If you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer or any other illness caused by prolonged exposure to asbestos, there are many decisions you must make. Of course, your top priority will be taking care of yourself and focusing on the medical aspects and mesothelioma treatment choices. You will also have to deal with an array of other issues, such as how much will it cost to treat your asbestos-related illness and how will it affect your family. In the first few days, you might not even think about hiring a mesothelioma lawyer because of your pressing emotional and medical concerns.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, or asbestosis, keep in mind that you may be entitled to substantial compensation. Fill out our form to get a free Financial Compensation Packet. You’ll learn about the top mesothelioma lawyers in your area, how to get paid in 90 days, how to file a claim for the asbestos trust funds, and more.
Why is it So Important to Find a Top Mesothelioma Lawyer?
If this is the first time that you have needed to hire an attorney, you need to know that asbestos and mesothelioma cases should not be handled by just anyone with a law practice. Like car accident or nursing home abuse lawyers, asbestos and mesothelioma attorneys specialize in a narrow niche of personal injury law, with a unique focus on asbestos-related lawsuits.
This field is extremely complex and requires knowledge about the asbestos industry, knowledge of mesothelioma treatments, exposure to asbestos, and investigative methods to determine who is at fault. The average personal injury lawyer might have a general idea about cases related to asbestos, but may not have the experience or skill sets to handle your case in a way that an accomplished mesothelioma lawyer can. A mesothelioma attorney has the right tools and experience to help you deal with the complexities of your case and to help you win fair compensation for your asbestos-related illness.
Keep in mind that there is no one-size-fits-all mold which produces mesothelioma and asbestos lawyers. Every individual lawyer has a unique method of handling cases, and each law firm has its own set of legal strategies in dealing with asbestos law. Some lawyers have dealt with cases such as yours for years and understand first-hand about the disease, including the harsh symptoms of mesothelioma and what victims have to live with on a daily basis.
On the other hand, other attorneys are newcomers to the world of mesothelioma law, and although they may have asbestos-related training, they lack the experience of actual cases. Choosing the right lawyer to handle your case can be a challenge, especially if you’re stressing over your illness, your bills, and how this is affecting your loved ones. However, as previously mentioned, if you arm yourself with knowledge and options, finding a good lawyer doesn’t have to be difficult.
What Steps Should I Take To Find The Best Lawyer or Law Firm?
Choosing a mesothelioma attorney is not a task that should be done in haste. You should never hire a lawyer just because a law firm’s TV ad was loud and flashy. There are many attorneys and law firms competing to handle asbestos or mesothelioma cases, but some are inexperienced newcomers who might not be able to handle your case properly. You need to separate the good lawyers from the not-so-good ones. But with so many law firms and attorneys out there, how do you find the right one?
The first step is to do thorough research on mesothelioma and asbestos attorneys. This sounds easy enough, but it requires time, patience, and energy. These three assets might be in short supply, especially when you are tired and don’t feel well, yet it’s important to make sure you seek out the best mesothelioma law firm for your particular case and needs.
If you feel you aren’t up to the challenge, consider enlisting family members and/or friends to help you conduct searches, research, and make lists of law firms or attorneys who they think may be qualified to handle your case.
Whether you conduct your own research or delegate it to others, always look for attorneys with the right qualifications and established histories of dealing with asbestos law. Don’t make a list that’s too long. Select a manageable number of prospective mesothelioma law firms and ask for a case evaluation as quickly as possible.
If a law firm can’t evaluate your case in a timely manner, there is a chance they may be too busy to take on your case. With cases as sensitive as mesothelioma lawsuits, you’ll need an attorney who not only has the experience, but also the time and effort to dedicate themselves to the unique needs of your case.
Looking on the Internet is a convenient and relatively simple method to find the best attorney. The search terms “asbestos lawyer” and “mesothelioma attorneys” yield literally thousands of search engine results.
Though the sheer number of lawyer websites is staggering, you can figure out the better ones simply by reading the information provided on home pages and FAQ sections. An experienced mesothelioma law firm’s website should provide you detailed information regarding all aspects of asbestos-related diseases, state statute of limitations, pertinent information regarding lawsuits, and answers to important questions you may have.
3. Comprehensive Websites
If the information is well-written, free of hyperbole, and covers detailed information, add the firms’ names to your list of possible choices. Steer clear of websites belonging to attorneys who make exaggerated promises about how much you will win if you retain them to handle your case. Although it’s important to seek out a law firm’s track record of previous successful mesothelioma lawsuits, no law firm can guarantee exactly how much you’ll win.
