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The business of asbestos lawsuits

Victims of an asbestos-related disease no doubt experience some very difficult and trying emotions from the moment they are diagnoses. They are often angry, confused, sad, frightened and often determined to hold the party responsible for their illness accountable.

But as many victims realize, the companies responsible for exposure and those who should be paying out compensation to the people hurt by this negligence are not driven by emotions. Rather, many of them are focused on nothing more than protecting their bottom lines and avoiding their financial responsibility for the injury or wrongful death of the victims who have gotten sick because of exposure to asbestos. 

This practice of holding off on paying out asbestos claims is a strategy known as "delay or deny until they die." Companies will often engage in this practice because they know that a victim on the stand can be awarded more money from a jury. To avoid this, companies drag out proceedings. 

In one recent case that is unfortunately much too common, a woman who was diagnosed with mesothelioma passed away before she could secure the much-needed compensation she deserved. It wasn't until one year after the 56-year-old woman passed away that her claim was paid out.

There are some enormous and global companies who engage in these underhanded -- and often illegal -- tactics of purposely drawing out asbestos litigation. In some instances, a court finds that these delays and refusal to pay out claims promptly can result in additional allegations of bad faith.

Another reason that companies will try and delay making these payouts because they are actually generating a profit on the money they will eventually pay to asbestos victims. The longer they can hold on to this money, the more money they can make off of it.

It can be very difficult to understand all the legal challenges that can come up in the course of an asbestos lawsuit. But victims and their families can work with an attorney who understands this process and can work to get them the compensation they deserve in a timely manner. If a company tries to slow down the payment of a claim, an attorney can also hold them accountable for acting in bad faith, which could result in additional compensation. 

Source: Scripps News, "Berkshire Hathaway subsidiaries deny, delay asbestos, hazard claims, suits, insiders allege," Mark Greenblatt, Oct. 6, 2013

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