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 paperwork and do the legwork. Mesothelioma attorneys work to get victims what they need for mesothelioma treatment.

The financial support from a mesothelioma lawsuit or claim can be life-changing. Monetary 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 (MDL). Each type follows distinct legal processes and may have different outcomes.

When a patient is undergoing treatment, they can begin the litigation process by filing a personal injury claim. If the patient dies, the claim can be transferred to a wrongful-death lawsuit. Class-action 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. Like other personal injury cases, only about 5% of mesothelioma lawsuits reach trial. The remaining 95% of mesothelioma cases result in a settlement.

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Mesothelioma Personal Injury Lawsuit

A mesothelioma personal injury claim is a type of lawsuit filed by a person diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer, which is caused by asbestos exposure. Several factors go into compensation amounts for a personal injury claim, including:

  • Victim’s age
  • Marital Status
  • Number and age of dependents
  • Disease type and stage
  • Disease severity
  • Treatment costs
  • Work history
  • Asbestos exposure history
  • Evidence presented to the court
  • Lost income
  • Number of defendants in the lawsuit
  • Pain and suffering
  • Travel expenses
  • Medical expenses

Recent Personal Injury Awards

  • A California couple won a $43 million jury award in a personal injury claim against Algoma Hardwoods in May 2022. The jury found Algoma Hardwoods was liable for secondhand asbestos exposure that led to a mesothelioma diagnosis.
  • A Louisiana man won a $36.7 million award from a personal injury case against Level 3 Holdings, Inc. (once known as Peter Kiewit Sons’ Co.) and 20 other companies in June 2022. The jury found the man was exposed to asbestos in the 1960s and 1970s while working as a welder and pipefitter.

Mesothelioma Wrongful Death Lawsuits

Mesothelioma wrongful death lawsuits are filed by the estate of a mesothelioma victim (through the surviving family members). The resulting award can pay for lost income, medical bills, funeral expenses and other costs.

If a mesothelioma victim who filed a personal injury claim dies, the courts designate a person (usually an estate representative) to continue the lawsuit as a wrongful death suit.

Recent Wrongful Death Awards

  • The family of a New York construction worker was awarded $15 million in July 2022 after a jury found Kaiser Gypsum responsible for his mesothelioma diagnosis. The man, exposed to asbestos from the 1960s through the 1980s, died in 2019.
  • A Florida jury awarded $18 million to the family of a British marine engineer exposed to asbestos while working aboard Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships in the 1960s. In May 2022, the jury found that American-made asbestos products were the cause of the man’s asbestos exposure and subsequent death in 2015.

Mesothelioma Class Action Lawsuits

When a group of people with similar asbestos injuries and case circumstances file a lawsuit together, the result is a mesothelioma class action lawsuit that can ultimately represent hundreds or thousands of victims. Most mesothelioma lawsuits are not handled in this fashion. Instead, victims usually opt for individual lawsuits.

For a case to become an MDL, many individuals file similar lawsuits (based on similar facts and circumstances), and the judge hears all the related cases together in federal court. MDL proceedings allow multiple plaintiffs to pool their resources and coordinate efforts, decreasing the amount of money and resources needed. MDL mesothelioma lawsuits are rare.

Recent Class Action & MDL 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.
  • MDL 875 in the Eastern Pennsylvania District of the U.S. District Court includes nearly 187,000 mesothelioma cases as of 2019. It is the largest MDL in the nation.

Who is Eligible to File a Mesothelioma Lawsuit?

The following are among those eligible to file mesothelioma lawsuits:

  • Mesothelioma patients
  • Patient’s spouse or life partner
  • Patient’s children (including stepchildren)
  • Patient’s parents or grandparents
  • A financial dependent (depending on state law)
  • The victim’s estate (through the personal representative, will executor or administrator

What Documentation is Needed to File an Asbestos Lawsuit?

Anyone filing a mesothelioma lawsuit must provide diagnosis information and supporting documentation, including:

  • Reports from the cancer center where treatment took place
  • Notes from treating physicians
  • Employment records or information providing details about the asbestos exposure

If the company responsible for the exposure filed bankruptcy, a qualified mesothelioma lawyer could help submit a trust fund claim rather than a lawsuit. If the exposure happened outside the patient’s home state, it might be possible to file a lawsuit.

Statute of Limitations and Timeline

Anyone diagnosed with asbestos cancer can file a mesothelioma lawsuit against the companies responsible for the exposure and disease. However, time is of the essence.

In the court system, the statute of limitations (or amount of allowable time to file a mesothelioma lawsuit) begins after a diagnosis or death. Any delay in filing a lawsuit puts people living with asbestos cancer in jeopardy of losing 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.

Notes: 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. Some states are exceptions to the general rule. 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. During the first year of treatment alone, mesothelioma patients could owe up to $400,000 in medical bills. Mesothelioma is only caused by asbestos exposure. No family should suffer because asbestos-product manufacturers hid the dangers of asbestos exposure.

Seeking financial relief via a mesothelioma lawsuit helps families cover medical and travel expenses. Juries also provide monetary awards for pain and suffering. Common expenses that mesothelioma compensation helps with include:

  • Treatments not covered by insurance
  • Lost income
  • Travel expenses (including housing)
  • Pain and suffering

The decision to file a mesothelioma lawsuit is personal, but the benefits go beyond just compensation. By filing a lawsuit, victims hold companies and other defendants accountable for their negligence. Future mesothelioma victims and their families can benefit.