Keep in mind that although mesothelioma legal cases were relatively obscure until the number of documented mesothelioma cases rose in the 1990s and 2000s, they are usually lucrative and many cases are successful. Yet, there are an array of factors that affect each case, such as the stage of the disease, how you long you were exposed, and much more.
Therefore, it’s not possible for a mesothelioma law firm to promise you a set amount of money beforehand. The best lawyers will never make you false promises of how much compensation you can win, although giving you a ballpark figure shouldn’t be seen as a red flag.
What Are the Key Points to Look for in a Leading Law Firm?
- Knowledgeable in all aspects of state and federal asbestos laws
- Extensive knowledge of all asbestos-related diseases, such as malignant mesothelioma and asbestosis
- Training on how to handle families with lost loved ones and/or victims going through emotional trauma
- Proper investigative skills in order to research prior company records, and if applicable, previous lawsuits against the defendant
- A professional law firm typically offers a no-obligation consultation in order to determine if they can successfully handle your case
Get Client References: If you want to find out how well mesothelioma lawyers handle their cases, ask for testimonials from some of their clients. Prospective hires will provide you with a list of satisfied clients who have cleared the attorneys to give to their names and contact information. You probably will see only positive feedback, but you can get a good feel for how successfully the lawyers handled previous cases.
Get a Consultation: Once you have a short list of attorneys that fit the needs of your asbestos lawsuit, begin contacting them and ask for a pre-screening. The initial contact can be made on the Internet via the attorneys’ websites or by phone.
The consultation is best done in person because this is when the attorneys evaluate your case. During this evaluation, the asbestos lawyers will advise you on your case’s validity, your chances of getting a settlement, and how much of a percentage of the award they will get if you win. Keep in mind, as aforementioned, the best mesothelioma lawyers will usually offer you a free, no-obligation consultation before taking on your case.
Once I Find a Lawyer, What Are My Legal Options?
Although an experienced lawyer will help you determine what course of action to take with your case, it’s a good idea to understand beforehand about your legal options. For instance, will your case go to court? Will it settle out of court? In general, the majority of asbestos and mesothelioma lawsuits will settle out of court, meaning you don’t have to go to trial. Out-of-court cases can happen in a few different ways, including:
Asbestos Trust Funds
Asbestos trust funds continue to grow as more and more companies associated with asbestos can’t keep up with the ongoing lawsuits against them. You don’t necessarily have to be an a former employee of the company to be compensated via an asbestos trust fund. It could be that the company supplied asbestos to another business, and because of this, the company with the trust fund is liable for any asbestos injuries that happened at the business that they supplied asbestos to.
Not every company associated with asbestos will have a trust fund set up. Asbestos trust funds are created when businesses have so many lawsuits that they generally file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy in court. Part of the stipulation of bankruptcy is to set up and fund a trust fund that will compensate present and future claimants.
Additionally, since funds are an issue, people who are successful in obtaining trust fund compensation will get a percentage of the funds, as the money is shared with other claimants. This means that the amount you receive in a trust fund settlement may not be as much as you could receive via other legal options.
For more in-depth information about asbestos trust funds, refer to our article, Mesothelioma Trust Funds.
Most mesothelioma lawsuits result in a settlement. A settlement occurs when you settle the case out of court after the defendant offers a compensation amount that you agree with. However, it’s not quite as simple as the defendant simply offering you money right away to make the case go away. In the beginning, your lawyer will prepare your as if it’s going in front of a judge.
The point of treating the case as if it will be presented to a judge and jury is that the defendant will have information that shows irrefutable proof that you have a valid case. Most defendants, when presented with the proof, are more likely to settle rather than go through a lengthy and financially exhausting trail.
Settlement amounts can reach in the millions, but there are a number of factors that go into the final compensation. Your medical bills and history, age, health, and severity of illness are among the numerous things that will go into determining your settlement amount. A reputable lawyer will use knowledge and experience to ensure you get the highest compensation you can for your case.
For additional information about settlements, refer to our article, Mesothelioma Settlements.
Military veterans who developed mesothelioma or any other asbestos-related illness during their time in service are eligible to apply for VA healthcare and VA disability benefits. If you can prove your illness is connected to your time in the military, it’s extremely like that you’ll get approved for VA benefits. Yet, the process can be time-consuming and confusing if you don’t know where to start. While your attorney will help you through the process, it’s a good idea to understand what’s going on during the process.
