Simply put, asbestos liability is a type of legal responsibility. A lawsuit seeks to establish a company’s liability for asbestos exposure injuries. A lawyer may argue a company is liable for reasons like negligence or strict liability. Liable companies owe their victims compensation.

01. Liability Overview

What Is Liability in an Asbestos Case?

Asbestos liability is a company’s responsibility for asbestos exposure injuries it caused. A lawsuit is the tool to establish this responsibility. Successful lawsuits result in money for victims or their families. This mesothelioma compensation can help pay for medical bills, travel expenses and other costs.

Liability is a type of legal obligation to compensate injured parties. It may result when a company’s actions violate a legal duty owed to their workers or customers. Liable companies have to compensate affected parties if their breach of duty led to injury.

Asbestos companies and other parties may be liable for exposing people to asbestos through:

  • Occupational exposure: This occurs when workers are exposed to asbestos at a jobsite or through on-the-job tasks. Most mesothelioma cases result from occupational asbestos exposure.
  • Hazardous product exposure: This occurs through exposure to asbestos products. These products may be found at work, at home, at school or purchased from a store.
  • Secondary exposure: Secondary asbestos exposure occurs through contact with people who work with asbestos or asbestos-containing materials.

A mesothelioma liability case is filed against parties believed to be liable for an individual’s diagnosis. Asbestos litigation can determine whether a defendant (company) breached a duty to a plaintiff (victim). If they did, they owe an obligation to compensate them. In other words, they are liable.

A mesothelioma lawyer can help victims determine if they might be owed compensation for injuries caused by asbestos exposure. A lawyer can also help victims identify which parties may be liable for their injuries.

02. Who Is Liable?

Who Is Liable in Asbestos Cases?

Many companies may be legally responsible for a person’s asbestos-related illness. For example, a victim may have experienced exposure at more than one jobsite. Each company that caused the victim’s exposure can be named in a lawsuit and may owe compensation.

Certain types of parties are more often defendants in mesothelioma lawsuits than others. This is because use of asbestos was common in many industries. Asbestos is still found in certain materials and products such as insulation, boilers and adhesives.

Common defendants in mesothelioma liability cases include:

  • Asbestos-processing companies
  • Asbestos product manufacturers
  • Asbestos shippers
  • Employers who used asbestos for things such as insulation and drywall
  • Mining companies
  • Owners of asbestos-contaminated properties
  • Raw asbestos manufacturers

When more than one company is found liable in an asbestos case, a judge or jury may apportion (share) liability. State laws set the rules for how apportionment works. Apportionment does not affect the total amount of compensation owed to a plaintiff.

Apportionment is the spreading of liability among defendants. Each defendant owes money in proportion to their liability.

Who Is Liable When an Asbestos Company Is Acquired by Another Company?

Sometimes the company responsible for a person’s asbestos exposure is acquired by or merges with another company. It is possible that the buyer, also called a “successor company,” may still be liable for injuries caused by the company they have acquired.

A successor company buys or merges with a company, aiming to continue the previous company’s business.

The question for the acquired company’s victim is whether successor liability exists. Successor liability allows plaintiffs to seek compensation from successor companies. In general, a buyer does not automatically assume the liabilities of the company it is buying. But several exceptions exist. These exceptions may allow people with mesothelioma to receive compensation from a successor company.

Whether an exception applies is specific to the facts of the buyer’s purchase of an asbestos company. An experienced mesothelioma lawyer can help build a case for successor liability.

Who Is Liable When an Asbestos Company Goes Bankrupt?

Asbestos victims may still be eligible for compensation from bankrupt companies. Bankruptcy proceedings may reduce or eliminate certain liabilities. Many bankrupt asbestos companies have established asbestos trust funds. These funds exist to provide compensation for injuries caused by the bankrupt company.

Filing an asbestos trust claim is not the same as suing to establish liability. Both actions may still result in compensation. However, an asbestos trust claim is unlikely to pay as much as a successful mesothelioma lawsuit.

An asbestos victim may still be able to sue a bankrupt asbestos company. A lawsuit against a bankrupt company, however, may have additional procedural requirements. An experienced lawyer can help victims fulfill these requirements.

Who Is Liable When an Asbestos Company No Longer Exists?

It may be possible to sue an asbestos company that no longer exists. How long ago the company dissolved and whether it still has any assets may factor in. Lawyers at mesothelioma law firms can help explore possible compensation from companies that no longer exist. They can also help victims determine other compensation options.

03. Determining Liability

How Is Asbestos Liability Determined?

