Asbestos Exposure Lawyers: Your Guide to Compensation for Asbestos Exposure and Legal Options

Posted on

June 26, 2024

by

Daniel Braverman

When it comes to occupational and environmental hazards, few substances have left as devastating a legacy as asbestos. Once praised as a miracle mineral for its fire-resistant properties and versatility in construction and manufacturing, asbestos has been revealed as a silent killer, claiming over 40,000 lives annually in the United States alone. The tragedy of asbestos-related illnesses is not just due to their severity but also the long latency period, often taking decades to manifest after initial exposure.

If you or a loved one has received a diagnosis related to asbestos exposure, you may be struggling with emotions, medical concerns, and financial worries. In these challenging times, it's important to understand that you're not alone and that there are legal avenues available to seek justice and compensation. That's why we've put together this guide, to help explain asbestos exposure, related diseases, and how Braver Law's asbestos exposure lawyers nationwide can help you with a free case review and guide you on how to file an asbestos claim.

The Hidden Danger of Asbestos

Asbestos is a term for six natural silicate minerals. It was ubiquitous in many industries because of its remarkable properties. These fibrous minerals, known for their strength, heat resistance, and chemical inertness, found their way into thousands of products, from building materials to automotive parts. The most common types of asbestos include chrysotile (white asbestos), amosite (brown asbestos), and crocidolite (blue asbestos), with tremolite, anthophyllite, and actinolite being less frequently used but equally dangerous.

The properties that made asbestos so valuable in industry are, ironically, the same characteristics that make it deadly when inhaled or ingested. Asbestos fibers are microscopic and can remain airborne for long periods, easily entering the lungs or digestive system. Once inside the body, these fibers can cause inflammation, scarring, and genetic damage that may eventually lead to cancer.

The Health Impact of Asbestos Exposure

The toll of asbestos exposure on human health is staggering. Responsible a large share work-related cancer deaths globally, asbestos has left a massive mark on occupational health statistics. The most well-known and dreaded asbestos-related disease is mesothelioma, a rare and aggressive cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, abdomen, heart, or testicles. With a median survival time of just 12-21 months after diagnosis, mesothelioma is a reminder of the lethal nature of asbestos exposure. If you're wondering about the average asbestos settlement for mesothelioma cases, it's important to consult with experienced asbestos exposure lawyers.

However, mesothelioma is not the only health concern linked to asbestos. Lung cancer caused by asbestos exposure claims even more lives, with an estimated 3,000-5,000 deaths per year in the U.S. alone. Asbestosis, a chronic lung disease characterized by scarring of lung tissue, can lead to breathing difficulties and an increased risk of lung cancer. Other conditions associated with asbestos exposure include pleural plaques, pleural effusions, and cancers of the larynx, ovaries, and other organs.

The insidious nature of asbestos-related diseases is the long latency period. Symptoms may not appear until 20 to 50 years after initial exposure, making it challenging to connect the dots between past occupational hazards and current health issues. This delay also complicates the legal process of seeking compensation, highlighting the importance of working with experienced asbestos exposure lawyers who understand these cases.

Talc and Asbestos: A Hidden Danger in Personal Care Products

While asbestos exposure is often associated with industrial and occupational settings, a lesser-known source of exposure can also have devastating consequences: talcum powder. Talc, a naturally occurring mineral, is sometimes found in close proximity to asbestos deposits in the earth. If not adequately purified, talc-based products like baby powder and cosmetics can become contaminated with asbestos fibers.

This contamination has led to a growing number of mesothelioma cases linked to talcum powder use. Johnson & Johnson, a leading manufacturer of talc-based products, has faced numerous lawsuits alleging that their baby powder caused mesothelioma in consumers. These cases highlight the potential risk of asbestos exposure even in seemingly innocuous everyday products. Other manufacturers, including Colgate-Palmolive, Chanel, and Revlon, have also been named in lawsuits alleging asbestos contamination in their talcum powder offerings. A 2018 Reuters investigation revealed that several major cosmetic brands had failed to disclose the presence of asbestos in their products, despite being aware of the contamination. 

Unlike asbestos-related lung cancer, which is primarily associated with occupational exposure, talc-related mesothelioma can occur in any part of the body where the contaminated powder is applied. This includes not only the lungs but also the abdomen, where mesothelioma can develop in the lining of the abdominal cavity.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma and has a history of talcum powder use, it's crucial to consult with experienced asbestos exposure lawyers who understand the complexities of these cases. They can help investigate the source of your exposure, identify liable parties, and pursue compensation for your medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other damages.

High-Risk Occupations and Industries

While asbestos use has been significantly restricted in many countries, including the United States, its legacy continues to affect workers across various industries. Certain occupations carry a higher risk of asbestos exposure, particularly those involved in the construction, demolition, and renovation of older buildings. Shipyard workers, auto mechanics, power plant operators, and those in the manufacturing sector face elevated risks due to the historical use of asbestos in their industries.

Veterans, especially those who served in the Navy, are particularly vulnerable to asbestos-related illnesses. The military's extensive use of asbestos in ships, vehicles, and buildings between the 1930s and 1970s has led to a disproportionate number of veterans being affected by mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. In fact, veterans account for approximately 30% of annual mesothelioma deaths in the U.S., underscoring the need for specialized legal and medical support for this population.

Firefighters, both active and retired, also face increased risks from potential exposure during building fires and collapse scenarios. The destruction of older structures can release asbestos fibers into the air, putting first responders at risk even with protective equipment.

