Answered: 5 Frequently Asked Questions About the AFFF Lawsuits

Aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) was once considered the standard for firefighting. This specialized foam could extinguish fuel-based fires, making it invaluable for military bases, airports, and chemical plants. 

the AFFF Lawsuits
However, AFFF contains toxic PFAS chemicals that are known to cause cancer and other serious health effects. As a result, the chemical was banned, and thousands of cases have been filed by the victims demanding compensation.

If you or a loved one worked in firefighting, served in the military, or otherwise came into contact with AFFF, you likely have questions about whether you can take legal action. This blog will answer a few of the most important and commonly asked questions about the lawsuit.

#1. Who Can File an AFFF Lawsuit?

Anyone who has been exposed to the AFFF can file a lawsuit.

While career firefighters with long-term exposure to AFFF make up the majority, they are not the only ones eligible to file the AFFF lawsuits. Civilian firefighters, military service members, aircraft personnel, chemical plant employees, and others who worked in AFFF-heavy environments may also have grounds for legal action.

As long as you were exposed to AFFF and exhibited symptoms, you’re eligible to file a lawsuit.

#2. Can I Sue the Government in the AFFF Lawsuit?

No, you can’t.

In lawsuits, the government is immune to litigation as it has discretionary function immunity. It means that even if a government employee acts on a decision that turns out to be wrong or leads to someone getting hurt, the government cannot be sued for it. This federal immunity means that you cannot sue the military or the Navy.

However, you can seek other options like, personal injury claims against manufacturers of AFFF and seeking compensation through government programs. During such processes, it is critical to prove that PFAS exposure during military service led to your health conditions. An experienced attorney can advise you on viable legal avenues.

#3. What Is the Statute of Limitations for Filing an AFFF Lawsuit?

Statutes of limitation dictate how long after an injury you have to pursue legal action. This timeframe is set by state laws and varies across the country.

For example, New York allows plaintiffs one year from diagnosis to sue for toxic exposure, while Indiana gives two years. However, almost every state makes an exception for undiscovered symptoms. Meaning, that the statute of limitation will only begin when you detect the illness.

But, there’s so much more to this law. The best thing you can do is reach out to a trusted attorney. A qualified attorney will help determine whether your state’s statute of limitations would prevent you from becoming part of an AFFF lawsuit.

#4. Can You File an AFFF Lawsuit Without a Cancer Diagnosis?

Being diagnosed with certain cancers like kidney or testicular cancer helps your case, as it demonstrates concrete evidence of harm.

However, those without a cancer diagnosis can also file a case. If you can prove that occupational exposure to AFFF has led to PFAS-related symptoms, which are known to increase future cancer risk, then you may still have a case. 

Individuals diagnosed with health conditions besides cancer due to AFFF exposure can explore legal options. Plaintiffs have also sued for conditions like ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease, and pregnancy complications linked to PFAS.

#5. What Types of Damages Are Available in AFFF Lawsuits?

Plaintiffs in the AFFF lawsuit have the right to seek compensation for multiple damages.

According to TruLaw, these damages can be classified into two categories: economic and non-economic. Economic damages cover tangible losses directly linked to your AFFF-related health issues. This includes:

  • Medical expenses: Past, present, and future costs of medical treatment, medications, and ongoing care.
  • Lost income: Wages you couldn’t earn due to illness or disability caused by AFFF exposure.
  • Loss of earning capacity: If you’ve been affected by conditions that diminished your work abilities, you could receive compensation for the potential future income you might lose.

On the other hand, non-economic damages focus on intangible suffering and how the conditions influence the quality of life. This includes:

  • Pain and suffering: Physical and emotional distress caused by your illness and related treatments.
  • Loss of enjoyment of life: You can’t do the things you used to because of your health problems.
  • Loss of consortium: Decreased intimacy and companionship within your relationships.

Moreover, the court can also award plaintiffs with punitive damages as a way to penalize the responsible parties for negligence or misconduct and avoid similar incidents in the future.

In conclusion, navigating the complexities of AFFF lawsuits demands clarity and understanding, especially considering the diverse effects that go beyond cancer diagnoses. With the assistance of legal experts familiar with these complex lawsuits, you can have your questions answered, understand your options, and potentially become part of bringing massive polluters to justice. 

Thorough evidence and effective legal representation are key to winning your case.

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