If you’ve been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease such as mesothelioma, you may have a right to sue for damages. An asbestos lawyer can help you file a lawsuit if you are suffering from mesothelioma or other diseases caused by asbestos exposure.
A Brief History of Asbestos
The use of asbestos predates the Industrial Age. The ancient Egyptians incorporated asbestos fibers into the funeral shrouds of their deceased pharaohs. In the world of the Roman Empire, asbestos could be found in the “everlasting wicks” used in oil burning lamps.
By the 1960s, the toxicity of asbestos had become apparent to the general public although some scientists had actually been warning about its hazards in scholarly journals dating back to the late 1930s. Indeed, it is estimated that asbestos exposure in the shipyards during World War II ultimately caused the deaths of nearly as many Navy veterans as combat injuries did. Nonetheless, in the name of maintaining profits and externalizing costs, some large corporations withheld this information about the dangers of asbestos from the public.
Ultimately, this information could not be concealed. These corporations finally started to be held accountable when the first asbestos-related lawsuit was filed in 1966 (Tomplait v. Johns-Manville, et. al.).
Your Rights Under Current Law
The type of lawsuit you may file against an asbestos manufacturer will depend on whether you are filing the suit as the victim, or as a family member who is suing on behalf of someone who has died from mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease.
Living victims file a personal injury claim. The damages that you may receive under such a claim could include compensation for medical costs, loss of income, and pain and suffering. In addition, a judge or jury may add punitive damages.
Family members of a deceased asbestos exposure victim may be able to file a wrongful death suit. Although the laws and procedures involved differ from those associated with a personal injury claim, the plaintiffs are seeking the same remedy.
You may have heard that there is a statute of limitations for filing a claim. This is the period of time you have to file your claim, or lawsuit; otherwise, your right to sue is forfeit. Even if that time has expired, you may still be able to file a claim against the trusts that have been established to compensate victims of asbestos exposure. In the case of malignant mesothelioma, this period varies considerably from one state to the next. So it’s best to file your complaint as soon as possible after your diagnosis has been confirmed.
Keep in mind that symptoms of mesothelioma can take decades to appear. Many shipyard workers employed during World War II were not diagnosed with asbestos cancer until the 1980s.
To file a claim, you and your attorney will need to gather the information that establishes who manufactured the asbestos-containing products that led to your exposure and subsequent mesothelioma diagnosis. You and your attorney have the legal right to request, receive, and examine this evidence.
Rights vary from state to state. Your damages may include but may not be limited to: compensation for medical bills, related expenses such as travel, and loss of income.
You also have other legal rights when it comes to asbestos exposure. For example, all workers have the right to a safe workplace, protective equipment and proper training in handling toxic materials such as asbestos.
If you are planning to purchase an older or vintage home, you also may have the right to have the home inspected for asbestos and to negotiate with the seller to remove the asbestos from the home before finalizing the sale.