Dealing with a mesothelioma diagnosis with your husband is overwhelming and heartbreaking. First, you need to make sure they are getting the best possible care and treatments. But some aspects can get overlooked, such as what to do financially after the loved one is gone, is often an afterthought.
After he dies, there will be left over medical bills, funeral expenses, not to mention a lot of emotional pain on your part. Before your husband passes away, it is smart to think about eventually filing a wrongful death mesothelioma lawsuit.
It is important to plan ahead for such a legal action. Postponing the legal and financial aspects of the mesothelioma diagnosis is a big mistake. The amount of time that you can wait to file a wrongful death lawsuit is usually one to four years after the person dies.
Claims of the Deceased Are Now Part of the Estate
If your husband filed a mesothelioma personal injury lawsuit before he died, the legal process can get complex. When your husband was alive, he would have received compensation through a personal injury action or through an asbestos trust fund.
But if he dies during the personal injury suit, the claim for your husband then because part of the estate. Legal decisions now fall to the estate representative. This is usually the surviving spouse or child, but it does not have to be a blood relative.
The estate representative to continue with the legal action is decided in these ways:
- A friend or family member was named by the person who passed away
- If no one was so appointed, the court will appoint one
It is the estate representative who eventually decides if and how to pursue the claim for the deceased.
How a Claim Changes If Husband Dies
If your husband filed a personal injury suit against a company who exposed him to asbestos, potential awards from that claim will now go to the estate. They can but split in several ways. It is similar to how a will splits the estate assets with family members.
The damages awarded in this case are usually less as well. That is because when your husband was alive, it was likely that he had high medical bills and many other expenses, including pain and suffering. But if he dies, those aspects of the claim are no longer present.
Also, winning a claim after the death of your husband could be more complicated:
- History of exposure to asbestos could be harder to prove
- The husband is no longer alive to attest to his exposure and injuries
- Finding evidence without your husband could be more difficult to find, such as work records, medical records and other important documents
- It can be harder to find witnesses, including former co-workers who can testify about your husband’s exposure
Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
If no legal action was undertaken by your husband before he died, you can file a wrongful death lawsuit for the estate. This type of lawsuit can offset the costs of medical bills, funeral costs and loss of income. The rules of how can file a mesothelioma wrongful death lawsuit vary by each state. But it usually needs to be someone who was close to the deceased and not a mere acquaintance or an estranged member of the family.
Some of the people who can file a wrongful death lawsuit for the deceased are:
- Spouse or partner
- Children; this includes adopted children or step children
- Parents or grandparents
- A person who was financially dependent on your husband
Process for Wrongful Death Lawsuit
The legal process for a mesothelioma wrongful death lawsuit is very much like a personal injury claim. The first step usually includes a lot of research by an asbestos lawyer. He will usually interview people who knew your husband.
This investigative work includes compiling an asbestos exposure history for your husband. It is essential for the success of the case to determine when and where the asbestos exposure occurred.
As with a personal injury lawsuit where the plaintiff dies during the legal process, a wrongful death claim can be harder to prove because your husband died and is no longer a resource.
It is up to the plaintiff in the wrongful death action and their attorney to try to find co-workers and various other witnesses that can testify about the asbestos exposure your husband suffered.
Your mesothelioma attorney will be an excellent resource, as he will be familiar with companies that used the deadly substance and can do much research to find the company or companies responsible.
Laws vary by state, so your attorney can determine the best state in which to file the claim. If your husband worked in several states during his career, the claim often is not restricted to the state where he resided or resided for the longest period of time.
Some states have laws that find companies liable for second hand asbestos exposure. Tiny asbestos fibers can attach to clothing, shoes, hair or skin on your husband as he worked around the mineral. This could lead to exposure to others to the deadly substance. It is common for firefighters, construction workers, railroad workers and mechanics to bring home asbestos on their clothes and bodies and expose their loved ones. Your attorney can help you to determine if a secondhand exposure lawsuit is possible.
A wrongful death lawsuit usually ends in one of these ways: A verdict at the end of a trial or a settlement. Most mesothelioma wrongful death actions end in a settlement.
Other Aspects of a Mesothelioma Wrongful Death Claim
The goal of filing this legal action on behalf of your deceased husband is to prove that an asbestos company was negligent and is responsible for his death. For almost a century, asbestos was used often in construction and manufacturing. Many companies know in the 1920s that the substance was dangerous but continued to expose workers to the mineral.
A key aspect of a successful wrongful death claim is to show that the death of your husband has had a major impact on the family. This could be proven financially, emotionally and other ways.
Be Aware of Mesothelioma Statute of Limitations
Mesothelioma has a long latency period. This means it can take up to 50 years for the symptoms and diagnosis to occur. These latency periods are a major factor in how the statute of limitations is applied. These statutes are different in each state. So the amount of time you have to file the claim depends upon the state where the claim was filed. Usually the statutes range from one to four years from the date of diagnosis, or from the date your husband died.
Importance of Gathering Evidence Before Your Husband Dies
Many wrongful death lawsuits fail because the loved ones cannot compile the evidence needed to prove negligence on the part of the asbestos company. Before your husband dies, both of you should document:
- Husband’s work history, such as the dates he spent at each job and where that job was located
- A list of co-workers who worked with him
- Specifics of the occupation, such as tasks that put him at risk of exposure
- Machines or materials he worked around that may have exposed him to asbestos
It is important to contact a qualified mesothelioma attorney as soon as possible when your husband is diagnosed with mesothelioma. He can start to work with your husband to collect this vital information with his help before he dies. The success of the wrongful death lawsuit could depend upon doing extensive research with your husband before he passes away.
Get Mesothelioma Legal Help
With over $30 billion available for victims through the Asbestos Trust Funds, you could be entitled to financial compensations without ever filing a lawsuit? Mesothelioma & Lung Cancer victims qualify immediately. Complete the form or call us toll free (800) 352-0871