Evidence from various studies published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute indicates that hair relaxers and hair straighteners with chemical components could cause uterine cancer in women who use them regularly. Simply using a product to straighten or relax your hair once or twice a year could lead to you being diagnosed with uterine cancer.
As a consumer, you have a right to know when a product you are using may cause you harm. In addition, you should expect that when a manufacturer discovers that one of their products is causing cancer, they will consider removing it from shelves and seek to create an alternative product that does not cause the same damage.
If you received a diagnosis of uterine cancer after using a hair relaxer or straightener, you could seek compensation—and you should. Before you do, you may be wondering what amount of a settlement you can get in a hair relaxer lawsuit.
What Are the Hair Relaxer Lawsuits About?
According to research by the National Cancer Institute, uterine cancer has been steadily increasing over the years, resulting in over 12,000 deaths and over 60,000 cases total, based on the latest data. Hair relaxing and other hair products with similar chemicals contain what scientists call “endocrine-disrupting chemicals,” or EDCs. These EDCs enter the body, disrupt endocrines and hormones, and cause damage.
Studies have linked EDCs from hair products to other hormone-related cancers like breast and ovarian cancer. In a more recent study, researchers followed women for an average of about ten years. They found that increased use of hair relaxer products and those with similar chemicals at least occasionally resulted in an approximately 80 percent increased chance of getting uterine cancer. The risks were even higher for those who used these products more frequently.
Other factors played a role in whether or not a woman developed uterine cancer. For example, Black and African American women saw an increased risk for uterine cancer because they used hair straightening and relaxing products more and are more prone to advanced-stage uterine cancer.
The FDA regulates the packaging of cosmetic products and requires that manufacturers label a product if it could cause harm. Therefore, each business or manufacturer must properly test their products to ensure compliance with safety regulations and that they are safe for consumers. If a company fails to test products properly and warn consumers of potential danger, they could be held responsible for causing cancer in users of their products.
Product Liability and Mass Tort Laws
In the United States, an individual who suffers harm because of someone else’s negligent or purposeful action may sue that individual for compensation. Each state has different rules regarding who can file such a claim, when the individual can file it, etc.
However, each product liability suit should meet one basic set of criteria to qualify.
- The plaintiff (i.e., the injured party) must prove that the defendant (i.e., the party who caused the injury) owed them a duty of care. They must prove that the defendant should have made known the danger or acted to reduce/eliminate a threat because it is what any reasonable person would have done.
- The plaintiff must prove that the defendant breached that duty of care by failing to warn them of danger or acting in a careless, negligent, or deliberate manner that led to that danger occurring.
- The plaintiff must prove that the defendant’s breach of duty led to an accident that resulted in injury and that the accident would not otherwise have occurred.
- The plaintiff must prove that the accident that the defendant caused led to serious injury or severe suffering for the claimant and their family.
In sum, if you bring a product liability claim, you would need to prove that someone else caused an accident that led to serious injury and suffering for you. In a case dealing with hair relaxers causing uterine cancer, for example, you would have to show that the manufacturer or distributor of the hair relaxer failed to provide adequate care and allowed you to use the product and get cancer.
In cases like the hair relaxer lawsuits, thousands of women worldwide have used the same product and seen the same result—a cancer diagnosis. The court will likely try such cases as mass torts or class actions. Because the courts try every case under the same law and against the same group of manufacturers, the court can try each case together.
Class action trials allow for a more fair and even distribution of compensation so that no party receives compensation with a much higher amount for the same injury. It will enable the courts to try the case in multiple states without requiring each plaintiff to research the effects of hair products on uterine cancer. With the same basic research behind their claims, plaintiffs can pool their resources to present all evidence for all plaintiffs at once, saving time and money.
How Much Are the Average Settlements for Hair Relaxer Lawsuits?
So far, the victims of hair relaxers have not received a conclusive settlement amount. Several women with uterine cancer have joined the action against companies such as L’Oréal, Namaste, Soft Sheen, and others. However, the Justice Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) will not decide whether the victims can bring this claim to multiple districts until the end of January 2023.
Lawyers familiar with this case expect that settlements will be pretty expansive based on the incredible toll a cancer diagnosis and subsequent losses may take on a woman and her family.
Product liability claims settle for hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars. Considering that chemotherapy alone costs at least $10,000, often more, and that most uterine cancer requires other forms of treatment, you can expect some of the settlements to reach hundreds of thousands of dollars, possibly more.
