For those individuals who have developed mesothelioma after years of working around asbestos, compensation is available to help with medical costs and provide financial stability following a devastating diagnosis. Legislators have put laws in place to help protect and reimburse these cancer victims. Some lawyers have devoted their entire careers to getting mesothelioma victims the best settlements possible.
Until the warnings and bans were issued in the 1970s, many asbestos manufacturers kept the effects of prolonged exposure quiet. Often, the worst exposure came to military personnel and civilian shipyard workers. In recent years, asbestos manufacturers have agreed to settlements that provide compensation to their former workers because out-of-court settlement are much less expensive than the damages that could be assessed by a jury had the case gone to trial.
The downside of such compensation is the statute of limitations, which varies from state to state. Because mesothelioma can remain dormant for decades, patients often miss out on the timeframe to file a claim. However, some states allow this timeframe to begin after a diagnosis. This allows patients the time to contact an attorney and begin the legal proceedings. A local lawyer can tell you more about such statutes.
In many cases, asbestos manufacturers have since declared bankruptcy. Luckily, most of these corporations set up trust funds to pay compensation to victims with legitimate claims.
In 2004, the Fairness in Asbestos Injury Resolution Act was introduced to Congress. This 242-page document contained specific information related to the mesothelioma claims process, medical requirements, no-fault compensation, medical monitoring and payout amounts. The purpose of the act was to create a publicly administered fund for victims and to help prevent the court system from being clogged with litigation. Congress determined that even limited exposure to asbestos could cause a variety of lung diseases, including mesothelioma, as evidenced by the growing number of injured individuals each year.
The legislative process was not without its critics. A number of individuals seeking compensation argued that the funding, while reimbursing them for their medical expenses and suffering, would have prevented them from suing at a later date. Some senators expressed distaste at the amount victims would receive as compensation; sufferers with a 15-year exposure history were entitled to no more than $25,000. Some even accused Congress of trying to create a bailout plan for the asbestos manufacturing industry.
In the end, the bill never made it past the Senate. A second attempt was made in 2006 but was again met with criticism. In recent years, class-action lawsuits and private corporate trust funds for former employees have been the most common source of mesothelioma compensation.
Lawyers who specialize in tort litigation or large-scale lawsuits are often consulted in mesothelioma compensation cases. A number of websites are devoted to lawyers who focus on such litigation as well as organizations that recommend these individuals. If victims are concerned about the validity of such recommendations, they should contact the local state bar association. It can offer information on pro bono, tort and low-cost legal aid.