New Rules on Asbestos Claims

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Certain types of illnesses, including mesothelioma and asbestosis, are almost always caused by exposure to asbestos. Asbestos was a popular product, despite its known dangers for many years in the United States. Many workers, and their families, were regularly exposed to asbestos during their employment in certain industries including the maritime and construction industries.  While the use of asbestos has been greatly reduced since the 1980s, many people continue to get sick because asbestos related diseases typically take 20 -50 years to show symptoms. 

The enactment of new asbestos statutes, such as the 2005 Florida Asbestos and Silica Compensation Fairness Act, has had an important impact on the recovery of asbestos patients.  For many years, asbestos claims were tried as product liability, personal injury, or wrongful death lawsuits.  New asbestos statutes, however, protects defendants from the expense of defending unwarranted claims and protects plaintiffs by allowing those with serious injuries to recover damages more quickly.

New Asbestos Laws for Claims

Benefits for Plaintiffs

Statutes, such as the 2005 Florida Asbestos and Silica Compensation Fairness Act, generally help plaintiffs by:

  • Extending the statute of limitations.  The statute of limitations will now begin to run when the plaintiff shows signs or symptoms of physical impairment and not when the plaintiff knew about the condition; and
  • Allowing victims who have been truly hurt by asbestos faster access to the courts and damages by weeding out unwarranted cases.

Benefits for Defendants

Defendants are also protected by new asbestos laws.  Specifically, the laws typically:

  • Prohibit punitive damages;
  • Eliminate strict liability for asbestos manufacturers; and
  • Establish specific medical criteria that must be met before a plaintiff can recover damages.

In addition to Florida, other states, including Georgia, Texas and Ohio, have passed laws that are similar to Florida’s 2005 asbestos law. However, an effort to pass legislation on the federal level has been unsuccessful so far.  The last asbestos bill to be seriously considered by Congress was the Fairness in Asbestos Injury Resolution Act (FAIR) in 2004, 2005, and 2006, but that bill never made it out of committee.

Help From an Asbestos Attorney

New asbestos laws represent a fundamental change in the way that asbestos cases are handled for both plaintiffs and defendants.  It is, therefore, important for both plaintiffs and defendants to seek the advice of an asbestos lawyer before filing or responding to an asbestos claim.

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