Filing a wrongful death claim allows a mesothelioma patient's family to gain asbestos compensation after their death. If an asbestos claim was filed while the patient was alive, compensation through the asbestos trust fund continues to be paid to the estate after death.
Requirements for Filing a Mesothelioma Wrongful Death Claim
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.
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 pleural mesothelioma. This legal decision falls in the hands of the estate representative.
The estate representative, commonly called an executor or administrator, 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.
In order to be eligible to file this type of claim, the law requires the estate representative to show “standing,” or the ability of a party to demonstrate to the court they have sufficient connection to the action challenged.
This prevents an acquaintance or a distant cousin from coming forward and filing a claim on behalf of someone they barely knew.
Statutes of Limitations for Wrongful Death Claims
All mesothelioma lawsuits fall under what is 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 pleural mesothelioma is determined to be 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.
Challenges with Asbestos Wrongful Death Claims
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 coworkers 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 pleural mesothelioma is presumed to have ongoing medical bills, travel expenses and emotional distress. These claims can no longer be pursued after a person dies from asbestos-related injuries.
Awards Belong to the Estate
Compensation from an asbestos wrongful death claim — either from a 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.
What Happens to a Claim After the Original Plaintiff Dies?
In some cases, a person diagnosed with pleural 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.