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Asbestos injury claims mounting; $11 billion more anticipated

Exposure to asbestos has caused devastating injuries and even death for thousands of people. There have already been payments from insurers on such personal injury and wrongful death claims in North Carolina and nationwide which have totaled $51 billion to date. The insurers covering relevant claims set aside another $23 billion for pending and anticipated claims. Now a report from an insurance industry rating firm has indicated that claims are actually likely to ultimately cost an additional $11 billion on top of that.

Given that, it is essential for those seeking compensation for asbestos-related illnesses to have legal representation when pursuing claims against an insurance company or a third party such as a manufacturer or premises owner. If the amount set aside to handle the claims is not adequate to cover the actual damages caused by exposure to asbestos, it is all too likely that the defendants in these lawsuits will try to get out of paying victims the compensation for their losses and the financial support that they deserve and need.

Asbestos was, at one time, extremely common and popular as a building material and was used in a vast number of products. Its properties were highly valued for use as insulation and resistance to fires. For decades now, however, it has been clear that it poses an unacceptable risk to human health, causing mesothelioma, asbestosis and other deadly diseases, some of whose symptoms may not appear for years but then wreak havoc with a person's lungs and breathing passages.

In addition to liability for exposure over the years, people are still being newly exposed to asbestos when it is removed from demolished buildings and disposed of in unsafe and illegal ways. This means that people will continue to suffer from the effects of asbestos for decades.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "Insurers May Face $11 Billion More in Asbestos Claims," Erik Holm, Dec. 17, 2012

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