If the JPML decides to allow the claim to go forward in multiple districts as a major class action lawsuit, lawyers for plaintiffs around the country will begin gathering evidence, preparing arguments, and pursuing settlements for their clients. The exact amount of each compensation will vary based on the individual circumstances of each woman and the extent of her injuries and losses.
In cases with multiple plaintiffs, it’s common for the court to group each plaintiff into separate tiers based on the extent of each of their losses and injuries. Those in higher tiers generally get higher settlement amounts than those in lower levels. Each individual receives the compensation she deserves based on the extent of her damages from a diagnosis of uterine cancer or another illness (such as uterine fibroids, endometriosis, breast cancer, etc.).
Damages You Can Recover in a Hair Relaxer Lawsuit Settlement
The exact amount of compensation you can receive in a settlement for a hair relaxer lawsuit depends on how much you suffered. Uterine cancer varies in severity and may have different effects for different women. However, most women will have to undergo surgery to remove their uterus, resulting in severe emotional, physical, and mental suffering for any woman, no matter her age or stage of life.
Uterine cancer comes with expensive and expansive treatment, no matter your age, and it can cause varying levels of personal and non-economic damage.
The common types of damages you can expect to recover in compensation include things like:
- Medical expenses from surgeries, procedures, medication prescriptions, the purchase of medical equipment, any emergency room visits, therapy sessions, etc.
- Lost income related to taking time off work, quitting your job, losing out on promotion opportunities, and working with a reduced earning capacity due to your inability to work as many hours or maintain the same position you held before you had cancer.
- Pain and suffering—a broad category that covers physical pain and physical and mental anguish.
- Loss of life quality due to an inability to enjoy life or perform fun activities you used to love.
- Loss of consortium with your loved ones, whether due to broken relationships or lack of time to spend with loved ones.
You may also recover wrongful death damages if someone you loved died from uterine cancer.
In a wrongful death case you can recover:
- Funeral and other end-of-life expenses.
- Loss of advice or guidance (specifically if the deceased was a parent or guardian).
- Loss of income, services, and support from the deceased.
- Loss of companionship.
Ultimately, understanding the actual damages you will suffer, and the compensation you can recover is a job you’ll need a lawyer’s help in. Remember that you must provide evidence for each damage, which means you must collect medical records, documentation of lost work, etc. Your lawyer can help you gather this evidence and get enough together to prove your losses without difficulty.
What to Do if You Got Uterine Cancer From a Hair Relaxer
If you are a user of hair relaxers, hair straighteners, and other chemical hair products and have received a diagnosis of uterine cancer or a similar illness, you may be entitled to compensation.
However, it can be incredibly challenging to gather the evidence you need to build a claim for yourself and file it with the appropriate court, especially if this type of claim ends up in multidistrict litigation.
There are a few basic steps to take if you think you got uterine cancer from a hair relaxer.
- Seek medical treatment first. The most important thing you can do is get the treatment you need to recover as much as possible. Don’t worry about the cost right away—a lawyer can help you find resources to pay your bills while you wait for the settlement you deserve.
- Talk to a lawyer. Find a lawyer who specializes in product liability claims and mass tort claims. Such a lawyer will know what evidence you need for your claim and where to find it. They will also know how to help you connect with a multidistrict claim so you can join with other plaintiffs like you in searching for a just settlement.
- Gather evidence. While waiting for your lawyer to get a case together, don’t stop keeping the proof you receive. You will need to gather all medical records and bills, relevant documentation of lost wages, and anything else you acquire. You should send this evidence to your lawyer when you can.
- Keep going. It may feel that your claim for just compensation is taking an eternity. It can often feel that way, especially if you’ve been dealing with cancer for a long time. But your claim won’t take forever, and your settlement will be worth it, so don’t give up on medical treatment and keep fighting for the compensation you deserve.
Why You Need a Lawyer for Your Hair Relaxer Lawsuit
If you’re dealing with uterine cancer, you shouldn’t have to deal with the stress of building a case on your own. Your goal is to recover as quickly as possible so you can start living your life again. A lawyer will handle the stress of negotiating for the compensation you need so you can focus on healing and spending time with those you love.
A compassionate and dedicated lawyer can:
- Gather evidence.
- Find help to pay your bills.
- File your lawsuit in the appropriate court.
- Establish a settlement amount that you deserve.
- Fight with big companies for the compensation that is rightfully yours.
If doctors diagnosed you with uterine cancer and you believe that you deserve a place in a hair relaxer lawsuit, don’t hesitate to reach out to a qualified lawyer to pursue justice.