People experiencing the toll of an asbestos-related illness often pursue legal claims against a company or former employer to hold them liable for damages. However, the line between exposure and liability is not exactly a straight one.
Are You Liable?
Suppose you are an employer or business owner facing a negligence claim because of asbestos exposure. If so, you should be aware there are several factors that could determine if you are legally responsible for the exposure.
- The number of parties involved - Often, a person who suffers mesothelioma or asbestosis worked around asbestos for several years and in several settings. For instance, a construction worker may have used multiple asbestos-containing products and worked for countless contractors who took varying degrees of precautions regarding asbestos protection.
- Behaviors and actions of the plaintiff - Certain behaviors and lifestyle habits are major factors in determining whether a person develops an illness outside of their actual exposure levels. People who choose not to wear protective gear increase their risk of developing mesothelioma. And for better or worse, genetics also play a key role. Each of these factors can reduce the liability of third parties.
- Statute of limitations - In California, the law dictates that parties must commence legal action within one year of developing an asbestos-related disability or one year after they knew (or should reasonably have known) that a disability is connected to asbestos exposure. Failure to file within this timeframe can bar a person from recovering damages.
- Failure to prove negligence - To support a negligence claim, plaintiffs must fulfill several requirements. They must demonstrate a negligent party had a legal duty to the plaintiff and violated that duty. They must prove that this negligence caused an injury, resulting in damages. Defending against liability can mean challenging one or more of these components.
These factors are all critical to determining whether a party carries any legal responsibility for a person's asbestos-related injuries.
It's Not All-or-Nothing
However, in many asbestos cases, the issue is not strictly whether a party is liable but instead to what extent they are liable. Again, these claims typically involve several parties who may share liability. And juries may inflate awards to unfair levels. Therefore, having top-notch legal representation is crucial in securing a fair outcome if you are confronted with an asbestos-related legal claim against your business.
Originally published Sep 10, 2021
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.