South Carolina Mesothelioma Lawyer
From the late 19th century through much of the 20th century, South Carolina’s economy relied heavily on industries that used asbestos. Numerous companies that profited from asbestos knew it was a dangerous product but failed to take steps to protect workers. As a result, thousands of South Carolinians have prematurely died from asbestos-related diseases.
South Carolinians experienced 44 deaths from mesothelioma in 2019, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This reflects a death rate of 0.6 deaths per 100,000 residents. Asbestos Nation observed 663 mesothelioma deaths from 1999 to 2017 and 3,801 deaths from all asbestos-related illnesses. The highest concentration of deaths occurred in Charleston County.
These deaths are inexcusable and could have been prevented if the companies that profited from asbestos had warned workers and the public about the dangers of asbestos exposure. The South Carolina mesothelioma lawyers at The Lanier Law Firm can help you hold them accountable.
Holding Asbestos Companies Accountable for More Than 25 Years
This includes a recent $1.3 million recovery in a South Carolina case involving a woman exposed to asbestos through the following sources:
- Cosmetic talc
- Occupational exposure in South Carolina textile factories
- Her husband’s work clothes
We care about our clients and will stop at nothing to get results that will truly make a difference in their lives and in the lives of their loved ones.
Our law firm defines legal care as a personalized, caring approach combined with skillful representation. The feedback we receive from our clients demonstrates how our approach impacts them:
“I am always treated with the same kindness and respect that my father received. The Lanier Law Firm has gone above and beyond to research every company that had a hand in this horrible cancer! They are making sure that the ones who caused his illness and ultimately his death have had to pay for their crimes. There aren’t enough stars to rate this law firm!” —Kristy Brown
“My mother, my two sisters, and I have benefitted, and continue to benefit, greatly from The Lanier Law Firm’s tenacious quest to seek justice from negligent entities responsible for my father’s illness and untimely death from mesothelioma.” —Mike Mooney
“I would like to thank The Lanier Law Firm for everything they have done for my family. From my father’s first emails to them to after his passing and the resolution of our issue, they were right there with us, caring, attentive, and super professional. I would not hesitate to recommend them!”
Our approach is so effective that our founder Mark Lanier teaches other experienced lawyers how to successfully handle mesothelioma cases. Our attorneys are regularly called upon as featured speakers, and our peers have honored us with numerous awards and designations, including the following:
- Super Lawyers
- Best Lawyers in America
- Trial Lawyer of the Year (Mark Lanier)
- Best Law Firms, Tier I Ranking, by U.S. News & World Report
- Most Impressive Plaintiff Verdict by Courtroom View Network
How can a South Carolina mesothelioma lawyer help me?
The companies that profited from asbestos during most of the 20th century knew asbestos was a harmful product by the early 1930s. However, they continued to expose workers to large quantities of asbestos daily over extended periods while failing to inform them of the risks.
Extensive evidence has emerged showing that these companies engaged in deliberate coverup conspiracies to protect their profits. While this may seem like a scenario that would make a straightforward case, asbestos cases are far from simple.
Many of the liable companies are wealthy and prefer to use their wealth to pay for the most expensive legal defense money can buy rather than compensate victims. These legal teams resort to every trick in the book to minimize compensation or avoid paying it completely. They employ such tactics as the following:
- Stall the case in hopes the victim will die or give up
before a resolution is reached
- Blame the victim for their illness
- Blame other sources
- Deny their culpability
- Challenge the credibility of expert witnesses
- Challenge the jurisdiction
- File a motion for summary judgment
These are just a few tactics asbestos companies employ in their desperate attempt to escape liability. The Lanier Law Firm has been prosecuting mesothelioma cases long enough to have observed nearly every tactic there is, and nothing catches us by surprise. We know how to successfully thwart these tactics. We will also do the following:
- Spend extensive time with you to obtain a detailed life history so we can identify all parties liable for your exposure
- File a mesothelioma lawsuit, trust fund claim, and/or workers’ compensation claim as applicable
- Negotiate a settlement so you can avoid trial
- If necessary, take your case to trial
- Identify additional forms of compensation for which you qualify
Although our attorneys are often able to settle mesothelioma cases, we prepare each one as if it is going to trial. This ensures we are always well-prepared in the event a defendant refuses to take responsibility.
