What is Abestos?

If you have been diagnosed with Mesothelioma or Lung Cancer you could be entitled to significant compensation from both the Asbestos Trust Funds and asbestos product manufactures.

Contact us now for a FREE consultation.

Free Case Review

What is Abestos?

If you have been diagnosed with Mesothelioma or Lung Cancer you could be entitled to significant compensation from both the Asbestos Trust Funds and asbestos product manufactures.

Contact us now for a FREE consultation.

Free Case Review

What is Asbestos?

This natural mineral, which doesn’t conduct noise, electricity, or heat, has been used for thousands of years. Large scale use began around 1899, when industrial breakthroughs drastically reduced asbestos mining costs. That was also the year one of the first published studies detailed the adverse health effects of asbestos exposure. Rather than find a non-toxic substitute, construction and other companies hid the adverse health effects, mostly because asbestos was cheap.

These adverse health effects include several kinds of cancer and lung disease. Overall cancer survival rates have increased significantly since the 1990s, but the five-year survival rate for asbestos-induced cancer remains under 10 percent. Asbestos-induced lung diseases are usually fatal as well.

These dreadful diseases have very long latency periods. Typically, a mesothelioma or other diagnosis blindsides victims in their 70s or 80s who were making retirement plans. Therefore, substantial compensation is available, but a successful asbestos exposure lawyer must work hard to obtain it.  

The asbestos health cover-up is over, but corporate lawyers haven’t given up yet. Instead, they do whatever it takes to reduce or deny compensation. Thus, victims need a determined attorney who does what it takes to get the compensation they need and deserve.

At-Risk Individuals

Poisonous and microscopic asbestos fibers usually hang in the air for several days. Therefore, pretty much anyone who steps outside is at risk. The following categories of people are at highest risk.

Teachers and Students

As mentioned, asbestos is probably the cheapest known insulator. As a result, many primary, intermediate, and secondary schools have higher-than-normal asbestos levels. Government contractors are notorious for cutting corners.

Typically, construction workers wrapped pipes and wires in asbestos. This material was also the preferred attic insulator. To many people, more is better. So, many builders also laced roof tiles, drywall, and floor tiles with asbestos.

School floors and walls take a pounding. Hairline cracks and other such flaws inevitably appear, increasing the risk that toxic fibers may leak into the air. Making matters worse, builders typically used chrysotile (white) asbestos. This substance, which looks like several layers of white tissue paper, breaks down quickly.

The 1986 Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act bans asbestos in new schools. It also mandates asbestos remediation in older schools. But the remediation requirement was an unfunded mandate. Congress required air quality inspections and asbestos removal if necessary, but it didn’t earmark any funds for compliance.

Construction and
Naval Workers

Most commercial and private buildings were constructed before 1980, and as outlined above, almost all these buildings contain asbestos. Also as mentioned above, asbestos companies concealed the health risks for several decades. Therefore, many construction workers didn’t have proper PPE (personal protective equipment) or didn’t know why they must wear PPE.

Asbestos PPE is more than a facemask. Microscopic fibers move through tiny skin pores. Therefore, asbestos PPE must cover workers from head to toe. Furthermore, workers must immediately dispose of their used PPE.

The Navy, which always used lots of asbestos to line ammunition dumps and engine boilers, doubled down on asbestos use after a 1967 blaze aboard the USS Forrestal killed over two dozen people. Sailors and other Naval personnel, like dock workers, never wore PPE.

The Navy used asbestos until 1980. When dock workers and other such individuals work on old ships, they’re at risk. The same thing goes for today’s demolition and renovation workers.

Friends and Loved Ones

We mentioned the need for workers to immediately dispose of all PPE. That’s because fibers linger on clothes. Workers carry these fibers home, where they could infect friends and loved ones. These victims are entitled to compensation as well, although the cases have some additional complexities. More on that below.

Asbestos Exposure Illnesses

The body cannot process toxic fibers, like asbestos fibers. So, they linger inside victims, causing illnesses like:

Asbestos fibers inflame the pleural lining which surrounds the lungs. When the pleural lining gets too heavy, the victim has difficulty breathing, even while at rest.

Tumors that form in the meso lining between the lungs and heart are almost impossible to find. Since they grow undetected for so many years, and since the victim doesn’t lose weight or have other early cancer symptoms, these tumors are often untreatable, as mentioned above.

Victims who inhale fibers often contract this lung disease. The fibers burn breathing passageways, leaving scar tissue behind. Many of these passageways aren’t much bigger than a pencil tip. A little damage causes a catastrophic illness.

Cross contamination could also cause an asbestos illness. The ongoing talcum powder/asbestos lawsuits may be the best cross contamination example. Talc and asbestos mines are often almost literally on top of each other, and many mining companies don’t pay much attention to quality control.

Asbestos-laced talcum powder often causes ovarian cancer. The fibers move from the genitals through the fallopian tubes to the cervix.

Filing a Claim

Mesothelioma claims involve suing specific defendants or submitting to asbestos trusts. There are about 150 common defendants and 40 trust funds, with Johns Manville Trust being notable. These funds hold $30 billion. An asbestos attorney helps gather documentation for your diagnosis. They choose the venue and identify defendants for your case.

Venue matters, as some states lack protective laws and prioritize big business. Cases are generally filed within 30 days. After filing, your attorney notifies defendants and starts the discovery phase.

Lawyers and defendants conduct research, interviews, and depositions for evidence. In 99% of cases, mesothelioma claims settle through negotiations. Trials are rare, so most plaintiffs get compensation through legal agreements, not verdicts.

