How to Pursue Compensation for Asbestosis
Asbestos-related diseases are not a novelty in the US, and thousands of claims have been registered in the past years against companies which exposed people to this substance. If you have been diagnosed with asbestosis, here are some basic guidelines to pursue compensation.
What is asbestosis and what causes it?Asbestosis is a condition caused by asbestos exposure. As the asbestos fibers are inhaled, they start causing inflammation of the lungs which finally leads to scarring or fibrosis of the lungs tissue.
It takes a long time for asbestosis to develop. It is a matter of years, in some cases up to 20 or even more, before the first signs show. Some of the most common symptoms are shortness of breath, coughing, fatigue. In time, asbestosis can evolve and lead to life-threatening diseases like lung cancer and mesothelioma.
How does the disease affect patients' lives?Living with asbestosis is difficult because this condition impairs a person's capacity to perform physical activities and live their life as they did before the onset of the disease. Asbestosis causes breathing difficulties that become more severe as the disease progresses. Currently, there is no treatment for asbestosis. Patients are given different types of medication, like oxygen in some instances, to support their lungs function and alleviate symptoms.
Although asbestosis affects patients' life quality, the prognosis is usually good as this condition isn't a cancer form.
Why should you file a claim?Whoever causes a person the physical suffering we briefly referred to in the paragraph above deserves to be punished. Moreover, if the existing laws allow you to bring these people to justice, you should take advantage of the opportunity. Proceeding with a claim is your chance to get compensation for the damage brought to you and your family.
Nowadays, we know for sure that many companies who exposed their employees to asbestos were aware of the potential harm they could cause. All the more reason to want to benefit from your right to be compensated.
How to bring an asbestosis claim?First and foremost, you must be able to provide the exposure proof. From your side, this means the medical evidence that ascertains you suffer from asbestosis.
Secondly, get in touch with a legal representative. There are numerous practice areas, so make sure your attorney is experienced in this particular type of claims because this will increase your chances to reach a favorable outcome.
After you have a preliminary discussion with your lawyer, he or she will start analyzing your case and see if it's strong enough to enable them to file. According to your work history, they'll try to determine who could be responsible for your exposure. Sometimes, the claims are brought against several different companies, or more claimants gather and file against the same defendant. As they reach a conclusion, attorneys will let you know whether you have chances to get compensated if you file a claim.
The legal process can be lengthy and resource-consuming, attorneys, will usually not hesitate in giving you honest feedback about your case's potential.
How much time do I have to file an asbestosis claim?The legal deadline by which you may file a claim is formally known as the statute of limitations. This term varies from state to state and the best way not to miss it is getting legal assistance as soon as you decide you want to file. The statute of limitation starts after the victim is diagnosed. From this date, you usually have around two years to file, depending on the state your court is located in. If the statute of limitation runs, you will most likely lose your right to file, so it's always better to act fast. If the asbestosis evolves and the person is later diagnosed with lung cancer and dies because of this illness, the family members are entitled to file a claim for wrongful death to get compensated. In this case, there are precise time limitations that have to be met as well.
Who will pay the compensation?There are numerous companies in the US which were held liable for asbestos exposure and consequently required to pay large amounts of money to victims or their families. Some of these companies filed for bankruptcy because they were no longer able to pay the liabilities. This protected them against further claims, but at the same time, they were required by law to come up with a reorganization plan. The plans gave way to the foundation of asbestos trusts which are important because this is where compensations are more likely to come from. The trusts handle the compensation assignment according to the regulations provided by a bankruptcy court. A case will be evaluated by the Trust which will look into the victim's condition and classify it according to its severity. The amount of money will depend on the level of damage. During this evaluation phase, victims are required to present various proofs of illness and official documents.
Since asbestosis is not a life-threatening condition like mesothelioma or lung cancer, the sums victims may recover are lower than those assigned to people struggling with the diseases mentioned above. However, asbestosis patients have chances to recover up to several thousand dollars or more. The amounts always vary according to the specific circumstances of each case.
When do I receive the money?If your claim is successful, it will take a while before you start getting the money. Two options grant access to compensation: accepting the settlement offer the defendant might make or going through a legal court trial. The first is a quicker solution often preferred by both parties. The settlement means that the defendant offers to pay an amount of money they consider rightful. Consequently, the claimant will cease the legal action and the case will be closed. Your lawyer will be able to advise you and say whether the offer is a suitable one you should accept.
The second option, going through a trial, will require more time and energy, but if the outcome is positive, you'll get a higher compensation amount.
Most asbestos-related claims settle out of court as both claimants and defendants try to avoid the intricate court procedures.