Asbestos Legislation

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Legislative talks regarding the harms of asbestos exposure began as early as 1969, when the Black-Lung Bill was passed by congress. Although the bill dealt specifically with coal minors, it allowed for the open exchange of concerns related to asbestos, a fibrous material known to cause mesothelioma, asbestosis, and other potentially fatal conditions. Asbestos was finally recognized as a danger, and the need for business reform was established at this point.

The skyrocketing numbers of asbestos lawsuits recently are due to the fact that the condition's symptoms are typically not present until decades after exposure. Deemed an occupational illness, individuals are now facing terminal diagnoses. Most of these individuals are over the age of 65 and were completely unaware that they were being exposed to the substance on a regular basis at the workplace. When the trust between an employer and employee is broken, legal suits are likely to follow.

The passing of the 1999 Fairness in Asbestos Compensation Act was a pivotal move in legislative history. The act was designed to provide victims with timely settlements by creating a legislative department specifically designated to handle such cases. Under this act, government would compensate victims and widows from a special fund, managed by legislative officials of this department. Those who proposed the bill hoped it would minimize the traffic of asbestos-related lawsuits in court by providing a more efficient system. Although patients would have to prove their physical impairment and injuries, falling into specific, medical criteria, some felt that the bill was too liberal.

Business owners have felt that they have been unjustly targeted by people claiming lawsuits against them for asbestos-related injuries. Lawsuits caused millions of businesses to file for bankruptcy, as they had no means to pay such settlements. The amount of funds rendered reached crisis proportions. In response, congress proposed the Fairness in Asbestos Injury Resolution Act in 2004, which has lead to heated debates. While intended to prevent unlawful claims from being proposed, many feel it has severely compromised the rights of patients suffering from debilitating conditions related to asbestos. The law makes it extremely difficult to link a specific employer's establishment to the condition. Moreover, a plaintiff must produce documents to prove that the medical condition has left him or her physically impaired, unable to continue with daily activities. While the end result of these conditions is likely terminal, symptoms typically do not prohibit one from participating in these daily routines, particularly when treatment is dispensed. Consequently, defendant attorneys began digging into patients' medical history, attempting to locate information that could prevent them from receiving deserved compensation. Many sufferers felt cheated and victimized by this legislation. Along with the diagnosis of a fatal illness, one must suffer from the inability to cover treatment expenses.

Aside from these bills, states enforce strict statute of limitations laws. These laws vary, depending on which state you reside in, but they can make it very difficult to make a claim. They set time restraints, prohibiting individuals from making claims after a certain amount of time has lapsed. For some, it is as short as 1 year from the diagnosis of the illness. This is too much to cope with for individuals who are just beginning to seek treatments.

A mesothelioma attorney is likely knowledgeable of all new legislation in recent year pertaining to asbestos. If you have been unknowingly exposed to the substance because of a negligent employer, or if you have worked in high risk areas, such as construction sites, shipyards, automobile garages, or manufacturing companies, it is important to seek the help of an attorney and file a lawsuit. Regardless of legislative regulations, compensation is well within your reach. An attorney can offer you the best resources and services needed to gather evidence and win your case. You should never have to face this condition alone, especially since the financial stability of your family is at stake. Let a mesothelioma lawyer uphold your rights in court, setting precedence for standards future employers must follow.


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