Working with an asbestos lawyer with expertise in toxic tort litigation is imperative when faced with job-related exposure. While use of the fibrous material was halted during the 1970’s, there are still thousands of products out there that can potentially cause life threatening illnesses in the workforce. Even if precautions are taken to minimize exposure today, illnesses such as mesothelioma are the result of contact decades beforehand.
Due to its insulation and fire retardant abilities, the mineral was frequently utilized in the construction, industrial, and military fields. Unfortunately, the material tends to give off fine particles that can be inhaled and ultimately cause serious health complications. The National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety says that upwards of 75 professional fields are guilty of placing their employees at risk, including occupations such as auto mechanics, plumbers, miners, oil refinery and railroad workers, firefighters, and even hairdressers. Ironically enough, one of the most at-risk groups today are those working to remediate and decontaminate buildings containing asbestos. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) remain in control of all associated work-related regulations, yet this harmful material can still be found in everything from bricks and paint to appliances and rubber products throughout the world.
While regulations were put in place to protect workers in numerous industries, they are unable to change the exposure that occurred years ago. Illnesses such as mesothelioma can go undetected for as many as 40 years, and when symptoms finally begin to show, this form of cancer can be extremely aggressive. For job-related exposure, it is important to consider obtaining the services of a reputable asbestos lawyer to determine an individual’s rights and the legal plan of action. A successful lawsuit will provide financial compensation to help cover lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering, while also holding the company responsible.
Due to mesothelioma’s lengthy development period the statute of limitation to file a lawsuit is typically one to five years following diagnosis of the illness, depending on the state. Therefore, it is important to start the legal process as soon as possible. If the affected individual has passed away, their spouse and/or heirs typically have one to five years to file a wrongful death case on their behalf, depending on the state. Lawsuits concerning this material have caused many companies to file for bankruptcy; therefore they were required to establish a personal injury trust for future compensation. Working with a personal injury attorney experienced in asbestos claims is imperative as a different process is necessary when filing a claim with a trust.
Unless the case goes before a jury, a lawsuit of this nature is typically settled within a year. Courts are aware that victims of such exposure face a limited life expectancy and consequently fast track the process through the system. The amount of damages recovered varies greatly between cases. While some companies are forced to pay millions, those cases compensated via a trust may get much less due to the rationing of funds for future lawsuits. In addition, the impact and extent of the illness on each individual differs, as does the length of time it takes the asbestos lawyer to present the case. Many times the quicker the case is settled, the lower the award will be.
A lot of mesothelioma cases result in settlements in the $1-5 million range, but they are typically dealt with on a contingency fee arrangement with the representing attorney. For that reason, a percentage of the award goes towards legal fees upon completion of the case. Court fees and further medical expenses also decrease the final figure. In order to ensure the maximum compensation is awarded in a timely fashion, it is imperative to work with a legal expert that is highly experienced in employment related asbestos cases.