Why Seek Justice for Asbestos Illnesses?
Many people were exposed to asbestos without knowing about it. Companies that produced, distributed, and used asbestos have been held accountable for exposing workers without warning them of the risks.
Many of these companies have been found liable for exposing and harming workers. If you were one of these people, you can seek justice through a mesothelioma lawsuit.
What Are Asbestos and Mesothelioma?
Asbestos is a natural set of minerals and a human carcinogen. It is made up of tiny, odorless fibers that, when disturbed, can easily be inhaled or ingested. Inhaling or ingesting the fibers can lead to internal damage and illnesses.
Mesothelioma, an aggressive and deadly cancer, is an asbestos-related cancer. Asbestosis is a non-cancerous disease resulting in scarring of lung tissue caused by chronic inhalation of asbestos. These are preventable diseases, and it is important to hold accountable those companies that caused asbestos exposure.
Lawsuits Provide Compensation
Not only does filing a lawsuit lead to justice for victims, but it also can give you financial security. If you have mesothelioma, you will likely face high medical bills and possibly income loss. The right mesothelioma lawyer can help you succeed in a lawsuit to recover damages from the responsible parties.
Asbestos Lawsuits Are Not Just for Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma is most strongly associated with asbestos exposure, but this is not the only disease it causes. You may also develop deadly lung cancer and non-malignant diseases like asbestosis. All are damaging, shorten your life, and cost you in expenses. You can sue manufacturers for any illness caused by asbestos.
Types of Asbestos or Mesothelioma Lawsuits
The type of mesothelioma lawsuit you can file depends on whether you were injured or lost a family member to the disease.
- Personal Injury Lawsuits: This lawsuit is filed against the parties responsible for causing the exposure. If found liable for your exposure you can typically expect to receive compensation from the defendants.
- Wrongful Death Lawsuits: Unfortunately, victims of asbestos exposure don’t always live long enough to see a lawsuit finish. In these cases, the surviving families may file a wrongful death asbestos lawsuit or continue with the ongoing claim.
A wrongful death suit is a claim that a loved one’s death was caused by negligence. This type of lawsuit can provide compensation to cover medical bills and funeral expenses as well as for pain and suffering and loss of companionship.
Who Gets Sued in a Mesothelioma Lawsuit?
The defendants in a mesothelioma lawsuit are the companies responsible for exposing you to asbestos. You may not be sure who this is. It could be a past employer, but in most cases, it is one or more manufacturers of asbestos products that supplied your employer.
A lawyer experienced in asbestos and mesothelioma cases will go through your job history and their databases of asbestos information to decide who bears responsibility.
What if the Companies No Longer Exist?
Many companies responsible for asbestos exposure no longer exist. Some went bankrupt and may or may not have reorganized. Those that did should have set up an asbestos trust to compensate future victims. Your lawyer can help you find the appropriate asbestos trust for filing a claim.
Some potential defendants may not exist because other companies acquired them. Those parent companies may be liable for past asbestos exposures.
Do I Qualify to Sue for Mesothelioma?
If you have received a diagnosis of mesothelioma or another illness caused by asbestos, you are most likely eligible to sue. The best way to get expert advice is to talk to a lawyer. Asbestos lawyers offer free consultations to review your information can determine if you have a strong case.
To sue successfully, you must have evidence of past asbestos exposure. You must also be able to connect that exposure to your current diagnosis.
You may not think you have evidence, but lawyers may be able to uncover proof. Don’t let this stop you from talking to an experienced firm. Asbestos firms have a lot of resources and experts on their teams that can build strong cases out of your job and medical histories.
When Should I File a Lawsuit?
If you have received a mesothelioma diagnosis, talk to a lawyer as soon as possible. A mesothelioma lawsuit is a type of personal injury case. Every state sets a time limit on these, known as the statute of limitations.
The statute of limitations is the time you have from when you received your diagnosis to file a lawsuit. For most states, the limit is between one and six years.
If you hope to file on behalf of a deceased loved one, you also face time limits. The statute of limitations on a wrongful death case may be the same as for a personal injury case. They are similar in most states.
What Are the Steps in a Mesothelioma Lawsuit?
The process of filing and winning a mesothelioma lawsuit can be complicated and time-consuming for those unfamiliar with the process. Rely on an experienced mesothelioma lawyer to take most of these steps for you and to help you make the right decisions along the way.
Find an Asbestos or Mesothelioma Lawyer
For the best chance of winning your case, you need a reliable mesothelioma lawyer or law firm with relevant experience and asbestos knowledge. The laws governing asbestos and personal injury are different in each state. Your legal team should understand the laws and have access to information about companies that used asbestos.
Prepare and File the Lawsuit
Once a law firm takes your case, they will begin gathering information. They’ll begin an investigation to determine what company caused the exposure that triggered your illness. They will also need your input. Be prepared to provide medical records and other types of information.
With all the information in place and preparatory work done, your legal team will be ready to file a complaint against one or more defendants.
