The risks of asbestos exposure have been known for decades. However, people haven't always taken the necessary safety precautions when there is risk of exposure; some still do not.
In some cases, this is because they don't know asbestos is present. In other cases, parties knowingly covered up the presence of asbestos. There are also cases where workers knew about asbestos but did not have adequate protection from exposure.
Under any of these circumstances, people can inhale or ingest asbestos fibers and later develop deadly illnesses as a result.
Parties accused of negligence
For instance, a man recently filed a lawsuit against several parties including a third-party claim against The Dow Chemical Co. He accuses them of unnecessary and negligent inclusion of asbestos in their products. The man says that starting in 1964 and throughout his career, he was exposed to the harmful material in their products.
In 2017, doctors diagnosed him with lung cancer, an illness that asbestos exposure can cause or exacerbate. The man is seeking more than $50,000 in damages from the parties he argues are responsible for his wrongful exposure.
Building an asbestos claim
People often face obstacles when they pursue an asbestos-related claim. First, because of how long it can take for illnesses to develop, it can be difficult to track back several years to identify the source of exposure. In the case described above, the diagnosis didn't occur until more than 50 years after the initial exposure, which is not uncommon. In Illinois, the statute of limitations for such claims begins with diagnosis - not exposure - making it considerably longer than a comparable workers' comp claim.
It can also be a challenge to identify the negligent party, whether it was a product manufacturer or someone else. In limited exposure cases, there often end up being two claims: a workers' comp claim against the employer and a claim against a third-party manufacturer (Dow Chemical Co. in the case above).
That said, these obstacles do not make it impossible to pursue a claim seeking accountability and compensation. And in fact, there are numerous resources available that can make it easier for people to identify companies that engaged in negligent or reckless behaviors regarding asbestos. There is also information on the numerous specific products known to have put people in danger.
As such, parties affected by asbestos-related illnesses can and should discuss their case with a knowledgeable attorney. An experienced legal representative can help injured parties access and utilize the appropriate resources, help them connect the dots and seek available legal remedies.
Given the complicated nature of laws related to asbestos claims, it is very important to work with an attorney with extensive experience in this area. In cases involving asbestos exposure, we always encourage our clients to talk to a third-party attorney who focuses their practice on asbestos-related claims.