People exposed to asbestos badly need empowerment. They were victimized three times. First, they handled a dangerous product, or were exposed to it environmentally. Second, the responsible company hid or denied the risks. Third, these families have massive medical bills which force about a half-million American families a year into bankruptcy. 

Nearly every building constructed before the mid-1980s contained asbestos building materials.

Dangerous asbestos-laced products include fiber insulation, drywall, and other construction materials, along with auto parts and other manufactured items. Many people not only handled asbestos-laced products. They also worked in asbestos-laced facilities. Although the health risks were well-documented, asbestos companies buried these risks, so they could keep using this cheap product.

The need for an asbestos attorney for your asbestos claim

Un asbestos exposure lawyer empowers victims in all these areas. Attorneys hold polluting companies responsible for the injuries they cause. The law imposes a simple “you break it, you buy it” accountability on individuals and multinational corporations alike. Additionally, an asbestos exposure lawyer obtains the financial compensation these victims need to fight their diseases and prolong their lives.

Asbestos Victim Rights

We mentioned two key victims rights, compensation and justice. Criminal courts impose justice on polluting companies. However, criminal prosecutors represent the state, not individual victims. These victims are usually just witnesses in criminal cases with little or no control over the outcome. Additionally, criminal courts don’t fully compensate victims. At most, they may order defendants to pay some medical expenses.

Justice in civil courts not only includes accountability for prior acts, but also responsibility in the future. Most civil court verdicts include consent decrees. Defendants must adhere to these decrees, or they face the wrath of a federal judge. Common consent decree conditions in asbestos exposure cases include:

  • Stop using asbestos and other dangerous products,
  • Screen products to ensure that no stray asbestos fibers infected them,
  • Provide educational, financial, and other resources for victims, and
  • Inform other potential victims of their legal and financial rights.

So, when people file civil claims, they not only stand up for themselves. They also uphold the rights of other asbestos victims and protect future generations from harm.

Compensación usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages are usually available as well. These damages vary according to the kind of legal action. More on that below.

The medical expenses alone in a mesothelioma case usually exceed $500,000. Cutting edge treatments, such as CRISPR genetic editing, could be ten times as high. These costs seem staggering, but with the help of an asbestos exposure lawyer, these costs are manageable. Additionally, this rare and aggressive form of hert-lung cancer is usually fatal or totally disabling. Many asbestos exposure victims are in their 60s, which is the peak earning period in life for most people. Other out-of-pocket losses include transportation expenses and relocation costs.

Non-economic loses include pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment in life, emotional distress, and loss of consortium (companionship). To determine a fair amount of noneconomic losses, most attorneys multiply the economic losses by two, three, or four, depending on the evidence in the case and a few other factors.

Punitive damages to punish and deter bad behavior

Punitive damages could be substantial in asbestos exposure matters. These multinational companies are usually very wealthy, and money is the only language they speak. Therefore, the punitive damages must be significant to get their attention.

The controversial 1994 McDonald’s hot coffee case is a good example. Jurors ordered the fast-food giant to pay $2.7 million in punitive damages, an amount that, quite frankly, seems ridiculous. 

However, McDonald’s had ignored about 700 complaints about the coffee’s temperature, which was just short of boiling hot. Additionally, $2.7 million represented one day of coffee sales for the restaurant. When considering these things, the award seems reasonable. 

We mentioned mesothelioma above. Now, let’s break down this illness, examine who is at risk, and how this illness affects families.

Toxic asbestos fibers alter cell DNA, causing tumors to form. Since most people inhale fibers, these tumors usually form in the lungs. Additionally, asbestos fibers multiply the free radical particles inside the body to increase. These particles are closely linked with cancer development.

Asbestos use significantly increased during a post-World War II construction and manufacturing boom in the 1950s. Asbestos use remained high until 1980, when the Navy stopped using asbestos in ships and the health risks became more widely known. This substance is still legal to use in the United States, and many imported manufactured goods, especially from China, have high asbestos levels. 

A challenging diagnosis

The basic profile of a mesothelioma victim is very grim. Usually, these victims are in their 60s and planning a quiet final few decades with their families. Suddenly, their doctors say they have mesothelioma, a disease that’s usually fatal. All their plans and hopes are turned upside-down in a single moment.

Cancer legal aid, which is available in several forms, helps these families recover and make the most out of their golden years. 

Many personal injury victims have very few legal options. Individual compensation often doesn’t matter much to business-friendly judges. But as mentioned, asbestos exposure victims speak not only for themselves, but also for victims past, present, and future. Therefore, legal support for asbestos exposure victims is widely available. 

  • No-Fault Claims: Claimants who file workers’ compensation or VA disability matters must only prove their disability was work- or service-related. Social Security Disability claimants must only prove disability, according to the government’s definition, In each case, compensation for economic losses, as outlined above, is usually available.
  • Civil Claims: All three forms of compensation are usually available in civil cases. However, these matters are more complex. In addition to exposure and disability, these claimants must prove the exposure caused that disability. They must also prove the defendant was negligent or reckless in the way it handled asbestos matters.

After these claims wind their way through the legal system, they usually settle out of court. Bankruptcy victim compensation fund matters usually settle out of court as well, but the process is streamlined.

Fund administrators oversee about a $30 billion victim compensation fund, which was created when asbestos companies filed bankruptcy, mostly in the 1980s. 

The lack of court oversight is a good thing and a bad thing. Usually, an asbestos exposure lawyer can resolve a bankruptcy VCF claim within a few months, especially if the victim is entitled to expedited review. The bad news is that, since there’s no court oversight, fund administrators are very stingy negotiators.