Last modified: June 14, 2021
Filing a Claim in West Virginia
Exposure to asbestos at West Virginia’s many coal mines and processing facilities has led to serious health conditions for workers.
In the past, asbestos use was also widespread in West Virginia’s power plants, oil refineries, railroads, steel mills and other industries.
West Virginia’s asbestos-related death rate was nine deaths per 100,000 people between 1999 and 2013. That is almost twice the nationwide average, as reported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In several West Virginia counties, the asbestos-related death rate is more than three times the national average. This includes Kanawha County, the state’s center of industry.
These sobering statistics — combined with West Virginia’s reputation for plaintiff-friendly courts — has made the state a top jurisdiction for mesothelioma lawsuits.
A KCIC industry report included Kanawha County among the top 15 counties in the nation for asbestos litigation in 2018 and 2019. Though there is a national downward trend in asbestos claim filings, Kanawha County actually showed an increase in claims from 2016 to 2017.
West Virginia’s statutes of limitations are in line with most other state laws for filing mesothelioma claims, which include personal injury lawsuits, wrongful death lawsuits and trust fund claims.
Many veterans in West Virginia are coping with asbestos-related diseases because they were exposed to asbestos in the U.S. armed forces. These veterans may file a VA claim for benefits and they have access to VA health care in the state.
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.
Asbestos Exposure in West Virginia
The vast majority of asbestos exposure in West Virginia happened in occupational settings. West Virginian workers have been exposed in coal mines, refineries, manufacturing plants, chemical plants, power generation facilities and U.S. military bases.
Many workers who used asbestos products unknowingly brought asbestos fibers home, which led to secondary asbestos exposure among family members.
According to a KCIC industry report, Kanawha, West Virginia, was among the top jurisdictions for nonoccupational asbestos exposure lawsuit filings in 2018. That’s because juries in West Virginia have held companies liable for secondary asbestos exposure.
West Virginia Industries Known for Asbestos Exposure
- Military operations
- Power generation
- Oil refining
- Metal works
- Railway operations
Law Firms Practicing in West Virginia
West Virginia residents with asbestos-related diseases should choose a nationwide mesothelioma law firm because they have experience a local firm can’t match.
Nationwide Mesothelioma Law Firms
- Weitz & Luxenberg
- Cooney & Conway
- Simmons Hanly Conroy
- Nemeroff Law
- Galiher DeRobertis & Waxman
Three of these firms have offices within driving distance of West Virginia:
- Cooney & Conway has an office in Washington, D.C.
- Weitz & Luxenberg has an office in New York City.
- Simmons Hanly Conroy has an office in New York City.
According to a KCIC industry report, Kanawha, West Virginia, was the 11th most popular jurisdiction in the U.S. for mesothelioma lawsuit filings in 2018. Additionally, it was among the top 10 jurisdictions for asbestos-related lung cancer lawsuit filings.
West Virginia residents don’t have to drive to Washington, D.C., or New York City to meet with a reputable firm. A benefit of going with a nationwide firm is that they will come to you. They travel to clients coping with mesothelioma regularly, and they won’t charge you for their travel expenses.
Firms that practice nationwide have success securing compensation with many different types of cases. They have the knowledge and resources required to take on large corporations that acted negligently in exposing you or a loved one to asbestos.
Hiring one the nation’s best mesothelioma attorneys to get the compensation your family needs will bring you peace of mind. You will know that you did everything you could do to stand up to the negligent asbestos manufacturers who exposed you or your loved one to asbestos.
Asbestos Verdicts Awarded to West Virginia Workers
- $6.4 Million: In 2002, a West Virginia jury ordered DuPont to pay $6.4 million in damages to the family of Leonard Cox, who died two years prior from malignant mesothelioma. Experts traced the cancer back to asbestos dust brought home on his father’s work clothes when Cox was a child. His father, who died of asbestosis, installed asbestos insulation at DuPont’s chemical plant in Belle, West Virginia. It remains the highest asbestos verdict ever awarded in West Virginia.
- $4.57 Million: A West Virginia jury awarded $4.57 million to a boilermaker who developed mesothelioma after exposure to asbestos in power plants and chemical plants.
- $4.2 Million: A man who developed mesothelioma after exposure to asbestos in shipyards was awarded $4.2 million by a West Virginia jury.
These represent some of the highest verdicts awarded to mesothelioma plaintiffs in West Virginia courts. However, most mesothelioma claims are settled before trial.
