Asbestos victims and their families are eligible to receive financial compensation even if decades have passed since the initial exposure. There are three main types of mesothelioma lawsuits, personal injury, wrongful death, and class action. Most mesothelioma lawsuits end in a settlement at an average amount of $1 million. If your case goes to trial, the average compensation from a mesothelioma trial is $2.4 million. The court system has developed rules and procedures to keep companies and manufacturers accountable to the people they injured.
When filing a mesothelioma lawsuit, victims often choose to work with asbestos lawyers who understand the complexities involved in the cases. Because dozens of companies knowingly withheld information about the dangers of asbestos exposure and the connection to mesothelioma, asbestos attorneys work tirelessly to uncover the facts.
In addition to exposing critical information related to cases, asbestos lawyers also file the necessary paperwork and do the necessary legwork. Their work provides victims the time and peace of mind they need to undergo treatment and fight the disease.
The financial support that comes as a result of a mesothelioma lawsuit or claim can be life-changing. Financial awards can provide victims and their families with money for specialized treatments and living expenses that would not have otherwise been accessible.
Types of Mesothelioma Lawsuits
Asbestos-cancer victims and their families can seek compensation through four primary types of mesothelioma lawsuits – personal injury, wrongful death, class action and multidistrict litigation. Each type follows distinct legal processes and may have different outcomes.
Asbestos litigation can begin while a patient is undergoing treatment in the form a personal injury claim or in the event of the patient’s death as a wrongful-death lawsuit. Class-action lawsuits and multidistrict litigation may also be used to get patients and their families the financial assistance they deserve. All asbestos-exposure lawsuits are subject to statutes of limitations based on individual state laws.
Mesothelioma Personal Injury Lawsuit
In mesothelioma personal injury cases, attorneys prove a company’s liability for the victim’s injuries. When victims win the case, a judge (or jury) awards damages or financial compensation for injuries, pain and suffering.
Recent awards: A California man who worked closely with asbestos-containing products at D.W. Nicholson Corp was awarded $3 million in 2019.
Mesothelioma Wrongful Death Lawsuit
When a death is a result of negligence, the surviving family members have the right to file a civil wrongful death lawsuit. In mesothelioma cases, wrongful death lawsuits are filed against negligent asbestos companies.
Recent awards: In 2019, the family of a South Carolina man who worked at a polyester fiber plan and died of mesothelioma was awarded a $14 million jury settlement.
Mesothelioma Class Action Lawsuit
When a group of people with similar injuries and case circumstances file a lawsuit together, the resulting class action can ultimately represent hundreds or thousands of victims. Most mesothelioma lawsuits are not handled in this fashion. Instead, victims usually opt for individual or multidistrict litigation.
Recent awards: About 2,300 Southeast Texas chemical plant, shipyard and refinery workers diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases between 1985 and 1987 were awarded $178 million in 2018. Only about 70 victims remained alive at the time of the award.
Mesothelioma Multidistrict Litigation (MDL)
When large numbers of individuals file similar lawsuits (based on similar facts and circumstances), the courts handle the cases together. MDL proceedings allow multiple plaintiffs to pool their resources and coordinate efforts, decreasing the amount of money and human resources spent on the case.
Recent awards: MDL 875 in the Eastern Pennsylvania District of the United States District Court includes nearly 187,000 mesothelioma cases as of 2019.
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Who is Eligible to File an Mesothelioma Lawsuit?
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or had a loved one die from mesothelioma and can provide diagnosis information, you are elligible to file a mesothelioma lawsuit. It is also important to include reports from the cancer center where you or a family member were treated, if you have it. When preparing to file your lawsuit, make sure to include any employment records or information about when the asbestos exposure happened. If you have this information, you are also elligible to file a wrongful death suit on behalf of your family member. In this case you would be the representative of their estate.
In the event that the company responsible for the exposure filed for bankruptcy, enlisting the help of a qualified mesothelioma lawyer can help you file a trust fund claim as opposed to a lawsuit. If the exposure happened outside of the state where you or your family memeber resided, it may be possible to file a lawsuit depending on your case.
Statute of Limitations and Timeline
Anyone diagnosed with asbestos cancer can file a lawsuit against the companies responsible for the exposure and disease. However, time is of the essence. Most states limit the number of time victims can file a lawsuit against the responsible companies. In the court system, the statute of limitations (or amount of allowable time to file a lawsuit) only begins after a diagnosis or death. Any delay in filing a lawsuit puts people living with asbestos cancer at jeopardy of losing an opportunity for compensation.
