Why File a Mesothelioma Lawsuit?

The main reason people file mesothelioma lawsuits is to obtain money to help pay treatment expenses and ease substantial financial burdens. Choosing an experienced asbestos lawyer can help people diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma get the compensation they deserve.

Another reason people file asbestos claims is to help support their loved ones. A pleural mesothelioma diagnosis usually results in lost income for the household. They also may cause extreme emotional strain. Compensation can help patients and loved ones receive counseling to deal with these issues.

People also file mesothelioma lawsuits to hold companies accountable for their actions. Mesothelioma is an almost entirely preventable cancer and can be avoided if companies properly disclose and warn workers about asbestos dangers and follow appropriate safety precautions.

Settlements and jury awards from mesothelioma lawsuits can help cover:

  • Treatment Costs
  • Lost Wages
  • Travel Expenses
  • Palliative Care
  • Medical Equipment
  • Counseling
  • Loss of Consortium

What are the Types of Mesothelioma Lawsuits?

Personal Injury Claims

Filed by a person diagnosed with mesothelioma.

Wrongful Death Claims

Usually filed by the estate of a person who died from the asbestos-related disease.

Personal Injury Lawsuits

A personal injury lawsuit is submitted by the patient after receiving a mesothelioma diagnosis. Mesothelioma claims are specific damages due to illness caused by asbestos exposure and are filed against the company or companies likely responsible. Compensation can help the patient recover expenses for mesothelioma treatment, travel, pain and suffering, lost income and other related costs.

Wrongful Death Mesothelioma Lawsuits

When a person dies from pleural mesothelioma, their estate may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit on their behalf. These claims fall under different statutes of limitations that begin at the time of the person’s death.

If a plaintiff dies during the course of a personal injury lawsuit, the estate may be able to take over the claim. A qualified attorney can walk the estate representative — typically a spouse or another family member — through the process.

Compensation from a mesothelioma wrongful death lawsuit can help cover medical bills, funeral costs and other expenses.

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How Do You File a Mesothelioma Lawsuit?

The first step in filing a mesothelioma lawsuit is finding a qualified asbestos attorney. A lawyer experienced in asbestos litigation is equipped to help you gather the necessary information and file a legal complaint on your behalf.

The three major stages of a mesothelioma lawsuit are the filing process, discovery phase and the trial or settlement of a case.

Stage 1: Preparation and Filing

Lawyer explaining options to older couple

Once you find an attorney to handle your case, they will go over your work history to help pinpoint where you were exposed to asbestos and which companies may be responsible.

You may be able to file your lawsuit in another state. For example, 93.3% of asbestos filings in Illinois in 2018 came from residents of other states, according to a KCIC Industry Report. Plaintiffs also may be able to file in more than one jurisdiction. Your lawyer will help decide the best court to file your case.

Once all the necessary information is gathered, your lawyer will prepare a written complaint against one or more defendants to start the legal process.

Stage 2: Discovery Phase

Lawyer reviewing documents

Once a formal complaint is filed, lawyers on both sides will work to build their side of the case. Defendant attorneys may ask you to answer written questions, provide documents to support your claim and possibly participate in a recorded deposition — all of which may be used as evidence should the case go to trial.

The discovery phase of a mesothelioma lawsuit may take several months. But if you are very sick, your attorney can ask the court to expedite the process.

Most of this phase can be done from the comfort of your own home, including the recorded deposition. A qualified asbestos lawyer will work with you to make the process as easy for you as possible.

Stage 3: Settlement or Trial

Handshake agreement between lawyer and client

Most mesothelioma lawsuits never go to trial. Instead, cases are usually resolved before reaching the courtroom through a settlement. Mesothelioma settlements are typically initiated by the defendants in the case.

Reasons a defendant may settle include:

  • To avoid a favorable jury verdict for the plaintiff
  • A lack of supporting evidence or key witnesses to win the case
  • Mounting legal fees or lawsuits against the company

The average mesothelioma settlement is nearly $1 million, according to a 2016 Mealey’s Litigation Report. This is usually paid by multiple defendants named in the lawsuit.

While favorable verdicts may produce more compensation for a plaintiff, settlements are guaranteed money that usually pay claimants quicker than a trial award. Going to trial can be very risky, and even if a plaintiff wins at trial, appeals can take years and have the potential to change a favorable outcome.

Sometimes settlements occur during a trial. Your attorney will negotiate any settlements on your behalf and help you decide whether it’s best to accept the offer or move forward with the trial.

What Is the Average Mesothelioma Verdict?

If a case does go to trial, jury awards to a plaintiff in a mesothelioma lawsuit can be substantial. The average trial award is estimated at $2.4 million, according to the 2016 Mealey’s report.

However, a favorable verdict is not guaranteed. Opposing attorneys may present a stronger case, leading to a win for the defendant or a mistrial — when the jury can’t reach a decision in a case.

The process of a mesothelioma trial varies depending on the state where the lawsuit is filed. Results depend on a number of factors, including your history of asbestos exposure, your deposition and any expert testimony.

An experienced asbestos lawyer can walk you through the process should your case go to trial.

Understanding Statutes of Limitations

Asbestos litigation is subject to limits on the amount of time claimants have to file a lawsuit. These time limits are known as statutes of limitations.

Mesothelioma lawsuits work differently than most personal injury claims. Whereas many injuries can be traced to a single moment in time such as a car accident, asbestos-related injuries are typically linked to a period of exposure during a person’s work history.

It can take 20 to 50 years from a person’s initial exposure until asbestos to a diagnosis of mesothelioma. This is why in almost every state statutes of limitations for mesothelioma lawsuits begin at the time of diagnosis, not the time of injury.

Statutes of limitations for mesothelioma cases vary by state. Most states give claimants either one or two years after a diagnosis to file a claim.

It is important for anyone diagnosed with mesothelioma to contact a qualified asbestos attorney as soon as possible before the time limit for filing expires.

Quick Facts About Mesothelioma Lawsuits

  • More than 2,000 mesothelioma lawsuits were filed in 2018.
  • Lawsuits are time-sensitive, with each state having its own statute of limitations.
  • You may be able to file in a different state than where you reside.
  • Most lawsuits resolve in a settlement before ever going to trial.
  • Mesothelioma lawyers usually work on a contingency fee basis, meaning you owe nothing unless you win or settle a case.
  • The average jury award for mesothelioma lawsuits in 2016 was $2.4 million, while the average settlement was $1 million to $1.4 million.