Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit: A Guide for Mesothelioma Family Members

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Mesothelioma is a devastating Asbestos-related disease that has claimed the lives of thousands of individuals over the years. Tragically, many families have been affected by this deadly disease, leaving them with a profound sense of loss and grief. If you have lost a loved one to Mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure, it’s crucial to understand your rights and options for compensation. This guide will explore the avenues available to family members seeking mesothelioma compensation claims through asbestos trust funds and wrongful death lawsuits.

Rights to Compensation for Family Members in Mesothelioma Injury Claims

Mesothelioma is an aggressive and often fatal cancer caused by prolonged exposure to asbestos fibers. According to data from 1999 to 2015, there were 45,221 deaths in the United States, where Mesothelioma was a major cause of death mentioned on the death certificate. This staggering number highlights the prevalence of this disease and the subsequent need for compensation for the affected families.

When a mesothelioma patient passes away, their family members, including spouses, children, parents, grandparents, and close friends, may have the opportunity to seek compensation for their losses. There are two primary avenues through which compensation can be pursued: asbestos trust funds and wrongful death lawsuits.

 Asbestos Trust Funds and Their Role

Many companies were responsible for asbestos exposure. To address the resulting legal claims, they established asbestos trust funds. These trust funds were created to provide compensation to victims of asbestos-related diseases, including Mesothelioma.

If a mesothelioma victim had filed a claim with an asbestos trust fund during their lifetime and were receiving compensation, that compensation would automatically pass to their beneficiaries upon their death. This ensures that the financial security of the family is not compromised.

Furthermore, even if the mesothelioma patient did not initiate any legal action for their condition during their lifetime, their loved ones can still seek compensation for the Mesothelioma through asbestos trust funds or by filing a wrongful death asbestos lawsuit.

Filing With an Asbestos Trust Fund

For family members who did not receive any compensation before their loved one’s death, it is advisable to initiate the process by submitting a claim with the appropriate asbestos trust funds. Engaging an attorney experienced in Mesothelioma and asbestos litigation is crucial during this process. Your attorney will guide you through the necessary steps.

However, it’s essential to be aware of time limitations for obtaining financial compensation as a family member. The statute of limitations for asbestos claims, including wrongful death lawsuits, starts from the date of the mesothelioma diagnosis, making prompt action imperative.

 Wrongful Death Lawsuits as an Option

In addition to filing mesothelioma compensation claims with Asbestos trust funds, your attorney may recommend pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit against the companies. In a wrongful death lawsuit, the legal action is initiated by the estate representative, often a spouse or child, but not limited to blood relatives who decide to file the legal action.

Estate representatives eligible for filing a wrongful death lawsuit include: 

  1. 1. Spouse or partner
  2. 2. Children, which can include adopted or stepchildren
  3. 3. Parents
  4. Grandparents
  5. 5. Close friends
  6. 6. A person financially dependent on the deceased

How Awards Are Handled in Wrongful Death Lawsuits

Compensation obtained from a wrongful death mesothelioma lawsuit goes to the estate of the deceased and the appointed representative of the estate. Any payments resulting from trial verdicts or mesothelioma settlements are distributed evenly among the eligible family members, mirroring the distribution of assets in the event of a loved one’s passing.

It is essential to note that in some cases, the compensation awarded in wrongful death claims may be less than that in mesothelioma personal injury claims. This discrepancy arises because personal injury plaintiffs usually have ongoing medical bills, future medical expenses, travel costs, and emotional distress to consider.

Challenges of Mesothelioma Wrongful Death Claims

Wrongful death claims in mesothelioma cases pose unique challenges compared to personal injury claims. These challenges primarily arise from the absence of the affected person, who would serve as the plaintiff in a personal injury case.

Common challenges in wrongful death claims include: 

  1. Proving the work history of the deceased and their asbestos exposure history.
  2. 2. Locate witnesses who can testify to asbestos exposure, including former coworkers.
  3. Gather evidence such as medical, work, and other historical documents.
  4. 4. Filing the lawsuit within the statute of limitations generally ranges from one to four years from the date of death.
  5. There is an inability to depose or question the deceased under oath during the trial.

In a mesothelioma lawsuit, the person afflicted with the disease plays a pivotal role as a key witness. They possess intricate details about their work and medical history that may not even be known to their closest family members. Consequently, proving a wrongful death claim requires a comprehensive approach.

Personal Injury Claims Transitioning to Wrongful Death Claims

In cases where the plaintiff in an Asbestos Mesothelioma personal injury lawsuit passes away before the claim is resolved, the asbestos claim payout can be converted into a wrongful death claim. The claims of the deceased become part of their estate, and the estate representative takes charge of the legal proceedings.

To facilitate this transition, it is advisable for individuals suffering from Mesothelioma to document the following carefully: 

  1. Detailed work history, including dates of employment at each asbestos-related job and their locations.
  2. Identifying coworkers who worked alongside them on the job.
  3. 3. Specific tasks performed on the job that exposed them to asbestos.
  4. Machinery or materials encountered during work that increased asbestos exposure risk.
  5. 5. Work history of family members, particularly if there are concerns about secondhand exposure.

Being prepared with this information can significantly expedite the process if the personal injury lawsuit transforms into a wrongful death claim. It enables Mesothelioma attorneys to build a compelling case more efficiently.

Seek Mesothelioma Legal Assistance

If you are a family member or loved one dealing with Mesothelioma, or if your loved one’s mesothelioma diagnosis has already resulted in their passing, it is crucial to seek the assistance of an experienced mesothelioma attorney in your area. These attorneys can guide you through the process of pursuing a wrongful death action and help you with the claims process for various asbestos trust funds.

Prompt action is paramount, as it can significantly impact your legal and financial options. By seeking legal assistance as soon as possible, you can ensure that your family’s rights are protected and that you can secure the compensation you deserve during these challenging times.

Conclusion

Filing a wrongful death lawsuit or pursuing Mesothelioma compensation claims through Asbestos trust funds is a crucial step for family members who have lost a loved one. While these processes may present challenges, they offer a means of obtaining financial support to cope with the loss and expenses incurred due to the disease.

By enlisting the guidance of an experienced mesothelioma attorney and being prepared with relevant information, you can navigate these legal processes effectively and ensure that your family’s rights are upheld during this difficult period.