Many people who were, or think they may have been, exposed to benzene are worried about the risk of benzene related disease. Benzene related diseases– anemia, blood organ cancers such as leukemia, and bone marrow cancers including myeloma– are serious, debilitating and oftentimes life threatening and fatal conditions. Many other people already know they have a benzene related illness but are unsure of their rights to compensation for medical and related costs of their condition.
Filing a Benzene Claim
Benzene related disease cases are filed in state courts and each state has a law requiring claims to be filed within a certain period of time after a diagnosis– usually between one year and three years. Because time is required to investigate and evaluate a case in order to determine the nature and extent of benzene exposure and what companies or businesses were responsible, commencing the process should not wait until the time limit has nearly expired.
Benzene Attorneys and Lawyers
Most law firms and lawyers experienced in leukemia, myeloma and other benzene related disease claims provide services on a contingent fee basis. This means that they only earn a fee if they are successful in obtaining compensation for the claimant. In addition, they will fund the costs of the litigation including the cost of investigating and verifying a claim and preparing it for filing.
Investigating and Proving Benzene Claims
In most jurisdictions the claimant’s employer is not named as a defendant because workers compensation laws shield them from liability for lawsuits brought by their employees. This fact requires investigation to determine the companies responsible for manufacturing, installing or maintaining the benzene-containing products to which the claimant was exposed. In some cases the source of exposure will be clear and relatively easy to establish. Other cases will not be so clear cut and will require significant investigation to find sufficient links between benzene companies and the claimant’s work and exposure history.
When the responsible parties have been determined, experts consulted, and medical conditions evaluated and confirmed, the attorneys prepare a complaint and file it in state court. The defendants usually have thirty days to respond after which a hearing is conducted to discuss motions and establish a litigation schedule.
Litigation Process - The next
phase of the litigation process is the discovery phase during which each side
is given the opportunity to gather evidence from whatever sources it can find
including subpoenaing documents, filing interrogatories and taking depositions
and other statements.
Negotiations - In almost
all cases the court will encourage the
parties to enter into negotiations to see if an agreed financial arrangement
can be reached without the need to go to trial.
- Trial - If the case
is not settled then it is presented to a jury, which will hear the evidence and
render a verdict either finding one or more of the named defendants liable and
assessing damages to be paid, or finding insufficient evidence to establish
Benzene Legal Help
Whether you already have a benzene related illness, or were exposed to benzene but have no symptoms, or think you may have been exposed to benzene, you should contact a qualified attorney to discuss your situation and your rights to compensation. Contact your state or local bar association for referrals to attorneys who are qualified and experienced in litigating claims for benzene related disease.