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Tracing back to the source of asbestos exposure

Many people may already be aware that there are some folks who are more likely to have been exposed to asbestos than others. We have discussed how it was not uncommon for shipbuilders, plumbers, construction workers and soldiers in the U.S. Navy to have been exposed to the toxic material. They are often the ones who become victims of an asbestos-related disease later in life.

However, this is not to say that these are the only people who encountered dangerous levels of asbestos at some point. In fact, reports indicate that victims of diseases caused by asbestos are increasingly from a diverse background that may have nothing to do with working construction or installing insulation. Tracing back the source of exposure for these victims can be a challenge, but it is often crucial in order to secure compensation for victims and their families.

For example, one man who developed mesothelioma in 2011 had been a surgeon for years when he learned of his diagnosis. Unlike other victims of diseases caused by asbestos, there was no immediate or certain answer for when or where he had been exposed to asbestos. It took some digging.

Eventually, the man and his attorneys were able to find old photographs and research products that the man remembered using as a child before they were able to pinpoint 29 companies who had manufactured products used by the man and contained asbestos. They took action against each of the companies claiming that their products were at least partially responsible for the man's devastating illness.

After filing the lawsuits, some of the cases were dropped while the man and his family began receiving settlement checks from others. Some are still working their way through the court system. Sadly, this man passed away before all of the cases could be settled, but there may have been some comfort in knowing that his family was being compensated by some of the companies for his disease. 

There is no lawsuit or amount of money that can undo the tragic consequences of asbestos exposure. However, there are ways to hold negligent companies that manufactured asbestos-containing products accountable. It will not be able to undo the damage, but taking legal action against these companies can help victims and their families recover compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering and any future damages that may be experienced. 

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "For One Asbestos Victim, Justice Is a Moving Target," Dionne Searcey, June 16, 2013

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