Asbestos is a fire-proof material that causes a form of cancer called mesothelioma if it is inhaled into the lungs. It was a material that was widely used in manufacturing and the military, but its cancerous side-effects went ignored for many years in the early 20th century. By the 1950s, asbestos was prevalent in products such as linoleum tile, car brakes, pipe insulation, and a wide variety of construction materials.
In the 1970s, the United States government started to pass laws limiting human exposure to the material, and that was also the time when manufacturers were being sued in civil courts for asbestos-related deaths. The United States government, influenced by lobbyists for the asbestos industry, refused to ban the fire-proof materials. The decline in asbestos use in the United States due to the highly publicized court cases caused the last American asbestos mine to close in 2002.
The lawsuits regarding asbestos exposure have been in the news headlines for decades, but governments in countries such as the United States and Canada still refuse to determine corporate negligence for asbestos exposure. Justice for asbestos victims is even more difficult to get when the government is the entity that is found to be negligent.
Establishing Negligence For Asbestos Exposure
Mesothelioma is a long-term condition that can become fatal. The deadly effects of asbestos exposure make it difficult to get authorities in the municipal and corporate world to admit negligence. In the United States, it is even more difficult to get employers to admit to asbestos exposure, and getting financial help for victims requires long court battles.
An American worker who wants their employer to take responsibility for asbestos exposure normally has to file a workers compensation claim against their employer. In industrial settings, it can be a little tricky to determine who the actual employer is because industrial organizations usually hire an array of contractors to do work inside the facility. Most personal injury attorneys establish who the employer is by seeing who issues the paychecks to affected workers. Unfortunately, identifying the direct employer is only one part of a very long battle.
Wrongful Exposure Is A Problem In Other Countries
In 2008, a contractor in British Columbia, Canada named Don Garrett was awarded a contract to replace plumbing gaskets and other fixtures in a British Columbia prison by the Canadian government. The work involved a great deal of grinding and cutting, which created a lot of dust that was inhaled by Garrett’s workers, and other workers in the area. None of the workers were wearing masks.
When Garrett went to buy a replacement for one of the plumbing pieces, he was told that type of piece was no longer made because it had been made completely of asbestos. Garrett attempted to file change orders for the job that involved removing the asbestos, but he was continually denied. He filed complaints and grievances against the Canadian government that resulted in his company losing their bonded status and being unable to bid on any more work. Garrett soon realized that he was being punished for being an asbestos whistle-blower, and it could cost him his company and his livelihood.
During Garrett’s back-and-forth with the Canadian government, he discovered a study that was done in 2004 confirming the presence of asbestos in the plumbing fixtures of that prison. Despite the strong evidence in his favor, Garrett is still being put off by the Canadian government and his claims are being ignored.
Is Exposure Illegal In The U.S.?
Since the use of asbestos is not illegal in the United States, filing a workers compensation claim based on asbestos exposure can be a long and frustrating process. Any victim who is looking to get the compensation they deserve from their employer should consider hiring a very experienced workers compensation attorney who understands what needs to be done to get positive results for this very touchy subject.