If a loved one has died from mesothelioma, you feel understandably crushed by your circumstances. Watching a loved one succumb to the pain and distress of this particularly insidious cancer is enough to ruin anyone’s life, and that’s before you lose them entirely. Once they’re gone, it can leave you wondering what to do – and how to punish those who allowed this to happen.
Because mesothelioma is the result of exposure to asbestos, a substance that has since been discontinued in construction because of its severe health consequences, you have the right to sue the company responsible for the death of your loved one. And you should.
That said, it is neither logistically nor emotionally easy to prepare and bring such a suit. It takes time and effort, and you’re going to need help. Before signing on with an attorney, though, it helps to understand exactly what a mesothelioma suit involves after death, and how you can best prepare yourself for a good outcome.
What Is Mesothelioma?
The mesothelium is a thin layer of tissue that coats and protects most of your internal organs. As the Mayo Clinic explains, “Doctors divide mesothelioma into different types based on what part of the mesothelium is affected. Mesothelioma most often affects the tissue that surrounds the lungs (pleura). This type is called pleural mesothelioma. Other, rarer types of mesothelioma affect tissue in the abdomen (peritoneal mesothelioma), around the heart and around the testicles.”
Unfortunately, as of today, there is no known cure for this aggressive and deadly cancer. Most people who receive a mesothelioma diagnosis will not survive longer than 1-2 years. Even those with high-quality and immediate treatment rarely live longer than 5 years, though there are stories of long-term survivors. Whether your loved one has recently been diagnosed with mesothelioma, is in the final stages of the disease or has already passed, it’s important to know the causes and options for a mesothelioma case.
What Causes Mesothelioma?
This form of mesothelioma cancer is caused by tiny asbestos fibers. Asbestos is a material used on construction sites starting in the 1930s or so and continuing until 1977 when its use was banned. It was used as an insulating material, and as such were commonly put into walls, ceilings and other parts of the structure.
This mineral is made up of sharp microscopic rods capable of piercing the mesothelioma membrane, where they cause changes to the DNA of the lining, which in turn spurs the formation of cancer. This most often affects the heart, lungs, stomach, and testicles. Once cancer gets established, it spreads to other parts of the body, usually starting with the lymph nodes and then spreading to other organs.
What Is a Wrongful Death Suit?
A wrongful death mesothelioma lawsuit is one in which the plaintiff accuses the defendant of having caused a mesothelioma death through negligent or willfully harmful behavior. As the name suggests, there must be a death in order to bring this lawsuit against the damaging party. Even if death is expected, the plaintiffs must wait until the affected person has passed before bringing the suit.
Wrongful death mesothelioma lawsuits after death are filed through the estate of the deceased party. A representative of that estate, whether an attorney or one of the family members of the deceased, is usually the one who files the lawsuit. In order for wrongful death suits to succeed, the plaintiff must do several things:
- Prove that the defendant had a responsibility to protect the victim but failed to do so, which means in this case that the company had a responsibility to provide a safe jobsite and did not do so
- Prove that there were financial and emotional costs associated with the wrongful death
- Prove a relationship to the deceased in which you would have had to suffer one or both of these costs
What Rights Do Families of Mesothelioma Victims Have After the Victim’s Death?
Assuming that the victim had a medical diagnosis of mesothelioma and that this was the cause of their death, families of victims always have the right to bring a wrongful death mesothelioma suit. The only question is whether a) the company was responsible for the death and b) the family members actually suffered as a result of the death. Or the plaintiff can prove the victim’s suffering and medical costs, which may also result in a settlement or award (discussed next).
Important Mesothelioma Lawsuit After Death Terms
Understanding your options when it comes to a mesothelioma lawsuit starts with understanding some of the basic terms you may hear while working with attorneys and throughout the process.
- Discovery: This is the process whereby each side on a lawsuit obtains the information the other has in order to build the best possible case. In some cases, the mesothelioma company is bankrupt and no longer in business – usually due to cases such as this – but discovery can reveal a trust set up to aid victims.
- Claim or mesothelioma Lawsuit: This is when victims or family members of deceased victims, in this case, bring a civil action against an asbestos company or group of companies. Family members may bring an individual suit or join in a class-action mesothelioma lawsuit, in which they sign on which other similar victims.
- Verdict: When a judge or jury hands down a decision about the case, which decides whether companies will be punished and family members compensated for the death of the victim.
- Settlement: An amount of money paid directly or indirectly to someone who has suffered harm, in this case as a result of being related to someone who has suffered death from mesothelioma. Settlements may occur before or after a trial, and mean the company is willing to pay.
- Award: An award is when, rather than willingly agreeing to pay the victim’s family members, the company is instead forced to do so by the judge or jury.
You will encounter many other legal terms throughout the course of preparing a case, bringing it against the company responsible for the death, and weathering the trial period. Be sure to ask your attorney whenever you don’t understand something, which is the only way to ensure you get the best possible outcome.
Mesothelioma Lawsuit After Death Payments and Awards
It’s important going in to know how the mesothelioma payment process works. Most mesothelioma lawyers work on a contingency basis. That means they only get paid if you receive a settlement from the company or an award as part of the trial process. Usually, this is a percentage of the amount you earn, though it may be a set fee. As many mesothelioma cases are class action, it may be a percentage of what everyone makes.
The bottom line is that you should not pay a mesothelioma attorney upfront or at any point in the process until you have received financial compensation yourself. A lawyer who asks you to do so does not have your best interests at heart, for the simple reason that no one can assure you that you a) have a case or b) will win it at the outset. At a reputable mesothelioma law firm, there are no startup fees, consultation fees or anything else – so don’t ever pay them.
How to Find the Right Mesothelioma After Death Lawyer
The right mesothelioma lawyer or law firm will have several traits going for it:
- Experience bringing mesothelioma suits to court: If your attorney has not yet taken any such cases, or even if they’ve only brought a few, steer clear. Even if you work with a young attorney, they should have the oversight of older, more experienced lawyers.
- Time in the industry: Good attorneys have at least five years of experience, and ideally much more, in the wrongful death field.
- Attorneys who have experience with trusts: Not all asbestos companies need to be sued in order to pay you. Many have established trusts for asbestos victims and their families. Only work with a firm that knows how to navigate this situation.
- A substantial number of cases won: The firm’s track record is important. Don’t work with anyone who has a less-than-stellar record or who is cagey about what that record is.
Since there are plenty of firms that meet all these requirements, you shouldn’t have trouble finding the right attorney. For instance, we are proud to say that we meet these requirements, and would love to help you out.
Get a Free Mesothelioma Lawsuit After Death Consultation
If you’re ready for help, please feel free to schedule a free mesothelioma consultation today. Our friendly, compassionate attorneys have the experience to help you through this difficult time. We understand you are feeling wronged, emotional, overwhelmed and lost – which is why we work so hard to help you navigate the process in a seamless manner, without confusion or additional life setbacks.
Our consultations are free and take place at your convenience. Just let us know what works for you and a member of our team will make themselves available to hear you out, assess your case and move forward if at all possible. Don’t wait to get in touch … and get what you deserve.