Medical monitoring costs can spiral out of control in litigation arising from alleged exposure to hazardous substances. These awards require defendants to fund medical testing for plaintiffs who don’t show any symptoms at the time of the litigation. The medical checks can last for the rest of plaintiffs’ lives and, depending on the specific allegation, monitoring might be required for numerous potential conditions.
To bring this type of liability under control, West Virginia legislators are considering a measure that would revise medical monitoring awards. States and courts have introduced certain medical monitoring reforms such as:
- Trust funds — Rather than paying for ongoing medical checks, money is placed into a trust fund that is accessible to individuals who actually contract a condition relating to the hazardous substance. This way, defendants only have to pay expenses for people who are actually harmed.
- Adaptability — Whether awards are reached through a verdict or settlement, monitoring terms often fail to account for changes that can occur over time. For certain diseases, the danger of contracting an illness lessens with time. In these cases, monitoring might continue being funded by one party when it is more likely that the relevant condition was caused by an intervening factor. In other situations, advances in medical knowledge or treatment can render the monitoring instructions unnecessary and out of date.
- Eliminating monitoring when symptoms are apparent — The justification for medical monitoring is to spot latent symptoms associated with problems that might be related to an alleged hazardous exposure. When the relevant condition manifests itself in a way that would normally prompt a person to seek medical treatment, monitoring is a redundant expense.
An experienced defense attorney can explain how new medical monitoring rules might affect your company. Pullin, Fowler, Flanagan, Brown & Poe represents manufacturers, insurers and other environmental litigation defendants in West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky. To schedule a consultation, call 304-344-0100 or contact us online.