Laws regarding asbestos vary from state to state. Learn more about Asbestos state laws by reading below.
Reliable sources from the web disclosed that since the early sixties, there have been numerous lawsuits and actual claims related to asbestos contamination in different American states. It is quite ironic that up to now, there is no federal legislation on this very controversial and dangerous mineral. Individual states were left on their own to enact Asbestos state laws for the protection of citizens especially workers. These laws are classified according to safety concerns and legal rights of asbestos-exposed workers.
Laws on Claims
A number of states passed Asbestos state laws during the past few years primarily to regulate claims in their respective courts. The basic argument was too many claims have been filed by individuals who did not suffer physical injuries. Courts, defendants and even some lawyers for claimants became apprehensive that the number of claims may eat up compensation intended for those who have been seriously affected by asbestos contamination.
There were also worries about claims overloading the courts and holding up resolution of more important cases. Companies were also concerned about termination of workers, possible bankruptcy and tax increases as a result of these claims. In fact, some state governments tackled these problems by coming up with measures to reduce litigation and liabilities for injuries. States like Florida, Ohio and Texas have passed reform laws related to management and reduction of asbestos lawsuits.
Coverage of Legislation
Asbestos state laws definitely vary. However, these cover particular areas such as criteria for medical eligibility, civil liability, rules on two-diseases, and periods of limitation for particular types of legal actions. In terms of medical criteria, some states like Florida are meticulous when it comes to evidence. Claimants are mandated by the courts to present sufficient evidence that highlight fundamental facts before the trial can go on. Defendants are given the right to challenge said evidence. Weak claims are dismissed by the court although plaintiffs are allowed to bring up the same claim in the future.
States like California and New York even encourage patients afflicted with Mesothelioma to file legitimate asbestos claims. Lawmakers in Pennsylvania, which is among the top five states with the highest number of asbestos-related litigation, have let their courts decide on these cases. Meanwhile, Texas used to be very hard-hitting in dealing with asbestos cases and gained top spot with the most number of cases filed until 2000. Lawmakers enacted laws since them to limit cases and speed up cases in the docket.
There are jurisdictions that apply various statutes or enactments of limitations for specific types of legal actions particularly to malignant or incurable and non-malignant or benign disease asbestos claims. In certain situations, defendants are prevented from compelling non-malignant claimants to release claims in the future, if these progress to cancer, as settlement condition.
What is the outlook for Asbestos state laws?
One thing is sure. The number of court cases will continue to affect state legislation as well as court procedures. Increase in the number of legal proceedings may even rekindle future interests for the eventual passage of passing laws on the federal level.