Short Answer: Yes. A variety of legal actions for an asbestos claim – including a lawsuit – are not just possible. They’re very common.
The specifics of each case are important, including when and where a person was exposed to asbestos, and how severe their health problems or other injuries are.
If you may have been exposed to asbestos, speak with your healthcare provider about tests and screening to help detect the presence of asbestos fibers and asbestos-related diseases.
If you are diagnosed with a severe asbestos-related disease like lung cancer or mesothelioma, and were exposed to asbestos, you likely have an asbestos claim.
Suing a responsible party or parties is often the legal road to reach the highest possible level of compensation.
But filing a lawsuit isn’t the only way to receive compensation for an asbestos illness.
Lawsuits are also not always the fastest.
The key is being able to prove exposure, and navigating the challenges of researching, writing, and filing a lawsuit, paying court fees, and getting testing and expert testimony needed to prove both the injuries (health problems, lost earnings), and the exposure (e,g, a work site).
Other legal roads to receive compensation for an asbestos claim:
Veterans Administration disability
Occupational Compensation (e.g., longshoremen, train workers).
Workers compensation – NOTE: If you file for workers compensation for an asbestos-related injury, you may be barred from filing an asbestos lawsuit.
The fastest way to receive compensation for an asbestos claim is often an asbestos trust. Asbestos trust claims have other advantages:
- Even when a person was clearly injured by someone else, in a lawsuit there is always a risk of a jury making a decision that no one expects. That risk is inherent to lawsuits.
- On the other hand, there is virtually no risk by a client who files an asbestos trust claim with an asbestos trust attorney working on contingency.
- The attorney risks the funds to research and apply for compensation, and if there no compensation is received, the attorney must accept the loss.
- Asbestos Trusts are funds of money that can only be used to compensate people injured by asbestos.
- Asbestos Trustees generally pay fairly fixed amounts based on the level of health damage a person is suffering. So there is generally less challenge to receive money from a compensation trust, than from a company or person being sued.
- There are still $30 Billion in Asbestos Compensation Trusts
Tiny fibers of asbestos embed in your body, and lie in wait, for decades.
|Asbestos fibers easily float from place to place. 20,000 of these microscopic fibers could fit on the tiny space around Abraham Lincoln’s lips on a U.S. penny. Just one fiber, which is small enough to absorb directly through the skin, could cause one of the serious, and often fatal, illnesses discussed below.
Second-hand asbestos exposure has many names. But by any name:
Second-hand asbestos exposure is asbestos exposure.
Legal asbestos claims and second-hand exposure
Ambient (secondhand) exposure cases are much more complex than non-ambient (direct) exposure cases, mostly because they’re harder to prove. But this proof requirement usually isn’t a barrier to compensation. In fact, some secondhand exposure victims only need bare-bones cases to obtain maximum compensation. More on that below as well.
The combination of serious illness and legal complexity requires a highly-experienced asbestos exposure lawyer. Attorneys who have been around awhile have professional networks that include top-notch environmental oncologists and other such professionals. Usually, these doctors charge nothing upfront for their diagnosis, treatment, and other services. Then, an attorney evaluates the legal aspects of your case, sorts through different options, and puts you on the path toward maximum compensation.
The Many Uses of Asbestos in Human History
|Asbestos is a rock…
|A rock that breaks up into fibers…
|So it can be woven into thread and fabric.
Asbestos is also astonishingly resistant to fire, heat, and elements like:
|Rusty old pipes
|River eating at rock
Forms of the mineral asbestos was used as far back as ancient Egypt. Asbestos was a key part of the mummification process. The Egyptians also added asbestos to napkins, tablecloths, shrouds, and decorative outfits.
Asbestos use exploded centuries later, during the Industrial Revolution in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Builders discovered that asbestos was more than a cheap filler. It didn’t conduct heat or electricity, making it an ideal insulator.
Additionally, asbestos mining techniques advanced by leaps and bounds over the years. Back in ancient Egypt, asbestos mining was so difficult and expensive that the mineral was a rare luxury. Due to mechanization and other improvements, asbestos mining quadrupled between 1900 and 1910, and by 1977, nearly five million tons of asbestos came out of the ground every year.
Asbestos was more than an insulator. Like the ancient Egyptians, modern builders also used it as a filler, mostly in concrete.
Asbestos Health Hazards
The ancient Egyptians knew a little about the health hazards of asbestos. Asbestos miners often had trouble breathing. By 1899, or the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the health hazards were well known. These hazards include:
- Asbestosis: Builders use asbestos because it doesn’t burn. However, these fibers burn breathing passageways in the lungs. The resulting scar tissue constricts these passageways, causing severe breathing problems, even if the victim is at rest. By the time doctors identify this illness, it’s usually so advanced that a risky total lung transplant is the only effective treatment option.
- Mesothelioma: A single microscopic asbestos fiber could cause this rare and aggressive form of heart/lung cancer. A tumor forms in the delicate meso lining between the heart and lungs. Because of the tumor’s location and the cancer’s aggressive nature, standard treatments usually do little good.
Making matters worse, mesothelioma and asbestosis each have about a seventy-year latency period. Therefore, by the time doctors diagnose these conditions, the victim already has an advanced asbestos exposure illness.
Your Legal Options if you were injured by asbestos exposure
Ubi jus ibi remedium is a Latin proverb that means where there’s a wrong, there’s a remedy.
