Mesothelioma, a deadly disease with no known cure, presents a daunting challenge for those diagnosed with it. With an average survival rate of only 4 to 18 months after diagnosis, the prognosis can be devastating.
However, there is hope. If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with mesothelioma and believe asbestos exposure is to blame, filing a case may be a critical step toward seeking justice and compensation.
Below, we’ll share everything you need to know about navigating the process of filing a mesothelioma case:
Seeking Legal Representation
Unlike other product liability or personal injury claims, mesothelioma cases involve unique laws and regulations due to the specific nature of asbestos exposure and its link to the disease. Therefore, having legal representation that understands the intricacies of mesothelioma litigation can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case.
When searching for a mesothelioma attorney, you must look for a professional with a case history that reflects the same or similar circumstances as your own. An attorney specializing in asbestos-related cases will be well-versed in the complexities of such lawsuits and have a deeper understanding of the medical and scientific aspects involved, which is critical for building a solid case.
One of the major concerns for individuals and families dealing with mesothelioma is the financial strain caused by medical bills and related expenses. A reliable mesothelioma attorney will recognize the immense burden on their clients and their families during this difficult time. Try to look for a law firm that works on a contingency basis. A contingency-based law firm does not charge anything for the mesothelioma lawsuit unless it secures the client a settlement or verdict award. This approach allows mesothelioma victims and their families to pursue legal action without worrying about immediate financial obligations to the attorney.
Identifying the Source of Asbestos Exposure
Identifying the source of asbestos exposure is crucial in building a robust case for mesothelioma or any asbestos-related illness. However, it can be challenging because of the long latency period between asbestos exposure and the onset of symptoms, which can span several decades.
Asbestos, responsible for an estimated 255,000 deaths annually, with work-related exposures contributing to 233,000 deaths, has historically been prevalent in specific industries and job sectors. If you work or have worked in any of the following industries, you may have been subject to asbestos exposure at your job:
- power plant
- steel mill
To identify the responsible parties, you must retrace your occupational history and gather information about your work environments throughout your career. An experienced mesothelioma attorney can help you investigate your work history to establish potential asbestos exposure sources.
Preserving Relevant Documents
When faced with a mesothelioma diagnosis, gathering and preserving relevant documents becomes vital in establishing the link between asbestos exposure and your health condition. These documents will be crucial in building a claim and seeking justice and compensation for the harm caused. Here are some essential documents to collect and safeguard:
- Employment Records: Gather any work-related documents, such as employment contracts, pay stubs, and tax records, which can help establish where and when you may have encountered asbestos in the workplace.
- Medical Reports: Comprehensive medical reports and imaging scans like X-rays and CT scans are vital in confirming your mesothelioma diagnosis.
- Funeral and Burial Expenses: If you’re filing a wrongful death claim due to losing a loved one to mesothelioma, it’s crucial to document funeral and burial expenses.
- Witness Statements: Statements from coworkers, family members, or friends who can attest to your asbestos exposure history can be invaluable. Witness statements can help corroborate your work environment and strengthen your case.
- Product Identification: If you have knowledge of specific asbestos-containing products used in your workplace or environment, document this information. Knowing the products that led to exposure can be crucial in identifying the responsible parties.
Preserving these relevant documents is of utmost importance. Memories fade, and essential evidence can get lost over time. Organize your records in a secure and easily accessible manner, and consider making digital copies as a backup.
Settlements vs. Verdicts
Mesothelioma cases often lead to two possible resolutions: out-of-court settlements or trial verdicts.
Settlements involve reaching an agreement with the defendants before the case goes to trial. The average mesothelioma settlement awards are $1 million, which can vary based on the specifics of each case. However, settlements may not always offer the maximum possible compensation.
On the other hand, trial verdicts are determined by the court. The outcome depends on whether the court finds the manufacturers of asbestos-based products responsible for the disease. In many instances, trial verdicts result in significantly higher compensation than settlements. For example, in December 2022, a mesothelioma case in California went to trial, and the jury awarded the plaintiff a victory. Beauty giant Avon Products was ordered to pay over $50 million in damages.
Duration of Lawsuit
Many people understandably worry about how long a lawsuit will take; truthfully, the duration can vary significantly. The timeline of a lawsuit is case-dependent, considering various factors that come into play.
One way you can influence the duration of your case is by choosing between a settlement or a trial. If you opt for a settlement, the process can be relatively quicker, often taking only a few weeks to reach an agreement. On the other hand, choosing to go to trial can extend the timeline significantly, with trials lasting several months and sometimes over a year, especially in more complex cases.
Statute of Limitations
When filing a mesothelioma lawsuit, time is of the essence. Each state sets its statute of limitations. So, this gives you a limited timeframe to initiate legal action after a mesothelioma diagnosis or the date of death in the case of a deceased family member.
Personal injury and wrongful death lawsuit deadlines for mesothelioma cases mostly range from 1 to 4 years after the diagnosis or death. However, some states may extend the time limit to 6 years under certain circumstances.
Due to the time-sensitive nature of these limitations, it’s crucial to approach an experienced mesothelioma attorney. They can assess your situation and inform you of the precise deadlines applicable in your state. And if the deadline has passed in your state, you may still be able to file a lawsuit in another state where the deadline still hasn’t passed.
Filing a mesothelioma case is a complex legal journey. But with the right legal team and understanding of the process, you can easily seek compensation for the damages caused by asbestos exposure. If you or someone you know developed mesothelioma, seeking legal counsel and pursuing justice for your suffering is advised. Remember, time is of the essence due to the statute of limitations, so act promptly to safeguard your rights and seek the compensation you deserve.