For most families facing a mesothelioma diagnosis, filing a lawsuit is not the first thing on their minds. Patients are just trying to process the diagnosis and get through the necessary treatments. Meanwhile, family members are struggling to adjust their own lives to care for their loved ones.
Unfortunately, the costs of mesothelioma treatment can financially ruin a family. An asbestos lawsuit allows patients and families to recover the losses they have suffered as a result of this preventable asbestos cancer.
Types of Mesothelioma Lawsuits
A top-rated mesothelioma lawyer will be able to evaluate your case and review all your legal options for pursuing compensation. Depending on the circumstances, your lawyer may discuss:
Personal Injury Claims
People who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the company or companies responsible for their asbestos exposure. A personal injury lawsuit may demand compensation for past and future medical expenses, lost income, reduced earning capacity, as well as pain and suffering.
Wrongful Death Claims
If you have lost a loved one after a battle with mesothelioma, you may be entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit to pursue justice on their behalf. Although a wrongful death claim cannot change the devastating loss your family has suffered, it can help alleviate related financial burdens and hold the at-fault party(s) accountable. A wrongful death claim can pursue payment for funeral and burial expenses, your loved one’s medical expenses, loss of support and services, loss of inheritance, loss of nurturing and guidance for children, etc.
In multidistrict litigation (MDL) cases, similar claims from various federal district courts are grouped together to streamline the trial process. Although the cases remain separate, one case or a select few claims are identified to proceed to court first in what is known as a bellwether trial. The outcome of the bellwether trial determines how the rest of the cases will be resolved (such as with a global settlement). Although most mesothelioma claims are filed as individual personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits, MDL 875 was formed in 1991 and is the main MDL for mesothelioma claims.
Although people often associate class actions with product liability claims, class action lawsuits are no longer typical in asbestos litigation. Class actions bring together the claims of many plaintiffs who suffered the same or similar losses due to a company or entity’s negligence. The plaintiffs are represented in a single claim, with one or a few victims named as lead plaintiffs. Then the attorneys in the case work to notify other people who may be beneficiaries in the claim.
Common Questions About Mesothelioma Lawsuits
When patients and families decide to contact a mesothelioma lawyer, they typically have a lot of questions about how the process works and what to expect. Some of the most frequently asked questions include:
How much do mesothelioma lawyers charge?
Mesothelioma law firms take clients on a contingency-fee basis. The contingency fee is an agreed-upon percentage of the total compensation the lawyers eventually secure for the client. If the law firm does not win any money for the client, the firm does not collect attorney fees.
How long do mesothelioma lawsuits take?
An experienced mesothelioma attorney will have the resources and the knowledge to move an asbestos claim forward as efficiently as possible. Although the defendant(s) will likely try to delay and drag things out, a seasoned mesothelioma lawyer will usually petition the court to resolve the claim within one year.
I lost a loved one to mesothelioma years ago. Can I still file a claim?
This will depend on the statute of limitations in the state where you should be filing your wrongful death claim. The time limit varies from state to state, ranging from one to three years from the date of death. If you have lost a loved one to mesothelioma, you should speak with a skilled lawyer as soon as possible about your legal rights.
I don’t know where/how I was exposed to asbestos. Who do I sue?
A top-rated mesothelioma attorney will be able to review your work history or military service history to identify when and where you were exposed to asbestos. A law firm that focuses on asbestos litigation will already have compiled research and records on many of the companies that produced asbestos materials. In addition, a determined lawyer will find and interview your former co-workers or those who served in the military with you to discuss what they remember about asbestos exposure.
What if I’ve never worked for an asbestos company but still have mesothelioma?
For decades, asbestos-containing materials were commonly used in countless industrial, building and household products. Although some people were exposed to the deadly fibers by handling raw asbestos in factories, many came into contact with the carcinogen on a variety of other types of jobsites. You didn’t have to work directly for an asbestos company to be exposed to their dangerous products.
