Filing An Asbestos Lawsuit
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Asbestos is a fiber that occurs naturally in the environment. It has heat resistant and is a fire retardant; these properties have made it a popular material to utilize in the manufacture of many products that may be susceptible to extremely hot conditions, or fire. Such products include, but are not limited to, roofing tiles, drywall, brakes, furnaces, and cement products.
Unfortunately, it has been determined that long-term or heavy exposure to asbestos, can lead to the development of diseases, such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis. People who have worked in industries that manufacture or utilize products containing asbestos, such as the construction industry or automotive industry, may be at an increased risk for developing a serious asbestos related disease. In addition, people who have worked in buildings that were built with materials containing asbestos, such as schools, may also be at risk for developing an asbestos related disease.
When people are diagnosed with asbestos related diseases, it can be devastating in many respects. Not only is it extremely upsetting to learn of your compromised, serious health condition, but can also be financially and emotionally devastating. The cost of medical expenses related to treatments, medications, and possible lost wages can quickly add up.
When faced with a serious medical condition that has been connected to long-term or heavy asbestos exposure, many people look for legal assistance, often turning to lawyers who specialize in tort law. Torts refer to civil wrongs that are recognized by the law as being grounds for a lawsuit. The wrongs result in injury or harm, establishing a basis for the injured party to make a claim. The intention behind tort law is to seek compensation for damages (such as lost wages, pain and suffering, and medical expenses) incurred as a result of the injury, as well as to hopefully prevent a similar incident from occurring in the future. Most often, if an asbestos lawsuit is filed, it will be pursued under the following types of tort cases: products liability, premises liability, economic property loss, and workers\' compensation.
Types of Asbestos Lawsuits
Asbestos lawsuits may be filed in one of two ways: as a single lawsuit, or as part of a class action lawsuit. Defendants in asbestos lawsuits are typically either the manufacturer of an asbestos product, or the company for whom an individual worked.
Single person lawsuits: This is a lawsuit between a single plaintiff and a defendant. The single person is working through a lawyer that has filed the lawsuit on their behalf and is also trying the case on his or her behalf. If the judge hands down a decision in the favor of the person then the person who filed the suit will generally get to keep their entire settlement minus legal expenses.
Class action lawsuits: These are lawsuits that are initiated by a single lawyer or team of lawyers on behalf of a large amount of people. If, for example, a whole town has become infected because of asbestos poisoning the water supply, then the town might enact a class action lawsuit against the company that is responsible for the asbestos runoff. Class action lawsuits have multiple plaintiffs, and it is this primary fact that sets them apart from single person lawsuits. If the judge hands down a decision in favor of the plaintiffs then the settlement, minus legal expenses, is split among the plaintiffs in a way that has been agreed upon previous to the trying of the lawsuit.
In 1999 the Supreme Court ruled, in regards to the case 1993 case of Esteban Ortiz v. Fibreboard Corp., that people with conflicting interests must have separate lawyers. This means that class action lawsuits cannot be filed against companies if the plaintiffs in the lawsuit have different interests, such as how they came in contact with the asbestos. In such cases, it will be necessary for plaintiffs to file single person lawsuits.
Filing a Lawsuit
If you have been diagnosed with a serious disease, such as mesothelioma, that has been linked to long-term or heavy exposure to asbestos, the first step you must take is to obtain a lawyer. There are statutes of limitations in each state regarding the time frame in which you can file a lawsuit following your diagnosis, so it is important to proceed relatively quickly.
It is important to find a lawyer who specializes in tort law and whose focus is asbestos cases. You will need be able to provide your lawyer with details regarding your exposure, as well as medical documentation and any other sort of proof you have linking your illness to your exposure. Be very detailed in the information that you give the lawyer. Your attorney will review your information and determine how to proceed.
Legal•Info State Mesothelioma Information
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