Thursday, October 25, 2007

Asbestos Legislation

Asbestos legislation has long been a volatile issue, in and out of the courtroom. Many companies and individuals have a stake in swinging the pendulum one way or the other. The utmost concern, of course, is for the true victims of asbestos-related Mesothelioma and many senators, congressmen, and other government officials have gone to bat for those who’ve become sick or died from asbestos inhalation, hoping to be sure that their medical expenses can be met and that their surviving families will not be left unable to cope financially.

Asbestos legislation began in the 1970s, and since that time, more and more bills have been either passed or proposed in order to assist Mesothelioma victims. Others have been proposed in favor of the asbestos companies. Some highlights are listed below.

1970s – During this decade, Congress first became aware of asbestos-related injuries and diseases.

1977 to 1981 – The first bills to offer compensation for victims of asbestos-related diseases appeared on the Congressional docket. These were meant to create funds for victims, and required contributions from both asbestos and tobacco companies. Bills regarding guidelines for workers’ compensation for asbestos-related disabilities were also introduced at this time.

Mid 1980s – Both the Asbestos Workers Recovery Act and the Occupational Disease Compensation Act were introduced. For the former, compensation was based on injuries that cause disability and excluded unimpaired non-malignant cases. The latter bill federalized state workers’ compensation for occupational diseases.

1999 – The Fairness in Asbestos Compensation Act was introduced. It would create a formal procedure for federal asbestos cases and would establish the Office of Asbestos Compensation and form an Asbestos Compensation Fund. A decision to pass was tabled.

2000 – A bill is introduced to amend the IRS code of 1986 to provide relief for payment of asbestos-related claims.

2003 – The Fairness in Asbestos Injury Resolution Act is passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Without making use of taxpayer dollars, the federal government would “establish a national trust fund privately financed by asbestos defendant companies and insurers.”

2005 – The Senate Judiciary Committee approves the Fairness in Asbestos Injury Act of 2005 which would require asbestos companies to pay into a fund with which victims would be compensated. The act would potentially block lawsuits. This bill is still being debated.

Asbestos legislation is a long and complicated process and one that is confusing to most laypersons. In order to learn more about your legal rights as a victim of malignant mesothelioma, it is often wise to consult an attorney who’s experienced in the rights of asbestos-related cancer victims. He or she can properly review your case and access your possibilities for compensation.

For more information about asbestos legislation and the legal rights that accompany your Mesothelioma diagnosis, send for our free Mesothelioma Resource Kit.

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