What Types of Defendants May Be Named in an Asbestos Lawsuit?
If you’re considering filing an asbestos-related suit because you or a loved one has been affected by or has died from mesothelioma, you’re probably wondering who might be named in such a suit. After all, in many cases, it’s been years or even decades since the asbestos exposure occurred and it’s difficult to ascertain whose negligence may have been responsible for the development of this aggressive form of cancer. That’s where a knowledgeable attorney comes into play. He/she can steer clients in the right direction when it comes to determining how to proceed.
Naming Culpable Parties, Who’s Responsible?
In an asbestos related lawsuit, the following defendants may be named:
• Asbestos product manufacturers (still solvent)
• Bankrupt companies that once manufactured asbestos products
• Raw asbestos fiber companies
• Asbestos product suppliers
• Asbestos contractors
• Landowners/premises owners
Upon reviewing this list, you may wonder how some of these potential defendants enter into the picture, while others might be more obvious. Here’s what makes each one potentially culpable.
• Employers – In many cases, employers knew of the presence of asbestos but failed to reveal the truth. Rules about suing employers can vary from state to state. You may only be eligible for workers comp from an employer but may be able to file a civil suit against them in some cases.
• Asbestos product manufacturers (still solvent) – These are companies that sold or manufactured asbestos-containing products that are still in business today. They may have made any number of different products including insulation, tiles, gaskets, valves, siding, joint compound, tape, lagging, and more.
• Bankrupt companies – Many companies that sold or manufactured asbestos-containing products have declared bankruptcy within the last few decades, overwhelmed by the number of lawsuits against them. Though they cannot be sued, their reorganization may have resulted in the formation of an “asbestos trust fund”, designed to address current and future asbestos claims. Your attorney will know the ins and outs of filing for compensation from a trust.
• Raw asbestos fiber companies – These are companies that perhaps mined and sold large amounts of raw asbestos to manufacturers of asbestos-containing materials.
• Asbestos product suppliers – These companies were not actually involved in the manufacture of asbestos-containing products but, instead, sold them through distribution channels or even in retail stores.
• Asbestos contractors – This would include companies that brought asbestos-containing materials onto a jobsite but failed to take the proper precautions to protect workers in the vicinity. For example, this could be a company that removed asbestos materials in your place of employment but didn’t cordon off the area so that fibers wouldn’t escape.
• Designers/engineers – You may be able to name the designer of a particular building in your lawsuit if they specified the use of asbestos, especially when other more suitable and safer materials were available.
• Landowner/premises owner – If you worked on land or in a facility contaminated with asbestos and the owner knew of the contamination but failed to reveal the facts, you may be able to sue that individual or company.
Determining the defendants in an asbestos lawsuit can be complicated. That’s why it’s necessary to hire an attorney to help navigate. Be sure the one you hire can prove he/she has a wealth of experience in the field. This way, you’re more likely to succeed with a favorable outcome.