Asbestos Legal Help Overview
Mesothelioma patients have several avenues to obtain financial compensation and legal assistance. The Mesothelioma Justice Network is home to a full staff of compassionate and knowledgeable legal advocates who are here to help you with your asbestos claim.
Here is what every mesothelioma patient and their families should know about legal compensation for asbestos exposure:
- Asbestos manufacturers have been deemed liable for their negligence in knowingly distributing toxic substances
- All asbestos disease patients may be eligible for legal compensation based on their exposure history
- Patients or their family members can file claims to obtain compensation through asbestos trust funds or lawsuits
- Working with a specialized mesothelioma lawyer can ensure you get the maximum amount of compensation available to you quickly
- Lawyers don’t get paid unless you obtain compensation, and many competent lawyers will travel directly to you
Legal procedures are often overwhelming, complicated and can become discouraging if you’re acting alone. You and your family deserve to be compensated so that you can undergo life-saving treatments at specialized cancer centers.
Asbestos Illness and Death: Who Is at Fault?
After a shocking mesothelioma diagnosis, patients often wonder who is at fault and who will cover their treatment costs. Sadly, there have been hundreds of thousands of families left wondering the same thing.
Because so many individuals have been devastated by asbestos toxicity, there has been an ongoing mass lawsuit against the parties responsible, establishing legal compensation for the victims. The parties at fault are the companies who manufactured, distributed and sold asbestos with full knowledge of the deadly risks caused by their product.
History shows that it has long been known that there are health dangers associated with asbestos. Some reports indicate that by the early 1900s experts were publishing information about asbestos health risks. Nevertheless, it continued to flourish as a highly profitable industry.
Negligent Asbestos Companies
By the 1970s and 80s, it was revealed that many of the asbestos industry’s top companies, including Johns-Manville Corporation, were hiding the truth about asbestos health hazards from their own workers. Instead of deciding to come forward honestly, they chose to cover up the truth, which subsequently led to thousands of deaths and many yet to come.
As the truth about asbestos was unveiled, multiple companies from varied industries found themselves defending their acts. Not only were the asbestos companies themselves found to be negligent, but many separate entities were also found to have colluded with the asbestos companies to help conceal asbestos dangers, including insurance agencies.
As more companies faced massive financial losses as ruled by various courts, dozens of asbestos manufacturers were forced to declare bankruptcy. As part of the resolution, many of these companies placed billions of dollars into trust funds to be accessed by asbestos victims over the coming decades.
Legal Options for Asbestos Victims
It’s important for all asbestos victims to know that they have legal rights to compensation. However, there are differences in each case, including when you were exposed, how you were exposed, who was responsible for your exposure and when you received your diagnosis.
All of these factors will help you and your legal team determine the best avenue for seeking compensation.
Mesothelioma patients have a few options for obtaining compensation including:
- Accessing asbestos bankruptcy trust funds (out of court)
- Filing a lawsuit against the negligent party for personal injury
- Filing a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the deceased victim
- Being awarded compensation through a trial verdict
- Filing for Veterans Affairs benefits
By working with an experienced mesothelioma lawyer, you can determine which legal option is best for you. The best course of action is based on many factors, including the amount of money you can realistically receive and the amount of time it will take to receive the money. To make this legal decision, it’s vital to work a mesothelioma lawyer you can trust.
Many victims of asbestos exposure choose to pursue compensation by filing a claim through one of the dozens of asbestos trust funds. Which asbestos trust fund you file against depends on which of the asbestos manufacturers’ products you encountered during your work history.
Some of the highest asbestos bankruptcy trust funds come from the following companies:
- Owens Corning
- US Gypsum Company
- Babcock and Wilcox Company
- Armstrong World Industries
Currently, there is an estimated $30+ billion in bankruptcy trust funds available for all future asbestos victims not yet diagnosed.
Because they need to ensure there is enough funding available for all future claimants, the funds only pay claimants a percentage of their total claim. Some trusts only pay out claimants a few pennies on the dollar. The median payout from an asbestos trust fund is reported to be around $180,000.
To access bankruptcy trust funds, you need to prove that you have an asbestos-related illness by providing medical records. You’ll also need to provide information about your work history and any possible asbestos exposure to help trust managers determine claim values. Certain diseases and levels of exposure will yield higher claims amounts than others.
An alternative to filing a claim through an asbestos trust fund is to file a personal injury lawsuit against a negligent company.
Lawsuits can only be filed against negligent companies still in operation since bankrupt companies remain under bankruptcy protection to shield them from liabilities.
Depending on your unique case, it may make more financial sense to file a lawsuit against an asbestos company. Lawsuits typically result in larger payouts because the defendants still have the financial means to pay out the higher claims. Additionally, asbestos victims can file lawsuits against multiple companies depending on their exposure history.
The vast majority of lawsuits settle out of court. This means that before going to trial, the defendant (the asbestos company) reaches a deal with the patient for an agreed upon amount. While these amounts remain undisclosed as part of the settlement agreement, many settlements have been around the $1 million mark and some have been significantly higher.
