Most personal injury lawsuits are subject to a statute of limitations…meaning, you probably can’t sue someone because you were injured in a slip and fall accident on their property 30 years ago. But what if your injury was caused by exposure to a substance that takes decades to wreak havoc on the body? Consider asbestos. This deadly substance, commonly used in building and construction for decades, was all-but-banned after it was discovered that exposure could cause serious health problems.
Further complicating asbestos-related lawsuits is the fact that it can take more than 20 years for deadly diseases like asbestosis or mesothelioma to be diagnosed. In many instances, once a disease like mesothelioma has been diagnosed, the patient’s long-term prognosis is not good. But even if decades have passed, it may not be too late to file a lawsuit. A Boston injury lawyer can help you determine your options if you have an asbestos-related health condition.
In addition to the length of time it may take for asbestos-related health problems to become apparent, it is also difficult to pinpoint exactly when and where the exposure occurred. And even if the exposure can be traced to a certain period of time – while working for a contractor, for example – that company may no longer be in business. For all of these reasons, courts have made several exceptions for asbestos claimants with regard to statutes of limitations and obtaining compensation from now-defunct past employers.
The ‘Discovery Rule’
Since the landmark asbestos case, Borel v. Fiberboard Paper Prods. Corp. in 1973, the courts have used the discovery rule when hearing cases related to asbestos exposure. Borel, an industrial insulation worker, was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 1970, more than 33 years after he first began working with the carcinogenic substance. The defendants in the case tried to argue that the statute of limitations should have prevented Borel from bringing a lawsuit against them, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit didn’t agree. The Court determined that the statute of limitations for certain cases involving exposure to dangerous substances would not begin until “the effects of such exposures manifest themselves.” This is known as the discovery rule and it’s used across the board when applying statutes of limitations to cases involving asbestos exposure.
But what if the company responsible for your asbestos exposure is bankrupt? No, you can’t sue a bankrupt company…but there is good news. Many asbestos production companies that filed bankruptcy were forced to create asbestos funds prior to filing. Although the compensation you receive from this type of fund may be less than if the company was still active, it can still be enough to offset medical expenses, lost wages, and other associated costs. A MA injury lawyer can help you determine if a past employer set up an asbestos fund.
Do I Have Mesothelioma?
Signs of this aggressive form of cancer may not appear for years, even decades. If you have any of the symptoms below, it may be in your best interest to consult with your health care provider as soon as possible.
- Dry cough
- Shortness of breath
- Respiratory problems
- Pain in the chest
- Pain in the abdomen
- Night sweats
- Pleural effusion (fluid that forms around the lungs)
- Muscle weakness
Altman & Altman, LLP – Mesothelioma Injury Law Firm Serving Boston and the Surrounding Areas
If you have been diagnosed with asbestosis, mesothelioma, or any other asbestos-related health condition, the skilled legal team at Altman & Altman, LLP can help. We have been helping victims of asbestos exposure get the compensation they deserve for decades. Our experienced, knowledgeable attorneys will thoroughly evaluate the details of your case to determine the best legal strategy, and we will be by your side throughout the entire process. If you have been harmed, we can help. Contact Altman & Altman, LLP today for a free and confidential consultation about your case.