Mesothelioma is a devastating disease that proceeds rapidly, racks up a large amount of medical bills in a short amount of time, and leaves family members behind without their loved ones or the support they offered. Whether you have recently been diagnosed or have lost a loved one to this pernicious cancer, it’s important you have the help you need getting through this difficult period.
Critically, mesothelioma is a disease with only one known cause: asbestos. That means that if you or a family member has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, it is due to asbestos exposure on a job site. Both civilian and military applications used asbestos in huge amounts, and many people suffered as a result.
If that’s you, it’s time to learn about mesothelioma lawsuits today.
Asbestos is a mineral mined in huge quantities throughout the 20th century for use in a variety of industries. Its capacity as an insulator, fire retardant, chemically nonreactive and electrically nonconductive material make it perfectly suited to construction, automotive, electronics and military applications – among many others.
The downside of this extremely useful material is that it is made of the same basic elements as glass, and capable of shattering into multitudinous tiny particles that rise through the air and are easily inhaled. These tiny shards then settle into the lungs, lung lining and the membranes of surrounding organs, where they can cause difficulty breathing, pain and cancer.
Workers who were exposed to large amounts of asbestos over time have a significantly increased risk of developing a number of different cancers, including lung and colon, testicular and ovarian. They also have a considerable mesothelioma risk.
According to WebMD, “Mesothelioma is cancer of the mesothelium, a protective membrane that lines most of the body’s internal organs. Three out of every four cases of mesothelioma disease begin in the pleural mesothelium of the chest cavity. Mesothelioma can also begin in the abdominal cavity and around the heart.”
Burden of Proof for Mesothelioma Lawsuits
In order to win a mesothelioma lawsuit, you must prove that
- a) you were exposed to asbestos
- b) you have developed mesothelioma as a result
- c) this has resulted in measurable financial and emotional harms
The good news is, if you have an official disease diagnosis, this won’t prove difficult.
Class Action Lawsuits: A Way of the Past
Formerly, mesothelioma victims banded together in class action lawsuits. This is when large groups of people gather together to bring a lawsuit against a particular entity. Then, when a settlement is approved, the plaintiffs split it.
Class action lawsuits prove difficult in many situations, however. For one thing, the plaintiffs can’t always agree, which can hold up the process and make it so no one gets paid. For another, victims may have different symptoms or life circumstances. Since the settlement is for everyone or no one, this can pose problems with resolving the case.
That’s not to say there are no options for class action lawsuits, however. Many states do have active class actions in specified areas, and you might be able to join one that is already in progress. In fact, most are “opt out,” which means if you qualify, you have to specifically say you don’t want to be a part of it, which is necessary if you want to bring a personal injury or wrongful death suit – oftentimes the better choice.
Personal Injury Lawsuits
A personal injury case is one in which you claim that the defendant had a right to protect you and did not, and as such, has caused harms for which they owe you compensation.
As the American Bar Association explains, “Every tort claim, regardless of its basis, whether intentional, negligence, or strict liability, has two basic issues—liability and damages. Was the defendant liable for the damages you sustained, and, if so, what is the nature and extent of your damages? If you can prove liability and damages, our system of justice will award you compensation for your loss.”
Wrongful Death Lawsuits
Cornell Law defines a wrongful death suit as “A civil action against someone who can be held liable for a death … Under the common law, a mesothelioma claim for wrongful death had to be brought by the decedent’s survivors (usually close relatives only); modern wrongful death statutes have modified that rule.” That means you don’t necessarily need to be closely related to the decedent in order to bring the suit, though in the vast majority of cases, it is a family member who does so.
Both personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits can result in compensation for medical bills, lost wages and emotional damage, among other harms.
Statute of Limitations
For instance, in the state of Virginia regarding wrongful death lawsuits, the suit must “be brought by the personal representative of the decedent within two years after the death of the injured person.” Most laws in other states of the union are similar. If they vary in time period somewhat, they typically don’t in execution.
That might seem like a stringent timeline, but note that “If any such action is brought within such period of two years after such person’s death and for any cause abates or is dismissed without determining the merits of such action, the time such action is pending shall not be counted as any part of such period of two years and another action may be brought within the remaining period of such two years as if such former action had not been instituted.”
It’s critical, though, that you have an attorney’s guidance in understanding statute of limitations as they vary by state. If you miss the cutoff, you can miss your chance altogether. Conversely, you may think you have missed a cutoff, but because of a botched or improperly examined case, you may still have time.
Filing with Veterans Affairs
In some cases, you don’t need to go to court to get compensation. If you or your loved one served in the military, either for a few tours or for a full career, it’s possible to get compensation from them. You need to prove that exposure occurred while in the service of the military and that you were not dishonorably discharged. While the government has specified disability filing practices in place, you may need help figuring out the paperwork or appealing a decision not in your favor.
Book a Consultation Today
No matter what, it’s smart to book a consultation with an attorney. Mesothelioma cases are difficult and exacting, and you want to get it right. Get in touch with one of our experienced team members today, and let us help you get what you deserve now.
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- Mesothelioma: Causes and Symptoms. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/lung/mesothelioma-causes-and-symptoms#1
- Personal Injury. (ND). Retrieved from https://www.americanbar.org/groups/public_education/resources/law_issues_for_consumers/personalinjury/
- Wrongful Death Action. (ND). Retrieved from https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/wrongful_death_action
- Actions for Wrongful Death; Limitation. (2019). Retrieved from https://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title8.01/chapter4/section8.01-244/
- How to File a VA Disability Claim. (ND). Retrieved from https://www.va.gov/disability/how-to-file-claim/