Handling Asbestos Exposure Lawsuits: A Guide

  • March 29, 2024

Understanding Asbestos and Its Dangers

Asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral, was widely used in several industries for its fire and heat resistant properties. However, scientific studies have revealed that asbestos exposure can lead to serious health issues. Tiny asbestos fibers, when inhaled or ingested can lodge deep into the body. Over time, they can cause scarring, inflammation, and alter cell DNA, leading to severe health complications.

The effects of asbestos are not immediate and can often take decades to appear, making it even more dangerous. Once in the body, these fibers can remain there indefinitely, since the body cannot easily rid itself of them. Medical research shows that every instance of asbestos exposure can potentially lead to health concerns, underlining the importance of avoiding it.

High-risk groups for asbestos exposure include those involved in its mining, processing, or those who work in industries such as construction, shipbuilding, and automotive where asbestos-containing products are frequent. Even family members of these workers can be at risk due to second-hand exposure.

Common Places Where Asbestos is Found

Asbestos was extensively used during the mid-20th century in numerous products and buildings, owing to its heat resistant properties. It’s most commonly found in insulation in walls, attics, around boilers and ductwork. Other areas where asbestos may be found include tiles, siding, roofing, and around pipes.

Industrial facilities, shipyards, and older schools and universities often contain asbestos, particularly in industrial or mechanical areas. Automobile parts like brakes and clutches also contain asbestos. Certain household goods like ironing board covers, oven mitts, and certain hairdryers were produced with asbestos.

Despite the ban on asbestos products, the material can still be found in many existing structures. Thus, it’s crucial during renovation or demolition projects to have the area thoroughly inspected and potentially abated by trained professionals to reduce exposure risk.

Health Risks Associated with Asbestos Exposure

Exposure to asbestos has been linked to a range of health issues, including several types of cancer and serious lung diseases such as asbestosis, pleural disease, and mesothelioma. Interestingly, these diseases often reveal themselves decades after the first exposure, making them extremely difficult to diagnose in the early stages.

Asbestos can cause lung cancer and mesothelioma which is an aggressive and deadly form of cancer. In addition to lung diseases, asbestos can also lead to cancer of the larynx and ovaries. Non-cancerous conditions that may develop from asbestos exposure include pleural plaques, pleural effusion, and asbestosis.

Each of these conditions can drastically reduce an individual’s quality of life and often lead to death. Such health risks underline the vital importance of raising awareness about the dangers of asbestos and protecting individuals from exposure.

Laws Governing Asbestos Exposure

There are several laws both at the state and federal levels designed to protect workers and the general public from asbestos exposure. The Clean Air Act and the Toxic Substances Control Act regulate the use and disposal of asbestos in the United States.

Furthermore, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has set limits for acceptable levels of asbestos exposure in the workplace. Individuals who think their workplace is not adhering to OSHA standards can file a complaint and request an inspection.

The Veteran’s Administration recognizes several diseases like mesothelioma and lung cancer as service-related conditions if veterans were exposed to asbestos during their service. Complying with these laws can prevent undue health risks and provide victims with a basis for a lawsuit should they suffer asbestos-related injuries.

Your Rights as an Asbestos Exposure Victim

As a victim of asbestos exposure, it’s important to know your rights. If you have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related condition, you may have legal recourse to seek compensation for your suffering, medical costs, lost wages, among others.

There are various means through which you may be able to obtain compensation, including lawsuits, asbestos trust fund claims, and Veterans Administration claims. In addition, family members of individuals who die from diseases caused by asbestos exposure may also be eligible for compensation through wrongful death lawsuits.

Laws vary by state, so make sure you understand the statute of limitations, which is the time you have to file a lawsuit after diagnosis. It’s crucial to contact a lawyer right after diagnosis so procedures can be initiated promptly.

Steps to Follow After Suspected Asbestos Exposure

If you suspect that you have been exposed to asbestos, it’s crucial to minimize further exposure. Document the circumstances that led to the exposure, including date, location, and how long it lasted. This information can be very useful if you later decide to pursue a legal course.

Schedule a medical exam with a doctor who specializes in asbestos-related diseases. They can provide treatment advice and perform regular check-ups, so that if a disease does develop, it can be caught and treated early.

You should inform your current employer of your past exposure to asbestos so that extra precautions are taken in the future. It is also crucial to inform your family members about possible exposure because asbestos fibers can attach to clothing and can lead to secondary exposure.

How to File an Asbestos Exposure Lawsuit

Filing an asbestos lawsuit requires legal knowledge, expertise, and strategic timing. That’s why it’s in your best interest to hire an attorney who specializes in asbestos litigation. They can advise you on the best legal option based on the circumstances of your exposure and the development of your medical condition.

Your attorney will help in gathering necessary documentation, including medical records proving your diagnosis and evidence linking your disease to asbestos exposure. Your attorney will then file the lawsuit against the liable parties which could be manufacturers of asbestos-containing products, or your employer if they did not provide adequate protection.

Remember, every state has its own deadline to file a lawsuit, known as a statute of limitations. That’s why it’s crucial to hire an attorney promptly after your diagnosis.

Choosing the Right Asbestos Exposure Lawyer

The selection of your lawyer could make a significant difference in your case. You need to hire an attorney who specializes in asbestos-related cases, and therefore understands the complexities of the relevant laws and regulations.

Asbestos-related cases are complex and require an attorney with a deep understanding of medical issues, asbestos industry knowledge, and superb litigation skills. The right lawyer will not only be knowledgeable but also compassionate and supportive.

Consult with several lawyers before selecting one. Consider their experience, track record, and communication style. The right attorney should be able to give your case the time and attention it deserves and assure you that you have a strong case for pursuing compensation.

What to Expect During the Asbestos Litigation Process

Asbestos litigation can be a time-consuming and laborious process. However, a knowledgeable lawyer will guide you through each step. The first step involves gathering all necessary documentation to prove you were exposed to asbestos and have developed complications due to that exposure.

Your attorney will file a written complaint against the parties found to be responsible. They then have a certain period to respond. If they admit liability, both sides may reach a settlement. However, if they do not, the case may go to trial.

Even though asbestos cases rarely go to trial, you must be prepared for that possibility. However, whether you settle out of court or go to trial, it’s necessary to continue with your medical treatment and to keep open and honest communication with your attorney throughout the process.

Settlements and Compensation in Asbestos Exposure Lawsuits

Asbestos exposure lawsuits typically end with a settlement, sparing the plaintiff the stress of a trial. The amount of compensation varies from case to case. Factors affecting the compensation amount include the severity of the sickness, past and future medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Every case is unique, and it’s virtually impossible to predict the exact amount one may receive. However, an experienced asbestos lawyer can provide estimated value based on similar precedent cases.

It’s important also to note that obtaining compensation from asbestos exposure lawsuits will not impact your social security payments or veteran’s benefits. However, it may impact Medicaid or other governmental assistance. Ensure to discuss this with your attorney to understand all facets before agreeing to a settlement.


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