Last Friday, the West Virginia Senate unanimously passed a bill that many think will be beneficial to mesothelioma victims who were negligently exposed to asbestos. Under Senate Bill 444, the Asbestos Bankruptcy Trust Claims Transparency Act and the Asbestos and Silica Claims Priorities Act were passed, which authorizes legal procedures when filing asbestos-related claims.
According to news reports, not only will the new bill provide more standards for plaintiffs to follow during legal procedures for asbestos-related cases, but it will also create statute of limitations for these types of cases, a formal medical procedure to follow, and the mandatory law that companies must reveal any open or anticipated asbestos trust funds.
Dr. Tom Takubo, a Republican candidate for the West Virginia State Senate and a pulmonary physician, supports the new bill, and feels it will help people affected by asbestos get the help they need.
“As a pulmonary doctor, I’m pleased that the Senate voted today with full bipartisan support to protect funds for West Virginians who are affected by asbestos-related injuries. We must ensure funds are healthy five to 10 years from now to help pay for medical bills and family expenses, and this legislation will allow us to do that.”
Many others agree with Dr. Takubo, including Majority Leader Mitch Carmichael, who thinks West Virginia is taking the best steps to help asbestos victims by following bills passed by neighboring states.
“This bill would promote honesty in litigation and help juries reach fully informed decisions as to the cause of a person’s asbestos-related disease. Ohio has given priority to asbestos cancer victims for more than a decade and adopted trust claim honesty three years ago. Asbestos litigation is still active in Ohio, and deserving people continue to be paid.”
Others, however, including a state group of trial lawyers, feel that companies that manufactured and/or used asbestos-containing products will not held accountable for individual cases of the bill passes. There is also concern that the bill may eliminate potential cases involving spouses and children who developed diseases via second-hand asbestos exposure.
The next step for the bill includes being sent to the House of Delegates for approval.
West Virginia: High Mesothelioma Rates
According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), West Virginia places 27th in the nation for the most asbestosis and mesothelioma deaths. The state also ranks 4th highest in age-adjusted mesothelioma death rates, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports.
From 1999 to 2010, there were more than 400 asbestos-related deaths in West Virginia, primarily due to asbestos exposure during work at mines, power plants, steel mills, and railroad companies. Kanawha County leads in the highest amounts of asbestos-related deaths, followed by Cabell County and Putnam County, where numerous coal mines were once located, such as ACME and the West Virginia Southern Coal Company.
If you or a loved one have been injured by asbestos, keep in mind that there is a good chance that you’ll qualify for considerable compensation. Fill our contact form to get get free brochures from the leading mesothelioma attorneys in your area. There is currently more than $30 billion in asbestos trust funds, awaiting those diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness. If you have questions or need additional assistance, contact us at 800-694-4856.