With thousands of people filing a mesothelioma lawsuit over the past few decades, asbestos litigation has become one of the most expensive and complicated types of lawsuits in the history of United States court cases. Most asbestos litigation is brought by people who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and other diseases caused by exposure to workplace asbestos.
Over $30 billion is currently available in trust funds for victims of asbestos-related diseases. We invite you to fill out our form today for a free Financial Compensation Packet, filled with information about top mesothelioma lawyers in your area, how to get paid in 90 days, how to file an asbestos trust fund claim, and much more.
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What Are the Steps In Filing a Mesothelioma Lawsuit?
Once you have found a mesothelioma lawyer or law firm with experience and proven wins for clients, there will be a long road ahead as you work together through several steps in the process of winning justice.
Collecting Important Information
While your lawyer will do much of the legwork to get your case to a settlement or trial, your legal team will need your help in gathering all the information needed to make your case:
- Employment history
- Medical history and records
- Any medical expenses that you’ve incurred since the beginning of your illness
- Any additional costs related to being ill, such as travel expenses
- Documentation of asbestos in the workplace
- Documentation of physical disabilities and activities you can no longer do
Before attorneys file a complaint, they go through a pre-litigation stage in which they’ll try to negotiate and settle with the defendants before submitting your case to the court. If a settlement isn’t reached during the pre-litigation stage, your attorney will then file a complaint, which contains all the basic information about your claim, your illness, asbestos exposure, and the defendants involved.
The defendant or defendants will then receive notification that you have filed a lawsuit against them. They’ll also receive a copy of the complaint and will then have a certain amount of time to file a response, usually 30 days. If they fail to respond, the court may enter a judgement against them, which results in a default decision in your favor.
The Discovery Phase
When defendants do respond to the lawsuit, the next stage is called discovery. Attorneys on both sides will investigate and find more information either to prove your case or defend against it. Each side also has access to information from the other and can interview, conduct depositions, and investigate your medical records. The discovery phase can take several months and is often the longest part of the entire process.
It is during the discovery phase that it is often determined whether a case will go to trial or end in a settlement. The latter typically occurs when the defendants realize the evidence against them will likely lead to a loss in court.
If your lawsuit can be settled between your attorney and the defendant, then a trial will be waived once a settlement amount is agreed upon. It’s difficult to predict the exact settlement amount as each case differs and comes with its own wide array of different variables.
Most settlements amounts factor in:
- Lost wages.
- Medical expenses.
- The length of time you’ve lived with the illness.
- The severity of the illness.
- Mental and emotional suffering.
- Physical discomfort.
- Case costs, including filing fees.
Studies suggest that between 80 to 90 percent of personal injury cases will settle. If you win a settlement, expect to receive your payments on a monthly basis as opposed to a lump sum, as most compensation amounts for mesothelioma cases are substantial.
If neither side can agree on a settlement or an amount, your case will go to trial. Depending on the laws in your state, you may or may not have to appear. Your attorney will be able to provide you information pertaining to the laws in your state. Once the trial starts, both sides will be provided the opportunity to present evidence, examine witnesses, and present information to the jury.
The length of trial will depend upon witnesses, medical documents, and how complicated your case is. However, the trial phase is usually shorter when compared to the discovery phase.
Once the jury has rendered a verdict, the trial phase is over. You’ll then learn if you have lost or won your case. If you win your case, you’ll be told the exact amount of damages owed to you from the defendant.
You can typically expect to start receiving payments within a few months if you win your case, although disbursements times will vary according to state. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that the defendant does have the legal right to appeal the court’s decision, which will ultimately end up prolonging your payments. Again, your attorney will be able to explain the appeals process and how it applies to your particular case.
Common Misconceptions about Mesothelioma Lawsuits
Many victims hesitate to file lawsuits because they think it will take too long to get compensation. It can be a length process to win in a trial, but most mesothelioma lawsuits end in settlements, which provide compensation in about 90 days. There are also trust funds that can lead to a quick compensation process if you qualify.
Another misconception is that there can be no justice from a company that went out of business or no longer exists. Even if the responsible party sold the company, there are normally stipulations in which the new company must take over pending or future lawsuits. If the party went bankrupt, there is a good chance they have set up an asbestos trust fund to compensate people who file against them.
Wrongful Death Lawsuits
There are two main types of mesothelioma-related lawsuits: personal injury and wrongful death. A wrongful death lawsuit occurs when a family member files on behalf of someone who has died from their asbestos-related illness. A personal injury claim on the other hand, is filed on behalf of yourself if you have an asbestos-related illness or onbehalf of a family member who is too ill to personally file the case.
Although wrongful death is similar to a personal injury claim in that it involves asbestos-related illnesses, people who file wrongful death lawsuits may be eligible for damages that aren’t available in personal injury claims. For instance, you may claim funeral expenses, loss of consortium, loss of financial care to dependents, and emotional suffering due to losing a loved one.
Class Action Mesothelioma Lawsuits
Class action lawsuits are filed by larger groups of victims, but these are not common in cases of asbestos exposure. A common scenario for a class action suit is when there was a company that knowingly exposed a large number of people to asbestos without warning them of the risks. Manufacturing, shipbuilding, construction, and mining companies are examples of defendants in asbestos class action lawsuits.
Statute of Limitations
Mesothelioma lawsuits are time-sensitive. There are statutes of limitations that dictate when it is too late to file, and these vary by state. The limit is typically set from the time that that the illness is reasonably discovered because mesothelioma is often not detected for decades after asbestos exposure actually occurred. There are also limits on wrongful death lawsuits, which typically begin at the time of death.
Important Mesothelioma Lawsuits and Asbestos Landmarks
Mesothelioma is considered a relatively rare disease in the medical world, and yet there have been decades of lawsuits over this type of cancer. The first was filed in 1969 by industrial worker Clarence Borel. This was the legal turning point for victims of asbestos-related disease, as it gave victims a way to be compensated from their injuries after Borel won his case against the Fibreboard Paper Products Corporation.
1963-1965 Asbestos Medical Findings
A major landmark in lawsuits occurred in the early 1960s when doctors conclusively proved that asbestos exposure causes serious illnesses. Dr. Selikoff, a general medicine physician in Paterson, New Jersey, was asked to treat members of the Asbestos Workers Union in the early 1960s. Shortly after, he noticed that a myriad of workers were suffering from mesothelioma, a disease that was and is still considered extremely rare.
In 1963, Dr. Selikoff published his findings on the link between mesothelioma and asbestos in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Others published similar findings, which prompted the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to enforce workplace safety regulations in regards to asbestos for the first time ever.
1965 Tort Laws
In 1965, the The American Law Institute of The Restatement of the Law of Torts published section 402A, which states that any party “who sells any product in a defective condition unreasonably dangerous to the user or consumer or to his property is liable for the harm caused by that product to the consumer or end user.”
Although it doesn’t include harm that comes after people have been warned of the dangers of a product, when courts made the decision that asbestos manufacturers had the obligation to inform people of the dangers of their product, the number of lawsuits increased.
1969 to Present: Lawsuits More than Triple
After the success of the first asbestos-related lawsuit and the positive medical findings that asbestos is linked to life-threatening illnesses, the amount of mesothelioma cases has more than tripled, totaling a little over 700,000. Currently, more than 10,000 companies have been named in asbestos lawsuits, and the numbers are expected to grow.
Where Can I Get Legal Assistance with My Lawsuit?
Fill out our form to get our free Financial Compensation Packet, filled with information on the leading asbestos and mesothelioma attorneys in your area. If you need additional assistance, feel free to contact us toll-free at 800-793-4540.