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A closer look at asbestos lawsuits and injury claims

Millions of people have been sickened by asbestos for many years now. Because its use was not regulated until the late 1980s, people working around the toxic fiber up until that point were often unprotected and unaware of the risks of exposure. While companies did little to protect workers back then, some are wasting no expense now when it comes to denying the claims from injured workers and challenging the cases against negligent employers.

When it comes to asbestos litigation, there are a number of obstacles that victims may experience. To begin with, people affected by asbestos were often exposed at many sites, year after year. People were exposed and sickened before the Internet and digital documentation was available, making it difficult to secure precise medical and employment records. Because of this, it is not uncommon for a person to have holes in their evidence and errors in their documentation.

This should not dissuade a person from holding a negligent company accountable. There are essentially two ways that people can go when it comes to pursuing compensation. They can file a claim with a trust or sue a solvent company. Many of these companies no longer exist after being crumbled by the weight of asbestos lawsuits against them. In many cases, trusts are set up when a company declares bankruptcy, but the money in these trusts is dwindling. While it can be a little easier to secure financial compensation from a trust because there are fewer requirements for evidence, payouts are often smaller.

In cases when person sues a company that is not bankrupt, they can be awarded a much higher amount in court. However, these court cases can be more difficult because a person can be cross-examined and evidence is often closely scrutinized.

No matter which route a victim goes when it comes to pursuing compensation from a negligent company, it is important to remember that it is a victim's right to do so. Many parties will make accusations of fraud when it comes to asbestos claims, but the reality is that it can be a complicated process. Errors are not evidence of fraud and most cases involving asbestos-related diseases are very complex. It can therefore be crucial for victims to work with an attorney who understand this process and can help a person secure the compensation he or she deserves.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "As Asbestos Claims Rise, So Do Worries About Fraud," Dionne Searcey and Rob Barry, March 11, 2013

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