For each type of mesothelioma case, the countdown clock for the statute of limitations begins at different times:
- Personal injury – For personal injury asbestos cancer claims, the statute of limitations begins after a diagnosis.
- Wrongful death – For wrongful death mesothelioma claims, the statute of limitations starts immediately after the patient’s death.
- Special circumstances
If a mesothelioma patient initiates a personal injury claim but dies before it is settled, family members can file a wrongful death claim instead.
The statutes of limitations vary widely by state and type of lawsuit filed (personal injury or wrongful death). In general, statutes of limitations range from one to six years after diagnosis and one to three years after death. Among the extremes:
- Maine and North Dakota allow claims to be filed up to six years after diagnosis and two years after death.
- Kentucky and Louisiana only allow claims to be filed for a year after diagnosis or death.
Reasons to File a Mesothelioma Lawsuit
Mesothelioma is an expensive diagnosis. Seeking financial relief via a mesothelioma lawsuit can help your family covre medical and travel expenses, as well as provide relief from pain and suffering. Mesothelioma is only caused by asbestos exposure and is preventable. Your family should not have to suffer because manufacturers of asbestos products hid the dangers of asbestos exposure. During the first year of treatement, mesothelioma patients could owe up to $400,000. Common expenses that compensation helps with include:
- Treatment costs not covered by insurance
- Lost income
- Travel expenses
- Pain and suffering
The decision to file a mesothelioma lawsuit will always be your choice, but there are more benefits to filing than compensation. When you file a lawsuit, you hold companies and other defendants accountable for their negligence. This can help set a precedent that allows future mesothelioma victims the ability to receive compensation.
Mesothelioma Lawsuit Process
While every mesothelioma lawsuit is different, they all follow a similar process. Knowing the process can help ease the burden that comes with uncertainty:
Step 1 – Choose an Attorney & Schedule Free Consultation
Speaking with an expert mesothelioma attorney provides the victim and family members with information critical to the next steps. At the same time, the attorney can learn important facts that will provide clues for researching the case. In the consultation, asbestos victims can detail information about suspected occupational exposure, diagnosis and anything else pertinent to the case. Our expert mesothelioma attorneys always provide free consultations and do not charge any fees until the case is successful.
Quick Tip: Write down questions before you go to the attorney and bring a trusted friend or family to the consultation. Ask that person to take notes.
Step 2 – Build and Review Your Case
With information from the consultation, attorneys begin to collect information. This process, called discovery, helps attorneys make a connection between the victim’s disease and the asbestos exposure. Needed information includes:
- Employment history
- Military records
- Medical documentation (showing proof of illness)
- Witness statements (from co-workers, family members, friends and others)
- Documentation that links the victim to the at-fault companies
Attorneys will ask the victim and family members to jog their memories for any information that may be associated with the case. Once you have built your case with your mesothelioma attorney, make sure you review to make sure you’ve included all relevant information that may help with the success of your lawsuit.
Quick Tip: Ask friends and family if they remember anything from the time. Use social media (like Facebook) to find former co-workers or their family members to get more details about possible exposure.
Step 3 – Consider Trust Settlement Options
Mesothelioma lawyers will explore all options for financial recovery, including compensation from asbestos trust funds. The funds, established by companies that have admitted liability for asbestos injuries, allow victims to receive quick compensation. Experienced mesothelioma lawyers can match victims with the appropriate trust funds.
Quick Tip: Find out from your attorney why some clients prefer trust settlements and why the financial agreements might provide better compensation.
Step 4 – File Your Lawsuit
When an at-fault company has not established a trust fund, asbestos exposure attorneys will file lawsuits on behalf of the victim. Your attorney will manage the legal proceedings from this point forward. The lawsuit will detail the exposure, injuries and victim and witness information. In most cases, companies do not want the publicity that comes with an asbestos lawsuit and will offer a settlement. If a settlement cannot be reached, a mesothelioma attorney consults with the client to determine if a trial is in the best interest. Attorneys only proceed with a full trial with the victim’s consent.
Quick Tip: Never neglect medical treatment while pursuing a mesothelioma lawsuit. Trust your attorney to handle the details of the case.
