Asbestos Lawsuits in the United States
In the United States, asbestos litigation has been ongoing since the early 20th century, following the enactment of US mesothelioma and asbestos laws. Early cases were primarily brought by workers who had been exposed to asbestos in the course of their employment. In the 1970s, more and more cases were brought by family members of workers who had died from asbestos-related diseases.
Asbestos litigation is costly and time-consuming, and it can take years for a case to make its way through the courts. As a result, many people who have been exposed to asbestos never file a lawsuit. There are several reasons why someone might choose to file an asbestos lawsuit:
- They may want to hold the company that exposed them to asbestos accountable for their injuries.
- They may wish to receive compensation for their medical expenses and other damages.
- They may want to make sure that other people do not suffer the same fate as they did.
Types of Asbestos Lawsuits
There are three main types of asbestos lawsuits: personal injury, wrongful death, and mesothelioma lawsuits.
Personal injury lawsuits are filed by individuals exposed to asbestos and who have developed an asbestos-related disease. On the other hand, the victims' families file wrongful death lawsuits, while mesothelioma lawsuits are filed by people diagnosed with mesothelioma.
Who Can File an Asbestos Lawsuit in the United States?
To be eligible to file an asbestos lawsuit in the United States, an individual must:
- Be diagnosed by a physician
- Have history working with or near asbestos
- Must have been exposed to asbestos at one point or the other through various means.
Persons who meet these criteria may be eligible to file an asbestos lawsuit in the United States.
How to File an Asbestos Lawsuit in the United States
There are two main ways to file an asbestos lawsuit in the United States: through the courts or an asbestos trust fund:
- Filing an Asbestos Lawsuit in the Courts
Persons who file an asbestos lawsuit in the courts typically require lawyers who specialize in these cases. Interested persons may find a list of lawyers who handle asbestos cases on the website of the American Bar Association. After finding a lawyer, the claimant will need to gather evidence to support their position. This evidence can include medical records, exposure records, and witness statements.
- Filing an Asbestos Lawsuit Through an Asbestos Trust Fund
Persons who have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease may also be eligible to file a claim through an asbestos trust fund. Asbestos trust funds are set up by companies that filed for bankruptcy due to asbestos liability. Persons who file a claim through an asbestos trust fund may be able to receive compensation without having to go to court.
Asbestos Class Action Lawsuits in the United States
An asbestos class action lawsuit is a legal proceeding in which a group of people with similar claims against a defendant or defendants join together to pursue those claims. Class action lawsuits allow plaintiffs to pool their resources and share litigation costs, making it possible to bring cases that might otherwise be too expensive to pursue individually.
Class action lawsuits also provide a way for plaintiffs with small individual claims to seek relief that they might not be able to obtain on their own. By joining together in a class action, plaintiffs can increase their bargaining power vis-a-vis the defendant and potentially recover damages that exceed what they could recover individually.
There are several steps involved in an asbestos class action lawsuit. First, potential plaintiffs must file a complaint with the court, setting forth their claims and requesting that the court certify the case as a class action. The court will then consider whether the case meets the legal requirements for certification.
If the case is certified, the plaintiffs will then be able to proceed with discovery, during which they will gather evidence to support their claims. This may involve taking depositions, reviewing documents, and conducting other types of investigations.
Once discovery is complete, the parties will typically file motions for summary judgment or trial. If the case goes to trial, a jury will hear testimony and review the evidence presented by both sides before deciding whether the plaintiffs are entitled to damages and, if so, how much they should receive.
Why Mesothelioma Class-Action Lawsuits are Rarely Filed
Asbestos class action lawsuits are more complicated than other personal injury cases for a variety of reasons:
- Asbestos exposure can occur over many years, often without the victim realizing it. This can make it difficult to determine when and how the exposure occurred.
- There may be multiple defendants in an asbestos case, which may have contributed to the exposure. This can further complicate matters.
- Asbestos cases often involve large amounts of money, leading to complex legal arguments.
Benefits of Mesothelioma Class-Action Lawsuits
There are several benefits of filing a class-action lawsuit for mesothelioma victims:
- It allows victims to pool their resources and increase their chances of winning compensation.
- It helps level the playing field between victims and defendants.
- It helps bring public attention to the issue of asbestos exposure and its dangers.
Drawbacks of Mesothelioma Class-Action Lawsuits
Class action lawsuits can be a great way to get compensation for Mesothelioma victims, but there are some drawbacks:
- It can take years for a class action lawsuit to be settled, and the claimant may not be able to receive any compensation during that time.
