People who are diagnosed with health problems such as mesothelioma, an aggressive form of cancer, may be entitled to compensation from companies that manufactured asbestos. Exposure to asbestos is strongly associated with malignant mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis, a chronic scarring of the lung.
A new report by the General Accounting Office, a government agency, estimates that 27 million to 100 million people in the United States have been exposed to asbestos with peak usage of the mineral fiber occurring around 1973. During the 20th century, asbestos was widely used in commercial and household applications because of its insulating and flame-retardant properties. Many workers had an occupational hazard of asbestos exposure.
The GAO report notes that as early as 1900, asbestos was recognized as a cause of occupational disease. By 1960, the link between asbestos and mesothelioma—a cancer of the lining of the lungs, chest and abdomen—was established, the government report says. Even so, manufacturers continued to sell asbestos and allow people to be harmed by asbestos products.
Mesothelioma was not recorded as a separate cause of death on death certificates until 1999 and is still not recorded as a cause of death in all states. That suggests that the number of deaths due to mesothelioma has likely been undercounted. Approximately 2,500 to 3,000 people die of mesothelioma each year in the U.S, according to federal health researchers.
Asbestos manufacturers are liable for the harm caused by exposure to asbestos products because the manufacturers knew or should have foreseen the dangers of asbestos, but failed to disclosed them. Many asbestos manufacturers have created asbestos personal injury trust funds to compensate victims of mesothelioma and asbestos disease. Since 1988, 60 trust funds have been established. According to the GAO analysis, the asbestos trusts have paid about 3.3 million claims valued at about $17.5 billion dollars. In 2010, the trusts paid 461,000 claims totaling $3 billion.
A mesothelioma victim in New York may work with an experienced mesothelioma attorney to submit to an asbestos personal injury trust a claim with supporting documents showing evidence of exposure to asbestos products and diagnosis of a specific disease. A knowledgeable New York mesothelioma lawyer will have records of many employers that used asbestos. The trust may make the mesothelioma victim an offer of compensation that is a percentage of the full value of the claim. A knowledgeable mesothelioma lawyer can offer advice on legal options including accepting the offer or filing a personal injury lawsuit seeking the full value of the harm suffered.