Last modified: June 14, 2021
Filing a Claim in Florida
Florida ranks second in the nation for mesothelioma and asbestosis deaths, yet it takes a less stringent stance on asbestos than California, the only state to report more asbestos-related deaths.
The state’s regulations on asbestos exposure are not as strict as California’s laws. And Florida’s legal norms involving asbestos lawsuits tend to favor defendants more often than California’s.
Florida has deadlines, called statute of limitations, for filing personal injury and wrongful death claims. Experienced attorneys have the expertise to interpret how Florida’s statute of limitations may apply in your case.
It is important for families facing a mesothelioma diagnosis to consult with a mesothelioma attorney as soon as possible. They can help you file a claim to get compensation in the form of settlements, verdicts or trust fund payouts.
Florida has no naturally occurring deposits of asbestos, but tons of raw asbestos ore was shipped to the state and countless contaminated products were used in construction and other industries.
Mesothelioma lawyers have helped Floridians get compensation for occupational asbestos exposure and secondary exposure.
You should not rely on any information herein to make a determination about your legal rights. Please speak to an attorney licensed to practice law in your area to best understand your legal options.
Florida Industries Known for Asbestos Exposure
- Phosphate mining
- Power generation
- Chemical processing
- Automotive repair
- Plumbing, electrical work and other home repair
- Construction and demolition
Law Firms Practicing in Florida
Florida residents diagnosed with mesothelioma will want to consider a mesothelioma law firm that practices nationwide because these firms have comprehensive knowledge and reach that local law firms can’t match.
Nationwide Mesothelioma Law Firms
- Weitz & Luxenberg
- Cooney & Conway
- Simmons Hanly Conroy
- Nemeroff Law
- Galiher DeRobertis & Waxman
Nationwide firms have the experience and resources required to take on large asbestos manufacturers that acted negligently in exposing you or a loved one to asbestos.
Even though nationwide mesothelioma law firms do not have office locations in Florida, their lawyers will come to you to conduct interviews and depositions.
That’s one of the benefits of going with a nationwide mesothelioma firm. They will travel to your home at no cost to you.
Asbestos Verdicts Awarded to Florida Workers
While Florida’s asbestos case history is not as robust as some other states, Florida juries have awarded multimillion-dollar verdicts to plaintiffs with mesothelioma.
- $8.5 Million in 2017: In the late 1970s through the mid-1980s, Dennis Britt was exposed to asbestos in various facilities working as an employee benefits advisor. He later developed mesothelioma and filed a lawsuit against the corporations that owned the facilities. In 2017, a Florida jury awarded $8.5 million to the Britt estate.
- $21 Million in 2016: Richard Batchelor was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2015 as a result of his exposure to asbestos working at power plants in Florida. Following his diagnosis, Richard and Regina Batchelor filed a lawsuit against Florida Power & Light Co., Foster Wheeler and Bechtel Corp. In 2016, a Florida jury awarded $21 million to the Batchelors for pain, suffering, disability and other damages.
- $6.6 Million in 2015: From 1972 to 1974, William Aubin was exposed to Union Carbide’s asbestos pellets, a product made of 99.9% asbestos that was used in drywall joint compound and textured sprays. Aubin developed peritoneal mesothelioma in 2008 and later filed a lawsuit against Union Carbide and other asbestos product manufacturers. A Florida jury issued a $6.6 million verdict in favor of Aubin, which was later reversed by the Third District Court of Appeal. In 2015, the Florida Supreme Court reinstated the verdict against Union Carbide because the appellate court’s decision conflicted with previous rulings on similar cases.
These verdicts came from juried court trials, but most mesothelioma lawsuits are settled out of court. Nationwide mesothelioma law firms regularly secure mesothelioma settlements worth more than a million dollars.
Experienced law firms also regularly secure six-figure payouts from asbestos trust funds.
Florida Asbestos Laws and Regulations
A mix of federal and state laws regulates asbestos in Florida.
Federal laws, such as the Clean Air Act, provide a layer of regulation in addition to the state’s asbestos laws. In 1982, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection started its Asbestos Removal Program to protect the public from asbestos released during renovation and demolition of contaminated buildings.
Florida’s asbestos statutes are found in the Florida Administrative Code.
