Investigating Your Asbestos Exposure
Proving asbestos exposure requires rock-solid evidence in order to receive financial compensation from those responsible for your exposure to asbestos. Your asbestos exposure occurred decades before symptoms of asbestos-related illness emerge! Many of the businesses that have knowingly caused lethal asbestos exposure to unsuspecting people are counting on you not to remember when, where and how you were exposed to the deadly mineral. But those guilty parties haven’t counted on the excellent work done by Kazan Law’s team of asbestos investigators.
Because of the complexities surrounding asbestos exposure and the importance of discovering the facts for a court case, Kazan Law maintains a full time staff of seven investigators. These investigators support the work of Kazan Law’s 25asbestos attorneys, who include the firm’s founding partners.
To learn more about the role of Kazan Law’s investigators in the discovery of information that connect an individual’s asbestos-related illness to a specific asbestos exposure, we spoke with Katherine Graves. Katherine has been an investigator with Kazan Law for 16 years.
Asbestos Exposure Investigations
Why does Kazan Law have seven full-time investigators?
Because evidence of asbestos exposure is so important, we place a lot of value on the investigative process.
How do Kazan Law’s investigators work on an asbestos exposure case?
We each have our own cases that we are working on. Certain people have expertise in specific areas. I am the resident aircraft expert for asbestos exposure related to that industry. We have someone else who does a lot of work on refineries. But we all know a little bit about everything.
What is the first step of the process?
We meet with the client to get information. We do research and figure out how the pieces fit together in terms of asbestos exposure. People may have had jobs they forgot about, or they didn’t do for very long, and we need to find out about those. If the exposure came from their father’s job, we would want to talk to him if he is still alive. Then we write up all the information in a memo for the attorneys. We give recommendations on the strength of a case, where it could be filed in terms of jurisdiction and who the potential defendants should be. We figure out who the culpable parties are – who to sue. The attorneys will then go over the legal logistics of the case with the client. We are constantly absorbing information and conveying information.
Do people come to the Kazan Law office for you to interview them?
We will go to see the client. They may be going through chemotherapy and we want to be respectful of their health and their time. Many people who worked in shipyard or manufacturing plants where they may have been exposed to asbestos have retired and have moved away from the Bay Area. We travel often to Washington State, the Sierra foothills, Southern California and Las Vegas. But people contact us from all parts of the country.
How do you follow up with research?
Because Kazan Law has been around since 1974, over all these years we have acquired a lot of relevant documents about major employers and asbestos exposure. Whatever documents we get all contribute to our institutional knowledge as a firm. Every case has contributed to our knowledge base which in turn contributes to our future cases. The accumulation of documents we have is jaw-dropping. We have very comprehensive documents. We have a records department that scans everything for us so we can access it from our laptops.
For example someone might say “I bought some joint compound when I remodeled my house in 1975 and did the drywall work.” Let’s say he tells me he bought it from American Builders in Cupertino. I can go into our data bases and do a search for American Builders. We have pictures of products that we can show people and we can ask them was this what you used?
We also use ancestry.com and newspaper archives.com. We have all these incredible tools at our fingertips that we didn’t have before the internet. We used to have to go to libraries and look at stuff on microfilm for hours on end.
What else do you do after the case moves forward?
Based on our extensive research, we can help the attorneys determine which witnesses should testify. Then we help the attorneys get ready for their testimony.
We also help the case by doing research on the companies involved. It is not only about whether they exposed someone to asbestos. It is also important to find out what did this company know about asbestos and when did they know it? What meetings did they go to, what congressional hearings did they testify at? There are punitive damages under consideration. We meet with the attorneys and constantly update them about the state of these investigations.
What is it like working on asbestos exposure cases as an investigator?
It is incredibly difficult and extremely rewarding. We put deep attention and time into every single case. That is how we get such great results for our clients. Our investigators work with the attorneys on each case from start to finish. If it does go to verdict, we will be there in the courtroom with our heart wrapped around it.
What is the importance of having investigators when there are lawyers at the firm?
Most other firms do not have investigators like Kazan does. So they don’t have the opportunity to dig in deep like we do. They may use contract investigators or their lawyers are trying to do lawyering and investigating. And the resulting investigations are not as detailed and in depth as ours. Because we get in so deep and learn so much about these companies, our cases get better results.