Taking legal action is a personal choice that only you can make. However, we believe that looking into your legal options is not frivolous—the compensation you may receive can help you in managing the important things.
- You may be able to cover treatment costs better
- You’ll be able to pay for additional expenses, such as travel to see specialists, home care, and accommodation
- You can better manage burdens from loss of income
- You can take care of dependents who also suffer from your loss of income
- You can help honor a lost loved one
- You can ensure negligent, profit-driven companies are held accountable for their harmful actions
Regardless of your reason for finding value in pursuing legal justice, it’s important to act right away if you’re considering filing a lawsuit. Once you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma, there are limitations to how long you have to file a claim. Arrange a consultation with a qualified mesothelioma law firm as soon as you can.
What are Mesothelioma Lawsuits?
As long-dormant symptoms begin to affect individuals exposed to asbestos, the sheer number of mesothelioma and asbestos-related illness lawsuits is exceedingly high. These lawsuits are the latest ripple in a wave of asbestos litigation that began in the 20th century, forming the largest mass tort in the history of the United States.
Mesothelioma lawsuits typically fall into one of two categories:
- Personal injury lawsuits: Filed by the individual with mesothelioma, against the company responsible for their exposure to asbestos fibers.
- Wrongful death suits: Filed by the relatives of a person who has passed away due to their mesothelioma, which was caused by exposure to asbestos.
With both types of lawsuit, it is crucial that you speak to an attorney as soon you can after the diagnosis or death has occurred. There are time limitations (known as statutes of limitations) that restrict the amount of time you can validly file a lawsuit. These limitations are unique to each state but can be as little as one year from the diagnosis or death of the victim.
When learning about mesothelioma lawsuits, you will also likely hear about class action lawsuits – especially when looking into the history of asbestos litigation. A class action lawsuit is a form of legal action brought by a group of people rather than an individual. When a group of people has comparable injuries resulting from the actions of the same defendants, filing a joint claim can be more straightforward—and powerful—than filing individually. However, while class action lawsuits were widely used in historical asbestos trials, individual claims have been found to be more beneficial for individuals and their loved ones.
With class action lawsuits, weaknesses in other people’s cases can negatively impact the outcome for all involved. Class actions can also be significantly longer.
Courts also found that class action asbestos lawsuits didn’t meet Federal Rule of Civil Procedure requirements due to the significant variation in each person’s case. While asbestos victims may share similar circumstances as a result of comparable experiences, the facts of each claim are unique. In fact, in the late 1990s, the Supreme Court struck down a noteworthy $1.3 billion class-action asbestos settlement against a company called Amchem Products. Their reasoning for doing so was that the interests of the plaintiffs were too diverse. The lawsuit was filed by plaintiffs with varied experiences with asbestos, including individuals already suffering from symptoms and those who were exposed but showed no evidence of illness yet.
Every mesothelioma patient will have their own prognosis and experience with asbestos exposure. By filing a claim as an individual, your attorney can help you build a specific case that is more likely to be successful. Your case and compensation amount should be personalized to your situation so that an outcome suitable for you can be secured.
Overall, the dwindling of asbestos class action lawsuits is a positive trend for individuals and anyone with an interest in holding liable companies responsible.
The Process of Filing a Mesothelioma Lawsuit
The process of filing a mesothelioma lawsuit can seem intimidating at first. A good mesothelioma lawyer will make sure you know exactly what you’re getting into so that you can make the right decision for you. Although each case is different, here is a general summary of what a mesothelioma lawsuit might look like:
- Find the right lawyer. Select an experienced asbestos lawyer with a proven track record filing successful claims for mesothelioma patients. Learn more about choosing the right attorney.
- Arrange a free consultation. Most mesothelioma lawyers will offer free consultations for prospective clients.
- Provide documentation and conduct research. You’ll need to provide your attorney with documentation to support your case. This may include documents relating to your work history and/or military service, medical reports, and witness statements. In situations where you’re not aware of how you or your loved one was exposed to asbestos, your attorney will conduct in-depth research to help illuminate the circumstances surrounding the exposure. In a wrongful death suit, it may also be up to the attorney to locate information about the deceased’s employment history and life.
- Trust fund remuneration. Your attorney will be able to determine whether you are qualified for compensation from asbestos trust funds. Formed by liable asbestos companies who filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy to prevent lawsuits, these trusts can often process valid claims relatively quickly. There is estimated to be around $32 billion in asbestos trust funds available for recovery by affected individuals.
- Select the venue. Venue refers to the location where the case will be heard. A mesothelioma lawsuit can be filed in any location that the claimant has lived or worked in. Typically, the venue has to be a place in which a large portion of the occurrences leading to the claim took place, such as where someone was exposed to asbestos. However, your lawyer will decide where to file the claim based on factors including state laws, statutes of limitations, and the likelihood of a higher settlement.
- File the lawsuit. Your mesothelioma attorney will now officially file the lawsuit. They will file the initial documentation, outlining the defendant’s actions that caused injury to the plaintiffs and explain the legal reasoning behind why the defendant is responsible.
- Discovery. In the discovery phase of the lawsuit, your attorney and the defendant’s lawyer(s) will gather and present information from experts, third parties, legal research, relevant documents, and witnesses. In your case, your lawyer will use this information to support your case; the defendant may use it to try to discredit your case. They may allege that your illness was caused by factors outside their control, pointing to your family’s health history, your lifestyle, or other situations where you could have been exposed to asbestos. Don’t worry—a good mesothelioma lawyer can manage defendant responses and present a strong case.
- Motions. Your attorney and the defendants’ legal team will file motions asking the court to act. Settlements can be discussed at any point during the litigation process. In most mesothelioma lawsuits, cases will be settled before ever proceeding to trial. However, it may take some time to negotiate an appropriate settlement amount.
- Trial. Your case will only go to trial if you want it to. With mesothelioma lawsuits, it is very rare for a case to go to trial. If you win in trial, this may lead to the defendant filing an appeal. Throughout this entire process, a qualified mesothelioma attorney will have the necessary expertise to work diligently on your behalf and secure the best possible outcome for you and your family.
Deciding Whether to File a Lawsuit
Regardless of whether you’ve decided to take legal action against the company responsible for you or your relative’s mesothelioma diagnosis, now is the time to locate a mesothelioma attorney. Even if you’re still on the fence, consulting with a mesothelioma lawyer for free can help you make the best decision for yourself.