Asbestos Litigation: A Short Guide


Long-term exposure to asbestos is dangerous. When asbestos fibers are in the air, you can breathe them in, and they can get lodged in your lungs. Over time, as the amount of asbestos in your body increases, you can develop deadly diseases, including mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer.

Litigation can help people who have asbestos-related diseases or who have a loved one who passed away from an asbestos-related illness. With litigation, you may be able to recover the cost of your medical treatment and the wages you lost because you were too sick to work. Litigation is also important because it’s a way to hold companies responsible when they have caused people harm.

Proving an Asbestos Claim

Asbestos builds up in the body over time. Your risk of getting sick from asbestos exposure depends on how often you were in a place where asbestos fibers were in the air and how concentrated the fibers were. Although people can be exposed to asbestos in many places, including at home and at school, workers often have an especially high level of risk. That’s because people who handled or were exposed to asbestos as part of their jobs were exposed to high concentrations of asbestos over long periods of time.

People may not get sick until many years after their exposure. To prove an asbestos claim, an attorney has to gather evidence from the past. The attorney needs to find the place where the exposure happened and then find out which products were used and what companies were responsible. If you are bringing a claim, your attorney may want you to get medical tests conducted by doctors who work with asbestos-related diseases who can provide expert testimony.

Asbestos litigation is complex. Sometimes there are as many as 40 defendants. To bring a successful asbestos claim, you need an experienced attorney who knows how to gather the necessary evidence and navigate through all the difficulties.

The asbestos attorneys at Raynes Lawn Hehmeyer have a track record of success. They recovered $25 million for the Philadelphia School District from asbestos manufacturers, money that the District needed to remediate the asbestos problem in its schools.

A Quick History of Asbestos Litigation

People have been using asbestos in products for thousands of years. For a long time, no one knew that it was dangerous. It wasn’t until the 1920s that researchers started making the connection between long-term exposure to asbestos and diseases that showed up years later.

The first known asbestos claim was in England in 1924. A woman who worked with asbestos in a factory became too sick to keep on working while she was still in her 20s. She tried to get payment from her employer, but the company said it wasn’t responsible. She died a few years later. As far as we know, she never received payment for her injuries. However, her death was not completely in vain because it inspired British lawmakers to start regulating asbestos.

In 1929, there was a case in the United States where about a dozen workers sued a company that manufactured products made with asbestos. That case also was not successful, but it paved the way for similar cases in the future.

Despite these early lawsuits and the scientific evidence connecting asbestos to lung disease, the use of asbestos continued to rise. But by the 1960s, people started paying more attention to the dangers of asbestos exposure.

During this time, changes in the law made it easier for people to sue for asbestos-related illnesses. Workers got more time to file asbestos claims. This was important because it often takes many years after exposure for people to know that they were harmed. New laws also made it easier for people to file class-action lawsuits. Because of these changes, many more claims began to be filed.

Around this time, a man who got sick after working for many years installing insulation sued several companies that made asbestos. The man died before his case ended, but in 1971, a jury awarded $79,000 to his widow. This was the first successful asbestos lawsuit. Many more were to follow.

The number of asbestos lawsuits grew rapidly. There were so many cases that some companies that were sued went bankrupt. As part of their bankruptcy proceedings, the companies had to set up trust funds to pay for future claims of asbestos-related injuries.

These trust funds became important sources of money to pay for asbestos claims. The Johns Manville company created a trust fund in 1988 that has paid out hundreds of millions of dollars to people seeking compensation for asbestos-related diseases. The fund is still making payments now. There are more than 60 similar funds that are still active.

Who Can You Sue for Asbestos-Related Illnesses?

Although many asbestos-related illnesses are the result of on-the-job exposure, you can also be exposed at home, in schools, or in public buildings. If you bring a lawsuit, you may be able to sue companies that mine asbestos or that make products, such as insulation and other building materials, that contain it.

Finding out who can be sued is an important part of an asbestos claim. Investigating the facts in an asbestos lawsuit requires getting evidence of what happened years ago and then identifying which companies were responsible. You need an attorney experienced with asbestos litigation to properly conduct these investigations.

Contact the Asbestos Litigation Team at Raynes Lawn Hehmeyer for a Free Consultation

If you or a loved one have an illness that you think may have been caused by exposure to asbestos, we invite you to call the law firm of Raynes Lawn Hehmeyer at 1-800-535-1797 for a free consultation. Our experienced asbestos legal team is dedicated to helping our clients get the justice and compensation they deserve for the suffering that asbestos-related diseases cause. We would be glad to answer your questions, evaluate your case, and discuss what the law can do for you and what your options are now.

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