It has been almost 50 years since the first wave of lawsuits for asbestos exposure began and 40 years since new regulations sharply curtailed the use of asbestos in the workplace. Consequently, one would think that the number of lawsuits would be decreasing. Although the number of lawsuits have decreased from their highest levels, claims have increased in recent years. This is because the wives and children of the original victims are now developing asbestos-related diseases.
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is the name given to a set of six naturally occurring silicate minerals. They are extremely durable and fire resistant and can be woven into fabrics. Consequently, asbestos was widely used in insulation, electrical wiring and heavy construction industries such as shipbuilding during the mid-1900s. The asbestos minerals are extremely small and can be easily inhaled. At the time it was used, workers did not take safety precautions and many of them breathed in large amounts of the mineral.
The Tragic Effects of Asbestos.
Unfortunately, asbestos is now known to be hazardous to human health and no amount of exposure is considered safe. Inhaling asbestos causes mesothelioma, which is a cancer of the lining of the organs and is almost always fatal. Asbestos can also cause lung cancer and asbestosis, which is inflammation of the lungs.
Since the 1970s, many men with mesothelioma (and other asbestos related diseases) who were exposed to asbestos in heavy construction jobs have successfully sued for damages related to their illnesses. Some victims settled for a few thousand dollars whereas others received multi-million dollar verdicts in jury trials. Many asbestos manufacturers and employers went bankrupt due to the lawsuits. Therefore, potential defendants were forced to create victim trust funds so that sick people could recover even after the underlying companies went out of business. Unfortunately, some trust funds have become depleted so that they can only pay cents on the dollar of judgments. Consequently, victim recovery can vary widely.
Wives and Children Becoming Victims
Against this backdrop, it appears that there is now a second group of asbestos victims—the wives and children of the original victims. This is because the men would usually come home with clothing that was covered in asbestos particles. When their wives would do the laundry or if the workers played with their kids prior to washing up, the men exposed their families to asbestos. Obviously, the level of secondary exposure was less than that of the original victim. However, wives and children of original victims are now developing asbestos-related diseases. They are also suing to obtain compensation for their damages and they are winning. Moreover, the average verdict has increased to $10.5 million. In response, insurance companies have had to increase their reserves for these types of cases.
If you or your loved ones have been exposed to asbestos, we encourage you to contact us at 1-800-776-4429 so we can evaluate your claim.