After spending years seeking new ways to hide from responsibility, asbestos manufacturers and their insurance companies have recently gone on the offensive. Not content to have killed hundreds of thousands of people by spreading a deadly substance far and wide, these companies are now looking to make sick people look like the bad guys and make them jump through more hoops to get the compensation they deserve. The companies are looking to drum up support for their pet legislation, the Furthering Asbestos Claims Transparency Act, by highlighting a few bad actors among the throng of people seeking justice. If they succeed, it could become even harder for the real victims of asbestos to get the medical care and compensation they need.
The vast majority of people who become ill and die due to asbestos exposure never receive compensation. The number of valid claims that are not pursued greatly outnumbers the cases that are pursued. Asbestos manufacturers will not come close to being held properly accountable for the damage they have done. Still, they and their insurance companies are happy to reduce the small fraction of claims even further through intimidation and special interest lobbying.
It is not always a simple process to identify where and when you were exposed to asbestos. It takes experience and resources that few individuals possess to pinpoint who was responsible for your exposure. This is one of the primary reasons why valid claims are not pursued. Electricians, machinists, pipefitters and other workers in certain industries may have been exposed to many asbestos-containing products over the course of their careers. The companies that made those products knew of the harm they were causing and now seek to hide behind the uncertainty caused by their numbers. The breadth of their greed and irresponsibility does not seem a fitting reason to shield them from paying for the damage they have done.
Source: Huffington Post, “The Asbestos Transparency Farce,” by Robert Weissman, 9 February 2015