Asbestos exposure isn’t sufficient for a viable lawsuit, even though the fibers are potentially cancer-causing. As part of the lawsuit, you need to show asbestos affected you and that the defendants sued should compensate you. Without an impact you can document, your case will be dismissed.
You Need Not Have Lung Cancer or Mesothelioma to Seek Compensation
You don’t have to be fatally ill or even diagnosed with asbestos-related lung cancer or mesothelioma to have a valid lawsuit. It may be enough to have pleural plaques.
In your chest are two thin layers of cells, the pleura or pleural membrane, according to Asthma + Lung UK. The inner one covers your lungs, while the other lines the inside of your rib cage. If you’re exposed to asbestos, areas of the pleura can become thickened. These areas are pleural plaques.People with pleural disease caused by exposure to asbestos may be able to function well despite the condition, but they’re at increased risk for lung cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Another, more serious asbestos-related effect on your body is asbestosis. This is a condition where it’s tough to breathe because you inhaled asbestos fibers, which scarred and inflamed your lungs. Those with asbestosis also face a higher risk of lung cancer, especially if they smoked in the past.
In Carroll v. Owens Corning (2000), the Kentucky Supreme Court, held that someone diagnosed with asbestosis could sue for compensation if he or she was diagnosed with a non-malignant disease and his or her fear of developing cancer.
When Should I File a Lawsuit?
Kentucky’s statute of limitations is one year. If you want to seek recovery for your injuries and fear of cancer, it must be filed within a year of when you learned or reasonably should have learned, that your injury is asbestos-related. That usually happens when you’re diagnosed.
In Carroll, the plaintiff developed asbestosis and didn’t file a legal action within a year. He did file a lawsuit within a year after his lung cancer diagnosis eight years later.
A federal trial judge agreed with the defendant that the plaintiff should’ve filed after his asbestosis diagnosis because that’s when he learned asbestos caused him harm. The Kentucky Supreme Court held that ruling violated state tort law.
‘…while Kentucky has never been a “two disease” state (which would allow for recovery following the discovery of each disease), because asbestosis and lung cancer are separate and distinct diseases, both arising from asbestos exposure, Kentucky’s one-year statute of limitations should not bar (plaintiff’s) cancer claim simply because (James) Carroll (the plaintiff) did not pursue a potential claim for the fear or the enhanced risk of developing cancer following an asbestosis diagnosis seven years earlier. Splitting causes of action inherently implies more than one action; nothing is split when only one action is brought. While Carroll’s claim for asbestosis is time-barred, (defendant) concedes that such claim was waived, as was any claim for the increased risk or fear of further asbestosis disease…This case does not turn so much on the rule against splitting causes of action, but more on pinpointing when a cause of action accrues in cases involving multiple diseases brought on by the same toxic agent…
…Unlike traditional torts, those involving toxic substances include a cause of injury that is difficult to trace, a period of exposure which is longer and more varied, harms more susceptible to misdiagnosis, and a greater number of victims…because of the latency of the diseases, statutes of limitations force plaintiffs to go to court before they have all the facts about their illness. Often the claimant must move forward before there has been a definitive diagnosis of likely injury from the exposure to asbestos.
When James Carroll was diagnosed with asbestosis in 1983, he should not have been obligated to predict cancer, nor should he be penalized for suing for the greater, more provable damage, rather than taking up judicial resources attempting to prove the ephemeral damages covered by “enhanced risk or fear of cancer.” Because of the length of time between the diagnoses of these two diseases, it is possible that an asbestosis suit could have been filed and adjudicated before he ever knew he had cancer, leaving him no direct remedy for the more serious disease.’
You can file within a year of learning of your asbestos-related disease. If your case settles or you’re successful at a trial, you’ll recover compensation. But if the legal action is resolved and you later develop lung cancer or mesothelioma, you can’t file a second lawsuit because of the additional harm. If a new condition develops while your claim is pending, it can be updated to reflect your current health.
No matter your situation, we can discuss your health, your legal rights, and the right strategy to obtain the most compensation possible.
Get Help If You’ve Been Diagnosed With an Asbestos-Related Disease
At Satterley & Kelley, we have extensive experience helping people injured by asbestos at work, through a product, or from secondary exposure at home. To get help today, contact us at 855-385-9532 or schedule a free consultation.