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Asbestos Lawsuits

New York Asbestos Lawsuits

What is Asbestos Lawsuit in New York

In New York, asbestos was used for various purposes, including building materials, manufacturing motor parts (such as brakes, gaskets, and clutches), heat-resistant materials, and packaging. The varied use was due to the durability and heat-resistance of asbestos, making it a suitable option for its diverse applications. The widespread use of asbestos meant that many people came into contact with the material, either directly by working with it, by being exposed to it during destructive action on materials containing asbestos, or by second-hand exposure from a person directly exposed to it. Despite its many valuable properties, the fibrous nature of asbestos made the material dangerous - Hence, New York mesothelioma laws were established.

Asbestos can fragment under stress, releasing microscopic fibers deposited on materials, which can be inhaled. The fibers can enter the lungs and lead to severe health challenges such as asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma.

Several corporations neglected the harmful effects of asbestos and continued to use it, severely endangering the lives of several people. As a result, persons who have either been directly harmed by exposure to asbestos, or family members who have suffered the loss of a loved one due to such practices can sue the organizations. This is a civil lawsuit in which the person suing (plaintiff) seeks to recover a monetary award for the injuries suffered due to the actions of the organization(s) being sued (defendant). Therefore, an injured party can file an asbestos lawsuit under Section 214 and Section 1411 of the New York Civil Practice Law and Rules.

Types of Asbestos Lawsuits

Asbestos lawsuits are categorized into types that depict case handling procedure, case priority, and the applicable statute of limitations. The primary distinction used for asbestos lawsuits in New York is the nature of the relationship between the plaintiff and the person injured by asbestos exposure. Thus, asbestos lawsuits are classified into personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits.

Personal Injury Lawsuit: Personal injury asbestos lawsuits refer to civil actions brought against one or more defendants by individuals who have contracted some asbestos-related diseases due to the alleged negligent act of the defendants. In this action, the person who brings the lawsuit is the injured party seeking compensation for the injury. This type of case typically receives the highest priority in court as it is desirable to obtain payment for the individual before death occurs.

Wrongful Death Lawsuit: Unlike a personal injury lawsuit, a wrongful death lawsuit does not involve the injured person directly. Instead, this type of lawsuit is used to recover monetary compensation when someone who contracted an asbestos-related illness has died. Usually, the deceased person's family members bring this type of legal action to obtain financial compensation for the individual's death.

A personal injury lawsuit in New York receives further sub-classification upon entering the court system based on the severity of the asbestos-related injury of the plaintiff. The illness is described as either malignant or non-malignant. Malignant asbestos diseases are more severe conditions, such as mesothelioma, that are usually fatal. Contrariwise, non-malignant diseases refer to conditions such as asbestosis, which is not immediately life-threatening.

Furthermore, based on the severity of the illness, a personal injury lawsuit is categorized and entered into either an "active docket" or "inactive docket". Active docket cases receive immediate attention as the cases classified here involve malignant asbestos-related diseases. This is to ensure that the claimant obtains compensation as soon as possible. The inactive docket holds claims of non-malignant illnesses in which the plaintiff's condition is not very serious. These cases are not furthered in the court process but put on hold until the plaintiff's condition worsens enough to become serious. The distinction is used to prioritize cases, ensuring that very sick people get help first and avoiding dispensing limited financial resources to people whose illnesses are not severe.

Who Can File an Asbestos Lawsuit in New York?

Anyone who has suffered some impairment due to asbestos exposure in the state can file an asbestos lawsuit. Asbestos lawsuits are intended to be means for persons who have suffered some impairment due to asbestos exposures to obtain some monetary damages. This can be to pay off large medical debts, cover funeral expenses, or compensate for the loss of income due to the impairment.

Regardless of the means of contact, asbestos inhalation can lead to severe health conditions, and anyone who develops such an illness can file an asbestos lawsuit. The estate of a person who develops an asbestos-related disease and dies as a cause can also file an asbestos lawsuit.

How to File an Asbestos Lawsuit in New York

An individual may begin an asbestos lawsuit in New York by submitting a complaint before an appropriate legal authority detailing the asbestos-related disease they contracted due to the negligent actions of one or more defendants. Also, asking the legal authority to award monetary damages as to that effect. While uniform throughout the state, the procedure for initiating such an action differs in legal authority.

