Despite the fact that all of the main asbestos manufacturers in the US declared themselves bankrupt several years ago, they had to set aside millions of dollars and set up trust funds to pay out future Claimants who were diagnosed with an asbestos related condition.
If you are suffering from an asbestos related illness, you may not know that in certain circumstances you could bring a claim in the US against the manufacturers of asbestos products, instead of or as well as a claim in the UK against a former employer who allowed you to be exposed to asbestos in the workplace.
How Asbestos Claims are Dealt With in America
Claims in the US are generally dealt with differently than here in the UK. Legal costs in the US are not awarded as part of the claim so US attorneys deduct an agreed percentage, usually 25%, of the compensation recovered. This is called a “Contingency Fee Agreement” rather than the “No Win-No Fee” agreements we use in the UK. But if your claim is unsuccessful in the US, you still won’t pay any legal costs.
Because manufacturers of asbestos products were based in the US and distributed worldwide, British claimants are entitled to claim compensation from certain US trust funds.
Royal and Merchant Navy Veterans Asbestos Claims
People from certain occupations, particularly those who served in the Royal Navy or the Merchant Navy, may be entitled to bring a compensation claim through the US Courts rather than pursuing a claim in the UK.
To bring a claim in the US, one or more of the ships you served on would need to have docked in a US port at some point in your naval career.
Asbestos in Cosmetic Products
Someone diagnosed with mesothelioma, particularly women who have no known occupational exposure to asbestos during their careers, may also bring a claim for compensation in the US Courts against the manufacturers of talcum powder if they used it, particularly in the 1960s and 1970s.
Many cosmetic products manufactured in the US – including talcum powder – were contaminated with asbestos so a claim can be brought against the US manufacturers.
But it’s not just talcum powder that contained asbestos fibres over the years. Various beauty products including face powder, lipstick and other makeup have all contained amounts of asbestos.
Johnson & Johnson, the manufacturers of Johnson’s Baby Powder, knew that their talcum powder contained asbestos for over three decades, but hid this information using a clever X-ray testing technique to determine whether its products contained any asbestos.
This technique was never going to pick up asbestos fibres, so they continued selling their products as “asbestos-free”.
The strongest claim is for people from the UK who have ever visited the USA and used talcum powder products whilst there, even if that was just for a shopping weekend in New York. But you may still be able to bring a product liability claim against the manufacturers of cosmetics and talcum powder even if you never visited the USA.
Larger Asbestos Compensation Awards in America
The advantage of bringing a claim in the US is that a trial will have a jury, which we don’t have in the UK for asbestos claims. Because of the jury, very large awards of compensation can be made, which are much higher than you would expect a court to award here in the UK.
These options of bringing claims in the US are not known by all lawyers in the UK so it is always worth instructing a specialist asbestos claims Solicitor and law firm so they can explore all options with you and liaise with US attorneys if appropriate.
If you’re not sure if you have an asbestos related claim, please get in touch with one of our specialist Asbestos Claims Solicitors, who can help you.
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