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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 and 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

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 mesothelioma lawsuit 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 and Discovery

Once the lawsuit is filed, each defendant in the lawsuit will receive a copy of the complaint. Usually, the defendants will have 30 days to respond. Defendants will often deny the claim and shift blame 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 depositions. 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 usually 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 for payment, a specialized mesothelioma attorney can make the process smoother and more manageable.

With so many attorneys to choose from, making the decision can be confusing. The asbestos-disease connection spans decades, and attorneys with experience in asbestos cancer litigation understand the complexities. Experienced mesothelioma lawyers win cases.

When choosing a mesothelioma attorney, never pay upfront costs. The leading mesothelioma attorneys work on a contingency basis, so they do not take any money in advance of the case. They only get paid when they win your case.

Mesothelioma attorneys know how to make compelling legal arguments and aggressively advocate for their clients. 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 client stress. Consider the following when seeking an asbestos law firm:

  • Learn about the firm’s history and its ethical background
  • Ask what kind of cases the firm accepts and why
  • Determine the firm’s 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
  • Establish how the firm communicates with clients and what type of information is conveyed

Mesothelioma victims deserve a law firm that believes in regular client communication.

History of Mesothelioma Lawsuits

Mesothelioma lawsuits started in the 1960s when medical professionals confirmed a link between asbestos and mesothelioma lung cancer. Today, asbestos litigation is the longest-running mass tort in the United States, meaning thousands of injured people have filed similar lawsuits against similar defendant companies.

1964 – Doctors Discover and Asbestos Cancer Connection

Three prominent scientists – Drs. Irving J. Selikoff, Jacob Churg and E. Cuyler Hammond – documented evidence of a connection between asbestos and severe lung disease. Asbestos workers had been dying from the disease for decades before, but the industry refused to acknowledge it.

1965 – Tort Law Opens the Door to Asbestos Litigation

The American Law Institute published The Restatement of the Law of Torts, which stated that sellers of defective and dangerous products are “liable for the harm caused by that product to the consumer or end user.”

The publication further stated products “accompanied by proper directions and warning” were excluded from the tort ruling. Based on this, the courts determined asbestos manufacturers knew about the dangers but didn’t warn workers and consumers, opening the way for asbestos lawsuits.

1966 – Asbestos Litigation Begins

Claude Tomplait, a refinery worker diagnosed with asbestosis, filed the first asbestos lawsuit against Fibreboard Paper Products Corp. and 10 other asbestos-insulation manufacturers. The jury deliberated a week before finding in favor of the defendant companies.

1969 – Borel vs. Fibreboard Paper Products

Clarence Borel, an insulation worker who developed mesothelioma, filed an asbestos lawsuit against 11 companies, including Johns-Manville, Fibreboard Paper Products and Owens Corning Fiberglas. Borel ultimately won a nearly $80,000 verdict but died before the victory.

1980 – Asbestos Litigation Expands

With Borel’s courtroom success, asbestos workers turned to tort litigation for compensation for their injuries.

In the early 1980s, the nonprofit RAND Institute for Civil Justice began analyzing mesothelioma litigation data. The think tank found about 730,000 people in the United States filed asbestos-related compensation claims through 2002, costing insurance companies and businesses some $70 billion.

Rand noted the total number of companies sued increased from 300 in 1982 to 8,400 in 2002. By 2013, the number of defendant companies increased to more than 10,000.

2020 – Asbestos Litigation Moves Online

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, asbestos attorneys moved to online teleconferencing to continue helping asbestos victims.

Mesothelioma attorneys now regularly utilize technology – including online consultations, video calls and e-signatures – to help clients file legal claims without worrying about missing deadlines due to travel restrictions or health issues. Mesothelioma law firms are moving swiftly to move cases through the court system, despite delays from COVID shutdowns. Often, patients who are terminally ill are given priority.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the average settlement for a mesothelioma case?

The average mesothelioma trust fund settlement is between $1 million and $1.4 million. A mesothelioma lawsuit settlement ranges from $5 million to $11.4 million on average. The total settlement amount depends on several factors, including the patient’s age, family and marital status and severity of the disease.

What is the highest mesothelioma settlement?

The highest mesothelioma trial verdict was $250 million awarded to a 70-year-old former United States Steel Corp. employee. The company vowed to appeal the case but later settled with the victim for an undisclosed sum, presumably to end the court proceedings.

How much is a mesothelioma claim worth?

Mesothelioma trust fund claims average between $1 million and $1.4 million, and a mesothelioma trial settlement ranges between $5 million to $11.4 million. The total value of a claim is based on several factors, such as the patient’s age, occupation, and military service.

How do I sue for mesothelioma?

People who file a mesothelioma lawsuit must show documented proof of a mesothelioma diagnosis and an asbestos exposure history. A case must be filed within the statute of limitations, which varies by state law.

How do I claim compensation for mesothelioma?

The easiest way to claim mesothelioma compensation is by using the services of a qualified asbestos attorney. Mesothelioma lawyers file lawsuits, trust fund claims and VA benefits claims on behalf of injured victims and their families.

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Written and legally reviewed by Samuel Meirowitz

Attorney and On-Site Legal Advocate

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.

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