Lawyers may present different legal theories for why companies should be held liable. The most common theories are negligence, strict liability and breach of warranty. Lawyers use these theories to explain why a company owed a duty to a victim, and why the company breached that duty by injuring them.

An experienced mesothelioma attorney can build strong cases using these theories. They can gather evidence for each element and argue the case if it goes to trial. A judge or jury can then decide if a victim has proven each part of a legal theory.


Negligence is a failure to act with a level of care that a reasonable person would have acted with in the same situation. Victims may be able to file a mesothelioma lawsuit under the theory of negligence liability.

What is the idea behind negligence liability? Parties should be accountable for foreseeable harms they could avoid by acting with reasonable care.

There are four elements to a negligence liability case. Each element must be proven to succeed at trial.

Elements of a Negligence Claim

  1. Duty: The defendant owes the plaintiff a duty of care to prevent any reasonably foreseeable injuries caused by their actions.
  2. Breach of duty: The defendant violated their duty to the plaintiff.
  3. Causation: The defendant’s breach of duty caused the plaintiff’s injury.
  4. Damages: The plaintiff’s injury resulted in economic or emotional losses for which the defendant owes compensation.

Asbestos Negligence Case Example

  1. Duty: A reasonable asbestos abatement company would protect employees from asbestos. They owe a duty of care to prevent exposure.
  2. Breach of duty: The company failed to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to their employees.
  3. Causation: The lack of PPE caused an employee to be exposed to asbestos.
  4. Damages: The employee developed mesothelioma as a result of their exposure. Lost wages and ongoing medical costs cause the employee to suffer economically.

Strict Liability

Strict liability is a legal theory that imposes liability for injuries even if a party did not act negligently. Strict liability is common in cases involving inherently dangerous products. For example, asbestos-containing products may be considered inherently dangerous. This type of liability is also called strict product liability. Victims may be able to file a mesothelioma lawsuit under the theory of strict liability.

What is the idea behind strict liability? With some products, dangers may still exist even if they are used with reasonable care. Sellers of such products should be accountable for the harm these products cause.

There are four elements to a strict liability case. The elements of a strict liability case are similar to a negligence case. The main difference is that it does not matter if the defendant acted negligently or not. Each element must be proven to succeed at trial.

Elements of a Strict Liability Claim

  1. Strict duty: The defendant owes the plaintiff a strict duty to design, manufacture or sell safe products.
  2. Breach of duty: The defendant violated their strict duty by selling an inherently dangerous product.
  3. Causation: The product resulted in the plaintiff’s injury in the course of its intended use.
  4. Damages: The plaintiff’s injury resulted in economic or emotional losses to the plaintiff.

Asbestos Strict Liability Case Example

  1. Strict duty: A raw asbestos seller owes a strict duty to sell safe products.
  2. Breach of duty: The seller breached that duty by selling raw asbestos, which is inherently dangerous.
  3. Causation: An employee at a company experienced exposure when they used the raw asbestos to make products.
  4. Damages: The employee developed mesothelioma as a result of their exposure. Lost wages and medical costs caused the employee to suffer economic losses.

Breach of Warranty

Breach of warranty refers to a violation of an expressed or implied guarantee about a product. A victim may be able to file a mesothelioma lawsuit if a seller of asbestos products violates a guarantee about the safety of their product.

What is the idea behind breach of warranty? A seller makes implicit guarantees about a product when they sell them on the market. For example, selling a product implicitly implies it is safe for the ordinary purposes for which it is used. Sellers whose products violate implied warranties should be accountable for the harm their products cause.

There are two elements to a breach of warranty case. Each element must be proven to succeed at trial.

Elements of a Breach of Warranty Claim

  1. Implied guarantee: A supplier or seller makes an expressed or implied guarantee about a product.
  2. Guarantee is false: The guarantee turns out to be false.

Asbestos Breach of Warranty Case Example

  1. Implied guarantee: A company sells talcum powder on the market, thus implying the product is safe for consumers.
  2. Guarantee is false: The talcum powder is contaminated with asbestos, exposing the consumer.
04. Asbestos Exposure & Liability

Can I Receive Compensation for Asbestos Exposure?

Mesothelioma patients and their loved ones may be eligible for compensation from liable parties and other sources. In general, a person cannot sue for asbestos exposure unless it causes an injury. An attorney can help determine eligibility to file a lawsuit as well as potential case value.

A mesothelioma patient may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit to seek compensation from parties responsible for their asbestos exposure. A patient may also be able to receive compensation from other types of asbestos claims such as veterans’ benefits claims and workers’ compensation.

