People all over the country have suffered from illnesses related to exposure to asbestos. In North Carolina alone, too many people have died or lost loved ones from mesothelioma, asbestosis and other tragic illnesses. It has long been an issue that millions of people have been faced with and one that people will continue to deal with for many more years.
One of the most frustrating aspects of being diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness is the challenges that many workers will face as they pursue compensation and financial support from a negligent party. Companies will do whatever they can to avoid taking responsibility for a worker’s job-related illness, but it is important to remember that many people have been able to successfully pursue compensation from an employer if they have developed a work-related illness caused by asbestos exposure.
Until recently, victims of asbestos-related diseases in another state were routinely coming up against a significant legal obstacle when they filed a claim against an employer. In Pennsylvania, many workers who had developed a disease after being exposed to asbestos were prohibited from suing an employer. This is because there was a provision in the state’s Workers’ Compensation Act that set a limit on the number of weeks that a victim of an occupational disease had to file a claim after exposure.
That limit was 300 weeks, which is less than six years. But as many people know, symptoms of asbestos-related illnesses may not show up for 10, 20 or even 50 years after exposure.
This provision was keeping many victims from suing a former employer responsible for their exposure to the toxic material. However, the state Supreme Court recently made an important ruling that may have a dramatic impact on asbestos victims. According to reports, people who have suffered “late-manifesting industrial diseases like mesothelioma” will now be able to file a lawsuit against an employer after the 300-week deadline.
The ruling reflects the unique challenges that asbestos victims face. For decades, people were working in dangerous environments with little or no protection from toxins. And their situation only got worse when they learned many years later that they have developed a serious illness because of that exposure. But it is moves like this one that make it a little easier for victims to pursue the financial support and compensation they may desperately need.
Source: Surviving Mesothelioma, “Mesothelioma Victims’ Victory in Pennsylvania,” Dec. 9, 2013