That’s normally true in asbestos exposure cases, even if the statute of limitations, which is normally two years in an injury case, has long since passed.
What If I Was Exposed Decades Ago?
The Discovery Rule in Asbestos Exposure Cases
Most state courts use the delayed discovery rule, especially in asbestos exposure illness cases. Victims don’t have to file legal claims until they are fully aware of all their damages and they connect those damages with a tortfeasor’s (wrongful actor’s) conduct or misconduct.
Thanks to the discovery rule, or some variation of it, an Austin asbestos exposure lawyer generally has a full range of options in a secondhand exposure matter.
Do You Qualify For Compensation?
Quickly and easily find out how you were exposed by searching W.A.R.D., the largest asbestos database on the planet.FREE SEARCH >
Secondhand asbestos is a bit like secondhand smoke. Even in no-smoking workplaces, secondhand tobacco smoke exposure is almost inevitable. Usually, offices have designated smoking areas. Additionally, tobacco smoke clings to clothes and hair, opening the door to such exposure. Secondhand smoke elevates the risk of lung cancer, killing thousands of Americans every year.
Similarly, asbestos fibers cling to protective clothing and float in the air. If Mike’s construction john takes him to buildings that have asbestos, there’s a good chance he’ll be exposed to a fiber, especially if he has any contact with asbestos workers.
Usually, workers’ compensation replaces lost wages and pays medical expenses. Job injury victims don’t have to prove negligence or fault to obtain these benefits. Therefore, workers’ compensation insurance company lawyers normally cannot contest liability. But they can, and often do, contest the amount of benefits paid.
Lost wage replacement usually hinges on the victim’s AWW (average weekly wage). Prior cash wages alone don’t determine the AWW. Many people receive non cash wages, like per diem or loan reimbursement. Additionally, if Mary is disabled and cannot work, she’ll miss out on future promotions and other income increases. The AWW must reflect these things.
Most insurance companies use boilerplate tables to determine medical expenses. For example, asbestosis is a “lung disease” which, according to a table, often requires some medication and breathing treatments. But these treatments usually don’t work in asbestosis cases. So, a lawyer must ensure that these victims get the treatment they need, and not just the treatment an adjuster is willing to authorize.
Property Owner Negligence
These claims are available in non-work exposure matters. Typically, property owners have a legal responsibility to make their dwellings and buildings reasonably safe. If they know, or should know, about possible asbestos exposure, they must eradicate the problem or take care of it in a similar way.
Additional compensation is available in property owner negligence claims. These victims are also entitled to money for emotional distress and other noneconomic losses.
However, to obtain any compensation, an Austin asbestos exposure lawyer must prove negligence, or a lack of care, by a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely than not. Since the burden of proof is low, most lawyers can establish prima facie (repliminary) damage claims.
Then, it’s the insurance company’s turn. Assumption of the risk is one of the most common defenses in these asbestos exposure claims. Property owners aren’t legally responsible for damages if the victim voluntarily assumed a known risk. Arguably, if the structure was built before 1980, the victim should have known about possible asbestos contamination and should have taken steps to avoid it.
Asbestos Trusts: Money without filing a lawsuit
Victim Compensation Fund
Before many asbestos companies declared bankruptcy in the 1980s, a federal judge ordered them to set up large victim compensation funds. Even all these years later, these funds still contain billions of dollars.
Procedurally, these claims are like uncontested property owner negligence claims. If a victim establishes the basic elements of an exposure claim, the VCF must compensate the victim.
Here’s the tricky bit. VCF fund administrators are usually stingy. There’s no court supervision and no looming trial date to motivate them to settle a case. Therefore, VCF negotiations are often long and difficult, unless the victim is willing to settle for less.
For Justinian C. Lane, getting compensation for asbestos victims is personal.
Justinian’s grandparents and his father all worked with asbestos in their younger years and died from asbestos-related cancers in their later years.
At the time of each of their deaths, no one in Justinian’s family knew that they were eligible to file an asbestos lawsuit and to seek compensation from the asbestos trusts.
Because no one in Justinian’s family knew their options, they never received any compensation for the death of their loved ones.
If you believe that you or your family member’s injury was related to asbestos exposure, you could be entitled to significant compensation.
This is money you could use to cover the costs of asbestos removal services, pay for medical treatment, and preemptively protect your physical well-being.
There are also asbestos trusts that offer compensation much more quickly and easily (without filing a lawsuit.)
If you’d like help with filing a claim, please get in touch by email at [email protected], or call or text us at (833) 4-ASBESTOS (427-2378) or (206) 455-9190. We’ll listen to your story and explain your options. And we never charge for anything unless you receive money in your pocket.
In addition to legal claims, veterans disability, social security and employment protection like workers compensation, FELA and The Jones Act for maritime workers, there are asbestos trusts that have been set up to compensate those harmed by asbestos without having to file a lawsuit.
There is no risk or cost to speak with one of our staff about your asbestos litigation. There are no fees unless you receive money.
If you have any additional questions or concerns related to asbestos, check out our website and YouTube page for videos, infographics and answers to your questions about asbestos, including health and safety, asbestos testing, removing asbestos from your home and building, and legal information about compensation for asbestos injuries.
Introducing the largest database of asbestos information on the planet.
W.A.R.D., which stands for the Worldwide Asbestos Research Database, helps clients to narrow down when and where they may have been exposed, as well as which products may still contain asbestos. W.A.R.D. will also help indicate compensation types and how much a person may be entitled to.