After you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, it is common to just worry about your health. But if you have been diagnosed with this disease, be aware that it only can be contracted from exposure to asbestos, most commonly at a job site. You should contact an experienced mesothelioma attorney in your state right away.
Mesothelioma is usually a cancer that never should have happened. Many corporations who used or produced asbestos-containing products knew of the dangers and failed to warn their workers. Filing mesothelioma litigation is a way to help people diagnosed with this painful, expensive cancer to get the money they deserve.
A qualified mesothelioma attorney can assist you to decide if you should file a lawsuit and help you through the process. They can help you get the maximum compensation from your lawsuit. Note that most mesothelioma litigation results in settlement before trial.
Major Types of Mesothelioma Lawsuits
The first type of mesothelioma lawsuit is a personal injury claim. If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you can file a lawsuit against the company or companies responsible for the asbestos exposure.
The second type is a wrongful death lawsuit. If the patient files suit but dies before the case is resolved, their loved ones can step in and continue it as a wrongful death action. Family members also can file wrongful death claims on their own. This type of suit can help family members to pay for medical bills, funeral expenses, loss of income, and mental and emotional anguish.
How to Choose a Mesothelioma Lawyer
The first step in successful mesothelioma litigation is to choose an appropriate mesothelioma attorney near you. If you were employed by a large company, it is possible there has been a mesothelioma trust fund set up to pay for medical expenses and other costs of mesothelioma patients. These trust funds are often set up when the company files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
When you are talking to attorneys, be ready with information about where you worked, when, your medical diagnosis, and how long you think you were exposed.
The Mesothelioma Litigation Process
Every case is different, but most mesothelioma lawsuits have certain steps that apply in most of them. Your mesothelioma attorney will handle these steps and should communicate with you along each step of the way.
Your lawyer will collect information from you about your history of asbestos exposure to determine who may be responsible for your condition. They also want this information so they can decide the best place to file suit. You could be eligible to file the case in several jurisdictions.
Your attorney needs to file a written complaint with the court to initiate the litigation process. Your lawyer’s job is to prepare and file this documentation. For the case to go ahead successfully, the complaint must follow certain court rules pertaining to how the document is written and the details about the claim. Your attorney should be familiar with the rules and can use this knowledge to present your asbestos cancer claims in court.
Every defendant to the lawsuit will get a copy of the complaint. They have a certain time period – usually 30 days – to make a response. Because years have probably passed since you were exposed to asbestos, the company could actually be a different company, or could have gone bankrupt. It could take time to locate the people who should be given a copy of the legal complaint.
Your attorney will administer this process. Because of the high stakes involved, defendants in mesothelioma litigation rarely admit negligence. They will usually deny the claim, and say the complaint is invalid, or there was another reason for your asbestos exposure. They could claim that another entity was responsible for your exposure to asbestos. They could even claim your medical condition was not caused by asbestos. Do not be alarmed; this is normal defendant behavior in these cases. Your attorney will provide a detailed answer to each of the responses of the defendant to your complaint.
Lawyers on each side will collect information about the allegations. One side will ask the other side to answer various written questions, provide documents and do depositions, which are statements made under oath. Some of the information eventually becomes evidence to be used at trial. Discovery can take months. But if you are very ill, your lawyer may request the court to increase the speed of the process before you get sicker.
The defense will look for anything that suggests another party or company caused your sickness. They will want information about your past medical history, where you worked and information about your personal hobbies and habits. They also may demand information from loved ones, doctors, co-workers, etc. You usually have to appear in a taped deposition and make a sworn statement. This process involves questions from the defense’s lawyer, and it can take a few hours or days. But it can often be done in your home.
Your lawyer will write up your responses to document requests and any written questions. Your attorney will review the most likely deposition questions ahead of time and help you during the deposition process.
Before there is a trial, the defendant often offers to resolve the litigation by offering you a settlement. If you decline the amount after talking with your attorney, they may make another offer during the trial. Mesothelioma settlements can range from the hundreds of thousands to several million dollars depending upon case circumstances.
If the mesothelioma suit cannot be settled, it will go to trial. The process for the trial depends upon where the claim is filed. Often it is not required for you to show in court. If you prevail and the defendant does not file an appeal, you can usually receive payment within a few months of the trial conclusion.
If you win at trial, do not be surprised if the defendant files an appeal. There is a short time in which to file an appeal – usually 30 to 180 days. This will delay any funds you receive, but the defendant does ned to post bond for the amount that was awarded while the appeal goes on. If the defense loses the appeal, you will begin to receive payments. If they win the appeal, the defendant could end up paying less or nothing. The appeals court usually accepts the facts the trial judge and jury accepted to be true.
Usually the only item the appeals court decides is whether the lower court applied the law properly to the case. If there was any mistake was made that affected the outcome, the appeals court might order a new trial. In some cases, the appeals court will just correct the error and there is no new trial. If your case goes to appeal, your attorney will be able to explain the process to you.
Retain a Mesothelioma Attorney Immediately
As soon as you receive a diagnosis for mesothelioma or another asbestos-related condition, you should retain a qualified attorney immediately. The statute of limitations for filing a claim can range from one to four years from the date of diagnosis. You want to give your attorney and yourself as much time as possible to file your claim.