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 negligent in exposing and harming workers. If you were one of these people, you could seek justice through a mesothelioma lawsuit.
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 the most common asbestos-related cancer. Asbestosis is a non-cancerous disease resulting in scarring of the lung tissues, caused by chronic inhalation of asbestos. These are preventable diseases, and it is important to hold accountable those companies that caused asbestos exposure.
Not only does filing a lawsuit lead to justice for victims, but it also can provide 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.
Types of Asbestos or Mesothelioma Lawsuits
The type of mesothelioma lawsuit you can file depends on whether you were injured or you 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.
What Is the Filing Process Timeline of 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.
Finding 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.
Preparation and Filing
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.
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 despite the fact that 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.
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.
Trials usually take longer than out-of-court settlements. It’s impossible to predict what the jury’s decision will be, 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.
What Compensation Can Be Claimed in a Lawsuit?
Getting justice and acknowledgement 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
What Can I Expect from a Mesothelioma Lawsuit Payout?
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.
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
Can you sue for mesothelioma?
Yes, you can sue for mesothelioma if it resulted from negligent exposure to asbestos. Asbestos exposure most often occurs in the workplace. A lawyer can help you determine how you were exposed and who is responsible and can be sued.
What is the average settlement for mesothelioma?
On average, victims of asbestos exposure who develop malignant mesothelioma recover between $1 million and $1.4 million.
What is the statute of limitations on filing for mesothelioma?
The statute of limitations, the time you have to file a lawsuit, varies by state. For personal injury, the statutes of limitations range from one year to six years from when the illness was diagnosed or should have been reasonably discovered. For a wrongful death lawsuit, in the event someone dies from asbestos exposure, the limit ranges from one to three years.
Is a mesothelioma settlement taxable?
Tax laws can be confusing, so let an expert guide you. In general, damages recovered for mesothelioma that are related to actual medical expenses are not taxable. You may, however, be expected to pay taxes on damages recovered for things like emotional suffering or lost wages.
How much money is left in the asbestos trust fund?
There are multiple asbestos trust funds, each associated with a particular company that needs to compensate victims of exposure. The amount of money varies by trust, but overall, there is about $30 billion still left in these trusts. The trusts operate in such a way that there will be money left for future victims as they receive diagnoses of asbestos-related diseases.
How can I get mesothelioma compensation?
There are several ways to seek compensation for being a victim of asbestos exposure and mesothelioma. One is to file a lawsuit against those responsible for your exposure, such as a former employer or manufacturer of asbestos-containing materials. A lawsuit may end in a trial and jury verdict award or it may be settled out of court. You can also file a claim with an asbestos trust fund for any responsible company that went bankrupt and set up a trust to compensate victims. If you are a veteran and you were exposed during service, you can file claims for various types of compensation through the U.S Veterans Administration.
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.