I am sure my story is not unique for a child who grew up in the industrial belt of America, who has lost a parent to the dreaded disease mesothelioma. My dad worked in a shipyard all his life. He received many commendations for his endless hours of producing high quality welding of ships over the years. Even when we told him to tone it down, his response was “it’s what I do so let me die doing it”.
Well, after forty-five years in the industry, he was diagnosed with mesothelioma due his asbestos exposure all these years. He has since died over three years now. To make matters worse, my mom has since been diagnosed with the disease due to her exposure to asbestos particles that were lodged into his clothes.
During his aliment, I tried all I could to take good care of my dad. However, this resulted in me racking up a huge medical bill that I am struggling to deal with. With mom going down the same road, I am now wondering how I am going to cope with the additional expenses. I spoke to a friend who suggested suing the shipyard or I may just have to file for bankruptcy.
The 1994 amendment to the US Bankruptcy Code has made it difficult for victims like me to sue companies that have exposed our parents to asbestos and now we are left holding the medical bill for their incompetence. The bill allows asbestos companies to file for mesothelioma bankruptcy protection that literally shields them from litigation proceedings even if they have millions in the bank.
Now you tell me what am I to do. To make matters worse, although there is legislation available that gives me as a sibling the right to file a suit on behalf of my parents, I failed to file the suit within the first three years of diagnosis.
I am now backed in a corner to meet my financial obligations and still provide quality health care for my mom. I am now faced with the loss of financial support from my father’s pension, escalating rehabilitation charges from mom’s hospital, the mental trauma of hearing my mom cry about the pain in her chest and me having to quit one of my jobs to spend more time taking care of mom.
I want to approach the courts to seek bankruptcy protection, just like those big companies, just to get my creditors off my back and to figure out my next move. It is unfortunate to think this way, but based on the rapid down turn in mom’s health and the doctors just giving her a few months to live, with bankruptcy protection, I just might be able to ride it out and get some of these medical expenses off my books.
It is really unfair for us children of parents who were exposed to asbestos during the fifties and sixties to now be coping with these pressures. It also leaves me with the question will I be next? I used to just love hugging my dad.