Asbestos cases are very difficult to prosecute for a variety of reasons. Your case should only be handled by an experienced asbestos law firm. Here are some of the reasons that make asbestos cases complicated.
1. Asbestos diseases are characterized by a long latency period from the time of exposure until an asbestos disease such as asbestosis, lung cancer or mesothelioma develops. Generally it takes more than 25 to 30 years from the time of one’s exposure to asbestos until a diagnosis of cancer or mesothelioma. As a result, the evidence that you will need to prove your case involves historic facts and that often involves locating witnesses and, where possible, documentation from decades ago. Generally a firm with experience in the field maintains historical information relating to different jobsites where asbestos was used and employees who may have sustained similar exposures. Recreating a history of exposure to asbestos-containing materials can be a long and difficult process, but an experienced law firm will know all the right questions to ask and the sources of information to utilize to accurately demonstrate historic exposures.
2. Asbestos cases require expert witnesses to perform a variety of tasks to prove your case, including confirming the diagnosis of an asbestos-related disease and linking historic exposures to the development of the disease. Depending on the nature of your case, an experienced firm will enlist the assistance of experts in various fields including pulmonology, pathology, occupational disease, industrial hygiene, molecular biology, economic loss, and experts with state-of-the-art knowledge regarding the hazards of asbestos. All of these are specialized fields and a skilled attorney will be familiar with the information each expert requires to formulate his or her opinions and will also be ready to cross-examine the opposing side’s experts on their opinions.
3. Many of the companies that manufactured asbestos products, particularly thermal insulation materials, have filed for bankruptcy protection from asbestos lawsuits over the last two decades. The first such bankruptcy involved Johns Manville which filed for bankruptcy protection in 1982. As a result of all of these filings, bankruptcy trusts have been established for many – but not all – of the bankrupt companies. Navigating the bankruptcy trust world can be complicated and an experienced firm will have persons trained in how to prosecute claims through the trusts. The effect of the bankruptcies also leads to more work in connection with any lawsuit against the non-bankrupt entities that share in liability for an injury as those companies will seek to blame your disease on exposures to bankrupt companies’ products.
4. In recent years the legal defenses raised by asbestos manufacturers and distributors have grown more prevalent. An experienced asbestos firm must recognize these defenses in advance and be prepared to counter them. This involves careful preparation and can also involve substantial legal briefing. It is not uncommon for a plaintiff to have to address dozens of motions filed by the defendants in the course of a single case. Familiarity with the legal issues is critical to the proper prosecution of a claim.
These are just some of the reasons why asbestos cases are complex and should be handled by a mesothelioma lawsuit Maryland lawyer with experience in the field.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Brown, Gould, & Kiely LLC for their insight into asbestos lawsuits.