To start, you’ll need to ensure you meet the following qualifications:
- Honorable discharge only
- Exposed to asbestos while serving in the military
- Your illness or disability is in direct connection to your asbestos exposure
The second step is to fill out an “eClaim” using the VA’s eBenefits website. Prior to filing for benefits, it’s crucial that you have proof of medical condition via copies of your medical records, a copy of your DD-214, and proof of when and how your asbestos exposure occurred while serving. Filing electronically is by far the quickest and easiest way to cut through the red tape and get your claim in faster, which can help get it processed faster than traditional claims.
There are numerous steps when filing an eClaim, and it’s important that you go through each step thoroughly before submitting your application. The steps include:
- Log into eBenefits. If you don’t yet have an account, go through the sign-up process on the main page.
- Click “Apply for Benefits” once you’ve logged in.
- Choose a VSO (this is **optional** as your attorney will represent you instead of a veteran’s advocate).
- Follow the steps to input your personal information.
- Click “Apply Now” under the Compensation Benefits tab, then click “Agree” on the Privacy Act statement
- Enter your VA file number. If you don’t have a file number, check the “I don’t have a VA File Number” box, and your social security number will serve as your VA file number.
- Read over the “Informative Material” page and click “Save and Continue.”
- Verify your service history under the “Service Information” tab. Click “Save and Continue.”
- Choose your type of claim under the “Disability Records” tab. Choose “New Disability Claim” if this if your first time filing a claim for your asbestos illness.
- Submit all needed documents needed for your claim, such as your military records and any proof of asbestos exposures.
- Click on “Treatment Records” page and upload your medical records.
- Click on the “Direct Deposit” tab and enter your bank information where you want your compensation sent to.
This may seem confusing at first, but rest assured that your attorney will help you with the entire process. Keep in mind that you only have one year from the date you open your claim to get all of your proof/paperwork in. Again, it’s crucial to have this information ready before starting your claim.
For more in-depth information regarding veterans claims, refer to our article, Veterans Claims.
If you don’t settle your case out of court, your other option is to take your case to trial.
What If My Case Goes to Trial?
Although going to trial is not exactly an ideal way to spend your days, it becomes necessary if you can’t agree on a settlement amount, if the defendant refuses to settle, or if you don’t qualify for trust funds or VA benefits.
While it’s true that trials can take longer than settlements, there are a couple of positives in the scenario. First, and arguably the most important, is that trials are public record. Settlements can be undisclosed, meaning the defendant’s name will never be known to the public, even though they’re responsible for negligently causing significant injuries. Trials provide ways for other people who may have been injured by the same company to understand that they have legal options as well. It also helps spread awareness regarding the dangers of asbestos.
Trials also tend to pay out more than settlements. There have been some instances in which settlements have paid more than trial, but that’s usually the exception to the rule. Keep in mind that compensation amounts will depend on your own individual circumstances.
Common Legal Misconceptions
After you or a loved one have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or any other asbestos illness, you’ll likely run across myths online or hear them through word-of-mouth. These untrue statements can be dangerous, and can even end up costing someone their life.
I Was Exposed in the Military and Can’t Sue the Government
Another myth that’s actually prevented veterans from filing an asbestos lawsuit is that you cannot sue the government. While that is true, it’s not the government that will be held liable for your asbestos exposure. Instead, it’s the manufacturers that supplied asbestos products to the government that veterans can file against. Of course, it’s not easy to find out exactly which manufacturer supplied the asbestos products that harmed you, but that’s something an experienced lawyer will take care of for you.
I Can’t Afford a Lawyer
Many people may think they cannot afford an attorney, which is a myth that can end up costing you the chance to obtain valid compensation. As mentioned earlier, the majority of mesothelioma lawyers don’t charge you anything up-front. They only get paid when you win, which is known as a contingency-based payment plan.
Not all attorneys do a contingency-based plan; it’s highly recommended that you only choose a lawyer who has the resources to work your case with no up-front money. Fortunately, most mesothelioma work with contingency fees. Again, in order of having the best chances of winning your case, you’re urged to really do your homework and find an attorney who specializes in and has experience in mesothelioma/asbestos lawsuits. Contact us if you need assistance.
If I Don’t Know Where I Was Exposed, I Don’t Have a Case
Finally, some people may not know where they were exposed to asbestos, and therefore, decided to not seek out an attorney. Asbestos exposure can occur in a number of places, including the family home, at school, and even 2nd-hand exposure from another family member. There have been many cases in which people have won their lawsuits after an attorney uncovered where the asbestos exposure occurred, and it wasn’t always in the workplace.
