Lawyer and Legal Help for Patients and Victims of Mesothelioma and Asbestos
Why File a Mesothelioma Claim?
There are several reasons to file a mesothelioma claim. The first is that medical treatment can be costly, and if your condition is the result of an employer or other persons knowingly exposing you to a dangerous substance, you shouldn’t have to bear those costs. A severe medical condition can affect several other aspects of your life as well, such as your ability to earn a living wage, or even your ability to go out and enjoy everyday activities with friends and family. These costs must also be taken into account when deciding to file a claim. Finally, filing a claim can force a company with inadequate safety practices to create new and better ones to make sure it doesn’t repeat the same mistakes down the road. By pursuing a claim, you could literally save someone else’s life.
Mesothelioma and the Law: Your Rights
Asbestos-related litigation inside the United States has a history stretching back to the 1920s, and the courts have long determined that companies may be held liable if their practices caused someone to develop mesothelioma. Filing a mesothelioma claim is your right.
Are Mesothelioma Claims Common?
James R. Copland, a senior fellow and director of Legal Policy at the Manhattan Institute, called asbestos-related cases, “the longest running tort in American history.” While the exact number of asbestos-related claims filed in any given year can be hard to come by, the total number of claimants has been determined to be as many as 700,000. Suffice it to say, you’re not alone.
Who Do I File a Mesothelioma Claim Against?
In many cases, you’ll be filing a claim against a present or past employer that required you to work around asbestos without proper protection, or without explaining the danger involved. In other cases, you’ll be filing a claim against a manufacturer that sold asbestos or used it in their products without alerting their customers. Organizations such as schools can also be held responsible for allowing students and faculty in an environment in which asbestos was constantly present.
Understanding the Mesothelioma Claims Process
Filing a mesothelioma claim is your way of letting those you believe to be responsible for your condition that you’ve found a problem, and are using legal means to receive the justice you deserve. This often comes in the form of compensation. There are two types of claims you can file:
Personal Injury claims: These are filed whenever an individual is seeking compensation for physical or emotional injuries. In cases where the victim is unable to file the claim themselves, another authorized individual, such as a family member or a lawyer, can do it for them.
Wrongful Death claims: These claims are filed by the victim’s family or estate whenever the victim has died as a result of mesothelioma.
What does the process look like?
All claims begin with a document called a “complaint” or a “petition.” This document is basically a summary of your case against the defendant. It will describe who is involved and why the claim is being filed. After this document has been sent, more documents will be sent between you (the plaintiff), the defendant, and the court where the case is filed. This process can become complicated. Having a lawyer that is prepared for these possibilities and can guide you through the process is essential.
After the complaint has been filed, those involved will be required to produce any and all information that could be relevant to the claim. This process is known as “discovery.” This information will take the form of written testimony, documents, and recorded depositions. A lawyer can only be as good as the information he or she is working with, so it’s important to be as honest as possible during this process.
After discovery has been completed, your claim could take a few different turns. The defendant could choose not to dispute the facts of the case, and the court could enter what’s known as a summary judgment. These are handed down when it’s determined that there’s no need for a trial, because the facts of the case are clear. It’s possible the defendant will choose not to dispute the facts of the case because they believe them to show their innocence. The court may share this view, so summary judgment could go for or against you.
If the facts of the case are being disputed, the defendant will often choose to settle a claim before it goes to trial. This decision is made based on several factors, but mainly how strong the defendant believes your claim to be. If a claim is settled out of court, your lawyer will work with the defendants to arrive at the amount of compensation you will receive.
While many cases are settled out of court, others go to trial. If this happens to you, your case will be presented in front of a jury, and the jurors will ultimately decide if the defendant is liable, and if so, the amount of compensation you’re owed.
What Amount of Compensation Can I Expect from a Mesothelioma Claim?
The compensation resulting from a mesothelioma claim depends on several factors, and you should always be wary of any lawyer who promises you an exact dollar amount. Factors such as the victim’s medical history, and how and where the asbestos exposure occurred will be taken in account when determining compensation. Other factors — such as lost wages and a victim’s past, present, and future medical expenses — will also be considered. If a wrongful death claim has been filed, factors such as funeral costs, and even a child’s loss of financial support from a deceased parent will be considered.
If the defendant chooses to settle, or is found liable in a jury trial, the victim will often be asked to sign a confidentiality agreement, which will keep them from disclosing the exact amount of compensation they received. While every case is unique, past compensation amounts that have been reported have sometimes reached into the millions.
Who Can File a Mesothelioma Claim?
Mesothelioma claims are typically filed by the individual who has been diagnosed with the disease. If that person is too ill to file the claim him- or herself, an authorized family member can file instead. If an individual has died as a result of mesothelioma, then the claim is filed by the victim’s family.
Mesothelioma Claims for Veterans
Many of those who served in the Armed Forces were exposed to asbestos during their service, and are now eligible to receive disability compensation through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Those filing a mesothelioma VA disability claim will need to meet certain eligibility requirements. In addition, those filing claims must prove that their exposure to asbestos took place during their military service, and that they developed mesothelioma as a result.
Many veterans have questions about mesothelioma VA Pension claims. Wartime veterans meeting minimum service requirements may also be eligible for a VA Pension. The exact amount of your pension will be determined by your yearly income. Unlike disability compensation, veterans do not need to prove that their mesothelioma was a result of their military service to receive a VA Pension.
Supplements to your disability compensation and your pension are also available should you require nursing care, or if your condition is so severe you’re unable to leave your home.
When Should I File a Mesothelioma Claim?
The short answer is as soon as possible. Each state sets mesothelioma claim time limits – known as the statute of limitations – which restrict the amount of time after being diagnosed that a person has to file a lawsuit. If you fail to file a claim inside your state’s statute, you can lose your legal claim to compensation. In most states, the statute of limitations is two years from the time of diagnosis or two to three years from the time of death. Keep in mind that you may need to adhere to the statute in the state where you were exposed to asbestos, or where the responsible parties are located.
Where Do I File A Mesothelioma Claim?
In many cases, you’ll file your claim in the state in which you live. However, it’s possible your claim will need to be filed either in the state where the asbestos exposure occurred, or where the responsible parties are located. An experienced mesothelioma lawyer can help make sure that your claim is filed correctly.
How Long Does a Mesothelioma Claim Take?
The duration of any personal injury or wrongful death claim is hard to predict, but due to the severity of mesothelioma, courts will sometimes expedite these cases so that they only last a few months. In some cases, a claim will take years before it’s resolved.
How to File a Mesothelioma Claim
Your first step should be to schedule a mesothelioma claims consultation with a lawyer who has a long history not only dealing with, but winning mesothelioma cases. Many lawyers will take on cases out of state. If they don’t, law firms will typically keep a strong network of professional contacts and can refer you to someone who can help.
Hiring an experienced mesothelioma lawyer is incredibly important. Most people have no experience with mesothelioma claims. However, there’s a very good chance those you’ll be filing your claim against do. Mesothelioma claims have left several companies bankrupt, and the defendant in your case will work hard to keep anything similar from happening to them. An experienced mesothelioma lawyer will fight for you and get you the compensation you deserve.