It is important to know your legal rights when you or someone you love is diagnosed with mesothelioma. Experienced attorneys recognize how this type of cancer can affect you and your loved ones physically, emotionally and financially.
If you are diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma or lost a family member to the disease, you have grounds to make a legal case against the manufacturer or company who knowingly exposed you or your loved one to asbestos.
Exposure can be prevented. Medical researchers and product manufacturers have known this for nearly a century and yet too many kept quiet and chose not to inform the public — or their own employees — about the severe health consequences of working around asbestos.
The World Health Organization estimates that 125 million workers worldwide have been exposed to asbestos. About 3,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year in the United States. Most have pleural mesothelioma.
There were 2,190 mesothelioma lawsuit claims filed in 2017, according to a litigation review from KCIC, a privately held consulting firm that partners with corporations in managing mass tort and other liabilities.
The reality of asbestos litigation is that not all cases are created equal. This is why it’s important to consider talking to an attorney if you have been diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma. You usually only have between one and four years after your initial diagnosis to file a claim.
You usually only have 1–4 years after your initial diagnosis to file a claim.
Qualified mesothelioma attorneys can help you understand litigation procedures and file a timely legal claim. They can also see your claim through the case process and possibly improve your chances of obtaining compensation.
Depending on court rules and individual case circumstances, an attorney may be able to get your pleural mesothelioma case fast-tracked for trial.
Once you find a qualified, experienced mesothelioma lawyer, you will work together to determine when and how you were exposed to asbestos, how much and how long you were exposed, what injuries occurred because of exposure, and who to hold accountable — all of which is needed to make a strong case. These attorneys are usually paid a percentage of any compensation you may obtain.
Should you pass away before your case is resolved, they can work with your family or estate to continue pursuing legal claims against those who caused your injuries. They may be able to obtain compensation to help provide for your family, assist with remaining medical bills and address other losses.
Asbestos lawsuits begin with filing a document called a complaint or petition. But filing a complaint involves preparation that is best done with the assistance of an experienced pleural mesothelioma lawyer.
An attorney can help by first determining whether you are eligible to file an asbestos personal injury claim. Each state limits the amount of time available to file a lawsuit through laws known as statutes of limitation. An attorney can help determine where to file your lawsuit, which isn’t necessarily in the state where you live. They can also find the statutes of limitation that govern how much time you have to file a claim.
Determining when and where you can file requires careful analysis of a number of factors that are specific to your case. These factors include when and where you were exposed to asbestos and the identity and location of the defendants. Some states also require claimants to reach a certain stage of severity in their illness before they can pursue their legal claim. So it will be necessary to review your medical history, as well as your asbestos exposure and work history before filing your complaint.
Since time is important, it’s a good idea to contact a pleural mesothelioma attorney as soon as possible to start the case process. Your attorney will gather facts and organize a complaint that follows the court’s procedural requirements. But fact-gathering doesn’t end with filing a complaint.
Litigation claims are the most common source of mesothelioma compensation. The only way to obtain compensation this way is to file one of two claims:
Other sources of compensation include:
Compensation for Exposure
A plethora of companies and manufacturers responsible for mining asbestos or selling asbestos-containing products have filed for bankruptcy because of the vast amount of asbestos lawsuits against them in the past. In many cases, these companies were legally obligated to create an asbestos trust fund so they would be able to compensate people who develop a related disease.
Help for Veterans
If you served in the U.S. military, you may be able to file a veteran claim and receive monetary compensation through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Covering Medical Expenses
Typically, if you were exposed to asbestos and diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma, a workers’ compensation claim will not be enough to cover all of your medical expenses. Discuss the fine details with an experienced attorney who can help you decide which source of compensation is best for your needs.
Finding the right lawyer for your case is just as important as finding the right specialist to oversee your care. Given the rarity of pleural mesothelioma, a general practice lawyer will not have the expertise needed to successfully win your case. Seeking a lawyer who specializes in mesothelioma is imperative to your legal success.
Some factors to consider when looking for the right lawyer include:
Filing an asbestos-related claim can seem overwhelming. It may be hard to know exactly where to begin, how the process works and how long it can take, especially when time is of the essence. But mesothelioma attorneys are available to manage your case at each stage so that you can focus on your treatment, health and time with loved ones. Here is an overview of what you can expect from the legal process, start to finish.
Although your lawyer will do most of the leg work for you, it is a good idea to arrive at your initial consultation as prepared as you can be. This will help the process move faster and determine if you can move forward with your case.
Gather any medical records that show your diagnosis, and when and where you were exposed to asbestos. Also have your work history readily available, including the company name, address, phone number, your occupational title and role, a detailed report of your job description and years of employment. Always make sure to keep records of all medical bills and other related expenses because this will help determine how much you may be compensated.
Don’t worry if you can’t gather all of this information. Your lawyer will assist you with any trouble you may have during the process. Once your lawyer has all the necessary information to make a case, the claims process can begin.
Asbestos lawsuits begin with filing a claim. Your attorney will fill out a legal document called a complaint, which outlines your asbestos exposure in detail, any health conditions associated with your exposure and why the other party, called the defendant, should be held responsible. It is possible to have more than one defendant in your case.
After your attorney files the lawsuit, each defendant in your case has a certain amount of time to develop a response — usually 30 days. Typically the response will include denial of everything your complaint entails and a request to dismiss the trial. Don’t worry; this is normal. If your attorney thinks you have a strong enough case, it is likely that the court will feel the same way.
Before your case goes to court, both parties have a chance to gather and discover documents that will be used as evidence at trial. Each party will have the chance to question the other party in person. At this time, you may be asked questions from the defendants in your case.
These questions will be aimed at finding someone else who exposed you to asbestos. Consequently, you may have to answer some personal questions, including medical and work history and even personal habits. Your attorney will help prep you for these questions.
This phase can take the longest to complete, but if your condition worsens, you can ask the court to help speed the process.
Mesothelioma lawsuits typically settle before they go to trial. The defendants do not want to go to trial and they may offer you a settlement price. They use their familiarity with asbestos cases and certain asbestos defendants in particular to help determine when your case has the best chances for a favorable settlement. Your lawyer will ultimately negotiate the settlement, but if you refuse, it is possible that the defendants will make a secondary offer during the trial.
Different defendants are usually open to settlement discussions at different stages of the litigation process. Some do so early in the process, when only a few documents have been filed. Others enter settlement talks during discovery, before trial or perhaps during trial.
Although there is no guarantee that you will reach a settlement, it helps to have experienced mesothelioma attorneys on your side. They are aware of the strengths and weaknesses of each party’s case. This helps them determine the best times to sit down at the negotiation table. In addition, they can help you evaluate the strength of a settlement offer and whether to get up from the table and take the claims to trial instead.
If your case is strong enough to go to trial, these are generally the next steps:
You do not have to be present during the entire trial and your attorney should make this process as painless as possible for you. You attorney may travel to you and you may even be able to communicate via phone or computer.
It is possible and often likely that if you win the case, the defendant will file an appeal — usually within 30 to 180 days. This will delay payment of any monetary damages you were awarded. If there is no appeal, you will receive payments a few months after the ruling. Usually an appeals court only decides if the trial court correctly applied the law to the case.
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