Why File a Mesothelioma After Death Claim?
Nearly every case of mesothelioma could have been prevented if asbestos product manufacturers had discontinued using the mineral once they found out it was deadly. Rates of mesothelioma would have remained incredibly low, as they were before asbestos was used throughout workplaces, if manufacturers stopped using asbestos decades ago.
These manufacturers knew their choice to keep using asbestos would cost lives. While filing a lawsuit does not right the wrong that was done, it holds asbestos product manufacturers responsible for their actions and it honors the life of the loved one you lost.
Filing a mesothelioma wrongful death claim may provide compensation to help your family pay for outstanding medical bills, funeral costs, income loss and other financial concerns.
Who Can File a Mesothelioma Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Not just any relative or family friend can file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of a loved one who died of mesothelioma. The estate of the person who died of mesothelioma has the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit, and this action is handled by the estate representative.
The estate representative is usually named in a person’s last will and testament, though they may also be appointed by the court. They can be a spouse, sibling, child or another family member, but they do not have to be a blood relative.
Mesothelioma Wrongful Death Process
In a wrongful death claim, the burden of proof falls on the family that lost their loved one to mesothelioma because their loved one is no longer able to provide evidence or testify.
- Hire a Lawyer: If your loved one did not initiate a claim before they died, the estate representative may hire a mesothelioma lawyer to represent the claim.
- Exploratory Investigation: Your mesothelioma lawyer begins an exploratory investigation into your claim to learn about the asbestos products your loved one was exposed to and which manufacturers may be responsible.
- Filing a Claim: Your attorney will file a mesothelioma claim against the manufacturers responsible for your loved one’s cancer.
- Discovery Phase: Also known as pretrial litigation, the discovery phase involves conducting depositions, gathering testimony and collecting evidence. Lawyers on both sides will appear in court to keep the judge informed of case proceedings, negotiate a settlement or set a trial date.
- Settlement or Trial: The vast majority of mesothelioma lawsuits end in a settlement rather than a trial. The average mesothelioma settlement is around $1.4 million and the average trial verdict award is $2.4 million.
Requirements for Filing a Mesothelioma Wrongful Death Lawsuit
The goal of a mesothelioma wrongful death claim is to prove companies that used or manufactured asbestos products were negligent and responsible for the untimely death of your loved one.
Many companies knew of the dangers of asbestos for decades but failed to properly warn their employees, putting profits over human lives.
Filing asbestos claims after the death of a loved one is a complicated and time-sensitive process that is best handled by an experienced mesothelioma lawyer.
Wrongful death claims for mesothelioma must show documentation of:
- Known Exposure: Identifying where the asbestos exposure occurred, the products used and the companies responsible is essential to filing a wrongful death claim.
- Clear Negligence: Your lawyer must show that the defendants in the case acted negligently in exposing the patient to asbestos.
- Significant Impact: The case must show that the estate representative or family members of the deceased mesothelioma patient were significantly impacted by the death, either emotionally, financially or both.
Importance of Filing Before the Death of a Loved One
Filing wrongful death lawsuits are difficult because the injured party is no longer alive to provide testimony or help locate hard evidence such as work records, medical records and other documents.
The estate representative or surviving family members may not know the intricate details of the work history and medical history of the deceased. They may not have contacts for former co-workers or other witnesses who can attest to the asbestos exposure the deceased experienced during their career.
Awards Often Less
Awards from mesothelioma wrongful death lawsuits often are significantly less than awards from personal injury claims.
This is because a person living with mesothelioma is presumed to have ongoing medical bills, travel expenses and emotional distress.
Awards Belong to the Estate
Compensation from an asbestos wrongful death claim — either from a mesothelioma settlement or trial verdict — is awarded to the deceased patient’s estate, not the estate representative. This may be divided among family members and anyone named in the person’s last will and testament.
Statutes of Limitations on Wrongful Death Lawsuits
All mesothelioma lawsuits must be filed within time limits known as statutes of limitations. These laws limit the amount of time a claimant has to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Statutes of limitations for asbestos wrongful death claims begin after a person dies and mesothelioma is the cause of death.
The deadlines for filing these claims vary by state, but usually fall between one and three years after the death of the patient.
Average Wrongful Death Settlement Amounts
The average mesothelioma settlement amount ranges from $1 million to $1.4 million. This compensation for mesothelioma may be supported by trust fund claims filed on behalf of the deceased’s estate.
Settlement amounts are determined by medical bills, funeral costs, lost wages and other costs incurred by a mesothelioma diagnosis and death.
Compensation from a mesothelioma wrongful death lawsuit can pay for:
- Funeral Services
In the U.S., average funeral costs range from $7,000 to $10,000. Compensation received through a mesothelioma settlement helps families afford a funeral to honor their loved one’s life and memory.
Many people with mesothelioma must travel to access treatment for their rare cancer. Transportation and lodging costs quickly add up and may include flights to a mesothelioma cancer center and a hotel room to stay in while undergoing treatment.
- Family Living Expenses
Losing a loved one to mesothelioma is devastating emotionally and financially. Compensation from a mesothelioma settlement helps make up for lost income so families can afford living expenses.
- Unpaid Medical Bills
Mesothelioma treatment is expensive and unpaid medical bills may amount to tens of thousands of dollars for some families. A mesothelioma settlement may provide the compensation your family needs to pay outstanding medical bills.
Common Questions About Filing an Asbestos Claim After Death
- Can I file a claim if a loved one died from mesothelioma?
Certain family members who lost a loved one to mesothelioma may have the right to file a wrongful death claim on behalf of the estate. A qualified mesothelioma attorney can determine your eligibility and walk you through the process.
- Is there a deadline to file a mesothelioma wrongful death claim?
There are deadlines for filing a wrongful death claim and they are known as statutes of limitations. Each state defines its own statute of limitations ranging from one year to six years, with two years being the average. It is important to file a claim before the deadline or you will miss the opportunity to get the compensation you deserve.
- Can personal injury claims become wrongful death claims?
In some cases, a person diagnosed with mesothelioma may file a personal injury lawsuit but die before the legal process concludes. If this happens, the claim for the deceased loved one becomes part of their estate. Legal decisions then fall to the estate representative. This person will decide how to proceed with the claim, speaking on behalf of the estate.
A qualified mesothelioma attorney can walk you through the complex process of continuing a legal claim when the injured party is no longer alive.