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Asbestos Exposure and Worker's Compensation Claims: What You Should Know


For much of the twentieth century, industries such as metal, manufacturing, and paper milling made use of asbestos before realizing its dangers, therefore increasing the risk of exposure and related diseases to workers. Even today, studies show that each year, a whopping 12,000- 15,000 people in the United States die from asbestos-related diseases.

If you have received a diagnosis for an asbestos-related illness and you believe this is because of workplace exposure, you can file a worker's compensation claim with your employer. However, given that asbestos exposure symptoms and illnesses present many years after exposure, you will likely face some challenges with your employer and their insurance company.

An experienced asbestos-exposure lawyer will be invaluable in helping you receive your due compensation. Read on to learn more about asbestos exposure and your workers' compensation claim.

Qualifying Diseases

Prolonged exposure to asbestos can result in a number of devastating and potentially fatal diseases. Examples of conditions that are eligible for compensation by your employer and the product manufacture include:

  • Mesothelioma

  • Asbestosis

  • Cancer - Gallbladder, ovarian, lung, kidney, colon, gastrointestinal, esophageal

  • Pulmonary Fibrosis

  • Pleural Plaques

You need to provide medical evidence from a qualified professional to support your medical claim. You may also need to account for your work history to show that your asbestos exposure was work-related.

Statute of Limitation

Asbestos-related diseases have a long latency period. This means the signs and symptoms of a disease can present many years after exposure to the harmful compound. To account for this latency, workers in Wisconsin have a 12-year period from the time of receiving a diagnosis to make an asbestos exposure claim with an employer or file a lawsuit against a product manufacturer.

Employees who worked in industries such as paper milling, metal, construction, and mining in the period between the 1960s and 1980s are at a higher risk of developing asbestos-related diseases. Veterans who served in the 1940s to 1980s are also at a high risk of receiving a diagnosis for an asbestos-related illness. If you worked in these industries during these times, you may want to be checked for asbestos-related diseases.

Workers' Compensation Claim

You can file a workers' compensation claim with your employer and recover compensation for current and future medical expenses, cost of daily living, end of life cost damages, future expenses, lost wages, and more. The amount you receive as compensation will depend on factors such as your salary at the time of injury, occupation, and age, among others.

Employers may also be liable for secondary asbestos exposure. Secondary asbestos exposure and the resultant diseases affect family members who come into prolonged contact with employees who were exposed to asbestos at work. If your family member has an asbestos-related disease and you suspect secondary exposure, he or she may be eligible for monetary compensation.

Manufacturer Liability Lawsuit

In addition to filing a claim with your employer, you may also choose to file a lawsuit against an asbestos manufacturer for gross negligence. One advantage of suing the product manufacturer is that you may receive a larger compensation than the amount you stand to receive from a workers' compensation claim. The court may award you punitive damages as well as compensation for wrongful death, and pain and suffering.

Some manufacturers have set up asbestos trust funds to compensate qualified individuals. Claimants must have an asbestos-related diagnosis resulting from working for the manufacturer, using the manufacturer's products, or working at a factory that used the manufacturer's products. Filing a claim with a trust fund is an out-of-court process that may allow you to receive your compensation faster.

Whether you opt to file an asbestos exposure claim with your employee, pursue a negligence lawsuit, or seek compensation from a trust fund, be sure to work with a skilled lawyer who understands asbestos compensation laws.

If you have been diagnosed with an occupational illness, the experienced attorneys at The Law Office of Meier, Wickhem, Lyons & Schulz, S.C. can help you receive the compensation you deserve. Call us today for a free consultation.