Generally, out-of-court settlement amounts are less than verdict awards, and they are kept confidential. Experienced asbestos lawyers are known to secure mesothelioma settlements worth more than $1 million for their clients.
They are also known to recover six-figure payouts from asbestos trust funds. A West Virginia mesothelioma attorney can help you file both types of claims in the state without violating laws that promote transparency in asbestos litigation.
West Virginia Asbestos Laws and Regulations
West Virginia has a mix of federal and state laws that regulate asbestos and work together to protect the public from exposure.
West Virginia’s Department of Environmental Protection enforces the federal National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants. The state Bureau for Public Health sets licensing requirements for professionals who inspect and remove asbestos-containing materials.
Buildings must be inspected for asbestos before renovation or demolition operations begin. In cases where regulated asbestos-containing materials will be disturbed, the state’s Division of Air Quality must be notified in advance.
The state government requires special training for asbestos-abatement professionals so they understand how to safely remove and dispose of asbestos-containing materials.
Regulations Governing Asbestos in West Virginia
- West Virginia Code Chapter 16, Public Health: Outlines the West Virginia Asbestos Licensure Law.
- West Virginia Code Chapter 16, Article 32, Asbestos Abatement: Outlines West Virginia’s asbestos abatement laws.
Departments Overseeing West Virginia’s Asbestos Laws
- West Virginia Division of Air Quality: Enforces West Virginia’s asbestos regulations involving abatement, disposal and air quality.
- West Virginia Office of Environmental Health Services Asbestos Program: Operates West Virginia’s Asbestos Program, including licensure of abatement professionals and issuing penalties for violations.
- West Virginia Bureau for Public Health: Defines the licensing requirements for asbestos abatement professionals.
West Virginia Laws Affecting Asbestos Lawsuits
- West Virginia Code Chapter 55, Article 2, Limitation of Actions and Suits: Defines West Virginia’s statutes of limitations for asbestos claims.
- West Virginia Code Chapter 55, Article 7, Actions for Injuries: Defines West Virginia’s laws for personal injury lawsuits and wrongful death lawsuits.
- West Virginia Code Chapter 55, Article 7G, Asbestos and Silica Claims Priorities Act: Outlines laws in West Virginia affecting asbestos and silica claims.
- West Virginia Code Chapter 55, Article 7F, Asbestos Bankruptcy Trust Claims Transparency Act: Outlines West Virginia’s laws that apply to plaintiffs filing asbestos lawsuits and trust fund claims.
Asbestos Litigation Trends in West Virginia
During the past decade, the West Virginia legislature and state courts established specific rules and procedures to manage the large number of asbestos claims filed in the state.
Experienced mesothelioma attorneys are familiar with those rules and the case process West Virginia.
Case consolidation is a process courts use to group similar claims for processing. Courts use consolidation as a tool to reduce filings, streamline case scheduling and expedite trials.
Under the current Asbestos Case Management Order, plaintiffs’ attorneys designate “trial groups” of 20 cases. The court schedules trials for three of these groups each year.
Asbestos cases are also divided into categories based on the severity of the plaintiffs’ illnesses. The categories are used to group cases for scheduling.
- Category I cases include living plaintiffs who have been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma or asbestos-related lung cancer. Category I plaintiffs receive first priority in trial groups. Any Category I plaintiff who dies before being deposed is moved to Category II.
- Category II cases include deceased plaintiffs who were diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma or asbestos-related lung cancer.
- Category III cases include plaintiffs who have been diagnosed with nonmalignant asbestos-related diseases such as asbestosis.
Punitive damages are awarded to punish losing defendants and deter them from causing more injuries. Since 2015, punitive damage awards in West Virginia have been limited to four times compensatory damages or $500,000, whichever is greater.
West Virginia requires plaintiffs disclose any claims that may exist against bankruptcy trusts no later than 120 days before trial.
Information about trust claims is shared with defendants. Courts may require claimants to disclose the amounts they receive or expect to receive from bankruptcy trusts. Defendants are entitled to deduct these amounts from verdicts as “set-offs.”
Mass Litigation Panel
West Virginia’s Supreme Court of Appeals established a special panel to handle mass litigation cases such as asbestos personal injury lawsuits. Asbestos cases filed in West Virginia are currently referred to the Circuit Court of Kanawha County.
Procedures for filing asbestos cases are established in the Mass Litigation Panel Asbestos Case Management Order.
It requires a “Plaintiff Fact Sheet” from each plaintiff in a pending asbestos personal injury case. Plaintiffs must report work history, smoking history, medical providers and any benefits such as workers’ compensation and disability.
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