The basis of every pleural mesothelioma legal claim is that the defendant failed in its duty to ensure the safety of those exposed to an asbestos product. Legal theory about asbestos liability has been well-established for many years now. For instance, asbestos victims have been able to sue manufacturers of asbestos products for failing to warn about the dangers of their products since the landmark case Borel v. Fibreboard Paper Prods. Corp.
Obtaining compensation for asbestos personal injuries isn’t cut and dry. Whether or not you obtain compensation will depend on the specific facts of your case and your ability to navigate the court’s procedural requirements. That’s why it is important to consult a qualified pleural mesothelioma attorney to help you understand the claims filing process.
There are several ways to file a mesothelioma claim, including lawsuits, asbestos trust fund claims, workers’ compensation claims and VA claims.
There are two types of mesothelioma lawsuits: Personal-injury claims and wrongful death lawsuits.
The majority of mesothelioma lawsuits are settled before going to trial. A qualified mesothelioma attorney can discuss your options for filing a lawsuit and can guide you through the filing process.
Many companies that exposed workers to asbestos filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. To successfully file, these companies were ordered to set up trust funds to cover current and future asbestos claims. A lawyer experienced in asbestos litigation can determine if a company you worked for has an asbestos trust fund and can help you file a claim.
People exposed to asbestos at work can turn to the workers’ compensation system for financial assistance. These laws vary by state and compensation is usually significantly lower than financial help from lawsuits or asbestos trust funds.
Veterans exposed to asbestos during military service can file a claim with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Veterans can seek VA disability claims, VA health care and dependency and indemnity compensation.
In addition to filing your case with the court, your attorney also handles sending the document to all defendants. Once that happens, more document filings and evidence gathering take place and eventually lead to a trial or possibly a settlement.
Each defendant has a limited amount of time to respond to your complaint with a document known as an answer. A defendant usually uses the answer to deny all of the claims made in the complaint. This filing is usually followed by a motion to dismiss, which points out any failures on your part to state a sufficient legal claim or follow other procedural requirements. If the court grants the motion to dismiss, your case will end.
Otherwise, the parties will continue filing documents with the court to narrow the issues that will be addressed during trial. They will also engage in discovery, which involves gathering more facts, disclosing documents like your medical records and the defendant’s company records, and deposing witnesses. You can expect to be deposed early in your case. Your attorney will seek to have it done in a place, like your home, where you can be comfortable and receive necessary medical care.
Some of the facts your attorney gathers during discovery will be used as evidence at trial. The evidence will be used to prove that your injuries were caused by the defendants’ products and conduct and that the defendant failed in its legal duty to protect you by warning you about asbestos risks.
Filing a claim can finally hold those who neglected to warn and protect you against asbestos exposure accountable for their actions. Many companies were aware of the risks of asbestos during the late 1930s, but its many desirable and low-cost properties outweighed the risks to their workers. You have the legal right to file a claim against the company, manufacturer or person who knowingly exposed you to the toxic material.
Although the legal process is one way to seek justice, there’s another important reason to file a claim: Compensation.
Mesothelioma treatment is expensive. From surgery and chemotherapy to traveling and doctor appointments, the medical bills have a way of adding up. Other costs related to a pleural mesothelioma diagnosis include lost wages, medical expenses not covered by insurance, travel and lodging accommodations, funeral expenses and physical and mental distress, also known as pain and suffering.
In addition to holding the defendants accountable, your attorney will also urge the jury to award you compensation for your medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost income and possible punitive damages. Your lawyer will ask for a specific amount based on a careful evaluation of your case and the losses you suffered.
States have different laws about assigning financial liability when there is more than one defendant responsible for an asbestos personal injury. Your attorney can explain how any award you ultimately receive is divided among the defendants.
Along the way, your attorney may be able to negotiate a settlement on your behalf with one or more defendants. But if disputes about material facts remain after the parties have filed motions and completed discovery, the case will go to trial. Again, your attorney will oversee this process, but will keep you informed and obtain your input. Depending on the strength of your evidence at trial, you may be able to settle before the trial ends. Your attorney should also remind you that there are no guarantees that you will receive a jury award or a settlement.
Keep in mind that the best way to know what to expect during the claims process is to consult a knowledgeable pleural mesothelioma attorney.
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