The asbestos company where I worked has gone bankrupt or been bought by another company. Is it too late to get compensation?
No. Asbestos companies that go out of business must set aside money in bankruptcy trust funds to pay future mesothelioma patients. Pursuing money through a trust fund is not the same as filing an asbestos lawsuit, but you will still need an attorney to navigate the complex process.
How much compensation can I receive if I file a mesothelioma lawsuit?
Every mesothelioma claim is unique, and compensation will depend on the amount of damages you and your family have suffered. An experienced attorney can help you document past and future medical expenses, lost income, diminished earning capacity, pain and suffering, etc., to determine what full and fair compensation should be in your case.
Will I need to travel if I file?
No. If your case goes to trial, your lawyer will make arrangements so you do not have to travel to appear in court. In fact, most asbestos lawsuits are resolved with out-of-court settlements.
Who gets the final say on whether to settle or go to trial?
You do. Your lawyer will advise you of all settlement offers throughout the process and make sure you understand your options. Ultimately, it is up to you to decide whether to accept a mesothelioma settlement or go to trial.
Choosing a Mesothelioma Attorney
Selecting the best mesothelioma attorney to represent you and your family is a big decision. There are many law firms that will take an asbestos case, but you should choose a law firm that focuses on these complex claims. Mesothelioma cases are a particularly specialized area of law, so it is important to select a lawyer with extensive experience successfully handling these types of cases.
Some of the factors to consider when choosing the best mesothelioma law firm to manage your case for compensation include:
- Does the law firm have a proven track record of obtaining results for clients who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, lung cancer and other asbestos-related diseases?
- Has the firm already done the legwork of researching and collecting evidence regarding the companies that produced asbestos materials and the job sites where asbestos products were commonly used?
- Do the attorneys have an in-depth understanding of all the complicated medical issues mesothelioma patients face? And can the firm connect patients with top mesothelioma experts in the field?
- Has the law firm built a strong network of respected medical professionals and other specialists to provide expert testimony in support of your claim?
- Are the attorneys knowledgeable about all the potential sources of compensation for mesothelioma patients and their families, including veterans’ benefits, Social Security Disability benefits and workers’ compensation?
- Do you feel the lawyers and staff show true compassion and empathy for what you and your family are going through?
- How often will the attorneys update you on the status of your case, and will you be communicating directly with them or an assistant?
Top-ranked mesothelioma attorneys accept asbestos cases on a contingency-fee basis, meaning the law firm does not get paid attorney fees unless the firm obtains compensation for you. You can expect to discuss your claim during a free, no-obligation initial consultation, during which you can get answers to all your questions.
Mesothelioma Lawsuit Process
A vast majority of mesothelioma cases end with a settlement. However, sometimes a full and fair mesothelioma settlement offer does not come until the trial is already in progress, and there are cases that must go to a jury in order for justice to be served.
It is important that you understand what to expect in your case and how the lawsuit process works:
During this no-obligation initial meeting with an attorney, you will talk about your diagnosis, treatment plan and work/service history. This meeting can be done at a place that is convenient for you, such as at your home or in the hospital. It is a time to get to know the attorney and ask any questions you and your family may have about the legal process and what to expect moving forward.
Preparation Research: Work & Medical History
Your mesothelioma lawyer will begin research into your work or military service history to determine where and when you were exposed to asbestos. Your legal team will track your exposure to specific asbestos products to identify which companies should be held liable. Your lawyer may do this by gathering blueprints of former jobsites, interviewing former co-workers, etc.
In addition to establishing which companies are responsible for your disease, your lawyer will also collect a detailed medical history. Your legal team will gather extensive information about your diagnosis and treatments, as well as document other losses you and your family have suffered related to your illness.
Filing the Lawsuit
Once your attorney has collected all the evidence necessary to craft a strong case, he or she will file a complaint with the court. This complaint will identify all the companies that should be held liable and will outline details of your diagnosis and treatment plan.