Persons exposed to asbestos within any of the five boroughs of New York City can submit their complaints to the New York City Asbestos Litigation (NYCAL) court, a dedicated court in the state which solely handles asbestos cases. This court functions to expedite the processing of asbestos cases in New York City and also relieve such cases from courts in the city handling other civil and criminal matters.

On the other hand, people exposed to asbestos within the other counties outside of New York City can file their complaints with the courts in their judicial districts handling asbestos matters. There are five such courts where interested parties can file asbestos cases. Interested parties may file claims arising out of the 5th Judicial district at the Lewis County Supreme Court, cases from the 4th judicial district at the Fulton County Supreme Court, and the suits from the 7th judicial district at the Monroe County Supreme Court. It is also possible to file asbestos lawsuits at the Erie County Supreme Court and the Niagara County Supreme Court.

How Long Do Asbestos Lawsuits Take in New York?

The length of time it takes from filing an asbestos case in New York to its resolution is unique in each asbestos litigation. Asbestos suits range from relatively simple to highly complex legal matters. However, several influencing factors affect how long it takes for a case to be resolved, such as:

Type of Asbestos Lawsuits Filed: The kind of asbestos case filed, either a personal injury suit or a wrongful death lawsuit, affects the precedence given the legal action. In a personal injury case, the plaintiff is the person injured, and it is usually desirable to ensure that the plaintiff receives compensation as soon as possible. On the other hand, wrongful death lawsuits are claims from the relatives of the injured person and take longer to resolve.

Case Management Practice: The time of resolution of asbestos cases in the New York City Asbestos Litigation court system is also dependent on the court's case management practice. Lawsuits in this court are filed as either "in extremis cases" or as "First-In-First-Out (FIFO) cases". In extremis cases, asbestos claims are processed at an accelerated rate to speed up the resolution of the legal matter. These legal actions are only used for highly severe personal injury cases where the plaintiff has either lung cancer or mesothelioma. The process attempts to recover damages for the plaintiff as quickly as possible. In contrast, it takes longer to resolve FIFO lawsuits because they are processed in the order they are filed. These cases are not accelerated and are usually used for wrongful death claims.

The Complexity of the Case: The complexity of an asbestos case is dependent on the number of parties involved in the litigation and the scope of matters subject to legal argument. These can significantly impact the resolution of a case as the matter of conflict must be settled for each party involved in the case. This is usually for cases involving multiple defendants, as these cases can take years to resolve.

Asbestos Class Action Lawsuits in New York

An asbestos class action lawsuit is a massive civil action involving many people who have suffered a similar injury due to a defendant's actions. Usually, a representative (either one person or a small group representing a much larger group) files the class action litigation. In this manner, the numerous individual cases can be handled as a single case, allowing all the injured persons to receive compensation at once. The accumulation of the multitude of cases helps to streamline the court process and avoid the cluttering of court resources on multiple cases, which are all similar.

However, class action lawsuits are rarely used in litigating asbestos cases in recent times. This is due to the uniqueness of each asbestos case, making it difficult for a single representative to represent all those involved accurately. Most injured persons also usually have multiple parties as their defendants from whom they seek to recover damages. Exposure can occur from different sources, so it is implausible for multiple people to have the same defendants. This makes it highly impractical and impossible to use class-action lawsuits to resolve asbestos cases.

Most plaintiffs in asbestos cases often prefer to use either personal injury lawsuits or wrongful death lawsuits, as these can fully capture the scope of each unique case and allow for the recovery of damages from each person who caused the plaintiff injury. These types of lawsuits are also more suitable for recovering more considerable sums in damages compared to what is recoverable from a class action lawsuit. Thus, while class action lawsuits can indeed be used to bring a civil action in an asbestos case, it rarely sees any application in recent years.

Asbestos Lawsuit Statute of Limitations in New York

The asbestos lawsuit statute of limitations in New York is a set of laws that dictate when a plaintiff can file a lawsuit for an asbestos-related injury in the state. Any lawsuit filed after the time elapses is not considered valid and will not be processed by the court.

There are two applicable statutes of limitations for asbestos cases. According to Section 214 (Civil Practice Laws and Rules) of the Consolidated New York Laws, the statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits specifies that filing is possible no later than three years from the time of diagnosis of the individual with an asbestos-related disease. Wrongful death lawsuits are covered in Section 5-4.1 (Estates, Powers and Trusts) of the Consolidated New York Laws which dictates the time in which this type of lawsuit can be presented before the court as no later than two years from the time of death of the person affected by an asbestos-related disease.

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