It’s no secret: smoking is not good for you. Countless studies have shown that even a few cigarettes a day can do serious damage to your lungs, teeth, and overall health.
In fact, wrongful death suits against tobacco companies have resulted in tens of millions of dollars for plaintiffs whose loved ones died due to their addiction to tobacco.
This very knowledge of tobacco’s danger, though, has created an awkward taboo surrounding smokers who suffer from related illnesses or conditions and seek medical help. In fact, less money is spent on lung cancer than any other cancer, and many experts say this under funding is largely due to lung cancer’s connection to smoking.
However, smokers who suffer from related illnesses such as mesothelioma should not be discouraged from pursing legal action against other forms of toxic chemicals that are also known to cause these fatal illnesses or conditions, especially lung cancer. It is possible to win compensation despite your history as a smoker.
Want proof? Let’s look at the story of George Cooney.
Smoking, Asbestos, and the Lawsuit That Followed
George Cooney smoked cigarettes from the time he was a teenager until 2014, when he passed away from lung cancer at the age of 67. The New Jersey resident also worked for Caterpillar forklifts in Queens from 1969 to 1980. During that time, the forklifts were manufactured with asbestos, and Cooney was exposed to the toxic chemical.
During Cooney’s employment, Caterpillar did not have any sort of warning about asbestos in their facilities or on their forklifts. In fact, they did not have warning labels until 54 years after learning about the dangers of asbestos.
Additionally, a crucial study was released in 1968 warning that smokers who were exposed to asbestos had a much higher risk of getting lung cancer than nonsmokers. This study (published before Cooney’s employment) was a key piece of evidence in the wrongful death lawsuit that Cooney’s family filed against Caterpillar.
Ultimately, the jury ruled that Caterpillar was negligent for failing to warn employees about asbestos hazards when they had the knowledge of its harmful effects.
The jury also ruled that asbestos exposure, in addition to smoking cigarettes, caused George Cooney’s death, and awarded Cooney’s family $12.5 million in damages.
Now, there’s a decent chance that they may not receive the full award. Even though the jury found Caterpillar negligent and therefore responsible for Cooney’s death, remember that they acknowledged the fact that his smoking was to blame as well. The actual breakdown? Caterpillar was deemed 55% at fault, while Cooney was deemed 45% at fault for smoking.
Even if they only receive 55% of that award, though, that’s just under $7 million. Seven million dollars should go a long way towards helping them pay for medical bills, funeral costs, and other damages.
Don’t Be Discouraged If Your Loved One Smoked Cigarettes
This case should be an example for all victims confronted with the stigma of a loved one who smoked cigarettes. Even though the habit is dangerous, it is not always the sole cause of death.
Toxic exposure is a common injury among construction workers. If you are not properly warned about health risks, you may have a lawsuit on your hands – even if you are a long-time smoker and your illness can be attributed to smoking.