Asbestos has been a hot button topic for many years. People exposed to asbestos can contract various asbestos-related illnesses such as lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis. With the help of an asbestos attorney, a number of victims of asbestos exposure have sued asbestos manufacturers, their employers and people they believed were liable for their asbestos exposure.
In the legal history of the United States, as of 2002, it is estimated that more then 70 billion dollars have been paid to asbestos attorneys and their clients. The cases are usually class action suits where multiple plaintiffs band together to sue just one company, manufacturer or person responsible for the exposure. 730,000 individuals who were at one time or another exposed to asbestos have already sued. More and more people are expected to file asbestos cases.
Responsibilities of an Asbestos Attorney
Asbestos litigation falls under tort litigation. Since this is civil litigation, the lawyer should be a civil litigator. The lawsuit is a personal injury lawsuit. There can be one or more people suing the government or other people at a time. Asbestos litigation is not criminal litigation. Government representatives do not try people for crimes in order to impose criminal penalties. The intention of civil litigators is to get money for their clients for damages.
Asbestos attorneys need to be experts at filing lawsuits and make arguments for their clients. They should be master negotiators so they can settle claims that are acceptable to their clients. A lot of legal research goes into an asbestos case. The asbestos litigator must be adept at legal research. Tons of investigative work is required in cases like this. For one, the attorneys for the plaintiffs need to prove damages suffered due to asbestos exposure.
Asbestos Attorney Schooling
All lawyers have to graduate from law school and successfully pass the Bar Exam. In law school, the would-be asbestos attorneys are not required to specialize in litigation focused on personal injury law. Ample courtroom exposure is needed in order for asbestos attorneys to develop the confidence to represent their clients. Working for large law firms that handle asbestos cases are the place for new lawyers to start their careers if they want to specialize in asbestos exposure related cases.
Class Action Suit
Most of the asbestos cases are class action suits. Usually, there is more than one victim of asbestos exposure in a company; instead of filing individual lawsuits, the victims file as one. The group of victims or “class” has to be certified first by a judge in order for the case to become a class action lawsuit. The advantage of a class action lawsuit is that companies are more willing to settle cases like this.
It is the responsibility of the asbestos attorney to find victims to make up the “class.” In some cases, an individual may hire an asbestos attorney if he wants to become part of a class action. When this happens, the asbestos attorney will work together with the class action’s lead attorney as a representative of his client.
An asbestos attorney does not only represent the plaintiff or alleged victims. He can also represent the defendant. Whichever side the asbestos attorney is on, a lot of work goes into the preparation for the case and in the actual trying of the case. To become a successful asbestos attorney, a lawyer should have significant experience in cases of this nature.