Latest Developments in Asbestos Litigation
Asbestos exposes people to carcinogenic health risks when it becomes airborne. Despite warnings and efforts to ban the use of asbestos, it remains legal in the United States. Many who have a suffered severe illness or mourned the loss of loved ones from asbestos-related diseases have instituted litigation against the companies responsible for its manufacture and use. This article highlights the latest asbestos litigation developments.
What Makes Asbestos So Dangerous?
Asbestos is an extremely fibrous mineral and mining, milling, processing, or use of asbestos and its products create many small fibers. These small fibers can easily pass through the body’s natural defenses and become embedded in soft tissues surrounding organs, particularly the lungs. Common asbestos-related diseases caused by asbestos exposure include asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma.
Is Asbestos Litigation Coming To A Close?
By the early 2000s, most asbestos-containing thermal insulation companies and mine owners had filed bankruptcy and set up trusts to handle compensation of those with asbestos claims. Since the last asbestos mine was closed in 2002, some people believe that asbestos exposure and asbestos injury, and litigation should be ending. Unfortunately, asbestos continues to be a problem and will be for quite some time for three critical reasons.
1. Asbestos-Caused Illnesses May Take Years to Develop
The latency period between initial asbestos exposure and disease development can span decades, so many do not immediately connect their illness with asbestos exposure. Those exposed in the 1960s and 1970s are now just being diagnosed with mesothelioma or lung cancer because of the long latency period between and disease progression. For mesothelioma claims filed in 2019, the average first date of exposure to an asbestos-containing product was 1962.
2. Asbestos Is Still Being Used in The U.S.
While the U.S. has stopped mining asbestos in 2002, = it is imported from countries that still mine asbestos such as Russia and China.Asbestos is still used in some building materials and friction products such as automobile parts. Many older buildings and products still contain asbestos.
3. Asbestos Cannot Be Completely Removed
In some areas, such as old buildings, the removal process would disturb the asbestos, causing it to be airborne, putting everyone in the surrounding area at risk. In such cases, certified contractors encapsulated the contaminated area. However, older buildings can deteriorate and may have to be demolished, creating a threat all over again.
Is the Number Of Asbestos Litigation Cases Decreasing?
From 2017 to 2019, a total of 12,664 asbestos claims were filed. Over the last several years, filings have increased at a rate of 2percent per year. Approximately $1.7B in awards were made from 2017 to 2019.
As of 2019, there were a total of 4,062 case claims filed for the year for asbestos-related illness, of which 2,121 case claims filed were for mesothelioma. The median age for those who filed claims for mesothelioma was 74.
How Has Continued Asbestos Litigation Affected Claimants?
More than 50 years of lawsuits with large awards paid to claimants have taken their toll on the trusts set up by companies forced into bankruptcy. Facing numerous future claims with unknown award values, the trusts have paid out claims at only a few cents on the dollar.
Anyone diagnosed with mesothelioma should contact Goldberg Persky and White P.C. today. We have experience in dealing with mesothelioma claims to make sure you are fairly compensated.
“Hearing before the Committee on the Judiciary U.S. Senate 177th Congress” (2002). [Link]
Berkowit Ben “The Long, Lethal Shadow of Asbestos” Reuters (2012). [Link]
“Asbestos Litigation: 2019 Year in Review” KCIC Industry Report (2019). [Link]