Settlement and verdict amounts may depend on:
- A claimant’s diagnosis and medical history
- The number of companies sued
- Where the claim is filed
- Proof of negligence
- Lost wages, medical bills and other expenses
An experienced mesothelioma attorney can build your case and negotiate settlements on your behalf. They can also help you understand the statute of limitations for the state where you file a claim.
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.
I lost a loved one to mesothelioma years ago. Can I still file a lawsuit?
Each state has its own set of rules limiting the amount of time you have to file a mesothelioma lawsuit. These rules, known as statutes of limitations, can range from 1 – 6 years by state, and some states even have different deadlines for personal injury claims and wrongful death claims. The good news is that victims of asbestos exposure can generally file a claim in any state where they have resided, worked, or served in the military, giving you more options and possibly extending your overall timeframe.
Even if the statutes of limitations have passed to file a lawsuit, you still may be able to receive financial assistance in one or more other ways:
- Trust funds set up by companies that have admitted liability for asbestos exposure
- Veterans’ benefits if you served in the military
- Workers’ compensation, even if you are already retired
To understand all of your filing options and the associated deadlines involved, contact a lawyer who is knowledgeable and has the broad experience to handle your specific case.
I don’t know where/how I was exposed to asbestos. Who do I sue?
One of the first things your mesothelioma legal team will do is review your personal history. They will ask about:
- Where you have lived, traveled, and attended school
- What companies you worked for and what jobs you held there
- Whether you served in the military and what bases or ships you were stationed on
- Any other related details about your asbestos exposure
Your lawyers also will help you gather documentation to provide more details about each of these things, including employment records, union membership, military service records, etc.
Based on these details and documents, it is usually possible to determine where and how you may have been exposed to asbestos by comparing your personal history to a list of known exposure sites and asbestos companies.
What if I’ve never worked for an asbestos company but still have mesothelioma?
Unfortunately, it is becoming more and more common that people who never worked at an asbestos company are developing mesothelioma. Exposure can happen in any number of places, including:
- Nearby mining or manufacturing facilities
- Naturally occurring asbestos deposits
If you have a family member who has worked at a company that produces or uses asbestos products, you could even be at risk of second-hand exposure. For example, as a little girl Heather von St. James was exposed to asbestos dust brought home on her father’s jacket from a factory, and she developed mesothelioma in her mid-30s due to that exposure.
Since the only known cause of mesothelioma is asbestos exposure, if you are diagnosed with mesothelioma, then asbestos exposure must have occurred at some point in your lifetime. A lawyer with experience in mesothelioma cases can help you discover where that exposure occurred and hold the responsible parties liable.
The asbestos company where I worked has gone bankrupt or been bought by another company. Is it too late to get compensation?
Starting in the 1970s, after the link between asbestos and mesothelioma was identified a decade earlier, companies began to go bankrupt due to the high numbers of lawsuits being brought against them for personal injury and wrongful death. As a result, U.S. bankruptcy courts started requiring companies to set up asbestos bankruptcy trust funds (“asbestos trusts”) to pay both current and future claims brought against them.
Currently, there are approximately 60 different asbestos trusts that have been established to pay claims for mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. Each trust has its own exposure criteria and procedures, so having an attorney who has successfully negotiated with asbestos trusts in the past is the best way to receive compensation.
In cases where an asbestos company has been bought by another company, it may be possible to bring a lawsuit against the parent company for damages its subsidiary was responsible for in the past, if an asbestos trust fund does not already exist. Talk to a qualified lawyer to determine whether filing a legal complaint is the best way to receive compensation.