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Have you or a loved one been diagnosed with Mesothelioma, lung cancer or an asbestos-related disease?

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Asbestos was used for decades in construction and shipbuilding. If you or someone close to you has worked as a drywaller, pipefitter, or in the Navy, you may have been exposed to harmful asbestos fibers. Learn more >

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Finding Out Who is Responsible for Your Illness

For many people who are diagnosed with asbestos-related illnesses, the diagnosis comes as a shock. They either had no idea that they’d been exposed to asbestos at all, or were assured that the materials they handled were safe. There have been cases where the exposure to asbestos fibers happened during a short-term summer job, or on a single project in a construction career that spans 50 years. The combination of the enormous number of products that contained asbestos and the long latency period before any symptoms of asbestos-related illness become apparent can make it extraordinarily difficult to determine which product and which manufacturer is legally responsible for your illness.

In the decades since the first mesothelioma lawsuits were filed, a great deal of information has been brought to light about companies that actively concealed the dangers of asbestos. There are internal memos, letters and reports that have been entered into evidence in numerous cases that show conspiracies by manufacturers of asbestos products to hide the dangers from their employees, the public and the government. In many cases, the reason for concealing the dangers was as petty as the desire to save the few cents per item it would have cost to print and enclose safe handling instructions with the product. Because of this long history of discovery in many lawsuits, lawyers who specialize in asbestos litigation are very knowledgeable about possible sources of your illness. More often than not, when your lawyer files an asbestos lawsuit on your behalf, he’ll include manufacturers of any asbestos products you may have used or had contact with in the list of defendants.

Proving liability in any lawsuit is the most important and complex part of the case. When the lawsuit involves asbestos, it becomes far more complex because of the many levels of responsibility involved. You may have worked with pipe fittings in the Navy, for instance. In that case, the Navy can’t be held liable, though you may be entitled to medical expenses and disability pay. The manufacturers that supplied the fittings and materials to the Navy can and have been held liable, though. An attorney who has worked with asbestos lawsuits and mesothelioma litigation will know how to track down the manufacturers and companies that are legally liable for your exposure to a hazardous substance. In addition, since the effects of asbestos exposure may have “added up” from exposure in multiple places and jobs, an experienced asbestos litigator will have the knowledge and expertise to determine where the suit should be filed to give you the best chance of collecting the compensation to which you are entitled.

Part of your lawyer’s job is to help determine which products and which manufacturers may be responsible for your current illness. In order to do this, he may do any or all of the following:

  • Take a complete work history to determine if you worked for companies that used asbestos or asbestos products.
  • Ask for every address where you’ve lived to determine if you lived in close range to plants that manufactured or used asbestos products.
  • Ask for the work history of those with whom you lived or had daily contact, to determine if you may have been exposed to asbestos on the clothing or person of a spouse, parent or other person that you lived with.
  • Have you go over lists of companies and check off the ones that employed you.
  • Show you photographs of various products and ask you to identify any that you used in your work.

In addition to information provided by you, your lawyers may also interview your family and coworkers to learn what products you may have worked with. Armed with this information, an experienced asbestos attorney can go to work to ferret out other important information in your case. The discovery process allows many ways to access documents and other information that will be relevant to proving liability in your case. He may submit questionnaires to each of the defendants which they must fill out under oath (interrogatories) or interview them verbally under oath (taking depositions). Everything that is learned through the discovery process will be used to help establish when and where you were exposed to the asbestos that caused your illness.

Even in a case where you know where and how you were exposed to asbestos, the discovery process can provide additional information and proof, as well as yield other defendants who may be held liable for your condition. Besides information gained through interviewing you, the defendants and others concerned in your suit, an attorney experienced in asbestos litigation will consult experts in asbestos-related illnesses and asbestos itself. Medical experts can often establish what type of asbestos you were exposed to, and testify to the extent of disability you have and may expect to have in the future. Other experts in the field can identify the types of asbestos used in particular products that you may have handled or used, and help establish the probability of those products being responsible for your mesothelioma, asbestosis or other asbestos-related disease.

When you decide to file an asbestos lawsuit, it’s important to work with a knowledgeable, experienced attorney. A law firm that has a history of working with the courts to establish liability and win awards for their clients will have built the contacts and resources needed to help firmly establish and prove your claim. Williams Hart has helped hundreds of clients with asbestos-related lawsuits, and knows exactly how to proceed in these cases.

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