Asbestos Workers Knew the Risks of their Job
One defense raised by companies fighting against paying asbestos claims is that workers knew and accepted the risks of working with asbestos. The known presence of dangerous substances in the workplace in no way lessens a company’s responsibility for worker safety. In fact, it increases it. And, more importantly, it’s important to realize that many people never realized they were being exposed to
The known presence of dangerous substances in the workplace in no way lessens a company’s responsibility for worker safety. In fact, it increases it. And, more importantly, it’s important to realize that many people never realized they were being exposed to
And, more importantly, it’s important to realize that many people never realized they were being exposed to asbestos on the job.
In part eleven of our 12 part campaign on asbestos myths, we’ll reveal why it’s untrue that the responsibility for safety shifts to workers or that workers can absolve their employers of responsibility for asbestos exposure.
Myth – Asbestos workers knew and accepted the risks of occupational asbestos exposure.
Fact – Some workers knew that they were working with asbestos or asbestos-related components, but they did not know that it was a carcinogen and would make them sick. Manufacturers are required to give end users a fair appreciation of risks associated with use of their products.
Fact – Manufacturers either provided no warning of the dangers to workers of using asbestos or provided inadequate warnings that did not mention cancer. Workers didn’t know they were working with a toxic substance and had no idea they needed to protect themselves.
Fact – Even those workers that knew they were working with or near asbestos components or structures still had a right to be protected on the job from the health risks associated with the toxic fiber.
Fact – In injury cases, there is a legal defense called contributory negligence – which means that if the injured person did something to cause their own injury, financial damages awarded can be reduced by the percentage for which the worker was responsible for their own injury.
Fact – Contributory negligence is a defense that many firms responsible for asbestos exposure will try to raise. This is not an ethical defense in most cases.
Fact – Most commonly, contributory negligence has gained some ground as a defense in asbestos lawsuits when the worker has developed asbestos-related lung cancer and was also a smoker since smoking can greatly increase the health risks caused by asbestos.
Fact – It is untenable for companies to try and blame those who were injured by asbestos and to try and shift blame onto the worker.
Fact – In cases of second-hand exposure, where a loved one was exposed by asbestos fibers brought home on work clothes (or in some other manner), a defense of contributory negligence is even more suspect. Victims of second-hand asbestos exposure were not equipped to protect themselves from asbestos fibers and likely never knew they were being exposed to a carcinogen since the fibers are invisible to the naked eye.
Fact – If the worker is found to be partially at fault for their own injury (as can sometimes happen with asbestos lung cancer victims that were smokers), the effect of the contributory negligence will differ based on the state where the lawsuit was filed. Some states will simply lower the amount of the damage award by the percentage the victim was found to have shared blame. Other states will completely bar an award if the victim was found to be 50% or more at blame.
Fact – Your best shot to get a fair settlement for your asbestos injuries is to choose a law firm to represent you that has deep experience in asbestos claims and an established track record of winning significant settlements. Using a general personal injury attorney is not advised.
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, then you need to work with a practice that is dedicated to helping mesothelioma victims. We’ve won more than $600 million for those made ill by asbestos. We’ve focused solely on asbestos cases since our founding and have extensive research on work site exposure throughout the US that can help you get the answers you need.