Mesothelioma Claims and Liability
Malignant mesothelioma is the most serious disease caused by exposure to asbestos, affecting the delicate lining covering most of the body's internal organs. This rare form of cancer typically presents itself in the abdominal lining, lung lining, or heart lining. There is no cure for mesothelioma and because of its location, it cannot simply be removed through surgery. Treatment options are mostly limited to pain management and breathing assistance. See Mesothelioma and Asbestos for more information about the disease and risk factors.
If you have developed mesothelioma or any other disease associated with asbestos, you may be able to file a claim for damages. A mesothelioma claim may be filed against your employer, for example, if you were exposed to asbestos while on the job or through a family member who was.
Mesothelioma Claims: Determining Liability
Most regulations protecting individuals from asbestos exposure pertain to the workplace. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has standards specifically protecting workers in two distinct industries: construction and shipbuilding. In addition, a third standard covers exposure in general (including brake repair, custodial work, and asbestos-product manufacturing). Additionally, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) extends OSHA's protections to state, county, and other local governmental workers who may be exposed to asbestos.
Liability for asbestos-related illnesses usually falls under product liability law and is based on strict liability, negligence, or breach of warranty. The first lawsuits involving asbestos-related claims were filed in the courts in the 1960s. Since that time, the courts have overseen hundreds of thousands of asbestos lawsuits. The lawsuits include claims that asbestos caused mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses, such as asbestosis, the fibrous scarring of lung tissue. Asbestosis often causes shortness of breath and can lead to cardiac failure.
Many of the asbestos lawsuits have settled, whereas others are still pending. In addition, new asbestos lawsuits continue to be filed on a regular basis. While most of these cases settle before going to trial, the majority of states understand the limited lifespan of mesothelioma claimants and thus fast-track these cases.
Filing an Injury Claim
Many people who have suffered injuries from toxic substances such as asbestos did not know of the health risks at the time of the exposure. As a result, every state (including the District of Columbia) allows people to file lawsuits for a certain amount of time after the date when their asbestos-related illness was detected (rather than from the date of the exposure). In the event the would-be plaintiff dies before filing a claim, surviving family members may file a wrongful death suit.
If you have a claim, your attorney can tell you whether you still have time to file a lawsuit within the limitation period applicable in your state. See the following selected states for examples:
- California: 1 year from diagnosis
- Florida: 4 years from diagnosis
- Illinois: 2 years from diagnosis
- New York: 3 years from diagnosis
- Texas: 2 years from diagnosis
Compensation For Mesothelioma Claims
Many effects of toxic asbestos exposure are permanent and irreversible, particularly mesothelioma and many other forms of cancer. Although the law seeks to place an injured person in the position he or she was in before an injury, this usually is not possible. Instead, economic compensation thought to be equivalent to the victim's damage is awarded. A plaintiff who can prove that he or she was exposed to asbestos may be able to recover for both the economic and noneconomic consequences of that exposure.
The amount of recovery may vary quite a bit, even when comparing similar cases, from multimillion-dollar awards to those in the tens of thousands (or less). Generally, the amount of recovery is based on three factors:
- Ability of the defendant to compensate claimaints: Many of the companies liable for asbestos-related injury claims are no longer in business. But even though most of them were required to establish compensation funds for claimants, funds are often limited.
- The seriousness of the claimant's injury: As with other injury claims, compensation is largely based on the extent (and cost) of the plaintiff's illness. This may include lost wages, medical expenses, and the claimant's pain and suffering.
- How much time is spent preparing the claim: Generally, the quicker a claim is settled, the less the claimant will recover. Thoroughly preparing a case with the help of an attorney may take a few years, but the awards usually are substantially more.
In any event, keep in mind that the award will be less once attorney's fees and court costs are subtracted.
Don't Delay: Connect with an Attorney about Mesothelioma Claims Today
If you have recently been diagnosed with mesothelioma or any other disease associated with asbestos exposure, you should take action right away. You may qualify for monetary compensation by filing a mesothelioma claim against a past employer or any other defendants that may be liable. Connect with an experienced products liability attorney today to get started.
Contact a qualified product liability attorney to make sure your rights are protected.