Do I Have Time to Wait Before Filing My Claim?
Sadly, mesothelioma is an extremely aggressive disease with no cure. An average life expectancy after diagnosis is somewhere around 18 months. This isn’t always true, as some people are still living quality lives even 5-10 years after diagnosis. The one thing that people who’ve surpassed the odds have in common is a positive outlook, coupled with excellent medical treatment and a good support team.
Finding the best medical treatment isn’t a cheap endeavor. You may have fly across the nation to get the best care. You may need to pay exorbitant out of pocket expenses that your insurance doesn’t cover. This isn’t meant to scare you, but instead to reiterate the need for additional compensation that can help you pay for these overwhelming expenses. A disease as aggressive as mesothelioma can quickly take a turn for the worst, especially without exceptional medical care.
It’s important to lower your stress levels as much as you can during this difficult time, but at the same time, it’s a wise decision to think about your future medical expenses and how to make sure you’re healthy enough to remain with your loved ones. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Get the ball rolling to get the compensation you’re entitled to as soon as possible.
It’s also important to keep your state’s statute of limitations in mind. Statute of limitations vary from state to state. For instance, Maine allows you up to six years to file after the day of your diagnosis, whereas California only allows one year to file from the date of diagnosis. All states are strict when it comes to statute of limitations, so if even you miss the deadline by just one day, you may be at risk of losing the chance to to file.
To see the statute of limitations for each state, refer to our article, Mesothelioma Claims.
Will My Employer Get Sued?
My people who were exposed to asbestos at work had great relationships with their employer, and are hesitant about filing a lawsuit because they do not want to sue an employer or former employer. Your lawyer usually will not file a lawsuit against your employer. Instead a lawsuit would be filed against the companies that manufactured asbestos products. Going as far back as the 1930’s, asbestos companies knew that their products caused many health issues, but opted to put profits over people, and hid their information.
That being said, there are always exceptions. Some employers knew the dangers of asbestos but did nothing to protect workers and continued to allow asbestos-containing products to be used. In these instances, there is definitely a chance that the employer may be named in the lawsuit as well.
Why Is It Important to Hold Asbestos Companies Accountable?
Keep in mind that mesothelioma is a rare disease. It affects around 3,000 people per year, which is low compared to the amount of people who develop other types of cancers, such as breast cancer or non-asbestos-related lung cancer. However, as rare as the disease is, it can affect anyone at anytime, if they’ve been exposed to asbestos. This can include children, stay at home parents, and people who’ve never worked around the dangerous.
The most common way people are exposed to asbestos is through work. For years upon years, manufacturer kept supplying asbestos to companies, even though they were aware of the dangers it could cause. Many companies that received asbestos products also knew of the dangers, but due to greed, chose to hide the toxic nature of asbestos and continued to allow workers to be exposed daily. While most workers had no idea they were giving their lives up while working because it was a well-hidden secret by numerous businesses.
This type of behavior went on for decades, and sadly it’s still happening today, more than 20 years after the EPA placed strict regulations on asbestos use. For example, during the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks in New York City, documents revealed that federal officials downplayed the health risks of asbestos, which ended up hurting thousands of people who developed toxic illnesses.
In 2015, a construction company owner was fined $1.8 million for willingly allowing workers to clean up a site that was contaminated with asbestos. The workers, mostly non-English speaking, had no idea they were working around asbestos, and were never given the proper safety to protect themselves.
Surprisingly, the first hint that was asbestos was dangerous dated back to the first century A.D., when the Romans made a connections between fatal health issues and asbestos. Numerous other findings occurred throughout the years, most of which were public information, including:
- 1900: A doctor in London made the connection between asbestos and a textile worker dying from having asbestos fibers in his lungs.
- 1918: The U.S. Department of Labor made a public connection between workers exposed to asbestos dying young.
- 1934: Medical insurance company Aetna announced that asbestos-related illnesses were incurable.
- 1948: The Trudeau Foundation for the Clinical and Experimental Study of Pulmonary Disease announced warnings of asbestosis.
- 1949: Documents uncovered proved that Exxon knew about asbestos dangers, but continued to expose workers
- 1958: Company National Gypsum provided warning that asbestos inhalation may cause asbestosis
- 1968: A Bendix memo warned that people exposed to asbestos may die.
- 1972: Company Union Carbide urged the company to “act aggressively” regarding asbestos lawsuits.