How much compensation can I recover?
The compensation you can recover will vary based on such factors as the following:
- The severity of your illness
- Your age at diagnosis
- Your prognosis
- The types of mesothelioma claims available to you
- The number of claims you can file
- The available insurance and resources of the defendants
The types of claims available are primarily driven by the sources of your exposure.
The highest compensation is generally available through mesothelioma lawsuits. You may qualify to file a lawsuit if the company is still solvent and other specific conditions are met, which our attorneys can determine during a free case evaluation. In a mesothelioma lawsuit, you can pursue the following damages:
- Economic damages
- Non-economic damages
- Punitive damages
Economic damages are the monetary losses brought on by your injuries. These generally include medical expenses, lost wages, and the value of domestic services you provide.
Medical expenses include the following:
- Hospital care
- Doctor visits
- Medical equipment
- Medical travel expenses
- Palliative care
- Home health
- Personal care
- Participation in clinical trials
Lost wages include the following:
- Missed workdays
- Projected future earnings
- Lost job benefits
- Lost business opportunities
Factors that determine how these damages are calculated include your life expectancy and your earnings during the year prior to your illness.
Non-economic damages are subjective losses related to your quality of life. These damages include the following:
- Emotional distress
- Loss of society
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of capacity to enjoy life
- Loss of bodily functions
While some states limit non-economic damages, in South Carolina, non-economic damages are uncapped.
Punitive damages may be awarded in South Carolina personal injury cases when it can be proven by clear and convincing evidence that the conduct of the defendant was willful, wanton, or reckless.
South Carolina limits punitive damages to $500,000 in 2010 dollars or three times the total economic and non-economic damages, whichever is greater. This amount is adjusted annually according to inflation. As of December 2021, the cap had reached $636,014.
However, these limits are increased if you can prove the injurious conduct was perpetrated with the knowledge of company persons in authority, that such persons knew the conduct was harmful, and that the conduct was primarily motivated by “unreasonable financial gain.”
In these cases, the limits are increased to the greater of $2 million or four times the compensatory damages. However, the $2 million amount is not subject to annual adjustments for inflation.
The unreasonable conduct of defendants who actively concealed asbestos risks certainly meets these criteria for enhanced punitive damages.
Asbestos Trust Funds
Several asbestos companies declared bankruptcy when they were faced with rising numbers of asbestos claims. These companies are protected against mesothelioma lawsuits, but in exchange for bankruptcy protection, they were required to establish asbestos trust funds to benefit present and future asbestos exposure victims.
Filing an asbestos trust fund claim is generally a faster process because the claim is filed directly through the individual fund rather than through the court system. Economic and non-economic damages are available through the funds, but punitive damages are not. However, trust fund compensation is often significantly lower than compensation recovered in lawsuits.
If you were exposed to asbestos on the job, recovering compensation directly from your employer can be complicated. The South Carolina workers’ compensation law requires workers to file a claim for occupational illnesses within two years of the last exposure. No exception is made for latent diseases like asbestos-related illnesses.
Asbestos-related illnesses typically develop 10 to 40 years after the initial exposure, which is long after the statute of repose has expired. In exchange for purchasing workers’ compensation insurance, South Carolina employers are protected from civil liability for occupational injuries and illnesses.
State courts have upheld the workers’ compensation statute of repose and its exclusive remedy provision. According to the majority opinion in Matthews v. E.I. Du Pont De Nemours & Co.:
“He developed his pulmonary disease decades later, well past the period provided for in the statute of repose. While this result may seem unfair, this Court is not tasked with legislating. Accordingly, this Court agrees with Defendant DuPont that as to DuPont, Mr. Matthews’s claim is governed by the Workers’ Compensation Act and its exclusivity provisions.”
