Friday, September 11, 2015

Asbestos Abatement

Though the use of asbestos was largely halted in the 1980s, its widespread use for much of the twentieth century means it is not uncommon for people to come across asbestos in their homes or other buildings today. If this happens, it does not mean panic should set in, but there are precautions that should be exercised. By treating asbestos with caution, injury can be avoided.

Asbestos Abatement: Repair Versus Removal

Asbestos was extensively used in insulation and other products that required heat resistance. Asbestos becomes dangerous when it is damaged or removed, which releases microscopic fibers into the air. When breathed in, these fibers may remain in the lungs for many years before serious health complications appear, such as mesothelioma or other cancers.

Asbestos that is damaged or that may be disturbed should either be repaired or removed. A repair involves the sealing or covering of the asbestos (or the product containing asbestos). Sealing or encapsulation occurs when material is treated with a sealant that either binds the fibers together or coats the material, which prevents any fibers from being released. Alternatively, covering or enclosure involves the placement of something over or around the material containing asbestos in order to prevent the release of fibers.

In some cases, removal is required. This is often necessary when remodeling or other work will likely disturb materials containing asbestos. Removal may also be necessary when a product with asbestos is excessively damaged.

Inspectors and Contractors

Inspectors inspect a home or building, make assessments of the conditions, obtain samples used for testing, and give advice on what should be done. Additionally, inspectors can also monitor the air to discover whether asbestos fibers were released, determine whether corrective action was completed following proper procedures, and ensure any cleanup was done correctly. In contrast, contractors actually perform the repair or removal of asbestos or materials containing asbestos.

Under federal law, there is no requirement that individuals who inspect, repair, or remove asbestos in detached, single-family homes be trained or accredited. However, some states or localities do require such training or accreditation. Before allowing someone to begin work, individuals should request documentation of the professional’s completion of federal or state-approved training.

The following are some things to expect when hiring an asbestos professional:

  • For an inspector: An inspector should complete a visual inspection of the entire home and collect samples for analysis in a lab. After the inspection is complete, the inspector should provide a written evaluation which details the exact location of all asbestos, the extent of any damage, and his or her recommendations for correction and prevention of harm.

  • For a contractor: A written contract should be provided which sets out the plan, cleanup, and applicable regulations that must be followed (these may include notification requirements and removal, handling and disposal procedures). Following completion of the contractor’s work, an inspector or independent air testing contractor should perform air monitoring.

Legal Help for Victims of Asbestos Exposure

Exposure to asbestos can have severe consequences. If you believe that you have been harmed as a result of being exposed to asbestos, speak with an attorney experienced in asbestos-related diseases. At the Throneberry Law Group, we provide compassionate legal advocacy for victims of asbestos-related diseases.

Asbestos Abatement

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Discovery in Mesothelioma Cases

An important part of any lawsuit is the discovery process. Discovery is a pre-trial phase of a lawsuit in which all parties involved request and gather information related to the case. Due to the complex nature of mesothelioma claims, the discovery phase is critical. For victims in mesothelioma claims, it is important to be prepared for extensive questioning related to many different aspects of the person’s life. While this may seem personally invasive, it is a necessary step in the development of the claim.

What Does Discovery in Mesothelioma Cases Entail?

Discovery occurs before a trial begins and allows each party to obtain evidence from all opposing parties. In order to collect this evidence and information, the parties make use of interrogatories, requests for depositions, production of documents, and admissions. A majority of the information that will be involved in the case is exchanged during this phase of the lawsuit.

The information and evidence collected during discovery helps to give the attorneys a clearer idea of how the lawsuit may unfold if it continues all the way to trial. As a result of this, many settlements occur during the discovery phase, after the attorneys have a better sense of the potential chances of success.

Victims of mesothelioma who file a lawsuit seeking damages will be faced with thorough questioning and personal requests by the defendant. Some of the information that will likely be requested includes the following:

  • Employment history;

  • Medical history;

  • Family history of asbestos-related diseases or cancer;

  • Whether the victim is a smoker or was in the past;

  • Where and how the exposure to asbestos occurred;

  • Whether the victim’s employer instituted any regulations intended to limit asbestos exposure; and

  • The initial date and frequency of exposure.

It is important to be aware that the above are just some of the questions that may be raised by the defendant. There will likely be many more related to the victim’s exposure, diagnosis, and treatment. One way in which a victim will provide answers is through the use of interrogatories. These are like questionnaires in which written answers are provided.

Another way in which evidence and information is collected is through depositions. During a deposition, answers to questions are provided while under oath. Additionally, depositions are recorded and videotaped for documentation purposes. Both parties to the lawsuit will also contact the victim’s family members, co-workers, and former employers to collect more information. The victim’s primary healthcare provider will also have to answer questions related to the medical condition and treatment of the victim.

Some depositions last for only a few hours, while others may span over the period of several days. The length of time depositions last depends on a variety of issues, such as the complexity of the case. The entire discover phase typically lasts several months.

Compassionate Help for Victims

For more information about methods of recovery for mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases, speak with an experienced attorney today. At the Throneberry Law Group, we travel the country to provide representation to victims of these aggressive diseases.

Discovery in Mesothelioma Cases

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Asbestos Class Action

Individuals exposed to asbestos fibers are at risk of developing mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. Exposure was widespread up until the 1980s, when the dangers of exposure were officially recognized by the federal government. Unfortunately, by that time, many individuals had already been exposed to dangerous levels of fibers. As a result, there have been many asbestos-related claims against the manufacturers and employers that were responsible for causing exposure to victims.

Danger of Asbestos

Asbestos contains microscopic fibers that, when disturbed, are released into the air where they can be breathed into the lungs. They may remain in the lungs for several years (in some cases, even decades) before any damage is detected. Exposure to these fibers has been linked to the development of cancer, including mesothelioma. The cost of treating these diseases or conditions is often quite significant. As a result, victims frequently turn to lawsuits against those responsible for their exposure to recover damage awards that can help pay for medical expenses.

Asbestos Class Action:  Should I Join a Class Action?

A class action lawsuit involves a group of people collectively filing a claim against a defendant. The lawsuit is filed on behalf of a group of people who are “similarly situated.” This means that a group of plaintiffs all have similar injuries caused by shared circumstances that raise the same legal issues. The court determines whether the similarities are sufficiently close enough and whether forcing all of the plaintiffs to file separate lawsuits would be overly burdensome.

An individual may be asked to join in a class action lawsuit if it is thought that the individual is similarly situated to the other plaintiffs. If this happens, the individual may elect to join the class action, but this will eliminate his or her ability to file an individual lawsuit against the defendant for the same injury. Alternatively, the individual can elect to “opt out” of the class action, which preserves his or her right to pursue an individual claim at a future date.

Due to the large number of claimants in a class action lawsuit, the result is typically a settlement agreement. This may be highly desirable for an individual who does not want to go through the expense and duration of a trial. However, joining a class action can also have negative consequences. For example, whether through a settlement or success at trial, the award will be divided among all of the claimants in a class action. Because of this, an individual, if successful, often ends up with a larger award by filing an individual claim than if they joined a class action. Before deciding whether or not to join a class action, it is important to consult with an attorney in order to protect your legal rights.

Helping Victims

Exposure to asbestos fibers can result in devastating diseases such as mesothelioma and other cancers. If you believe that you have developed a disease due to exposure to asbestos fibers, speak with an experienced attorney today. At the Throneberry Law Group, we provide compassionate representation to victims of asbestos fiber exposure.

Asbestos Class Action