After your lawsuit has been filed, both sides will exchange information as part of the discovery process. You will testify about your case in a deposition, which can be done at a location that is convenient and comfortable for you. Your lawyer may also arrange interviews with medical experts and former coworkers. The discovery process gives each side a chance to see how strong the claim for compensation is.
Most companies will offer a mesothelioma settlement rather than risk a case going to trial. Your attorney will present all settlement offers to you and advise you on whether an offer is fair. Settlement negotiations can continue all the way until a jury reads a verdict.
Your mesothelioma attorney should be ready to argue your case before a judge and jury if the defendant(s) refuse to offer a full and fair settlement. Experienced litigators will lay out an emotionally moving but fact-based case to persuade a jury that you deserve maximum compensation.
Because lawsuits can result in large jury awards, defendants may appeal a verdict to drag out the fight. Your law firm should be prepared to provide skilled representation throughout the appellate process in order to see your case through to the end.
Asbestos Trust Recovery
In some cases, the company(s) responsible for your exposure may have filed for bankruptcy and gone out of business. In these instances, your lawyer will identify any asbestos bankruptcy trust funds that may be liable to you. Although a trust fund claim would not be part of your lawsuit, it is a potential source of compensation for you and your family.
Other Recovery Options
In addition to your lawsuit, your lawyer will discuss your circumstances to determine whether you may be eligible for compensation from other sources. You may be entitled to payments in the form of veterans’ benefits, Social Security Disability benefits or workers’ compensation benefits.
History of Asbestos Litigation
1828: The first asbestos patent was issued in the United States for insulation in steam engines.
Late 1800s: Workers in asbestos mines and factories begin to report lung disease.
1906: The first death related to asbestos exposure is reported.
1918: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports an unusually high risk of early death for asbestos workers. Meanwhile, insurance companies will not sell life insurance policies to people who work with asbestos.
1960: Despite mounting medical evidence that asbestos was causing devastating illnesses, asbestos companies failed to warn the public.
1967: The first successful asbestos personal injury claim was filed in the United Kingdom, opening the door for many other victims to come forward.
1971: The first successful asbestos personal injury claim was resolved in the United States, with a verdict of $68,000 for a worker who suffered from asbestosis.
1982: Johns-Manville is the first large company to go bankrupt over asbestos litigation. The company establishes the first large asbestos bankruptcy trust fund to help future victims.
1994: Congress changes the U.S. Bankruptcy Code to establish asbestos trust funds, ensuring companies cannot escape their liability to future asbestos victims.
2018: Mesothelioma patients and their families continue to recover compensation through successful asbestos litigation. Yet the deadly mineral is still not banned in the United States, and millions of people remain at risk for exposure.
Notable Asbestos Lawsuit Verdicts
The community and resources at Mesothelioma Help are made possible by the support of Belluck & Fox, one of the most sought-after, nationally respected mesothelioma law firms. For more than 20 years, the skilled trial attorneys at Belluck & Fox have been committed to helping individuals and families who have seen their lives forever changed by asbestos diseases.
The trusted legal team at Belluck & Fox has the extensive experience and significant resources needed to take on deep-pocketed asbestos companies. And the firm has built a long track record of success, securing more than $1 billion for deserving clients and their families.
Some of the most notable verdicts Belluck & Fox has obtained on behalf of clients include:
- $32 million for a veteran of the U.S. Navy who suffered from asbestos disease after being exposed aboard Navy ships
- $22 million for a part-time construction worker who received a mesothelioma diagnosis after being exposed to asbestos on the job
- $19.5 million for a construction worker who inhaled asbestos fibers while working on a high-rise building in New York
If you are ready to speak with a knowledgeable asbestos lawyer about pursuing the compensation you deserve after a mesothelioma diagnosis, contact us today. We will arrange for a free legal consultation with a top-rated mesothelioma lawyer who can review your case and explain all your options for moving forward.