Ohio ranks in the top 10 states for asbestos-related deaths and ranks sixth for mesothelioma and asbestosis deaths. This is in large part because we have a great deal of manufacturing jobs, and those with the highest risk for asbestos exposure work in factories or with high-heat machinery.
Asbestos exposure causes a number of serious diseases including mesothelioma, a particularly virulent form of cancer that is known to be caused only by asbestos. Asbestos exposure may also cause asbestosis, lung cancer, laryngeal cancer, ovarian cancer, testes cancer, pleural plaques, pleural thickening, and pleural effusion.
If you have been exposed to asbestos, you may not develop symptoms for years, sometimes decades. You could have been exposed in many ways, such as working in one of Ohio’s steel mills or power-generation plants, in the military, or even washing the clothes of an exposed worker. If you have health problems because you were exposed to asbestos, you have legal rights to be compensated for your losses.
Ohio Asbestos Laws
Ohio has seen a great deal of asbestos-related litigation. In 2000, two-thirds of new asbestos-related case filings were in only five states, Ohio among them. By 2004, Cuyahoga County had 41,000 pending asbestos lawsuits. This is the year Ohio enacted litigation reforms in an effort to limit asbestos claims and reduce frivolous lawsuits.
But this does not mean you cannot be compensated. If you have a valid claim and the defendant has money to compensate you, you may be compensated for your past and current medical expenses, future medical expenses, disability, pain and suffering, loss of consortium, lost wages, loss of current and future earning capacity, punitive damages, and more.
If you think you may have an asbestos-related illness, the first thing to do is call an Ohio attorney like Plevin & Gallucci who is experienced and successful in handling asbestos cases.
Types of Asbestos Lawsuits
After speaking with you and analyzing your case, your Ohio asbestos attorney can advise you of your options. The three most common types of lawsuits filed are personal injury, wrongful death if the victim has died of asbestos exposure, and workers’ compensation.
If you file a lawsuit, you must do so within the statute of limitations after you have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease. If you miss that brief window, you cannot be compensated and you will be on your own to pay medical expenses and to deal with loss of income.
A few things to keep in mind:
- An Ohio personal injury claims statute of limitations is two years after you have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness.
- An Ohio wrongful death suit also must be filed within two years after the victim’s death.
- Normally, you have only one year to file a workers’ compensation claim in Ohio, but there is an exception for exposure to harmful conditions or chemicals. That means if you are ill due to asbestos exposure, you have two years to file a claim after your diagnosis. However, workers’ compensation laws and regulations are complex. You would be wise to contact an attorney as soon as possible after your diagnosis to ensure you do not lose your rights.
As noted above, the statute of limitations begins after you have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness, such as mesothelioma. This means that even if you were unknowingly exposed to asbestos ten years ago, the window for filing your claim does not begin until you are made aware of the illness by your physician.
Proving Your Ohio Asbestos Illness Claim
As with any claim where you have suffered injury and are seeking compensation, you must be able to establish that you have suffered damage. It’s not enough to just show that you have been exposed to asbestos. If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you don’t have to show it was caused by asbestos because asbestos is the only known cause. If you have another type of illness, however, you will have to show that asbestos was a “substantial factor” in your diagnosis under Ohio law because it is possible the illness could have other causes.
You must also be able to prove that you were exposed to “asbestos that was manufactured, supplied, installed, or used by the defendant.”
Per Ohio Revised Code 2307.96, the court will consider the following to determine whether the defendant’s asbestos was a substantial contributing factor to your illness:
- “The manner in which the plaintiff was exposed to the defendant’s asbestos;
- “The proximity of the defendant’s asbestos to the plaintiff when the exposure to the defendant’s asbestos occurred;
- “The frequency and length of the plaintiff’s exposure to the defendant’s asbestos;
- “Any factors that mitigated or enhanced the plaintiff’s exposure to asbestos.”
Ohio law also gives courts discretion to consider other relevant factors.
For example, you may be able to sue more than one party. Parties who could be held liable include the manufacturer, the owner of the property where you were exposed to asbestos, and your employer if you worked with asbestos-related products. Normally, claims against an employer are workers’ compensation claims, though there are other options.
Act Quickly When Diagnosed with an Asbestos-Related Illness
There have been so many claims against asbestos manufacturers that the company who manufactured the asbestos you were exposed to may very well have gone bankrupt. There may be no money there to compensate you. However, in such a case, sometimes you may still be able to be compensated by shareholders who hold the assets. Your Ohio asbestos attorney can analyze your situation to see it this applies in your situation.
Because an asbestos-related illness can take a long time to manifest, a company may have changed hands before you are diagnosed. In this case, the successor company’s liability is limited to the fair market value of the predecessor’s total gross assets or the acquired stock or assets.
If you are suing the owner of premises where you were exposed to asbestos, the burden of proof will be different depending on if you were exposed before or after January 1, 1972. Your Cleveland asbestos attorney can explain the details of what you will need to prove in your case.
If you are diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness, contact the experienced Cleveland asbestos lawyers of Plevin & Gallucci as soon as you can. We will take the time to gather all the necessary documentation and prepare a winning case. Remember, the law limits the time in which you have to file a claim — act now and contact Plevin & Gallucci today for a free case evaluation.