- 1973: More than 25,000 deaths occurred due to asbestos exposure
“We know that you will never lose sight of the fact that perhaps the greatest hazard in your plant is with men handling asbestos. Because just as certain as death and taxes is the fact that if you inhale asbestos dust you get asbestosis.”
— 1958 National Gypsum Memo
Yet, despite the history of warnings about asbestos, many companies simply didn’t care. As long as they were making a profit, they were willing to put lives in danger.
The importance of holding these companies accountable is that it sends a strong message that businesses cannot get away with treating human lives so thoughtlessly, and the best way to ensure they understand this is by filing a claim to file suit for the money they were so intent on making while their workers became gravely ill. This will not only help you and your family, but it’ll assist other families who go through the same devastation and difficulties in the future.
Many mesothelioma lawyers are just as angry and upset as the victims and their families are about negligent asbestos exposure; exposure that could have been easily stopped if companies were more focused on helping their own workers instead of greed. Working together with a lawyer who’s just as passionate as you are in holding these companies accountable will help you win the right compensation you’re entitled to.
“Confidentially Johns-Manville has been contaminating the ‘Hell’ out of both the air and the water for quite some time.”
— 1969 The Travelers Insurance Co. memo
Will My Lawyer Make Me Attend Hearings?
Asbestos lawyers understand that their clients are likely not feeling well. Mesothelioma is a taxing illness, so it’s understandable that you may not be up to attending hearings. However, whether you have to attend a hearing or a mediation will depend on the circumstances surrounding your case.
For example, many courts require that clients and their attorneys attend at least one mediation hearing with a private mediator or an unassigned judge in order to get the case settled without the need for a trial. Mediation sometimes takes a few hours, but it can also take days or weeks. However, that’s not say that you’ll 100% have to attend. Your health may be taken into consideration and/or your state may not require it. Sometimes, a lawyer can mediate alone with the defendant’s lawyer.
Rest assured that an experienced lawyer will make sure you’re comfortable at all times. If you’re not up to attending mediation, consider allowing a close family member or friend to act as your power of attorney.
Can a Mesothelioma Attorney Help Me Get Disability Benefits?
In most instances, if you have mesothelioma or other asbestos-related illnesses, you may be eligible for social security benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has a disability tool, known as the “Social Security Blue Book,” which determines which illnesses and disorders qualify for disability benefits. According to section 13.15 of the Blue Book, the following medical proof is required for mesothelioma:
“A. Malignant mesothelioma of pleura; or
B. Malignant tumors, metastatic to pleura; or
C. Malignant primary tumor of the mediastinum not controlled by prescribed therapy.”
That being said, your lawyer can most definitely help you get disability payments for your illness, including getting your application successfully submitted. In addition, your attorney will work closely with your physician to ensure that all medical records show definite proof of your illness.
In most cases, as mentioned earlier, people with mesothelioma will likely qualify for social security benefits. However, if by any chance you don’t qualify, you still may be able to qualify with the residual functioning capacity (RFC) form. An RFC form, which needs to be filled out by your doctor, will detail all treatments and surgeries done, as well as any future medical procedures. It will also explain how treatments have or will affect your everyday life and activities.
Will I Get Updated on the Progress of My Case?
Once you’ve found your lawyer, you should never feel hesitant about contacting them, should you have a question or need assistance, and an attorney should always keep you updated on how your case is going. Keeping yourself in the loop when it comes to your claim not only helps you understand what’s going on, but it will keep the drive going that helps you fight for your rights. This is why it’s extremely important to meet the lawyer before you sign any paperwork, to ensure you both feel comfortable with each other and that you’ll never feel the need to pause before reaching out to see what’s going with your case.
How Do I Start Getting Legal Help Today?
If you or a loved one are suffering from mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, or asbestosis, keep in mind that you may be eligible for a substantial amount of compensation. Get our free Financial Compensation Packet for info on the top mesothelioma and asbestos lawyers in your area. For additional assistance, contact us toll-free at 800-793-4540. ong with our packet, an experienced asbestos attorney will be able to assist and provide you with in-depth information regarding your federal and state rights.Along with our packet, an experienced asbestos attorney will be able to assist and provide you with in-depth information regarding your federal and state rights.Along with our packet, an experienced asbestos attorney will be able to assist and provide you with in-depth information regarding your federal and state rights.Along with our packet, an experienced asbestos attorney will be able to assist and provide you with in-depth information regarding your federal and state rights.Along with our packet, an experienced asbestos attorney will be able to assist and provide you with in-depth information regarding your federal and state rights.