Mesothelioma is a rare, aggressive cancer that is primarily caused by asbestos exposure. Industry leaders knew about this almost a century ago, but they covered it up for decades in order to profit off of asbestos products.
Now, mesothelioma lawsuits hold companies accountable and get patients much-needed financial compensation for this terrible disease. The money gained through asbestos litigation can cover medical bills, loss of income and other expenses.
If you were diagnosed with mesothelioma because a company exposed you to asbestos, you may be able to file a personal-injury lawsuit. If your loved one died of mesothelioma, you may be able to file a wrongful-death lawsuit against the company responsible for their asbestos exposure.
State laws set time limits for filing mesothelioma lawsuits, and the process is highly complicated. You should consult a lawyer with experience in asbestos litigation as early as possible.
As the cancer advances, it will become more difficult to provide the testimony necessary for a mesothelioma lawsuit. After a person dies, the potential financial compensation a family can receive from a mesothelioma lawsuit often becomes lower.
A qualified mesothelioma attorney can evaluate your case and help you decide where and how to file a claim. They can guide you through the litigation process to give you the best chance of obtaining the maximum compensation possible.
Most mesothelioma lawsuits are settled out of court and never go to trial.
Mesothelioma Lawsuit Frequently Asked Questions
How Long Does a Mesothelioma Lawsuit Take?
Asbestos-related lawsuits can take several months or longer, as defendants usually try to drag the process out. But the process can be expedited if the plaintiff is in very poor health. An experienced attorney will ensure your case is resolved as quickly as possible.
Do Plaintiffs Need to Travel for Hearings or Depositions?
In some cases, it is better to file a lawsuit in a different state than where the plaintiff lives. But this doesn’t mean the plaintiff will have to travel to a faraway court. Mesothelioma attorneys can usually visit the plaintiff in their home and handle everything else on the plaintiff’s behalf.
How Expensive Are Mesothelioma Lawyers?
Mesothelioma lawyers usually only get paid if they secure a settlement or a jury verdict for their client. They take a preset percentage of the compensation as payment for their services. This is called a contingency fee. If the plaintiff wins nothing, then the lawyers receive nothing.
What Happens If the Plaintiff Dies?
If a plaintiff passes away before their case is resolved, a close family member can usually continue the lawsuit in their place. If someone dies of mesothelioma before filing a lawsuit, a surviving family member may still have the option of filing a wrongful-death lawsuit.
Mesothelioma and Asbestos Lawsuit Process
You work with an attorney to determine when and where the asbestos exposure occurred and where to file a claim. Law firms who specialize in asbestos cases have archival resources that can help with this process. You may be able to file multiple claims.
2. Filing a Claim
Your attorney will prepare and file a written complaint to start the legal process. An experienced lawyer will know the requirements of the jurisdiction where you are filing. They will also identify which companies to send the complaint to. This is complex in mesothelioma cases, because the companies responsible often have changed their names since the asbestos exposure occurred.
3. Defendant Responses
Each defendant company named in the lawsuit has a set amount of time to respond to the complaint (typically 30 days). Defendants usually begin by denying your claim and blaming your diagnosis on something else. A mesothelioma lawyer will expect this and be ready to strike back.
Lawyers on both sides collect evidence to use at trial. You likely will have to answer questions under oath from the defendant lawyers in a videotaped deposition. A good attorney will prepare you for this and see that it is conducted in the comfort of your own home.
The trial process varies by jurisdiction. In many cases, only your lawyer will need to appear in court. If the jury decides in your favor and the defendant does not appeal, typically you will receive a structured settlement. This means regular payments will come to you starting a few months after the trial.
Asbestos defendants often file an appeal when they lose a case. This means the financial compensation is delayed while a higher court checks to see if any mistakes were made in the trial. If the appeals court finds that the law was not correctly applied, they may reduce the compensation amount or order a new trial.
Settling Out of Court
Plaintiffs and defendants can negotiate an out-of-court settlement at any time during the legal process. Most mesothelioma lawsuits resolve this way, even when a jury hands down a verdict. A defendant may offer a settlement that is less than the jury award in exchange for not filing an appeal.
A defendant may offer you a small settlement at the beginning of the process in the hopes of avoiding a trial altogether. A mesothelioma lawyer can advise you on whether to take the faster settlement versus holding out for a potentially larger verdict.
Defendant Responses to Mesothelioma Litigation
Defendants usually deny fault for mesothelioma. They will likely respond to your complaint with one or more counter-accusations, such as:
- Your disease was caused by smoking or drinking.
- Someone else exposed you to asbestos.
- Your petition was not filed correctly.
- You do not have the authority to file a lawsuit.
Defendants will try to compel you to give up on your lawsuit or accept an unreasonably low settlement amount. This is why it’s important to work with a law firm that has successfully handled many mesothelioma cases before.
It takes an experienced mesothelioma attorney to build a strong case. This gives you and your family the best chance of getting the compensation you deserve.