Asbestos exposure is linked to many serious respiratory diseases and types of cancers, including the following:
- Lung cancer
Although federal exposure limits were set for the workplace in the 1970s, approximately 10,000 people continue to die each year from illnesses caused by asbestos. While asbestos is primarily used for its heat and fire-resistant qualities or can be mixed with cement, it can also be used for electrical wiring or building insulation. Workers become exposed when they inhale or swallow asbestos fibers. Over time, these fibers can accumulate with repeated exposure and cause inflammation and scarring in the lungs, which leads to cancer or other diseases.
Unfortunately, workers are not the only ones at risk. It is possible workers can carry home asbestos fibers on their skin, hair and clothes. This creates a secondary exposure risk for families or anyone the worker comes into repeated contact with for extended periods of time. The New Jersey Supreme Court calls this risk “take-home exposure.”
How Did the New Jersey Supreme Court Expand the Take-Home Asbestos Exposure Law?
In New Jersey, if a worker is contracts an illness due to asbestos exposure, his or her company can be held liable for damages. Additionally, the duty of care the company has is extended to the worker’s spouse. This means if a worker comes home each day with fibers on their clothes and their spouse contracts a disease linked with asbestos exposure, the workplace could be held liable for damages.
However, the New Jersey Supreme Court just extended that duty of care to individuals other than a spouse and to toxins other than asbestos. This opens the door to a number of new lawsuits that can include members of a worker’s household or even guests invited over. The decision was based on a case filed by a woman who developed chronic beryllium disease, an untreatable illness that affects lung tissue. According to court records, she contracted the disease because of her exposure to asbestos fibers on her boyfriend’s clothing.
This ruling is a good step in the right direction to help those who have contracted diseases caused by toxins. Hopefully, this new law will help those exposed to asbestos and other toxins hold companies responsible.
Spevack Law Firm is a personal injury law firm that fights for those who have contracted diseases as a result of asbestos exposure in the Teaneck, Iselin and New Brunswick areas of New Jersey.