Since most mesothelioma cases are caused by occupational exposure to asbestos, they may have been prevented had anyone warned the workers about the hazards of this material or provided them with proper safety gear. Therefore, liability can sometimes be attached to diagnoses of asbestos disease.
People who are diagnosed with mesothelioma – which usually claims the lives of patients within two years, if not much sooner – may feel that pursuing a case against the company or companies whose negligence contributed to their disease is worthwhile. Since asbestos awards can sometimes be substantial, it’s understandable that they and their families decide to file suits. If you are among those individuals whose lives have been devastated by a mesothelioma diagnosis, and who want to explore legal options for compensation, it’s important that you do some research and choose the right attorney to handle your case.
Choose a mesothelioma lawyer with whom you feel comfortable working. Asbestos cases can take some time, and you will be in frequent contact with not only your attorney, but also their paralegals, administrative team, and other employees. You will be building a relationship based on trust, understanding and respect.
Find a mesothelioma attorney who has experience in litigating asbestos cancer related cases. Although any lawyer could conceivably help you, these cases can be technical and complicated. You may feel more comfortable if you have someone on your side who really knows the ropes, and who can avoid any hurdles which will be put in place by the defense’s legal team.
Find out how many of your potential mesothelioma attorney’s cases were settled out of court, versus how many actually went to trial. There may be advantages to both approaches; you may be more interested in getting compensation as quickly as possible, in which case a settlement may be the goal. Some people prefer to see their lawsuit go to trial, however, and have it heard in front of a jury, both in order to increase the potential amount of damages, and to “have their day in court.”
Evaluate their track record when choosing a mesothelioma attorney. You want the best possible lawyer for you, that you can find: experience and success may factor into that. However, keep in mind that there are no guarantees in trials and that each case is different. The success of a mesothelioma law firm on a particular case is not an indicator as to how your specific case will end. An attorney that has a solid record of successful trials and settlements may be a clear choice for you, provided that all the other requirements are also met. This does not necessarily mean, however, that a lawyer who has lost cases should be dismissed out of hand. The law is a tricky business, and there are many variables that go into a court case, including the jury, the opposing attorney, and the facts and evidence that are presented. Take a look at the big picture of your attorney’s career, not any one case which he or she has won or lost.
Learn if the attorney will handle the case personally, or has the ability to turn it over to someone else who may be in a better position to handle your case based upon the facts. Some firms are very large, so the resources are there to prosecute your claims to the fullest. Be certain that they assigning cases to smaller teams of attorneys and staff or you may not get the personal service that you thought you would be receiving. This smaller team approach provides the personal touch of the small firm and the powerful resources of a large firm. If the case needs to be filed in a state where your attorney does not practice, it may be in your best interest to be with a larger firm so they can hand over the reins to someone in the firm, or associated with the firm, who is licensed to practice there.
How payment is handled may be another crucial element which should be discussed before you agree to hire an attorney for your mesothelioma lawsuit. As in other personal injury cases, the attorney may agree to take your case on a contingency basis, which simply means that they only get paid on the contingency that they recovery money on your behalf. The attorney’s fees, in this case, are a percentage of the recovery – typically about 40 percent – whether the case goes to trial or is settled out-of-court. Nevertheless, the financial arrangement may be discussed before entering into an agreement. An attorney who is preparing a case may incur many expenses, including but not limited to the costs of travel, research, hiring expert witnesses and acquiring depositions.
Will your claim be a part of a bundled suit, or pursued on an individual level? Since there may be a large number of asbestos-related lawsuits filed in the same court, there is a chance that your claim may be bundled with others for discovery and trial; this is not a class-action lawsuit. Or your lawyer may feel it is more advantageous to pursue your case on an individual level. Again, there are pros and cons to each of these approaches – if your lawyer feels your claim is not as strong as it could be, a bundled suit may help you, while your particularly strong claim may be weakened or strengthened by adding others’ cases to it – and you may want to discuss the options with the attorney before you agree to anything.
Trust your instincts. No matter how good an attorney may look on paper, if you don’t feel that they are the right attorney to handle your mesothelioma case, you can move on and find someone with whom you can build a strong working relationship.