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Each year, as many as 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma cancer linked to exposure to toxic asbestos are reported in the United States. Many victims of the rare, aggressive, and deadly form of cancer have legal rights to financial compensation from the manufacturers of asbestos products as well as other defendants who are deemed liable for the injuries.
However, many workers affected by mesothelioma and their families are unsure whether they qualify to file lawsuits against the makers of asbestos products, their employers, and other responsible parties.
Eligible plaintiffs in mesothelioma and asbestos cases may include:
Asbestos Mine Workers: Asbestos is a group of naturally occurring minerals which are mined from the Earth. People who worked in the mining or processing of asbestos are perhaps most at risk of developing mesothelioma cancer. By working for many years, or in some cases just a few months, in close proximity to asbestos fibers, mine workers may be directly exposed to the toxic material and develop cancer even 30 to 40 years after the first contact. Breathing or swallowing asbestos fibers is a leading cause of mesothelioma.
Construction Workers: Asbestos was widely used in a variety of construction materials for many years. Therefore, plumbers, electricians, tile layers, and others in the construction trade are at great risk of developing mesothelioma. Years of using the asbestos-containing materials in close contact, even with proper safety equipment, can result in the deadly form of cancer.
Auto Repair Technicians: Asbestos was used in brake pads and other vehicle parts. Workers who repaired cars, including brakes, may have been exposed to the toxic particles and face an increased risk of developing mesothelioma.
Shipyard Crews and Longshoremen: Military and civilian shipyard workers and longshoremen also are among the most common plaintiffs in mesothelioma lawsuits. Because asbestos was used in the insulation and other areas of ships, the men and women who built, repaired, and dismantled the vessels or served onboard often were exposed to enough asbestos to cause the cancer.
Family of Exposed Workers
Most people who develop mesothelioma cancer and file lawsuits seeking financial compensation for their injuries are workers who were exposed to asbestos on the job. However, the relatives of exposed workers also may be at risk. There have been cases of mesothelioma in the spouses, children, and others who lived with or came into regular contact with exposed workers.
Wives who wash their husbands’ work clothes and children who give a hug to their father when he returns home from work may inhale enough asbestos fibers to cause them to develop mesothelioma. These cases of mesothelioma are particularly heart-breaking and can result in substantial financial damage awards for the affected family members.
Class Action Members
Some plaintiffs seek financial compensation for mesothelioma and other asbestos-related injuries in a Class Action lawsuit rather than as individual plaintiffs. Courts are likely to approve a class action lawsuit against companies that made or used asbestos products linked to mesothelioma if:
• The class of plaintiffs is so large that joinder of each plaintiff is impractical and representative litigation is feasible;
• There are common questions of law or fact applicable to the class;
• The claims of the representative plaintiffs are common to the other plaintiffs; and
• The representatives will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class.
If the plaintiffs are able to establish those elements, a court should approve the class action if:
• There is a risk of creating inconsistent rulings if a class action is not certified;
• The defendant has acted in a way that applies generally to the whole class; and
• The common questions of law or fact predominate over other issues.
This article is intended to be helpful and informative. But even common legal matters can become complex and stressful. A qualified mesothelioma lawyer can address your particular legal needs, explain the law, and represent you in court. Take the first step now and contact a local mesothelioma attorney to discuss your specific legal situation.