Exposure to asbestos can cause permanent damage to an individual’s health. The fine fibers of silicate material once woven into everything from brake linings to insulating materials can dislodge and become airborne. Once in the air, they can be inhaled where they lodge themselves within the lungs.
Over time, this can lead to mesothelioma, asbestosis, or lung cancer. Depending on the health of an individual, these can take many decades to develop. Even so, legislators and the courts have set and upheld a 25-year statute of limitations on asbestos related claims.
The problem was highlighted in the case of James Folta who developed mesothelioma 41 years after his employment at Ferro Engineering. He was exposed to asbestos while employed at the company from 1966 to 1970. Shortly before his death, he filed a personal injury lawsuit in Cook County against Ferro Engineering.
“The Workers’ Occupational Diseases Act and the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act allow workers to file claims against former employers for exposure to asbestos. In November, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that individuals must file these claims within the existing 25-year statute of limitations. Most importantly, they upheld the exclusive remedy provisions of these acts which limit an individual’s ability to file personal injury torts related to asbestos exposure outside the workers’ compensation system,” remarked Chicago personal injury lawyer John Power.
Even with knowledge of the dangers posed by asbestos, it is a material that manufacturers still use in the production of brake pads, roofing materials, potting soils, and home insulation. As long as manufacturers keep the proportion of asbestos under 1%, they are not running afoul of the law. In turn, they continue to expose consumers and workers to this deadly material.
“Many people believe that asbestos exposure is a thing of the past. The truth is that it isn’t, and that the potential for long-term exposure to asbestos is still very real, and very dangerous,” commented Chicago personal injury lawyer John Power.