Manufacturers have a duty to warn customers about known adverse side effects. The warning must be clear and proportionate to the risks.

Statute of Limitations
and Claims

The SOL, or statute of limitations, sets time limits for filing asbestos illness claims in each of the 50 US states. This timeline varies from 1 to 6 years post-diagnosis or death. For instance, Louisiana imposes a 1-year limit, while North Dakota has a 6-year restriction. If the victim passes away, the limit is generally 1 to 3 years, with most states favoring a 2-year period.

Beyond the SOL, there are urgent reasons for mesothelioma victims to file promptly. One critical reason is securing signed affidavits or depositions, which can be obtained from the victim or someone who worked with them. This process enables the asbestos attorney to determine when, where, and how the victim was exposed to asbestos. Delaying filing may diminish the case’s value if there’s no one to verify the exposure.

Clear warnings are in a language most consumers understand. Many Hispanic customers don’t speak English. Many people, regardless of national origin, don’t speak Legalese or Medspeak. If the victim couldn’t read or understand the warning, the warning might as well not be there.

Proportionate warnings are, well, proportionate. Companies often bury serious side-effects, like the ones mentioned above, on a long list of milder side-effects, like temporary skin rash. Once again, if the warning isn’t clearly displayed the warning isn’t there, for practical purposes.

Failure to warn claims are negligence (a lack of care) claims. Defective product claims are strict liability claims. Manufacturers are liable for damages as a matter of law if a manufacturing or design defect causes injury.

Asbestos insulation and other such products have design defects. The asbestos shouldn’t have been part of the design. Asbestos-laced products, like asbestos-laced talcum powder, have manufacturing defects. The company didn’t do enough to protect consumers from cross-contamination poisoning.

Failure to warn claims are negligence (a lack of care) claims. Defective product claims are strict liability claims. Manufacturers are liable for damages as a matter of law if a manufacturing or design defect causes injury.

Asbestos insulation and other such products have design defects. The asbestos shouldn’t have been part of the design. Asbestos-laced products, like asbestos-laced talcum powder, have manufacturing defects. The company didn’t do enough to protect consumers from cross-contamination poisoning.

Secondary exposure victims, like school workers and friends and family of construction workers, typically file civil claims against the company that manufactured the asbestos-laced product at issue.

The actual claim could be a defective product or a failure to warn about known adverse side effects. In either case, compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages might be available as well.

A non-legal option may be available as well. When the asbestos cover-up began unraveling in the early 1980s and victims started filing lawsuits, many asbestos companies took the easy way out and declared bankruptcy.

As a condition of these bankruptcies, federal judges ordered these companies to establish victim compensation funds. Even today, some forty years later, these funds still contain an estimated $30 billion.

A non-legal option may be available as well. When the asbestos cover-up began unraveling in the early 1980s and victims started filing lawsuits, many asbestos companies took the easy way out and declared bankruptcy.

As a condition of these bankruptcies, federal judges ordered these companies to establish victim compensation funds. Even today, some forty years later, these funds still contain an estimated $30 billion.

The good news is that VCF claimants only need prima facie (preliminary) cases. There’s no lawyer on the other side. The bad news is that Fund Administrators are notoriously stingy. They don’t hand out money like toys on Christmas. Additionally, since there’s no court supervision, there’s no duty to negotiate in good faith. Therefore, VCF clams put an attorney’s negotiating skills to the test.

Resolving a Claim

Most asbestos exposure claims, just like most civil court cases, settle out of court. Such resolutions end cases sooner and avoid the need for an emotional courtroom showdown that has an uncertain outcome.

Asbestos compensation is different from other types of litigation in that clients do not receive one lump sum. Instead, they typically receive between ten and fifty individual settlements. These settlements come from each individual product, trust fund, and/or responsible company.

If key liability and damage questions are crystal clear, the case might settle almost immediately. However, issues abound in both areas, usually damages, or the amount of compensation. Frequently, lawyers argue that the victim’s doctor misidentified mesothelioma as NSCLC (non-small cell lung cancer), a much less aggressive kind of lung cancer that’s usually treatable. Therefore, the two sides often radically disagree about an injury claim’s settlement value, which is like a new car’s sticker price. When two parties are far apart at the outset, agreement is almost impossible.

Therefore, most claims don’t settle until mediation. This stage follows discovery, which is an evidence exchange phase. Two of the most important pieces of evidence are the client’s affidavit of exposure and deposition. Once these two pieces of the puzzle are in place, the case moves very quickly, especially if the patient is alive.

When the judge appoints a third-party mediator to oversee negotiations, the judge adds a good faith negotiation duty, which was mentioned above. Low-ball offers aren’t good faith offers.

Therefore, most claims don’t settle until mediation. This stage follows discovery, which is an evidence exchange phase. Two of the most important pieces of evidence are the client’s affidavit of exposure and deposition. Once these two pieces of the puzzle are in place, the case moves very quickly, especially if the patient is alive.

When the judge appoints a third-party mediator to oversee negotiations, the judge adds a good faith negotiation duty, which was mentioned above. Low-ball offers aren’t good faith offers.

Because of the good-faith negotiation requirement, and also because the defendant usually wants to avoid a trial as well, civil mediation is about 90 percent successful in Texas.

Get a Free Consultation

Asbestos exposure victims are usually entitled to significant compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced and successful lawyer in your area please contact us at MesotheliomaAttorney.com or Paul Danziger Esq. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters and only get paid if we successfully resolve your asbestos claims.

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