Asbestos litigation makes up one of the largest subsets of claims in the field of personal injury law. In fact, it represents the longest running mass tort in our country’s history. In the past 50 years, there have been hundreds of thousands of individual and class action asbestos lawsuits filed in the United States.
By 2002, approximately 730,000 people had filed asbestos lawsuits against more than 8,400 businesses in an attempt to receive compensation for illnesses they developed from asbestos exposure. Between 2002 and 2009, several hundred additional asbestos lawsuits have been filed, and the number of claims has been increasing steadily every year.
One of the main reasons for the recent increase in the number of asbestos lawsuits is the lag time between asbestos exposure and the development of an asbestos-related condition, such as mesothelioma. Often, it takes decades to get sick after asbestos exposure. As a result, people exposed to the toxic substance 30, 40, and 50 years ago are first getting sick now.
The Complexities of Asbestos Litigation
There are many factors which make asbestos claims highly complex. The high volume of asbestos lawsuits filed each year has resulted in the need to spread these cases out in various federal and state jurisdictions. Some claims must be filed in federal court, while some are filed in state courts. Since most asbestos claims are filed against more than one defendant, your lawyer will need to strategically evaluate which court will give you the best likelihood of a successful outcome.
Since it takes such a long time for an illness to develop following exposure to asbestos, your asbestos attorney will need to have extensive knowledge of the issues surrounding asbestos claims in order to successfully prove fault. This takes a great deal of skill and experience.
Furthermore, many mining companies and product manufacturers using asbestos have filed bankruptcy in order to gain protection from losing all of their assets through asbestos lawsuits. The high quantity of companies filing bankruptcy in order to receive financial protection from asbestos litigation has resulted in the creation of a trust fund by many of these corporations. This trust fund will be used to compensate victims who have filed asbestos claims. Some of these trust funds are very well endowed, and contain as much as $1 billion. Often, your asbestos attorney may have to file a claim directly with the trust fund as well as with the company responsible for your injuries.
In order to ensure that your claim is handled properly, it is crucial that you work with an attorney who specializes in handling asbestos claims. The company responsible for your injuries will have highly experienced asbestos attorneys working hard to minimize your damage award. By working with an experienced asbestos lawyer, you will level the playing field.