Hundreds of thousands of workers in the state of Alabama have experienced exposure to asbestos in their daily jobs. This includes workers in various industries, as well as those in the U.S. military and civilians providing support for military operations. Many of these individuals have developed asbestos-related diseases over time such as mesothelioma. These workers have a right to recover compensation for the serious health consequences they suffer for this exposure.
Alabama ranks right in the middle of the pack at 25th among all states for diagnosed mesothelioma cases. Between 1999 and 2015, more than 500 deaths were reported in the state related to mesothelioma. Many thousands of Alabamians are continuing to live with the disease, regardless of whether it has been accurately diagnosed or evidences symptoms.
Despite the fact that the use of asbestos material was officially put to a halt in the 1980s, many of the schools, hospitals, factories, and homes in the state still have some materials in them containing this dangerous substance.
Alabama asbestos laws and regulations
Alabama endorses the comprehensive and strict federal regulations established by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding asbestos products. The Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) Air Division ensures the material disposal and the removal and abatement of asbestos.
The history of civil litigation and legal case precedents in Alabama regarding asbestos related diseases such as mesothelioma is complex. For many years it has been difficult to file a lawsuit in Alabama related to mesothelioma and asbestos. The civil courts in the state enforced a “Last Exposure” rule that restricted the statute of limitations for mesothelioma victims.
The term “last exposure” refers to the specific time when the victim of mesothelioma has had contact with asbestos. This was not defined as the time when the disease was diagnosed or when symptoms of the disease appeared. However, eventually Alabama courts corrected this unfair deadline.
The latency period of this disease enables it to manifest from a period between 10 to 50 years after the individual’s most recent exposure to asbestos.
Therefore, the state eventually made a number of changes to its statute of limitations for filing an asbestos-related workers’ compensation lawsuit.
Modifications to the “Last Exposure Rule”
In 1980, Alabama instituted a much fairer discovery rule for asbestos-related cases. In cases where the last exposure to asbestos occurred prior to 1979, the one-year statute of limitations still applies. However, for cases involving an exposure to asbestos after May 17, 1980, the statute of limitations starts when the victim discovers he or she has an asbestos-related disease. A number of amendments in addition to an overruling of the old statute in 2008 have revised the law up to modern standards. As a result, individuals now have two years from their diagnosis to file a claim.
Potential future action to help victims of asbestos exposure
The legislature in Alabama recently introduced the “Asbestos Trust Claims Transparency Act.” The bill is currently awaiting further legislative action. Under federal law, companies with asbestos liabilities have the opportunity to transfer their future liabilities into trusts. Plaintiffs asserting harm from asbestos exposure have the opportunity to file claims with these trusts and also file lawsuits against any remaining solvent companies deemed responsible for the injuries. The bill has been introduced to solve the inconsistencies between the two types of compensation systems. It establishes requirements for filing asbestos claims with the trust and governs the claims’ admissibility.
At Mezrano Law Firm, we can fight on your behalf for the financial recovery you deserve if you have suffered mesothelioma or any other asbestos-related disease. To set up a free, initial consultation with one of our Alabama work injury attorneys, call us today at 205-206-6300 or fill out our contact form. We can serve you from one of our offices in Montgomery, Florence, Birmingham, Mobile, Gadsden, or Tuscaloosa. In addition, if you are unable to visit us, we can come to you.