Mesothelioma Lawsuits: Everything You Need to Know
If you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer, an illness caused by prolonged exposure to asbestos fibers and other elongate mineral particles, there are some significant issues you must consider. In addition to focusing on your treatment and medical care, you must consider the financial implications of your diagnosis. Paying for your treatment is a prime concern. You also have to take your family and their situation into consideration.
You could be entitled to substantial compensation if you or someone you love has been diagnosed with mesothelioma. Below are answers to important questions surrounding mesothelioma lawsuits.
What Is Mesothelioma?
Malignant mesothelioma is a type of cancer that occurs in the mesothelium, the thin tissue layer that covers most of your internal organs. A deadly and aggressive cancer, for many, mesothelioma is incurable. According to information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the median survival rate after diagnosis is around 12 months. During the period between 1999 and 2015, 45,221 deaths from the illness were reported.
The disease is found most commonly in the tissue surrounding your lungs. This type is known as pleural mesothelioma. Other types affect the area around your heart, abdomen or testicles.
Mesothelioma is most commonly found in people who have worked in industrial operations that involve asbestos, such as:
Jobs that cause people to be potentially exposed to asbestos include:
- Chemical workers
- Machinery operators
- Trade laborers
Products containing asbestos that workers may be exposed to include:
- And more
How Long Do You Have to Sue?
Mesothelioma cancer usually develops within 10 to as many as 40 years after your exposure to asbestos. Crucially, statutes of limitations that vary by state commonly afford you between one and five years from your mesothelioma diagnosis to file a lawsuit. You should act sooner rather than later as some states, such as Louisiana and California, only give you one year from diagnosis to sue.
In the case that your spouse or family member is already dying of mesothelioma, your timeline for filing a wrongful death action is typically between one and three years.
It’s also important to note that you cannot file or join in class actions lawsuits, as every individual’s prognosis and medical history is different. Therefore, you’ll need to file your case individually.
How Soon After You’re Exposed to Asbestos Should You Sue?
It’s imperative to have been given a mesothelioma diagnosis by a medical doctor before you file a lawsuit. If you’ve simply been exposed to asbestos, you have insufficient grounds for a claim. In the case of having a diagnosis of mesothelioma, you should contact your New Orleans attorney as soon as you can, keeping in mind that certain statutes of limitations may apply.
If your cancer interferes with your ability to perform your usual daily activities or it prevents you from working, you have a case. If you’ve been exposed to asbestos but you don’t have mesothelioma, it’s vital to:
- Discuss your asbestos exposure with your doctor.
- Monitor your health.
- Seek medical attention if you feel ill.
- Research asbestos-related illnesses and their symptoms.
If you feel you may have mesothelioma, you need to see your doctor without delay. At the appointment, tell your physician about your history of exposure to asbestos. This helps them identify what tests you may need.
Where Do Damages Awarded From a Mesothelioma Case Come From?
You may be considering filing a lawsuit to recover damages if you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma and have been exposed to asbestos in the past. If, at any point in your past, you or your deceased spouse or close family member have worked with asbestos, you have a favorable likelihood of achieving financial compensation.
These awarded damages can be from the firm that made or put in the asbestos, or from an asbestos victims’ trust fund or insurance company that’s assumed liability for the business. You may receive compensation even in the case that the original manufacturer has closed down, declared bankruptcy or has sold due to the creation of asbestos victims’ trust funds.
If you aren’t entirely sure who is responsible for your asbestos exposure, you can still sue. Your New Orleans mesothelioma lawyer conducts an investigation to pinpoint when and where your exposure to asbestos occurred. Consequently, your attorney identifies the corporation responsible for your illness. In the case of more than one organization being at fault, each is typically assigned a percentage of damages.
How Long Will Your Mesothelioma Case Take?
In terms of a mesothelioma settlement timeframe, the majority of cases are settled before they even get to the jury stage. If you gather the facts about your condition as well as the history of your employment and you have an easily identifiable payment source — for example, an asbestos victims’ trust fund or an insurance company — you could potentially get your money in under one year.
Even so, if your damages are dependent on going to trial, you can expect to wait for as long as two years or even more. As court rules in many states take into account that there is a short life expectancy if you have mesothelioma, you can expect a quick processing of your lawsuit.
How Much Will You Get?
There have been cases where people have received millions, whereas others have been awarded more modest sums. This is largely because many asbestos manufacturers and installation companies have either closed down or gone bankrupt. This, in turn, has resulted in courts being requiring to set aside a significant amount of funds to compensate victims. Some of these funds are large enough to pay out claims at their full value, whereas others have been depleted, making far less money available.
In addition to your compensation, your mesothelioma illness and how it affects your life is a factor that’s taken into account when arriving at a cash settlement. Aspects such as the cost of your medical expenses and the amount of wages you’ve lost due to your illness are considered. Your suffering and pain are also crucial factors in your awarded damages.
Another factor that comes into play is time. If your case is settled rapidly, your compensation may be significantly less than if your lawyer presented your case to a trial jury. The problem with taking your trial to a jury is that it’s time-consuming and could take several years. Contrastingly, a settlement is often carried out in a year or even less.
