What Is a Mesothelioma Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
A wrongful death lawsuit is a type of legal action that can be taken if another person — or a company — is responsible for someone’s death.
Mesothelioma wrongful death lawsuits are typically filed against the manufacturers of asbestos-containing products, who knew their products were harmful to human health but did not warn the public.
These wrongful death lawsuits claim that the victim would still be alive had they not been exposed to asbestos, the only known cause of mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma wrongful death lawsuits help victims secure financial compensation from these manufacturers. This money can keep a family financially secure and punish the manufacturers for exposing a victim to asbestos in the first place.
Wrongful death lawsuits can be filed by anyone who is in charge of a victim’s estate. They do not have to be related to the victim, but they must have the legal authority to file the lawsuit. To serve in the capacity as the representative of the estate, a person must be appointed officially by a judge.
Anyone looking to file a wrongful death lawsuit for mesothelioma should work with an experienced mesothelioma lawyer for the best results. Mesothelioma lawyers know how to properly navigate these complex lawsuits and can make the legal process easier for victims and their families.
- Between 1999 and 2015, over 45,200 people in the U.S. alone died due to mesothelioma, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- The CDC also notes that deaths from mesothelioma are increasing in the U.S.
- Each state and U.S. territory has its own laws that affect how and when wrongful death lawsuits are filed.
Why File a Mesothelioma Wrongful Death Claim?
All mesothelioma deaths are tragic and could have been prevented. While a lawsuit can never make up for the loss of a cherished loved one, it can help their family find financial security and help them honor the victim.
Compensation from a mesothelioma wrongful death lawsuit can pay for:
- Costs of travel
- Family living expenses
- Funeral services
- Unpaid medical bills
Mesothelioma wrongful death lawsuits also hold manufacturers of asbestos-containing products accountable for their actions. These manufacturers knew that asbestos exposure could cause serious illnesses, but hid the health risks for decades so they could keep making money.
These companies didn’t care that asbestos exposure could cause deadly diseases like mesothelioma. They only acted in their best interests, exposing millions to asbestos in the process.
Since these manufacturers may be directly responsible for a victim’s death, they should be the ones to cover the related expenses — not the victim’s family.
Who Can File a Mesothelioma Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Wrongful death lawsuits can be filed by anyone who represents the victim’s estate — not just family members or spouses. These estate representatives are typically appointed by a court.
Most states allow these parties to file wrongful death suits:
- Executor of the will
- Genetic and/or legally adopted children
- Next of kin as noted by state law
- Spouse or legally recognized life partner
- Other dependents
To see who can file a mesothelioma wrongful death lawsuit, victims should contact a lawyer who has handled similar cases before. These mesothelioma lawyers can help determine not just who can file a wrongful death lawsuit but also when they should file it.
Mesothelioma Wrongful Death Lawsuit Process
Filing a mesothelioma lawsuit after death is slightly different from filing a personal injury mesothelioma lawsuit.
First, mesothelioma wrongful death lawsuits can be filed in a few different ways. Personal injury lawsuits are generally filed by victims after a mesothelioma diagnosis.
Wrongful death lawsuits can:
- Be filed after a victim dies: If someone dies due to mesothelioma but never filed a lawsuit while they were alive, it may be possible to then file a wrongful death lawsuit.
- Evolve from a personal injury lawsuit: If someone filed a mesothelioma lawsuit, but died before the case could reach a resolution, the lawsuit can be continued as a wrongful death.
Second, the burden of proof falls to the victim’s immediate family, as the victim can no longer provide new evidence.
Lawyers representing the deceased must explain how:
- The victim was exposed to asbestos: This includes how, when, and where a victim was exposed to asbestos. This can be by work recorded, job description, assigned duties and testimonies by former coworkers who describe exposure conditions, or other means. This proof should also include a medical statement from a doctor linking this exposure to the victim’s mesothelioma.
- The manufacturers are negligent: It needs to be shown that the manufacturers named in the lawsuit knew they were putting people in harm’s way from ongoing asbestos exposure, or that they failed to properly protect workers.
- The victim’s death harmed their family: When someone dies from mesothelioma, their family members lose a source of financial support and emotional care. Both of these factors can impact how much legal compensation the lawsuit will award. Pain and suffering and punitive damage compensation also affect these claims.
Families should contact an experienced lawyer to learn more about the mesothelioma wrongful death lawsuit process.
Challenges of Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Mesothelioma wrongful death lawsuits may be slightly more complicated than a standard lawsuit.
Unlike a standard lawsuit, the victim is usually not able to provide any firsthand information, such as when, where, and how they were exposed to asbestos.
That said, if the lawsuit was filed before the victim died, they may have already been able to provide some information. A skilled mesothelioma lawyer may also be able to gather the right information needed to file a claim even if the victim has died.
Further, not every wrongful death lawsuit will follow the same rules. Wrongful death statutes, which determine the process for filing these lawsuits, vary by each state and even by U.S. territory.
These laws can affect:
- How long someone has to file a wrongful death lawsuit
- Who receives compensation
- How much (if any) of the compensation earned is taxable
- Why and how much compensation will be awarded
Fortunately, mesothelioma lawyers can help a victim’s estate representative learn when and how to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Statutes of Limitations on Wrongful Death Lawsuits
Wrongful death lawsuits are governed by a statute of limitations, which prevents people from filing lawsuits after a certain period of time.
A wrongful death lawsuit for mesothelioma must be filed within the statute of limitations or the victim’s family will never be able to receive mesothelioma compensation.
Wrongful death statutes of limitations vary with each state, and they are often shorter than ones in personal injury mesothelioma lawsuits.
Those looking to file a wrongful death lawsuit before the statute of limitations runs out should work with an experienced lawyer, as it can be very hard to accurately interpret the statutes without a lawyer’s help.
Get Help With Filing a Mesothelioma Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Nobody deserved to develop mesothelioma and die simply for doing their job or working with products that they thought were safe. Sadly, that’s exactly what happened.
If someone you love died due to mesothelioma, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit and receive compensation. This compensation can help you get justice for your loved one’s death and carry out their legacy.
To learn more about filing a lawsuit, download our free mesothelioma guide.
Frequently Asked Questions About Wrongful Death Claims
How much compensation can I receive from a wrongful death lawsuit?
Some mesothelioma wrongful death lawsuits can award $1 Million or more. How much money you can receive depends on a few different factors.
These factors include:
- How the case concludes: Most mesothelioma lawsuits reach out-of-court settlements, where the manufacturers agree to pay the victim without taking the case to trial. On average, mesothelioma settlements award a total of $1 million from all the manufacturers, according to recent reports. If the case goes to trial, one manufacturer may have to pay millions, but only if the judge and/or jury in the case sides with the plaintiff. For example, in 2019, a trial awarded a mesothelioma victim’s estate with $4.6 Million.
- How money is distributed: As mentioned earlier, wrongful death statutes may not just give all of the money to the party who filed the lawsuit. It may go to the victim’s other family members as well. So even though a lawsuit may possibly award millions, how much money each person will receive can vary.
A lawyer can help you determine how much money you can receive through a mesothelioma wrongful death lawsuit.
Who receives awards from wrongful death claims?
This depends on the wrongful death statutes in each state. In some states, 100% of the awards go to the next of kin. Other states may divide it between different parties.
When can I expect to receive compensation?
While the amount of time varies with each case, many mesothelioma lawsuits have started to award compensation within 12 months if settlements are reached. A mesothelioma lawyer can update you on the lawsuit’s timeline as it moves forward.