The number of asbestos claims filed annually, the number and types of firms named as defendants in asbestos litigation, and the costs of the litigation to those defendants have all risen sharply in recent years. These trends have led many individuals to question whether compensation for asbestos-related injuries is being divided among claimants fairly and in proportion to need, and whether responsibility for paying compensation is being allocated among defendants fairly and in proportion to culpability. In this briefing, the authors examine the dimensions of asbestos litigation today: How many claims have been filed? By whom? Against whom? For what kinds of conditions? At what cost and with what economic effects? If current trends continue, what will be the future costs of the litigation? To answer these questions, the authors describe the dimensions of the litigation through the year 2000, the changing composition of claims, the number of defendants and the spread of litigation across industries, the total costs of the litigation to insurers and defendants, and the potential effects of the litigation on the U.S. economy now and in the future. The briefing concludes by outlining various policy alternatives to the current litigation regime.
The research described in this report was performed under the auspices of the RAND Institute for Civil Justice.
This report is part of the RAND Corporation Documented briefing series. RAND documented briefings are based on research presented to a client, sponsor, or targeted audience in briefing format. Additional information is provided in the documented briefing in the form of the written narration accompanying the briefing charts. All RAND documented briefings undergo rigorous peer review to ensure that they meet high standards for research quality and objectivity. However, they are not expected to be comprehensive and may present preliminary findings. Major research findings are published in the monograph series; supporting or preliminary research is published in the technical report series.
Permission is given to duplicate this electronic document for personal use only, as long as it is unaltered and complete. Copies may not be duplicated for commercial purposes. Unauthorized posting of RAND PDFs to a non-RAND Web site is prohibited. RAND PDFs are protected under copyright law. For information on reprint and linking permissions, please visit the RAND Permissions page.
The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.