Regulations Governing Asbestos in Florida
- Chapter 62-257: Defines different types of asbestos work, describes notification procedures and includes information about fees and official forms.
- Chapter 61E1: Contains the laws governing the training, certification and licensure of asbestos workers. The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation enforce these laws to protect workers and the public from asbestos exposure.
State Departments Overseeing Florida’s Asbestos Laws
- Florida Department of Environmental Protection
- Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection oversees the state’s Asbestos Removal Program. It requires notification to the department before asbestos is removed from certain facilities. Notification of asbestos removal must be submitted at least 10 days prior to the project start date.
Information about complying with the state’s asbestos regulations is found in DEP’s Asbestos Letters, Determinations and Clarifications.
Florida Laws Affecting Asbestos Lawsuits
- Florida Statutes and Constitution Chapter 95: Defines statutes of limitations in Florida.
- Florida Statutes and Constitution Chapter 768: Defines Florida’s negligence laws.
A Florida mesothelioma attorney has the experience to interpret how these laws affect your case.
An experienced attorney can secure the highest level of compensation for your individual case in Florida. They have the experience and power to stand up to negligent companies that caused you or your loved one to develop mesothelioma.
Asbestos Litigation Trends in Florida
Florida courts have implemented procedures and legal norms to manage asbestos litigation within the state. A mesothelioma attorney can determine how these rules may apply to your case.
The laws governing asbestos lawsuits in Florida are relatively standard and consistent with most other states. A few laws deviate from the norm, such as Florida’s stance on punitive damages.
Punitive Damages Limited in Florida
Most states place no limits on punitive damages, which aim to deter a defendant from repeating similar offenses in the future and discourage others from doing the same. Florida law prohibits punitive damages in asbestos lawsuits entirely.
Asbestos and Silica Compensation Fairness Act of 2005
In 2000, Florida was home to 4% of the nation’s new asbestos cases. Five years later, the state began to limit these claims and enacted legislation to manage asbestos lawsuits.
As with asbestos litigation reforms passed in Texas, Ohio and Georgia, Florida’s law was adopted to reduce the number of pending asbestos cases and limit any new filings to only those made by the most seriously ill plaintiffs.
The law, known as the Asbestos and Silica Compensation Fairness Act of 2005, set up a higher threshold for plaintiffs to cross when filing a claim by requiring better evidence — including that of asbestos exposure — at the time the lawsuit is filed.
No Strict Liability for Sellers of Asbestos
Before enactment of the Asbestos and Silica Compensation Fairness Act, Florida imposed strict liability for injuries caused by a defective product. Anyone in the chain of distribution of a defective product was liable for resulting injuries regardless of fault. In other words, the product’s defect determined liability, not the seller’s conduct.
The 2005 law shifted the focus to the seller’s conduct in asbestos cases.
The new law provides that a defendant that sells, but does not manufacture, asbestos is only liable if the plaintiff can prove:
- The seller’s failure to use reasonable care with respect to the product proximately caused harm to the plaintiff.
- The product’s failure to conform to an express warranty (a guarantee about the quality of the product) by the seller caused the plaintiff’s injury.
- The seller engaged in intentional wrongdoing.
Florida also limits the liability of a company (the successor) that merges or consolidates with another company that has asbestos-related liabilities (the predecessor). Any potential liability is capped at the fair market value of the predecessor’s total gross assets at the time of the merger or consolidation.
Nonmalignant Asbestos Claims
Claimants with nonmalignant asbestos claims — such as asbestosis or pleural thickening — may only file lawsuits in Florida if they provide evidence of a physical impairment caused by asbestos exposure.
In Florida, a claimant with a nonmalignant asbestos-related condition, such as asbestosis, has a limited period of time in which to file a lawsuit. But the same person is not automatically barred from bringing a separate claim if he or she develops an asbestos-related cancer later.
There are separate statutes of limitations for different diseases. Defendants cannot require nonmalignant asbestos claimants to release any future claims of asbestos-related cancers as a condition of settlement.
Every state sets its own laws regarding when and how a claimant can file a claim with an asbestos trust fund.
Florida is one of the states that allow setoffs. If a claimant has acquired compensation from a trust fund, any defendants they sue may deduct the amount of trust compensation from the court award.
An experienced Florida mesothelioma lawyer can offer the best guidance on how the state’s trust fund laws may apply to your case.
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