However, an experienced South Carolina mesothelioma lawyer can still find a way for you to file a claim. For example, you may be eligible to file a claim against the employer if you do not meet the definition of a statutory employee. This applies to independent contractors who are often not covered by workers’ compensation.
Whether you are an employee or an independent contractor, you may also be eligible to file a lawsuit against a supplier who provided asbestos-containing products to your employer.
If you developed an asbestos-related disease after being exposed to asbestos while serving on active duty in the military, you may qualify for VA benefits.
VA benefits include the following:
- Monthly tax-free disability benefit payments
- Monthly pension payments in some cases
- Free medical care
- Death benefits
- Family benefits
Compensation for Wrongful Death
The South Carolina wrongful death statute allows a personal representative to file a survival claim or wrongful death claim for the benefit of the immediate family of an asbestos exposure victim who has passed away as a result of an asbestos-related disease.
In a survival action, the personal representative files a case the deceased would have been entitled to file had they survived or continues a case the decedent initiated prior to death. Damages recoverable in a survival lawsuit include the following:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
In a wrongful death case, the personal representative files a case to recover the family’s losses that stem from the death, such as the following:
- Burial expenses
- Lost income of the deceased
- Loss of services of the deceased
- Grief, pain, and suffering of the family
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of parental guidance and instruction
- Loss of comfort
Damages are awarded to the estate and distributed to the heirs according to intestate laws. Punitive damages are also recoverable in survival and wrongful death cases. Settlements must be approved by the probate court, circuit court, or U.S. District Court.
Do I qualify for mesothelioma compensation?
Before you can qualify for compensation, you must have developed an asbestos-related illness. Exposure to asbestos alone is not sufficient to file a claim. If you have one of the following illnesses as a result of asbestos exposure, you may be eligible to file a claim:
- Malignant pleural mesothelioma
- Peritoneal mesothelioma
- Pericardial mesothelioma
- Testicular mesothelioma
- Lung cancer
- Ovarian cancer
South Carolina courts require plaintiffs to prove actionable exposure, which demonstrates “frequency, regularity, and proximity” with regard to asbestos exposure. This means to prevail in a lawsuit, you must demonstrate that asbestos was regularly in close proximity to your work area over an extended period.
What if I was exposed to asbestos in
South Carolina but now live out of state?
Who is liable for my asbestos exposure?
One of the most important jobs of a mesothelioma law firm is to identify all liable parties and prove each party’s role in your asbestos exposure. Many of our clients were blindsided by their diagnoses because they were previously unaware they had been exposed to asbestos and could not identify sources of exposure.
Our extensive library of asbestos exposure sources has helped clients identify hundreds of liable parties, which have included the following:
- Asbestos mining companies
- Asbestos product manufacturers
- Asbestos product distributors and retailers
- Construction companies
- State and local governing authorities
- Premises owners
Industries in South Carolina With a History of
South Carolina is home to multiple industries that used asbestos extensively, resulting in significant exposure for workers. The South Carolina coastlines were littered with military and commercial shipyards that used asbestos in vast amounts. Meanwhile, the textile industry dominated South Carolina manufacturing, and the power industry used asbestos in a variety of applications.
The industries with the heaviest asbestos exposure in South Carolina include the following:
- Military occupations
- Power generation
- Ship repair industries
South Carolina Companies That
Exposed Workers to Asbestos
The following companies in South Carolina are known to have exposed their workers to asbestos:
- Bowater Paper Mill
- Braswell Services Group
- Carolina Shipping Company
- Carotell Paperboard Corporation
- Charleston Air Force Base
- Charleston Consolidated Railway, Gas & Electric Company
- Charleston Shipbuilding and Drydock Company
- Clinton Cotton Mills
- Detyens Shipyards
- Duke Power Company Oconee Nuclear Plant
- International Paper Company
- Gilliland Plant
- Laurens Cotton Mill
- Naval Weapons Station
- Parris Island Marine Base
- Riegel Paper
- South Carolina Electric and Gas Company
- Southern Kraft Paper Company
- Watts Mill
What should I do if I have been exposed to
asbestos in South Carolina?
