What Are My Mesothelioma Legal Options After a Diagnosis?

American flag In front of courthouse.

Mesothelioma’s only known cause is asbestos exposure. Despite the health risks, asbestos was intentionally mined and used in thousands of different products for several decades—even after manufacturers knew the dangers that asbestos posed. Due to their widespread negligence, you may have several options for legal recourse after receiving a mesothelioma diagnosis.

The best way to determine your legal options is to hire an experienced mesothelioma lawyer who will personally look into your case and advise you based on your work history, diagnosis and numerous other factors that may influence a legal case.

After reviewing your unique case and circumstance, your mesothelioma lawyer may recommend the following mesothelioma legal options:

Asbestos Trust Funds

Asbestos companies and manufacturers of asbestos-containing materials (ACM) exploited their workers for decades, knowingly exposing them and their families to dangerous asbestos fibers. When the legal system caught up to them in the form of massive lawsuits, many of these companies found a loophole: filing for bankruptcy under Section 524 (g) of Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code. After a bankruptcy claim has been accepted and processed, a company no longer has to answer to its outstanding or future lawsuits.

Fortunately, the companies trying to escape the legal system didn’t go completely unscathed. As part of the bankruptcy process, asbestos companies are expected to set aside trust funds to help pay for the existing and future damages caused by the asbestos exposure they are responsible for.

More than 100 companies have set up these trust funds, including:

  • John-Mansville Corporation
  • Babcock and Wilcox
  • Pittsburgh Corning
  • Turner and Newall

Today, mesothelioma patients are able to file claims through these trust funds if their exposure was due to one of the company’s products. Your lawyer will ask you about your history and any specific products you may have worked with to help you access these trust funds.

Personal Injury Lawsuit

Mesothelioma patients may also file personal injury lawsuits to sue companies responsible for their asbestos exposure if the companies are still operating today. Lawsuits can be stressful and overwhelming but mesothelioma lawyers have ample experience fighting asbestos companies.

Most mesothelioma lawsuits are settled outside of court when defendants offer a payout to avoid the hassle of a full trial. These settlements can be upwards of a million dollars, but this isn’t always the case. Therefore, it’s important to work with a lawyer who is familiar with mesothelioma settlements and willing to negotiate on your behalf.

If a settlement isn’t reached, the case will go to trial. This is a risky endeavor, as the outcomes of mesothelioma trials are unpredictable and often unexpected. It’s impossible to know with 100% certainty whether a mesothelioma lawsuit will be won; mesothelioma lawsuits can result in massive payouts, sometimes in the tens or hundreds of millions, or you may walk away with nothing at all.

Personal injury lawsuits for mesothelioma must fall within the statute of limitations, which varies by state and typically ranges from 1 to 3 years after diagnosis. This time passes quickly. If you are considering a mesothelioma lawsuit, reach out to a lawyer as soon as possible to determine your eligibility.

Note that it is possible to be exposed by asbestos from multiple sources. Therefore, your lawyer may pursue both asbestos trust funds and personal injury lawsuits on your behalf.

Wrongful Death

If a mesothelioma patient passes away, his or her family can pursue a wrongful death claim. These cases may result in a payout for the unnecessary loss of life caused by a company’s negligence, including both emotional and financial damages. Wrongful death cases tend to have a short statute of limitations and, therefore, should be filed as soon as possible.

Class Actions Lawsuits

You may have heard about class action lawsuits for mesothelioma victims, typically filed on behalf of numerous people with the same employer. However, mesothelioma has proven to be a complex and unique disease, with many factors impacting a patient, including the specific work performed, and the length and extent of a person’s exposure. Therefore, mesothelioma is not appropriate for class action, as each individual should be assessed and compensated on a case-by-case basis.

Mesothelioma Support Team
Stephanie KiddWritten by:


Stephanie Kidd grew up in a family of civil servants, blue-collar workers, and medical caregivers. Upon graduating Summa Cum Laude from Stetson University, she began her career specializing in worker safety regulations and communications. Now, a proud member of the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA) and Editor-in-Chief of the Mesothelioma Cancer Network, Stephanie serves as a voice for mesothelioma victims and their families.