, McQueen was felled by asbestos mesothelioma. During an interview not long before his death, McQueen speculated that his illness was related to exposure to asbestos while he was a young soldier in the Marines and to his work removing asbestos lagging from pipes aboard a troop ship.
Asbestos cancer is known for an extended incubation period that can last decades, with asbestosis victims typically emerging with symptoms 30 years or more following exposure to asbestos. Many a Mesothelioma patient will live a healthy life, only to be struck with symptoms that appear to come out of nowhere.
Many an Asbestos lawsuit has originated from just such a scenario. However, many plaintiffs do not survive long enough to participate in their own trial. Often, family members must carry on in their absence.
In a few cases, asbestos mesothelioma victims have included the spouses of asbestos workers who bring the deadly fibers home with them on their work clothes. For all plaintiffs, asbestos compensation is an attempt to bring some degree of justice and closure to their loss.
Warren Zevon, renowned for hits such as "Werewolves of London," was also felled by asbestos cancer, although he never talked about asbestos exposure. Zevon was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma, which nonetheless is a form of cancer associated with asbestos exposure.
McQueen's diagnosis was pleural mesothelioma. In both cases, there is no known cure and both men did not survive. McQueen died November 7, 1980 at the age of 50. Zevon was 56 when he died on September 7, 2003.
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Asbestos lawsuits often stem from exposure to asbestos through no fault of the plaintiff. While asbestos, today, is a known carcinogen with wide public awareness, it was not as high on the radar 30 years ago. Many workers were not apprised about the harmful effects of asbestos or the risks for asbestos injury. To that end, many employers were either uninformed or confused about the risks given their workers' relative good health at the time.
Some employers knew the risks, but simply didn't care. For those plaintiffs, an asbestosis attorney performed yeoman's service in pursuing asbestos compensation for their clients. Or, for their estates.