Last modified: June 18, 2021
Filing an Asbestos Claim in Indiana
Indiana ranks 16th in the nation for asbestos-related deaths because, among other things, companies located within the state were known for heavy industrial use of asbestos due to its strength, chemical resistance and fireproofing properties.
Workers have been exposed in big and small cities throughout the state, including Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, Bloomington, Evansville and New Castle. Workers who develop mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases have legal options, including filing a personal injury claim and asbestos trust fund claims. Family members who’ve lost loved ones may file wrongful death claims as well.
Veterans in the state may have been exposed to asbestos because the U.S. armed forces used asbestos throughout military bases. Air Force veterans could have been exposed at Grissom Air Reserve Base near Kokomo, Indiana, and Army veterans at Camp Atterbury Army Base in Edinburgh, Indiana.
In 2016, the Indiana Supreme Court modified the statute of limitations in the state to make it possible for those diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases to file a claim within two years of diagnosis rather than within 10 years of exposure to asbestos. The former law made it virtually impossible for asbestos victims to file a claim because it typically takes 20 to 50 years for asbestos-related diseases to develop.
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.
Industries in Indiana Known for Asbestos Exposure
Although Indiana has no naturally occurring asbestos deposits, many residents of the state were exposed through industries that used asbestos products, including:
- Automobile manufacturing
- Chemical manufacturing
- Coal mining
- Electrical equipment manufacturing
- Metal works
- Oil and gas
- Rubber manufacturing
Workers in these industries were at risk of asbestos exposure at job sites and inside manufacturing facilities. Asbestos fibers often circulated throughout workplaces in ways that exposed all employees regardless of whether they directly handled asbestos products. Maintenance workers who maintained and repaired machinery in manufacturing plants often faced the highest levels of exposure. Many of these workers developed mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases.
Law Firms Practicing in Indiana
Lawyers at national mesothelioma law firms have licenses to practice throughout the U.S., and they have offices just outside of Indiana in the neighboring states of Illinois and Missouri. For example, Cooney & Conway is headquartered in Chicago, and Simmons Hanly Conroy has offices in Chicago and Alton, Illinois, and in St. Louis. These mesothelioma attorneys understand asbestos regulations and laws.
Nationwide Mesothelioma Law Firms
- Weitz & Luxenberg
- Cooney & Conway
- Simmons Hanly Conroy
- Nemeroff Law
- Galiher DeRobertis & Waxman
Indiana residents with asbestos-related diseases should choose a nationwide asbestos law firm because local law firms typically can’t match the experience and reach of a nationwide firm. Firms that practice nationwide know state asbestos laws and the best states and jurisdictions in which to file your claim. Indiana laws tend to favor asbestos defendants in certain situations, which highlights the importance of choosing a firm that’s able to file your asbestos lawsuit in another state.
One of the many benefits of selecting a national law firm is that they are willing to travel to meet with you. Nationwide firms regularly travel to meet with clients and conduct depositions, and they usually don’t charge for the travel expenses related to that initial meeting.
Notable Asbestos Verdicts Awarded to Indiana Workers
- $34 Million in 2020: Auto mechanic Arthur Putt filed a lawsuit against Ford Motor Co. claiming he developed mesothelioma from repairing asbestos brakes manufactured by Ford while working in service shops located in Indiana and California. The mesothelioma law firm Simmons Hanly Conroy secured the verdict, which initially contained a $25.5 million punitive damage award in addition to $8.5 million in damages. On appeal, a California court confirmed the judgment, reduced the punitive award to $17.4 million and denied Ford’s request for a new trial.
- $10.5 Million in 2015: Indiana resident Richard Chisholm developed mesothelioma and died of the disease in 2012, after which his wife, Katherine Chisholm, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against R.T. Vanderbilt Inc. In her lawsuit, Chisholm claimed her husband developed mesothelioma as a result of working with Vanderbilt’s asbestos-contaminated talc while employed at a ceramics company. A jury found Vanderbilt liable and awarded $10.5 million to the Chisholm estate.
- $250 Million in 2003: Steel worker Roby Whittington filed a mesothelioma lawsuit against U.S. Steel claiming he developed the cancer from asbestos exposure he endured while working at the company’s Gary Works plant in Gary, Indiana. The Simmons Hanly Conroy law firm represented Whittington, negotiating a private settlement with U.S. Steel that stopped the company from appealing.
Indiana Asbestos Laws and Regulations
Federal and state laws regulate asbestos in Indiana to protect the public from exposure. In addition to U.S. federal asbestos regulations, Indiana sets its own regulations for licensing and overseeing asbestos abatement in the state.
Regulations Governing Asbestos in Indiana
- Indiana Code Section 13-17-6-1: Outlines regulations on licensing, accreditation and oversight in the state.
- Indiana Code Section 13-14-1-2 and Section 13-14-8-7: Defines power and duties of Indiana’s environmental management department, including asbestos management.
State Departments Overseeing Indiana’s Asbestos Laws
- Indiana Department of Environmental Management Office of Air Quality
- Indiana Department of Environmental Management Office of Land Quality
- Indiana Department of Labor
Two offices within the Indiana Department of Environmental Management work to regulate asbestos in the state. The office of air quality oversees asbestos in the workplace and the office of land quality oversees asbestos contamination in water and soil. The Indiana Department of Labor oversees licensing of asbestos abatement professionals.
Indiana Laws Affecting Asbestos Lawsuits
- Indiana Code Title 34, Section 34-11-2-4(1): Defines the statutes of limitations for personal injury claims in Indiana.
- Indiana Code Title 34, Section 51-2-5: Defines Indiana’s negligence laws.
An Indiana mesothelioma attorney has the expertise to interpret how these laws apply to your case.
A good mesothelioma attorney will understand how Indiana’s updated statutes of limitations will impact your claim, and they will know how to handle take-home exposure cases that affect family members.
Asbestos Litigation Trends in Indiana
According to Megan Shockley, an asbestos litigation trend analyst at KCIC, there was a downtrend in noncancerous asbestos claim filings in Wayne County, Indiana, in 2020. At least part of the downward trend was attributed to COVID-19 court closures.
In 2016, Indiana lawmakers made a change to the statute of limitations for filing asbestos lawsuits in the state. Initially, only those who worked for miners and sellers of commercial raw asbestos could file an asbestos claim within two years of diagnosis. Others had to file within 10 years from the time of exposure to asbestos. This effectively made it impossible for them to seek legal action because of the decades-long latency period associated with asbestos-related diseases. The change did not immediately increase the number of case filings in the state, but it is expected to open the door for more asbestos cases in the future.
In 2002, an Indiana court ruled that take-home asbestos exposure cases may be filed in the state based on the Indiana Product Liability Act. In the case that confirmed the ruling, the Indiana Supreme Court held that the wife of an asbestos insulator was considered a “consumer” who was subjected to bystander asbestos exposure, and thus had legal standing to file a claim.
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