If you are aware that you have been exposed to asbestos but have not contracted an asbestos-related disease, you cannot file a legal claim.
From a medical standpoint, there are no pre-screening tests that can predict whether you will develop mesothelioma or another illness in the future. Not everyone who is exposed to asbestos develops an illness. However, you can take proactive steps to ensure you are diagnosed early should an illness develop.
Inform your health care provider of your exposure so your medical records reflect that you were exposed to asbestos. Asbestos-related diseases often present with non-specific symptoms. A notation in your medical records may ensure that asbestos-related diseases are considered and more rapidly diagnosed if symptoms develop.
Your health care provider may recommend that you undergo annual lung function tests as a means to detect cancer as early as possible.
If possible, try to identify mesothelioma treatment centers near you. Mesothelioma is a rare cancer, and most doctors have little to no experience in mesothelioma treatment or diagnosis.
Mesothelioma Treatment in South Carolina
Asbestos Exposure in South Carolina Today
Because asbestos was used extensively in consumer products, buildings, and homes, South Carolinians are still at risk of being exposed today.
You may still be exposed to asbestos if you work in the following positions:
OSHA regulates asbestos exposure in the workplace and restricts levels of asbestos exposure to 0.1 fibers per cubic centimeter per eight-hour weighted workday. The EPA regulates disposal practices and emissions of asbestos materials.
Despite these regulations, when building materials are destroyed in a fire or intentional demolition, asbestos fibers become airborne and inhalable.
Exposure in Your Home
If your home was built before 1990, and particularly before 1986, you may have asbestos materials in your home. If you suspect the existence of asbestos in your home, the only reliable way to confirm this is through lab testing. For your safety, testing should only be attempted by a licensed asbestos contractor.
Never attempt to remove suspected asbestos products. Even if the presence of asbestos is confirmed, removal is not always the recommended course of action. If you attempt to remove the asbestos yourself, the microscopic fibers could easily become disturbed and spread throughout your home. The South Carolina Department of Environmental Control provides a list of licensed contractors and resources.
Licensed asbestos abatement companies inspect asbestos-containing areas and provide recommendations on whether to leave it in place or remove it. If removal is recommended, an asbestos abatement company can provide this service and ensure the fibers are not dispersed throughout your home.
Exposure in Public
Virtually every type of public building contains asbestos, from apartment complexes to train stations to public schools. Public schools present a hazard to school children and employees, especially as materials such as asbestos floor tiles become worn and disturb the encased asbestos fibers.
Asbestos in public schools is regulated by the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA), which requires schools to perform inspections and prepare management plans to prevent or reduce asbestos hazards.
The National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) regulations under the Clean Air Act regulate the construction industry, especially during demolitions and renovations of commercial structures. The regulations require companies to notify the South Carolina Department of Environmental Control before performing demolitions or renovations of buildings that may contain asbestos.
Construction companies are also required under this act to follow air cleaning procedures or prevent visible emissions into the outside air and dispose of asbestos in accordance with guidelines.
When should I contact a South Carolina
The South Carolina statute of limitations is three years from the date an individual discovers or should have discovered an injury through reasonable diligence. In most cases, this is the date of diagnosis. This is known as the discovery date and is “significant in determining the date to commence the running of the statute of limitations.” —Megan Waida, Attorney
While three years may seem like sufficient time, investigating and preparing a successful mesothelioma case requires a detailed process that takes substantial time. It is therefore crucial that you not wait to contact a mesothelioma attorney. Contact The Lanier Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation.
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