Wait for a Response
The defendant will have a chance to respond to your claims once the lawsuit has been filed. Defendants get a certain amount of time to respond, typically thirty days from when they learn of the lawsuit. They may deny liability and may even allege that you were to blame.
For example, previous defendants in mesothelioma lawsuits claimed smoking caused the plaintiffs’ illness even though smoking has not been proven to cause mesothelioma. They may deny that your illness is related to asbestos. Your lawyer will know how to handle these allegations.
If the defendant does not respond, you win your case by default. In most cases, the defendant will respond and trigger the discovery period. During this period, both sides continue gathering information.
Negotiate a Settlement
Most mesothelioma and asbestos cases never go to trial. Lawyers on each side are usually able to reach a settlement agreement. It takes eighteen months on average to settle, with both sides agreeing on a fair amount of compensation for the victim.
Go to Trial
Trials usually take longer than out-of-court settlements. It’s impossible to predict the jury’s decision, but there are some benefits of trials. One is that the company or companies that caused your illness can be exposed publicly, and if successful, the award amount is usually higher.
Asbestos trials can take several years. If you’re extremely ill, a judge may choose to accelerate the process. Most mesothelioma victims try to avoid a trial because it is in their best interest to get a resolution quickly.
Both sides have the right to appeal after a trial. This can delay your access to compensation, but an experienced asbestos attorney understands the process and will work for the best outcome.
How Long Does a Mesothelioma Lawsuit Take?
Every case is different, but if you go to trial, it could be a year or two before your case gets to that point. The vast majority of mesothelioma lawsuits end in settlements that take much less time to resolve. This is only a rough timeline that varies depending on individual factors:
- Filing the Lawsuit. Your legal team will need some time to consult with you, investigate, and gather information before filing. This could take a couple of months.
- Waiting for a Response. Once filed, it’s up to the defendants to respond. There is a time limit for this, typically 30 days.
- Discovery period. This is the step with the most variation. It can take six months to a year for both sides to put together their cases. The more complicated the case, the longer it takes.
- Negotiating. Your lawyer will try to avoid a trial by getting you a fair settlement. The negotiations can take anywhere from days to months.
- Getting a Verdict. If your case does to to trial and is straightforward, it could be over in days. The most complicated cases take several months or up to a year.
- Appealing. There is a time limit on appealing, which varies by state and court, typically between one and six months.
What Compensation Can Be Claimed in a Lawsuit?
Getting justice and acknowledgment from the person or company that made you sick is important, but the financial costs of this disease are big. Winning compensation means money doesn’t have to be a worry and that you can focus on treatment. You may be entitled to recover damages for:
- Medical bills
- Future medical expenses
- Travel costs for treatment
- Lost wages and inability to work
- Emotional suffering
- Physical pain
How Much Do Mesothelioma Victims Get in Lawsuits?
Compensation amounts from lawsuits vary significantly depending on several factors: the severity of the illness, the medical and related expenses, whether you have dependents, and emotional suffering.
The average amount for a settlement in a mesothelioma case is $1 million to $1.4 million. The average verdict amount is $2.4 million.
Examples of Successful Mesothelioma Lawsuits
The average mesothelioma lawsuit settles for about $1 million; however, there have been many examples of lawsuits reaching much higher numbers:
- $17 million was awarded by a jury to the family of a retired civilian worker in the U.S. Navy. He developed mesothelioma and died after working at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard.
- A jury awarded the wife of a race car driver $75 million after she developed mesothelioma from being around the dust in his engine gaskets.
- A construction worker’s family received $48 million after he died from exposure to asbestos in building materials.
- $250 million was awarded to a steelworker who was exposed to asbestos in insulation products.
How to Find a Local Mesothelioma Lawyer
Filing a lawsuit can help you bring closure to a terrible situation and provide the financial support you need. The best way to get a good outcome is to work with the right lawyer.
Look for a lawyer in your state that specializes in or has extensive experience with mesothelioma and asbestos cases. This experience is necessary, as asbestos cases are unique and complicated.
Check with anyone you know or worked with who also has an asbestos disease. They may be able to recommend a lawyer. Check advertisements and directories for local lawyers who take asbestos cases. Your state bar association and advocacy groups for asbestos illness may also be able to point you in the right direction.
Before hiring any lawyer, no matter how you found them, take advantage of the free consultation. Ask all your questions and request references from past asbestos clients. Don’t settle for a firm with no asbestos experience.
By filing an asbestos lawsuit, you are holding companies accountable for harming their workers. A lawsuit is also important for collecting the damages you deserve. Be sure that you start your lawsuit with an expert by your side. Remember, statutes of limitations vary by state but all limit the time you have to make your case.
Frequently Asked Questions
Page Written by Rod De Llano, Esquire
Rod De Llano was born and raised in Laredo, Texas. He graduated from Princeton University with a B.A. in Economics, and earned a law degree from the University of Texas. After working for an international law firm for several years, Rod formed a law firm dedicated to representing persons injured by exposure to asbestos products. For over 20 years, Rod has fought for persons diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis. His clients have recovered over $1 billion over the years.