Asbestos exposure lawyers will often work with industrial hygienists and occupational health experts to trace the history of asbestos use in specific workplaces, building a strong case for their clients. Asbestos exposure lawyers will often work with industrial hygienists and occupational health experts to trace the history of asbestos use in specific workplaces, building a strong case for their clients and maximizing compensation for asbestos exposure.

Your Legal Options and Asbestos Exposure Claims

Given the widespread use of asbestos and the devastating health consequences of exposure, a complex legal framework has evolved to address compensation for victims and their families. This is where the expertise of specialized asbestos exposure lawyers who understand the nuances of these cases can help them advocate effectively for their clients. Your asbestos exposure lawyers will usually help beyond litigation, becoming advocates, investigators, and support systems for you, guiding you through the process of seeking justice and compensation for asbestos exposure.

How to Build a Strong Case for Compensation

A new case always begins with a comprehensive review of the client's medical records and work history. Asbestos exposure lawyers work to establish a clear link between the client's illness and their exposure to asbestos, often decades in the past. This process may involve interviewing former coworkers, researching company records, and consulting with medical experts to build a compelling case.

One of the unique challenges in asbestos litigation is identifying the responsible parties. Over the years, many companies that manufactured or used asbestos-containing products have gone bankrupt or been acquired by other entities. Skilled asbestos exposure lawyers will trace corporate histories and identify all potential sources of compensation, including asbestos trust funds set up by bankrupt companies.

The discovery phase of an asbestos case can be particularly intensive. Lawyers may need to subpoena documents, depose witnesses, and work with industrial hygienists to recreate working conditions from decades past, to establish liability and demonstrate the extent of the client's exposure.

Types of Compensation Available

Victims of asbestos exposure may be eligible for various forms of compensation, depending on the specifics of their case. Medical expenses, both past and future, form a significant part of many claims. This can include costs for diagnostic tests, treatments, medications, and palliative care. Lost wages and loss of earning capacity are also important components, especially for younger victims who may have decades of work ahead of them.

Pain and suffering damages acknowledge the physical and emotional toll of asbestos-related illnesses. These non-economic damages can be substantial, particularly in cases of mesothelioma or other aggressive cancers. In some instances, punitive damages may be awarded to punish particularly egregious conduct by defendants who knowingly exposed workers or consumers to asbestos.

For veterans, additional avenues of compensation may be available through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and asbestos exposure lawyers near you can help navigate these options. 

Asbestos Trust Funds: Over $30 Billion Still Available

One of the biggest developments in asbestos litigation in the past 30 years has been the establishment of asbestos trust funds. These trusts, created as part of bankruptcy proceedings for companies facing overwhelming asbestos liabilities, collectively hold over $30 billion for claimants who meet specific exposure criteria. The creation of these trusts has streamlined the compensation process for many victims, allowing them to receive payments without going through lengthy court proceedings.

Asbestos trust funds have paid out an impressive $17.5 billion in claims to date, with an average payment of $180,000 per claim. However, navigating the trust fund system requires expertise. Each trust has its own set of rules, exposure criteria, and payment schedules. Experienced asbestos exposure lawyers can help clients maximize their compensation by strategically filing claims with multiple trusts when appropriate.

Filing a trust fund claim does not necessarily preclude a victim from pursuing litigation against other responsible parties. In many cases, a comprehensive legal strategy may involve both trust fund claims and traditional lawsuits to ensure the fullest possible compensation. At Braver Law, we combine as many avenues for compensation together as possible to maximize your claim and ensure you receive fair compensation for asbestos exposure.

Why You Need to Act Fast and Get a Free Case Review

Statutes of limitations vary by state but generally begin running from the date of diagnosis or the date the victim reasonably should have known their illness was related to asbestos exposure. Given the long latency period of asbestos-related diseases, these time limits can create significant challenges for victims and their families.

Experienced asbestos exposure lawyers understand the urgency of these cases and work diligently to gather evidence and file claims as quickly as possible. This ensures compliance with legal deadlines and helps preserve crucial evidence that may become more difficult to obtain as time passes. Consulting with asbestos exposure lawyers near me can help you understand how to file an asbestos claim within the required timeframe.

Compensation Statistics: Setting Realistic Expectations

While every case is unique, understanding average compensation amounts can help set realistic expectations for victims and their families. The average industry-wide mesothelioma settlement ranges between $1 million and $1.4 million. †

It's important to note that these figures are averages, and individual case outcomes can vary significantly based on factors such as the severity of the illness, the strength of the evidence, and the specific defendants involved. An experienced asbestos exposure lawyer can help you understand what to expect for your specific case and work towards achieving an appropriate settlement.

These high-value verdicts and settlements reflect not only the severe impact of asbestos-related diseases on victims and their families but also the egregious nature of many companies' conduct in continuing to use asbestos despite knowing its dangers. While such large awards are not typical, they serve as a powerful deterrent and a means of holding corporations accountable for their actions.

Get a Free Case Review with Braver Law’s Asbestos Exposure Lawyers

The legacy of asbestos use is a tragic chapter in our industrial history, but it's also a story of resilience, scientific progress, and legal hope. For those facing an asbestos-related diagnosis, the road ahead may seem daunting, but it's important to remember that help is available. The asbestos exposure lawyers at Braver Law are ready to fight for the rights of victims and their families, to help you get compensation for asbestos exposure, justice, and accountability.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness, taking prompt action is crucial. Reach out to our specialized asbestos exposure lawyers to understand your rights and options, and get a free case review.

Don't face the challenges of an asbestos-related diagnosis alone. Contact Braver Law today for a free case review and let our experienced asbestos exposure lawyers fight for the compensation and justice you deserve.

† https://www.bateswhite.com/media/publication/59_media.285.pdf

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