In 2005, the Florida Asbestos and Silica Compensation Fairness Act became law and fundamentally changed asbestos claim rules in that state. Plaintiffs now face new requirements when litigating asbestos claims. The changes in the Florida asbestos claim rules are important for both plaintiffs and defendants because they can dramatically change the outcome of an asbestos case. Therefore, it is important for all parties litigating asbestos claims to understand the new law and to hire an asbestos attorney.
Fundamental Elements of the 2005 Florida Asbestos and Silica Compensation Act
The 2005 Florida Asbestos and Silica Compensation Act:
- Changed the liability rules for asbestos sellers. Before this law was enacted, asbestos sellers were strictly liable for asbestos related injuries. Under the new law, asbestos sellers are only liable if the plaintiff is able to prove that the seller’s actions (or inactions) caused the plaintiff’s injuries;
- Requires many plaintiffs to prove that they suffer a physical impairment because of an asbestos related disease. What the court may consider proof of a physical impairment is very specifically described in the act and doctors must find, and attest, to certain things in writing before an impairment will be found. An exception is made for patients who suffer from mesothelioma, a dangerous cancer that is almost always caused by asbestos exposure.
- Changes the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations know begins running when a plaintiff should have discovered that the asbestos victim was suffering a physical impairment related to an asbestos disease; and
- Prohibits punitive damages from being awarded in asbestos cases.
Litigation over the Elements of the 2005 Florida Asbestos and Silica Compensation Act
One of the major issues that is still being litigated in Florida, is what happens to the approximately 6,000 asbestos cases that were pending in state court at the time that the 2005 law was enacted. Florida Courts of Appeals have issued conflicting opinions about whether the pending cases should have to comply with the requirements of the 2005 law and the matter will be resolved by the Florida Supreme Court where it is currently pending.
Help From an Asbestos Attorney
It is always important to hire an attorney when you are bringing a legal claim that is related to your health or you are defending against a potentially large verdict. However, the recent changes in Florida asbestos law make it even more important for both plaintiffs and defendants to seek the assistance of Florida asbestos attorneys.