Today, compensation is available for Americans who have become ill due to the actions of asbestos producing companies. But getting the compensation you deserve involves a process that is unique to every claimant. The details of your situation and how these are presented can make or break your case. This is why it’s essential that you find a good mesothelioma lawyer who can strategically and knowledgeably file a strong, successful claim on your behalf.
Mesothelioma Claim Categories
Mesothelioma claims generally fall into several different categories. There are a few different ways that mesothelioma patients and their families can file a claim (or claims). Your options include individual lawsuits, bankruptcy trust fund claims, workers compensation claims, and VA benefit claims. A qualified mesothelioma attorney can help you determine which process is likely to yield the best results in your case. The types of mesothelioma claims that can be filed include:
- Lawsuits. About 75% of mesothelioma cases are found in men who were exposed to asbestos while working in industrial or military jobs. Some companies who exposed their workers to the dangerous mineral knew of its adverse effects. Mesothelioma patients may choose to file individual personal injury lawsuits against the organization(s) accountable for exposing them to asbestos. This could result in compensation for various types of damages, including medical and travel costs, loss of income due to time off work, and pain and suffering. Relatives of patients who have passed away from mesothelioma can also file wrongful death lawsuits against the corporations responsible for their loved one’s illness.
- Asbestos trust funds. Formed so that companies who have declared bankruptcy can continue to pay valid claims from victims, asbestos trust funds hold over $30 billion for recovery by patients and families.
- Workers compensation. The laws for workers compensation vary from state to state. There are established processes in place for claiming workers compensation and these claims are reviewed by the state’s workers compensation board. Mesothelioma patients who became ill due to their job might be eligible for compensation to cover medical care costs and wage replacement.
Keep in mind that mesothelioma patients who choose to claim workers compensation forfeit their right to file a lawsuit against their company for negligence or punitive damages. However, your lawyers can still help you file a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the asbestos products responsible for your injury.
- VA Benefits. If you’re a veteran who was diagnosed with mesothelioma as a result of exposure to asbestos during your military service, you can file your claim with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Veterans account for more than 30% of mesothelioma patients, due to the widespread use of asbestos in navy ships, military machinery, and infrastructure. Mesothelioma patients who served in the United States Military may be eligible to receive disability compensation and health care payments for treatment at VA treatment centers. Spouses of military service members who passed away due to mesothelioma can also receive compensation.
Filing Your Claim
Regardless of which type(s) of claim(s) you choose to file, you’ll work with your mesothelioma attorney to help them file a strong claim that’s likely to be successful. Your claim will be dependent on personal information such as:
- Your official medical diagnosis
- When and where your exposure to asbestos occured
- The duration of your exposure to asbestos
- The impact your asbestos-related disease has had on your quality of life and financial situation
Finding all this information accurately and on short notice can be difficult, especially because mesothelioma takes decades to appear after a person has been exposed to asbestos. As a result, it may be tough to clearly and quickly determine where the exposure occurred and when, especially if you worked or lived in different places where it was possible to ingest asbestos fibers. It is also possible to get mesothelioma from second-hand sources, such as on the clothing of a relative returning home from work.
If you do not have all the details on hand about your exposure or your loved one’s exposure, your mesothelioma lawyer can help. They have the resources and knowledge to research the patient’s history in-depth and come to an accurate conclusion about the circumstances of the exposure. When you speak to your attorney, they can provide you with information about which claims have the best chance of being successful based on the facts that you have about the asbestos exposure.
Deadlines for Mesothelioma Claims
Unfortunately, mesothelioma claims can only be filed within certain time limitations. Because of mesothelioma’s long latency period, these time limitations are effective from the time of diagnosis, or in the case of a wrongful death lawsuit, from the time of the patient’s death. The time constraint is referred to as the statute of limitations.
The amount of time a patient or relative has to file a claim varies between states. In most cases, the statute of limitations is between one and three years from the time of diagnosis or death. However, in certain places, the statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim is shorter than it is for a personal injury claim. In either case, it’s important to seek out legal representation as soon as you can, so that you don’t miss a chance to receive the compensation you’re entitled to.
Working with a Mesothelioma Lawyer to File Your Claim
Whether you want to file a traditional lawsuit, claim workers compensation, or simply explore your options further, a mesothelioma lawyer is your best bet for getting the justice you deserve. An attorney with experience filing claims for victims of asbestos exposure will be able to identify the best procedure to take, inform you of any limitations, and draw on their existing expertise to overcome any roadblocks along the way. Filing a mesothelioma claim differs in many ways from filing other types of legal claims—even other personal injury claims. A lawyer who is experienced in dealing with asbestos companies will have significant applicable knowledge ready that other attorneys just won’t be able to provide.
The outcome of a mesothelioma claim can never be guaranteed. Still, there are a few ways you can improve your chances of getting the outcome you need:
- Look for an experienced law firm
- Select a law firm and attorney who can demonstrate success with past mesothelioma claims. Remember that the outcomes of past cases are not an indicator of success level of future cases.
- Choose a law firm with national scope