Seeking justice and compensation after personal injury is rarely ever easy, but it can be especially difficult for victims of asbestos-related diseases. There are several reasons for this, including the fact that mesothelioma typically develops many decades after exposure to asbestos.
Victims may be near death by the time the disease is diagnosed, and the at-fault parties (often former employers) may be out of business. On top of all these difficulties, there may be disputes about whether certain workers can sue their former employers or whether they need to rely on programs like workers' compensation.
While it didn't happen here in California, a recent case is an example of the difficult struggles that plaintiffs and their families often face. According to news sources, the Illinois Supreme Court recently held that a mesothelioma victim could not sue his former employer because workers' compensation was the "exclusive remedy" for his illness. At the same time, he could not have received workers' compensation because the time limit (of 25 years) for occupational disease claims had long since expired. The man had not even been diagnosed until 2011; more than a decade after the time limit had expired.
In short, the court held that the man and his family were not allowed to sue his former employer because his disease should have been covered under workers' compensation. Yet he could not file workers' compensation claims because the time limit had expired.
Sadly, the man died while the lawsuit against his former employer was still pending - an outcome that is all too common in mesothelioma cases. His wife continued legal action on his behalf, but to no avail.
It's important to note that court rulings like this one shouldn't necessarily be expected in other states. This case largely dealt with Illinois laws and the Illinois workers' compensation program.
If you've developed mesothelioma or another asbestos-related illness and want to seek both justice and compensation, please discuss your case with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible.