Workers’ Compensation and Asbestos Claims
The workers’ compensation system was developed with the purpose of compensating laborers who were injured in the workplace. For victims of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases, workers’ compensation claims may be a method for recovery. However, there are limitations and issues to account for when considering whether to file a workers’ compensation for asbestos claims.
About Workers’ Compensation
Most states adopted laws in the 1920s putting in place workers’ compensation programs. Today, every state has a system, as well as a federal system for federal employees. Workers’ compensation eliminated the need for an injured worker to file lawsuit against his or her employer. Instead, the worker files a claim and may receive the following:
- Medical care, such as the costs related to hospital visits, surgery, or medication;
- Disability income; or
- Help finding another job.
Generally speaking, an injured worker is not allowed to file a lawsuit against an employer for injuries sustained in the workplace. This is because workers’ compensation does not require the worker to prove fault for his or her injury. In exchange for not having to prove fault, employers are usually shielded from lawsuits. However, there are exceptions, such as if the employer intentionally injured the worker.
The specific benefits an injured worker will receive depend on the state that the individual worked in. Some general issues that in most cases affect the benefit include the severity of the injury, whether the worker will be able to return to work, either in the short-term or long-term, and whether a structured settlement agreement is used.
Issues with Workers’ Compensation and Asbestos Claims
As with lawsuits, there are time constraints (called statute of limitations) on filing a workers’ compensation claim. This can create issues, particularly for mesothelioma because of the long latency period. By the time a person shows symptoms or is diagnosed with mesothelioma, it may be too late to file a claim. It is important to keep in mind that whether the time for filing a claim has passed will depend on the particular circumstances of your case and the laws of the state involved.
Under a workers’ compensation claim, the injured worker is only getting compensation from his or her employer and not the manufacturer of any products that contained asbestos or contractors and suppliers who may have facilitated asbestos exposure.. However, a lawsuit can still be filed against the manufacturer, supplier or contractor. Lawsuits against a manufacturer, supplier or contractor will allow for the possibility of greater awards than workers’ compensation claims because these types of claims are often capped. In addition, lawsuits raise the chance of being awarded punitive damages and pain and suffering, which can significantly increase the award amount. It is also important to note that there may be multiple manufacturers that made products that contained asbestos and were handled by a worker. Naming multiple manufacturers, suppliers and contractors as defendants can increase the potential for higher damage awards when compared to workers’ compensation and asbestos claims.
Compassionate Legal Advocacy
Dealing with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease is very difficult and can be expensive. It is important for victims and their families to consider every method for recovery of compensation to help fight these health issues. If you have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease,contact the Throneberry Law Group. We understand what you are going through and would like to help.