For the thousands of innocent victims affected by asbestos exposure each year, it’s important to know that recourse is possible and legal help is available. Perhaps most importantly, asbestos exposure victims should know that they do not have to be in a financial position to afford legal representation-for valid, qualifying cases, legal fees are paid out of the settlement or trial award received, not the victim’s pocket.
Most people who are diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related illness-including other types of cancers, asbestosis and pleural effusion-did not even realize that they were at risk. This is because most victims of asbestos exposure did not even realize that they had come into contact with what is known to be a highly toxic and dangerous carcinogen.
Fortunately, there is a silver lining of hope for those who have suffered the physical and financial consequences of negligent and/or illegal asbestos exposure. Recourse and compensation is possible via multiple avenues, including toxic tort and workers’ compensation laws as well as well as disability claims through the Social Security Administration and (for veterans) the Department of Veteran Affairs.
PART II: UNDERSTANDING THE TWO PARTS OF MESOTHELIOMA LAW
Mesothelioma law is especially complex, requiring a great deal of knowledge and experience for practicing professionals-and for individuals affected by the disease, the guidance and representation of those expert professionals. Also often called asbestos law, this comprehensive legal subfield can be divided into two different fronts. The first involves regulatory statutes, issued by government bureaus like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA). The second falls under the scope of the civil court system, involving a specific area of personal injury litigation referred to as toxic tort law.
Regulatory Mesothelioma Law
Laws and regulations governing the sale of asbestos-made materials as well as the demolition, containment and clean-up of structures containing asbestos exist at both the federal and state level. Federal agencies-namely OSHA and the EPA-have maintained strict policies, since the 1970s, which are designed to protect both public health and the environment. In 1971, the EPA established asbestos as a hazardous material to be regulated under the scope of the Clean Air Act’s National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP). Individual departments of each state government were then delegated the responsibility of maintaining all NESHAP standards, placing most direct statutory and regulatory control in the hands of state agencies.
Civil Mesothelioma Law
Mesothelioma litigation, which is handled through civil courts around the country, is a subtype of tort law. Even more specifically, it falls under the more narrowed scope of toxic tort law, which covers exposure-based injuries and injuries caused by various identified toxins-others besides asbestos include the pesticide Agent Orange and certain prescription drugs that have been found to cause serious, harmful side effects. Personal injury cases involving negligent and/or illegal asbestos exposure-including those citing mesothelioma as well as other, related conditions like asbestosis-were first brought by victims during the 1970s, peaking in the 1990s, and continuing to arise by the thousands each year.