Asbestos litigation is a prevalent injury claim. Buzzwords for environmental issues have been widespread during the last 50 years, including toxic tort and mesothelioma, linked to asbestos exposure, all with lengthy incubation periods involving years to detect and often too late to provide protection. Asbestos-related diseases are primarily lung cancer and asbestosis, but others exist.
Over the last century, significant law changes have resulted in a building materials cleanup. Thorough policing of exposure potential was prevalent years ago when our technology and scientific evaluation were unaware of the gravity of these chemical exposures and their impact on humanity.
These claims typically linger for years, so the legal community carved out an entire practice that focuses on prosecuting and defending asbestos claims. When these toxic tort litigation claims are filed, the insurers, corporations, and the legal community are the primary defendants. During the progress and evaluation of the claim seriousness, various companies contribute to the investigative analysis, forensic experts, appraisers, and the medical and scientific community, all of which are primarily involved in identifying and determining the health aspects of asbestos litigation.
These cases drag on for years. As a result, defendants, insurers, and companies are often no longer in business, which adds to the complexity of the legal aspects of the settlement.
One of the most common issues in complex litigation cases is the date of loss. It is almost impossible to pinpoint a specific time when the incident occurred, typically manifested over years of exposure. As a result, insurers may be a participant at the “alleged” incident, and defining each of the defendants’ responsibilities, both financially and morally, is what contributes to and warrants the term “complex litigation.”
A typical claim is settled based on time, risk, occurrence, or claims made by insurance policies, all being part of the discovery equation. Consequently, there are legal aspects on how the injured party relates to the injury from a process point. There are financial changes in ownership that drastically affect responsibility. Forensic investigations are performed by a responsible party capable of doing scientific forensic analysis, general complex financial litigation management, and forensic accounting.
Mass tort cases are often widespread: When exposed and the contaminants discovered, the case prevails for years with more injuries resulting from the same incident. Consult with a doctor, law firm, the government, and the business or businesses suspected of causing the incident to guide the injured party toward commensurate compensation.
Litigations related to asbestos injury have been the most common and longest-running litigations during the past quarter of the 20th century and continue well into the current times.
Many environmental and health-related issues associated with exposure to asbestos surfaced in the last 50 years, drawing public attention, and triggering the filing of thousands of lawsuits around the country. Asbestos has been linked to lung, stomach, kidney, and throat cancer, mesothelioma (a rare type of cancer of tissue that lines the lungs, heart, and organs of the gastrointestinal tract), along with a lengthy list of other, nonmalignant disorders, that cause lifelong pain and suffering.
Overwhelming evidence of harm caused by asbestos to the health and property drove considerable changes in state laws governing construction industry, enforcing stricter guidelines for the quality of building materials used, creating regulations against the use of potentially harmful and toxic materials in building, as well as prompting a cleanup of already existing properties built before 1978.
Mesothelioma and other asbestos exposure lawsuits typically go on for years, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars to claimants and often resulting in compensations, paid out in the millions of dollars by mesothelioma trust, manufacturers, builders, and their insurance companies.
Nevertheless, despite solid scientific evidence of causational relationship between mesothelioma and asbestos exposure, the process of filing a claim and collecting compensation is extremely complicated, requiring not only gathering evidence from doctors, environmental investigators, forensic and mesothelioma experts, but also acquiring many internal documents, such as company’s asbestos safety compliance records.
Since such a dreadful process requires an attorney with very specialized experience and knowledge, the legal community has carved out an entire practice that focuses specifically on asbestos-related claims.
Despite asbestos-related lawsuits being already a convoluted process, another hurdle is that many of the defendants, their corporations, and insurers are no longer in business by the time mesothelioma or other health-related issues develop. This peculiarity adds to the complexity of the claim and legal proceedings even more.
Yet, one of the most common issues during the litigation process is identifying the date of loss, as it is almost impossible to pinpoint a specific time when the incident took place because damage to the internal organs typically occurs asymptomatically over the years of exposure.
Only decades later, when an individual is diagnosed with a terminal disease, he, or his family (if an individual exposed is deceased) now have a basis for filing a claim. As a result, many of the insurers may not have even been a participant at the “alleged” time of the incident, making the process of identifying responsibilities of each of the defendants’, both financial and ethical, extremely perplexing, contributing to these claims being termed as “complex litigation”.
After many months of collecting evidence and litigation, typical claim is settled outside of court and compensation is determined based on several factors, such as treatment and diagnosis costs, travel expenses associated with finding a cancer center and mesothelioma specialist, loss of income, inability to support dependents, funeral expenses in the case of wrongful death claims and so on. The amount of settlement is between $1.0 and $2.4 million, whereas court verdicts could range between $5 and $11 million and take years to collect upon.
Many asbestos exposure, mesothelioma, and mass tort cases often involve environmental contamination with toxic chemicals and include other parties, injured during the same incident. Successful resolution of such endeavors greatly depends on how skillful attorneys involved in the lawsuit are. Therefore, the best approach would be to consult with a law firm specializing in asbestos and mesothelioma cases, that can guide an injured party down the proper path for compensation.