Inhalation of asbestos can cause several conditions, such as mesothelioma. However, for years employers knowingly exposed employees to this harmful chemical. In 1964, medical research proved that asbestos causes cancer. Within a few years, workers suffering from mesothelioma began to seek justice for mesothelioma-related wrongful death and personal injury. According to RAND, more than 730,000 people within the U.S filed asbestos claims from the 1970s to 2002.
Asbestos litigation is unique. It is the longest-running mass tort in the history of the United States. Furthermore, the justice system adapted the statute of limitations in the interest of justice. Usually, plaintiffs have to file personal injury claims and wrongful death lawsuits two years after they are injured. However, asbestos-related diseases have a latency period between 20 to 50 years. So they can file a lawsuit two years after getting a diagnosis regardless of when they get it.
If you or a loved one is suffering from an asbestos-related disease, an asbestos exposure lawsuit might be right for you. This article explains the basics of mesothelioma suits. You can hire a mesothelioma lawyer for an asbestos cancer lawsuit to seek a comprehensive legal guide.
Types of mesothelioma lawsuit:
There are several types of legal claims in asbestos litigation. A person diagnosed with mesothelioma can file a personal injury suit against the companies responsible for exposing them to the chemical. The claimant must prove that the companies did not warn them about the dangers of asbestos exposure.
The heirs of deceased mesothelioma patients can file a wrongful death claim to seek compensation to cover the medical bills and funeral expenses of the predecessor in interest. In some cases, personal injury lawsuits also become wrongful death claims when the original claimant dies. The defendant pays compensation to the estate of the deceased.
You may also file a lawsuit on behalf of a group of people with similar injuries caused by the same incident. However, you can decide to opt out of the case in the future.
Is it worth it?
Absolutely. While nothing can compensate for the agony ongoing through a debilitating disease, a lawsuit can help you cover financial losses. Such cases can get you compensation for additional losses, such as lost income and pain and suffering. Additionally, filing a lawsuit will encourage future claimants to seek justice.
Filing the lawsuit:
- Choosing a lawyer: The first step for a successful filing process is to choose a competent lawyer. Some lawyers practice in multiple areas, while others specialize in a specific field. It is better to go with someone experienced in mesothelioma litigation, as they will know about the latest precedents and applicable laws. Their expertise will help you save on costs because they might already have handled a similar case. For personal injury claims, it is best to hire someone who works on a contingency to avoid high costs.
- Initial consultation: Your lawyer will evaluate your case. They will ask you relevant questions such as your work history and diagnosis. They may also ask about asbestos exposure. The lawyer will then decide if your case has any merit. You can prepare for the review by writing details about your work history and asbestos exposure.
- Collecting data: At this stage, your lawyer will start collecting data to build your case. For a strong case, you must have medical records which confirm the diagnosis. These documents should come from the facilities where you received treatment. You should also provide records from jobs with potential asbestos exposure. Witness statements from colleagues or family members are also helpful. These documents will strengthen your case.
- Deciding where to file the claim: You must file your lawsuit at the most appropriate venue. Plaintiffs can file cases wherever they have lived or worked. Veterans can file suits wherever they serve. You may also file the lawsuit where the exposure took place or where the defendant is based. Each state has limits when a claimant can file a case after getting injured. Your lawyer will consider the statute of limitations, verdict history, and local laws before deciding on the jurisdiction.
- Determining how you will recover the costs: Claimants can recover compensation through asbestos tests or reimbursements. In the past few decades, negligent companies have paid millions of dollars in large settlements and jury awards for mesothelioma lawsuits. To limit the compensation, many companies filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The companies also created trust funds to handle any future claims. Each trust fund has eligibility requirements that help them limit the number of claimants and determine the compensation amount. This process is quicker than going to trial, so most claimants prefer it. Talk to your lawyer if you are interested in pursuing this option.
- File the lawsuit: After fulfilling the prerequisites, your lawyer will file a formal complaint on your behalf. The suit may implead several defendants depending on your history.
- Discovery Phase: Discovery is a pre-trial procedure in common law jurisdictions. Both parties of the case will present information to support their stance. They can also obtain evidence from the other party through interrogations or requests that the other party produces relevant documents. They may file various motions to reach a financial settlement before the trial begins.
The decision to file a lawsuit is yours. You should hire an experienced mesothelioma attorney if you decide to pursue the case. But, you should know that mesothelioma cases may take several months or several years. Unfortunately, defendants typically try to drag the legal process. Your attorney can request a speedy trial if you are in poor health.