While it’s no secret that mesothelioma litigation has become a staple of civil law today and that its prevalence seems to be continually on the rise, understanding this wide-reaching legal phenomenon requires a familiarization with its key players, as well as the setting and basis from which it has grown. To break down the field as a whole, let’s look at three basic elements: the who, the when and the why. The following three sections of this blog will do just that, with the overall intention of bringing a comprehensive understanding of mesothelioma litigation and its role in the asbestos health crisis of the 21st century and beyond.
Who: Claimants, Defendants and Legal Professionals
Claimants are the individuals that bring a mesothelioma lawsuit to the jurisdictionally appropriate civil court or, in some cases, multiple courts. Defendants, on the other side of the legal table, are parties or entities (usually businesses or corporate trusts left by now-defunct businesses) being named in that aforementioned lawsuit.
The legal professional who represents the claimant in asbestos-related personal injury litigation is often referred to as an asbestos attorney. This type of board-licensed lawyer specializes in cases of individuals who have been negligently and unknowingly exposed to asbestos—a highly toxic carcinogen—and developed mesothelioma or another related illness as a result.
When: The Scope of Mesothelioma Litigation in the Late Twenty-First Century through Today
A predominant question regarding asbestos injury litigation is: why now, and why at such a seemingly sudden high rate of occurrence? The answer to that question has to do with two facts about asbestos.
The first is that asbestos was not routinely nor frequently used until after the Industrial Revolution, with its usage in manufacturing a variety of consumer products steadily increasing throughout the turn of the previous century and finally peaking in the decades between the 1940s and 1970s. Therefore, most people who experienced high rates of exposure to asbestos did so predominantly during the last 50 to 75 years or so.
Secondly, the latency period between exposure to asbestos and the appearance of its related health conditions is generally anywhere from 20 to 50 years or more. As such, most cases of asbestos-related illnesses began occurring during the late-1980s through the 1990s and so forth.
Why: Basic Liability Issues that Mesothelioma Litigation Seeks to Resolve
The purpose of filing a lawsuit against businesses that manufactured or installed asbestos products, which later caused innocent and unknowing victims of exposure to become ill, is simple. It is now known that most all of those businesses were privy to knowledge concerning the dangers of human exposure to asbestos but continued to expose the general public regardless. Those businesses effectively placed their own profits and monetary success over the safety of millions of Americans.
Now, by filing a claim against those liable entities, victims can seek compensatory damages—funds that may pay for their medical care needs and the needs of their dependents after they are gone. Through mesothelioma litigation, victims of negligent asbestos exposure have an opportunity to hold those responsible at fault for their injuries and also regain some financial losses related to resulting illness.