If you’re critically ill, you may prefer your settlement to be relatively fast. Even so, there are many mesothelioma cases that have resulted in awards between $1 million and $5 million, sometimes even more. Taking fees, court costs and your medical expenses into account, you’re usually left with two-thirds of your original award.
Keep in mind that defendants and their respective attorneys may attempt to lowball you regarding your settlements. That’s why it is so crucial for you to hire an experienced mesothelioma attorney.
How Do You Pay Your Lawyer?
Most mesothelioma cases involve a contingency fee arrangement. What this means is your lawyer will not charge you any upfront fees. Instead, your attorney receives a percentage of your eventual damages or settlement. They are also entitled to expenses.
Typically, a contingency fee is somewhere between 25 and 40 percent of any financial damages you recover. The exact amount you get depends on various factors. For example, whether you settle out of court or go to trial, how hard you bargain before you sign a fee agreement, whether there is a cap on contingency fees placed by a victims’ trust fund and also how much a lawyer wants your case.
Will You Have to Spend a Lot of Time on the Lawsuit If You’re Ill?
Although any good lawyer will do their utmost to protect both you and your family from a portion of the stress involved in pursuing your lawsuit, they will need your help. Depending on whether your case is settled and a trial avoided, your participation in the lawsuit will vary.
It’s natural to feel worried and apprehensive when you’re in this situation. With that in mind, you can be sure all legal staff will guide you and your family through each and every stage of your mesothelioma lawsuit. They will do their utmost to acknowledge your medical and personal priorities as well as the legal matters that need to be attended to.
Will You Have to Travel If You File Your Lawsuit out of State?
You will not have to travel for a lawsuit filed out of state. Instead, your lawyer will visit you and interview you, record your words and will then go to court on your behalf.
What If You Know the People Who Caused Your Injury and Don’t Wish to Hurt Them Financially?
You may be good friends with the individuals who caused your injury, and you might be worried about how your potential lawsuit could impact them financially. Remember that contractors, property owners, employers, manufacturers, product suppliers and so on buy liability insurance. This means when you file a lawsuit against them, they will almost never be dragged into court or left penniless. Employers are required by law to have workers’ compensation insurance.
Can You Get Disability Due to Your Mesothelioma?
Yes, you can. The most common types of cancer qualify for expedited Social Security disability benefits. In some cases, you may also be eligible for worker’s compensation benefits. This varies from state to state, so you should speak with your state worker’s compensation board for more information.
Can You Still Sue If You File Another Type of Claim?
Yes. It’s entirely possible to sue even if you have filed for veteran’s benefits, disability or worker’s compensation. Your lawyer will be able to provide you with more information.
What If You Die Before Your Case Is Resolved?
If you pass away while your case is pending, any award is divided among your surviving relatives. It may also be possible for your family to file a wrongful death lawsuit. An experienced Louisiana attorney will educate you about your rights to file a wrongful death suit.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
If you’re close enough to someone who had died of mesothelioma either before or during the time they filed a lawsuit, you can file a wrongful death claim — provided you meet certain criteria. The laws on this differ between states. Therefore, it’s advisable to speak with an experienced New Orleans mesothelioma lawyer about your right to submit or resubmit your lawsuit.
A crucial aspect of submitting a wrongful death lawsuit is time. As discussed previously, you usually have between one and three years to make your claim depending on the state in which it’s filed.
To file a mesothelioma wrongful death lawsuit, you need to meet certain criteria. One criterion is that the death itself must be the result of a wrongful act or negligence. Also, you need to be close enough to the deceased individual to bring the suit forward. If you’re a distant cousin or an acquaintance of the person in question, you cannot come forward and claim compensation.
Eligible people who can file a wrongful death lawsuit are:
- Children — including step and adopted
- Anyone who is financially dependent on the deceased — state laws vary
Companies who expose their employees or customers to asbestos can qualify as negligence or a wrongful act.
What Is the Wrongful Death Lawsuit Process?
As you may imagine, in any mesothelioma case, your lawyer will research your case extensively. On conclusion of that investigation, your attorney then makes an official legal recommendation with regards to what you should do.
If your lawyer concludes that you should seek damages by pursuing a mesothelioma lawsuit after death, they will file your claim. Often, determining the state to file in is not entirely straightforward. Usually, the claim is filed where your loved one lived or was exposed to the asbestos. However, if there is another state where the case could be filed and where you could achieve a better result, that state may be chosen.
The next part of the process is information gathering. Your attorney will collate as much information as possible on your loved one’s medical, work and personal history.
You need to be ready for defendants and their attorneys to try to get your lawsuit dismissed before there is even a trial. Often, they may try to get you to settle out of court. This is why you need to work closely with your lawyer to achieve the settlement you deserve.
It’s okay to feel completely overwhelmed when you’re dealing with a mesothelioma diagnosis. And although every individual’s story is different, there are many steps that apply to almost everyone who files a mesothelioma lawsuit.
If you or a loved one are currently suffering from mesothelioma cancer, don’t delay. You may be entitled to substantial compensation that will help you get the medical treatment you need. By consulting a New Orleans mesothelioma lawyer today, you can achieve the payout you deserve. Call us at 1-800-7500-LAW here at Irpino, Avin & Hawkins Law Firm to speak to us about a mesothelioma lawsuit, or contact us online to schedule a consultation.