A patient’s loved ones may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit to receive compensation if the patient dies of mesothelioma. They may also be able to receive compensation from other types of asbestos claims. Who may file a lawsuit or other asbestos-related claims on behalf of a victim depends on state law. People eligible to file a mesothelioma claim after the death of a victim may include:

  • A spouse or life partner
  • Children
  • Financial dependents
  • Parents or grandparents

An experienced asbestos attorney can help patients and their loved ones determine what compensation might be owed to them for asbestos-related injuries.

Tips for People Who Were Exposed to Asbestos

Anyone who knows or suspects they were exposed to asbestos can take steps to prepare for possible future legal needs. Asbestos exposure alone is usually not enough to file a lawsuit. But any exposure to asbestos may result in an asbestos-related disease, such as mesothelioma or asbestosis.

It is important to talk to a doctor if you know or suspect exposure. Most importantly, a doctor can watch for signs of asbestos diseases, which often have long latency periods. Early detection may help improve health outcomes. A doctor can also create a record of any changes in a person’s health. This record may be helpful in establishing negligence and other liabilities.

Documenting work-history details may also help establish liability if a person develops mesothelioma. An individual may also want to list co-workers who may be able to serve as witnesses in a deposition or at trial.

A person who develops mesothelioma can provide these records to a mesothelioma lawyer. The lawyer can use these documents to help prove that negligent parties are liable to the plaintiff or their loved ones.

05. Compensation for Liability

How Can I Receive Compensation From Liable Parties?

Mesothelioma victims and their loved ones may receive compensation in different ways. It is not always necessary to establish liability to receive compensation. However, filing a lawsuit to establish liability may result in higher compensation amounts than other claims.

An asbestos lawyer can help victims and their loved ones determine which types of compensation they may be eligible for.

Asbestos Lawsuit Verdict

Asbestos litigation may result in a verdict at trial. An asbestos lawsuit verdict will establish whether the defendant is liable for the plaintiff’s asbestos-related disease. The average mesothelioma verdict results in $2.4 million in compensation.

Mesothelioma Settlement

A mesothelioma settlement is an agreement between parties to dismiss the lawsuit before or during trial. A settlement may provide much needed compensation for victims and their loved ones. The average settlement ranges from $1 million to $1.4 million.

Settlements in general do not result in a determination of liability. Settlement agreements often contain a “non-admission of liability” clause. This clause will say that the defendant’s payment of compensation is not an admission that they are liable for the plaintiff’s injuries.

There are several reasons why an injured party may decide to settle. A plaintiff may prefer a private settlement agreement over a public trial. A plaintiff may not want to risk a defendant being found not liable at trial. An experienced attorney can negotiate settlements and answer questions about any offer.

Asbestos Bankruptcy Trust Claim

Many asbestos companies have filed for bankruptcy due to a high number of asbestos cases. Many of these companies have set up asbestos trust funds to pay out all present and future asbestos claims. There are more than 60 active trust funds that have set aside more than $30 billion to pay claimants.

A payout from an asbestos trust fund is not technically an admission of liability. Payouts are often lower than those for verdicts and settlements. Victims may be eligible to file both lawsuits and trust fund claims.

VA Claim

Asbestos use in the military was widespread during the twentieth century. Past asbestos uses continue to be a risk for military personnel. Veterans who developed an asbestos-related disease may be eligible for compensation.

Any compensation that claimants receive from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is considered a benefit and not an admission of liability.

Workers’ Compensation Claim

Most states require businesses with employees to have workers’ compensation liability insurance. It is a type of liability insurance that compensates workers for injuries that occur on the job. A mesothelioma diagnosis due to asbestos exposure is considered an injury that may be covered by workers’ compensation.

The amount of compensation paid to a claimant will depend on the company’s specific insurance coverage policy. A workers’ compensation payout may or may not involve an admission of a company’s liability.

06. Common Questions

Common Questions About Asbestos Liability

Can you sue for asbestos exposure?

Usually, a person cannot sue for asbestos exposure alone. An exposed person may have an injury claim if they later develop a related illness, like lung cancer or mesothelioma. Asbestos attorneys can tell patients and family members their legal options.

Can you sue only one company for asbestos liability?

People may sue multiple companies in a single asbestos lawsuit. For example, many types of workers had careers during which they worked for a number of asbestos companies. If they later develop an asbestos illness, each company that exposed that worker may be liable.

How do you prove asbestos exposure during a liability claim?

Items like work history documents and statements from coworkers may help prove asbestos exposure. Lawyers at mesothelioma law firms can help gather evidence. They have resources to figure out when and where exposures occurred. They may also secure evidence from companies being sued.