If you are the family member of a loved one who has passed due to mesothelioma or another asbestos-related injury, you can file a wrongful death lawsuit against the company at fault.
If your family member has passed as a result of the negligence of an asbestos company, you are within your right to seek compensation for the damages suffered while your loved one was ill and for damages suffered afterward.
In the case of a wrongful death, it’s vital for families to work with a mesothelioma lawyer. A skilled and specialized attorney can investigate your loved one’s work history and uncover the truth about how and when they were exposed to asbestos.
Based on what the lawyer finds, they will put together a case claiming that your family has suffered significant impact both emotionally and financially.
If you have a loved one who has passed away due to mesothelioma or another asbestos-related injury, contact The Mesothelioma Justice Network today to wor with a Justice Support Team member in your state.
If a settlement is not reached before going to court, then a trial verdict will be reached. When a case goes to trial, a decision will be made either by a judge or a jury. Your lawyer is responsible for preparing you for trial. They’ll also help you decide which type of trial—jury trial or a bench trial with a judge—will give you the best chance of receiving your requested compensation amount.
Going to trial has a higher risk-reward ratio. While it’s riskier to go to trial and have your case heard, it can also result in larger payouts than through settlements. In some cases, a settlement is reached during trial.
Many patients wonder whether they even need a mesothelioma lawyer. The truth is that many patients are simply too ill to handle a claim on their own. And though many people feel uneasy about having to sue a company, it’s essential for patients to know that they are within their rights as victims of asbestos exposure.
Specialized lawyers know mesothelioma cases inside and out, including the intricate details of the law that the average person doesn’t know.
Here are some of the reasons why it’s important to work with a mesothelioma lawyer:
- Investigate Work History: In many cases, the patient cannot remember their complete work history or how and when they may have been exposed to asbestos. A mesothelioma lawyer is an expert investigator who can uncover your work history and determine exactly how your exposure occurred. This helps strengthen your case should you file a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit.
- Experienced in State Law: Each state governs personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits. With each state having their own legal parameters, patients need the expertise of a lawyer who knows how to properly file in any given state. Additionally, lawyers will decide which state to file in based on timeframes and other factors.
- Know the Statute of Limitations: A statute of limitations is the time in which you are legally allowed to file a claim for personal injury. Each state has its own statute of limitations on mesothelioma claims. The average length of time is around 2-3 years.
Because a mesothelioma diagnosis isn’t reached until 10-50 years after exposure, there are special rules around the statute of limitations in these cases.
It’s vital for patients to contact a mesothelioma lawyer as soon as possible after a diagnosis or after the autopsy of a loved one who has passed.
Many patients immediately feel overwhelmed at the idea of a lengthy legal process. Provided you work with a specialized lawyer, mesothelioma cases are relatively straightforward because there have been so many of them to date. The complicated part is going through your work history and determining the scope of your asbestos exposure.
A competent mesothelioma lawyer can help you through the following legal process:
- Hire A Lawyer: Hiring a competent and experienced mesothelioma lawyer is the first step in the legal process. Not all lawyers have equal levels of experience and expertise necessary to tackle a mesothelioma case. It’s essential to work with an attorney who has dedicated their career to asbestos victims in particular. These top mesothelioma attorneys will travel directly to you, so you don’t have to worry about undergoing additional burdens to your health.
- Review Work and Medical History: Your mesothelioma lawyer will then investigate your work history. This is a crucial step. Working with you, your family and your employment records, an investigative attorney can piece together the big picture of your asbestos exposure. This includes when you were exposed, how you were exposed and who was responsible for your exposure. Without solid details of your asbestos exposure history, it can be difficult to win a case.
- Determine Appropriate Legal Course: Once a mesothelioma attorney has uncovered all the details of your asbestos exposure history, they can recommend legal courses of action. An attorney will always present you with what he or she feels will result in the best chance at the highest payout. In some cases, this may only be filing through a trust fund, while in other cases it may mean going to trial against a negligent company.
- Filing a Claim: Once you and your attorney have decided upon the appropriate legal course, your attorney will file your claim on your behalf. Attorneys ensure that all the legal requirements are met when filing a claim. Legal requirements include full work and medical history as well as ensuring the claim is filed within the statute of limitations for that state. Mesothelioma lawyers are also beneficial when there are multiple claims being filed.
- Receiving Compensation: Depending on the legal course of action you take, compensation is awarded after a claim has been reviewed, after a settlement has been agreed to, or a trial verdict has been reached. The length of time it takes to receive payment depends on several factors. Lawyers may ask to have cases expedited especially if your mesothelioma is in an advanced stage. Compensation is typically paid out in installments as opposed to a lump sum. You should discuss your payment preference with your lawyer ahead of time.
If you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma, do not delay in contacting a lawyer. Mesothelioma lawyers do not get paid until compensation is awarded, so there is no financial risk for the patient when hiring a lawyer. Experienced mesothelioma lawyers can be found across the country and many firms will travel directly to you, so you can focus on treatment.