On February 4, 2015, the U.S. House of Representatives heard testimony pertaining to the “Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act of 2015.” Questions have arisen as to whether the bill actually provides for a transparent claims process, as it’s supporters contend, or whether it is an unwarranted invasion of the privacy of persons injured by the wrongful actions of corporations that produced and supplied the cancer-causing material.
Asbestos and Mesothelioma Overview
With more than 600,000 victims filing lawsuits against more than 6,000 defendants, asbestos injury lawsuits are the longest-running mass tort in U.S. history. Mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer, is only known to be caused by asbestos exposure and the inhalation of asbestos fibers. The disease is lethal and is often diagnosed at a very late stage, which results in a short life-expectancy. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that approximately 3,000 people die from asbestosis and mesothelioma in the U.S. each year.
Individuals who believe they have been exposed to asbestos and developed mesothelioma are encouraged to seek legal counsel to determine whether they are entitled to pursue claims against their employers or other entities or parties who may be responsible for their condition. Additionally, if you have lost a loved one after he or she developed the disease, you could be eligible to pursue a wrongful death claim on his or her behalf.
Congressional Bill Could Violate Rights of Injured Persons
According to supporters, the bill will allow corporations to more easily identify claimants who are compensated by one asbestos trust fund but then also pursue similar claims against other trust funds. However, Public Citizen, a well-known consumer watchdog group, warns that the FACT Act of 2015 is not what it appears to be, and that companies may actually use the process provided for in the bill to indefinitely delay payments to asbestos victims. Theoretically, corporations could repeatedly submit requests that could prevent them from ever needing to make payments since victims of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses are often living with a shortened life expectancy.
According to Public Citizen, the bill will also invade the privacy of asbestos victims and their families by publishing private information for the public. Medical information, employment history, addresses, names, the amount of compensation, and even part of their social security numbers would be accessible by the public at the request of the companies against whom claims are made, and the law could give criminals private information about sick individuals who had just received substantial compensation.
Other concerns include the fact that companies could theoretically make numerous requests that trusts could find difficult to answer, delaying compensation. Asbestos-related illnesses such as mesothelioma are not typically diagnosed until they are in advanced stages, when victims usually only have months to live. Those who are against the bill assert that companies could, essentially, “run out the clock” on asbestos victims’ lives.
Contact Us Regarding Your Asbestos Mesothelioma Lawsuit
If you believe you may be eligible to file an asbestos mesothelioma lawsuit and you have questions about pursuing a claim for compensation, contact Attorney Group to learn more about your options. We can evaluate your case at no out-of-pocket cost to you, and if you determine that you may be eligible to recover damages for your injuries or losses, we can connect you with an affiliated attorney who can help you seek the compensation to which you may be entitled.