The widespread use of asbestos in industry during the 20th century and afterward exposed millions of American men, women, and children to the carcinogenic (cancer-causing) mineral asbestos. Many of these people developed asbestos-related illnesses, including asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma. The legal backlash against the companies that mined, used, or produced asbestos products turned asbestos litigation into one of the largest mass torts in US history.
Asbestos Litigation Overview
Over the years, hundreds of thousands of plaintiffs have filed individual and class-action asbestos lawsuits against thousands of defendants. The costs of these lawsuits is estimated in the hundreds of billions of dollars, a number that continues to grow each year.
The sheer volume of asbestos litigation has placed a great burden on the legal system and led to various attempts at legislative reform, including the Fairness in Asbestos Compensation Act, passed in 1999.
Evaluating Your Legal Options
If you or someone you love is suffering from an asbestos-related illness, taking legal action may be an option, depending on the circumstances of the case.
Determining the target of an asbestos or mesothelioma lawsuit is very important and often very difficult. Because your exposure to asbestos likely occurred decades ago, tracing the chain of liability can be difficult. Of the companies that used asbestos during the early- and mid-20th century, many have gone out of out of business; others have been acquired by other firms or have split up into several entities. Furthermore, because most defendant companies are insured, you and your attorney may have to consider filing a case against the insurer as well.
Filing a lawsuit is not the right choice for everyone. Only a qualified attorney can help you decide whether or not a legal claim is in your best interests.