A rare form of aggressive, terminal cancer sweeps across the industrialized world over the course of several decades, caused by exposure to asbestos produced by businesses that know the risks, yet continue to use it anyway.
Those who are diagnosed die young – in their 40s, 50s and 60s, with the cancer having manifested years after exposure and then progressing rapidly, leaving their spouses, children and loved ones a matter of a couple years or a few months to say good-bye. It’s estimated that by the time the incidence of this cancer peaks in two years in the U.S., some 500,000 people will have died from it, despite the fact that transparency and enforced safety regulations could have prevented scores of unnecessary early deaths.
Who would you say is the victim in all this? Our mesothelioma lawyers know most would answer the patients or the loved ones who are now left behind to face the rest of their lives alone.
But apparently, insurance companies feel they are the ones who have suffered.
When a ratings firm recently came out with an estimation that insurance companies are going to need to set aside another $11 billion over what was previously budgeted (bringing the total to $85 billion, or $170,000 per mesothelioma patient), insurance companies went on the offensive.
Rather than conceding that this was a horrible chapter of corporate history that should be righted (to the extent that it can be) and never repeated, the insurance companies are instead pushing legislation that would make it more difficult for victims and their families to file mesothelioma litigation actions. Specifically, the American Legislative Exchange Council is fighting for this measure using the argument that much of these lawsuits are fraudulent. Rather than acknowledging the widespread suffering and deaths, insurance firms are contending that people must be making it up.
ALEC is pressing Republican lawmakers in particular to enact measures that will protect corporations from claims of toxic exposure, namely in West Virginia, Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Ohio and at the federal level.
It’s worth noting that this position is in opposition to the beliefs of most Americans. Insurance firms are among the industries least trusted by the public, with fewer than 40 percent voicing trust. The only two industries that garnered less public support were financial service firms and the federal government.
And yet, measures protecting these insurance firms are fast gaining a great deal of support due to the powerful influence of insurance lobbyists.
Rather than placing the blame where it belongs – with the companies that perpetuated this exposure and then schemed to cover it up – ALEC and other industry advocates are blaming plaintiff attorneys. They want to paint a picture depicting lawyers as the root of the problem, when in reality, the root of the problem is that people are suffering and dying because of the actions of those firms they agreed to insure.
We can understand that perhaps these insurance companies weren’t aware of the extent to which their clients where being negligent when they signed on with them. They most certainly didn’t expect the sheer volume of asbestos-related claims to be filed decades later. But that doesn’t take them off the hook and it most definitely doesn’t make them more of a victim than those who are losing their lives and their loved ones to this horrible disease.
Help for mesothelioma victims can be found at The Ferraro Law Firm by calling 1-800-275-3332. Offices in Miami, Washington, D.C., and New York City.
Shedding a Tear for the Insurance Industry? Feb. 27, 2013, By Brian Young, Director of Strategy and Technology, Corporate Action Network, The Huffington Post
More Blog Entries:
Mesothelioma Plaintiffs’ Rights Under Siege With “Transparency” Laws, Feb. 7, 2013, Mesothelioma Lawyer Blog