Step 5 – Response & Discovery
Once the lawsuit is filed, each defendant in the lawsuit will receive a copy of the complaint. Ussually, the defendants will have 30 days to respond. Defendants will often deny the claim and shift blaim onto another party responsible for the asbestos exposure. Your attorney will handle any responses from defendants. Each side’s lawyers will request responses to written questions, documentation, and depostions. The mesothelioma victim may need to respond to deposition questions via video, which can be done from home under the guidance of an attorney.
Step 6 – Settlement or Trial
Once the mesothelioma lawsuit process begins, many defendants will offer to settle out of court. Your attorney will negotiate the settlement on your behalf, but you have the option to decline the first settlement offer. This ussually leads to a second offer from the defendant, at which point you and your attorney will decide if you want to take the lawsuit to trial or accept the settlement.
If you decide to go to trial, which is rare, you may not be required to show up. Depending on where you file, the trial process will vary. Trial results will always be based on your history of asbestos exposure, your medical history, and what state you filed in. If the trial is successful, you will start receiving payments within a few months.
Choosing a Mesothelioma Lawyer
A mesothelioma attorney provides a critical link between the victim and financial compensation from at-fault companies. While hiring an attorney is not required when seeking compensation, a specialized mesothelioma attorney can make the process smoother and easier. With so many attorneys to choose from, making the decision can be confusing. The asbestos-disease connection spans decades, and attorneys who have experience in asbestos cancer litigation understand the complexities involved in the cases. Experienced mesothelioma lawyers win cases.
When choosing a mesothelioma attorney, make sure you never pay up front. The leading mesothelioma attorneys work on a contingency basis, so they will not take any up-front money. They only get paid when they win your case. If an attorney wants a retainer for your asbestos-cancer case, consider it a red flag. Mesothelioma attorneys who know how to make effective legal arguments and aggressively advocate for their clients win cases. Hire an attorney who has the victim’s best interests in mind.
How to Find the Best Law Firm
Many of the leading mesothelioma attorneys work with premier law firms nationwide. Since these firms have stellar reputations with strong financial backing, the attorneys have the best resources at their fingertips. The leading firms work on a contingency basis and strive to minimize stress on clients. When looking for a firm, find out as much as you can about the firm. Learn about the firm’s history and what it stands for. Ask what kind of cases the firm takes on and why. Talk to the firm about their asbestos-cancer litigation outcomes. Ask how many mesothelioma cases the firm has handled, including lawsuits and trust fund settlements. Find out about the case results and the amount of time they took. Another important factor to consider is the firm’s communication practices. Find out how the firm communicates with clients and what type of information is conveyed. Mesothelioma victims deserve a law firm that believes in regular client communications.
Questions to Ask the Attorney
Finding the best attorney is essential, so ask the right questions:
- Why should I hire you?
- What is your history with asbestos litigation?
- How many support staff will be working on my case?
- What resources do you use to determine my exposure history?
- Are you affiliated with national mesothelioma organizations?
- Will I need to travel to pursue my claim?
- How much is my case worth?
- Describe some of the firm’s most recent mesothelioma lawsuit victories.
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Samuel Meirowitz is a member of the “Top 100 Trial Lawyers.” Mr. Meirowitz was named a “Rising Star” in 2013 & 2014 by Super Lawyers and then a Super Lawyer every year since 2016. In 2013, Mr. Meirowitz obtained what is believed to be the first multi-million-dollar asbestos verdict seen in more than two decades in a New York federal court. In that highly contentious matter, Mr. Meirowitz was able to convince the jury to hold a boiler manufacturer responsible for 60 percent of the $3.8 million awarded, despite the defendant’s attempt to escape all blame by pointing fingers at the plaintiff’s employer and the U.S. Navy (in which the plaintiff admirably served from 1966-70 during the Vietnam conflict). This verdict was upheld by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.Learn More
- Nolo.com. Time Limits for a Personal Injury Lawsuit: Watch the Statute of Limitations. Retrieved from https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/time-limits-personal-injury-lawsuit-watch-the-statute-limitations.html
- American Bar Association. Personal Injury. Retrieved from https://www.americanbar.org/groups/public_education/resources/law_issues_for_consumers/personalinjury/
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- American Bar Association. How Do I Find a Lawyer? Retrieved from https://www.americanbar.org/groups/public_education/resources/public-information/how-do-i-find-a-lawyer-/