- The amount of money the plaintiff receives from a class action lawsuit may be less than what they would receive if they filed an individual lawsuit.
- If the defendant in a class-action lawsuit is found not guilty, the other members of the class may not be eligible for any compensation at all.
Asbestos Lawsuit Statute of Limitations in the United States
The statute of limitations for an asbestos lawsuit starts to run from the date of diagnosis of an asbestos-related disease. However, there may be some exceptions that could allow for a longer period. For example, if the asbestos exposure occurred during military service, the statute of limitations may not begin to run until the veteran is discharged from service. Additionally, if the exposure occurred while working for a government entity, there may be a different statute of limitations that applies.
Mesothelioma Multidistrict Litigation
The Mesothelioma Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) is a consolidated legal proceeding that consolidates all federally-filed lawsuits involving injury claims from asbestos exposure. The MDL is overseen by one judge, who presides over all aspects of the litigation, including pretrial rulings, trial management, and settlement negotiations. All cases in the MDL are transferred to the court where the first case was filed, which is typically in either Louisiana or Texas.
The MDL process was created in 1968 in response to the growing number of asbestos-related lawsuits being filed across the country. As more and more people were diagnosed with mesothelioma, a rare and aggressive cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, the number of lawsuits increased. To streamline the litigation process and avoid conflicting rulings from different judges, the MDL was created.
How Long Do Asbestos Lawsuits Take?
The length of time an asbestos lawsuit takes depends on several factors, including the severity of the asbestos exposure and the amount of time it takes for symptoms to develop. In some cases, lawsuits may be filed soon after exposure occurs, while in others, they may not be filed until many years later.
For an asbestos lawsuit to be successful it must be shown that the asbestos exposure occurred and that it was a contributing factor to the development of the disease. This can be not easy to do if the exposure occurred many years ago. Second, it must be shown that the company responsible for the exposure knew or should have known about the risks associated with asbestos and failed to take adequate precautions.
How Much Does an Asbestos Lawyer Cost?
The cost of a mesothelioma or asbestos lawyer can vary depending on the specific case. A typical contingency fee arrangement may be one-third of any recovery plus expenses. If the case goes to trial, lawyers typically charge an hourly rate. Some firms also require a retainer upfront.
In addition to legal fees, there are other costs associated with pursuing an asbestos claim. These can include expert witness fees, court filing fees, and the cost of obtaining medical records and other evidence. Most mesothelioma lawyers will advance these costs on behalf of their clients and only recoup them if there is a successful recovery in the case.
How is Asbestos Liability Determined?
There are a few key factors that go into determining asbestos liability. The first is whether or not the company knew about the dangers of asbestos when they were using it. If they did, they may be held liable for any injuries or illnesses that their employees suffer due to exposure to asbestos.
Another factor that can play into asbestos liability is how long the company continued to use asbestos after they knew about the risks. If they continue to use it despite knowing the dangers, they may be held even more accountable for any injuries or illnesses.
Finally, the amount of damages that an employee suffers can also impact asbestos liability. If an employee suffers severe health problems due to asbestos exposure, then the company may be liable for a larger amount of damages.
How is Asbestos Liability Compensated?
There are a number of ways that asbestos liability can be compensated. The first and most common is through insurance. Many companies who used asbestos in their products carried insurance policies that would cover them in the event of liability claims. These policies typically had high limits, so they were able to cover the costs of any claims.
Another way that asbestos liability can be compensated is through the company's assets. If a company does not have enough insurance to cover all of the claims against it, it may have to sell off some of its assets to raise the money to pay for those claims. This is usually a last resort, as it can often leave the company unable to continue operating.
Finally, there are some cases where the government may be liable for asbestos exposure. This can happen if the exposure occurs on government property or if the government was aware of the exposure and did not take steps to protect workers or the public.
Other Types of Asbestos Exposure Lawsuits
There are many other types of asbestos exposure lawsuits and those filed by workers who were exposed to the toxin on the job. For example, sometimes, family members of workers who were exposed to asbestos can file a lawsuit if they develop an asbestos-related disease. This is known as a "secondary exposure" lawsuit.
Other times, people who live near an asbestos-contaminated site can file what is known as a "nuisance" lawsuit. These lawsuits typically allege that the defendants (the companies responsible for the contamination) are causing a public health hazard and should be required to clean up the site.
Finally, some people diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease may choose to file a personal injury lawsuit against the companies that manufactured the asbestos-containing products they were exposed to. These types of lawsuits are often referred to as "product liability" lawsuits.