What Are My Asbestos Legal Options After a Disease Diagnosis?
After receiving a diagnosis of an asbestos-related disease, you have a couple of main asbestos legal options for financial compensation.
One option is to file a personal injury lawsuit, suing the negligent companies that exposed you to asbestos. Most asbestos lawsuits—about 95% of them—are settled out of court. In a settlement, the parties you are suing will agree to pay you a sum of money instead of going to trial.
You can also file an asbestos trust fund claim to access compensation from companies that have claimed bankruptcy. These trust funds are set up by the bankruptcy courts and administered by a trustee. The funds are allocated to eligible victims and their families.
Currently, court-ordered asbestos trusts have over $30 billion available for current and future victims to claim.
Who Is Responsible for My Asbestos Exposure?
The most common sources of asbestos exposure are manufacturers of asbestos-containing products and companies selling products that contain asbestos—known as asbestos-containing materials (ACM). If organizations knowingly exposed someone to asbestos, they can be held responsible.
Certain occupations put people at a much higher risk of asbestos exposure, including:
- Industrial jobs
- Military occupations
If you worked in any of these occupations, you may have been exposed to asbestos. It is estimated that over 27 million workers were exposed to asbestos between 1949 and 1979.
Who Will I be Suing?
Anyone who developed an asbestos-related disease after being on a worksite that used asbestos has a right to compensation. To file a legal claim, you must have a diagnosis of an asbestos-related disease, such as mesothelioma. You cannot receive compensation just for being exposed to asbestos.
Typically, victims of asbestos exposure do not make claims against employers. In many cases, your employer was not warned of the dangers of asbestos either. Claims are generally made against companies that exposed the worker to its asbestos-containing products. In most states, you cannot sue your employer for injuries. Instead, you are limited to claims under the Workers’ Compensation law.
Can I Seek Compensation from a Bankrupt Company?
Many companies that were once defendants in asbestos litigation declared bankruptcy in an attempt to avoid being held responsible for injuring thousands with their asbestos-containing products. If the bankruptcy courts found that these companies had money, the bankrupt companies were ordered to establish a trust to benefit all those who became ill after using their products.
Many companies did this, so now they cannot be sued. However, you can gain access to trust funds by filing a trust fund claim. Although this is faster and easier than filing a lawsuit, you will still have to meet certain criteria to get access to trust funds. You will have to identify which asbestos-containing products you were exposed to and make a claim with the trust now responsible. An asbestos attorney can greatly help with this process.
Currently, more than 50 companies have set money aside in court-ordered trust funds. Depending on your situation, you may be able to seek compensation from multiple trust funds.
Compensation for treatment, loss of income and other damages is available through Asbestos Trust Funds. Patients with mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses may qualify.
Can I File a Lawsuit for Someone Who Has Passed Away?
In some cases, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit for someone who has died as a result of asbestos-related disease from asbestos exposure. People who represent the deceased, such as their spouse or children, are sometimes the ones to file a wrongful death suit. However, this is only true if the surviving family member has been appointed by the court to sue on behalf of the deceased.
After a review of your potential claim, an asbestos attorney should be able to assist in getting you or someone else appointed to represent the estate if this has not been done already.
Just as with a personal injury lawsuit, you must provide the following evidence to support your wrongful death lawsuit:
- Proof that the deceased was exposed to asbestos and died due to a related illness caused by asbestos-containing products
- Proof that the defendant should have known that their products or workplace put people at risk of asbestos exposure
The victim’s estate will have a claim even if their heirs did not suffer financially or emotionally. Their loss of life, medical bills and pain and suffering are enough to warrant a legal claim.
How Can I Prove I Was Exposed to Asbestos?
Ultimately, it must be proven that the victim’s disease was caused by asbestos contained in specific products manufactured by the defendants. Since asbestos-related illnesses can take 10 to 50 years to show up, proving that you were exposed to asbestos can be difficult. This is why it’s important to hire an asbestos attorney to work on your behalf to prove you were exposed to asbestos. An experienced lawyer will conduct thorough research and collect the proof you need to support your lawsuit or trust fund claim.
To prove your illness, you will need to provide medical records detailing your disease symptoms and diagnosis. To prove where you were exposed to asbestos, you can use your memory, employment records, and coworker testimony. Your lawyer will collect information on the asbestos-containing products used by the company and others working around you, as well as the product manufacturers.
What Is the Process for Filing an Asbestos Lawsuit?
The best way to file an asbestos lawsuit is to find an experienced lawyer to handle your case. Your attorney will conduct careful research to ensure you have enough evidence to support your lawsuit.
Then, your lawyer will create and file a legal claim that outlines exactly what the defendants did to cause harm and what you’re seeking in return. The defendants then have a set timeframe to respond to your complaint. After this, the case may end in a settlement or go to trial.
How Much Do Asbestos Lawsuit Settlements Pay?
Mesothelioma lawsuit settlements typically pay approximately $1 million, and this varies case-by-case.
How much you get from a settlement depends on the nature of your particular illness and how it affected your life. Many factors are considered, including the extent of wages you lost to your illness, your medical expenses and your degree of suffering. People with mesothelioma tend to receive the highest compensation amounts compared to other asbestos disease diagnoses, such as asbestosis.
How Long Do I Have to File a Mesothelioma Lawsuit?
The length of time you have to file a lawsuit after discovering your disease is called the statute of limitations. For most states, the statute of limitations is between 1 and 5 years. Some states allow 6 years. Loved ones who wish to file a wrongful death claim tend to have between 1 and 3 years following the death to do this. This also depends on your state laws.
To determine the date or event from which to measure how long you have to file a claim, you should speak with an asbestos attorney. Only a lawyer with all the facts can answer this question. This is true for personal injury lawsuits and wrongful death claims.
Mesothelioma is a complex disease. If you’ve been diagnosed, the Mesothelioma Justice Guide will help you understand your treatment options and how to improve your prognosis.
How Long Does it Take to Get Compensation?
Most asbestos lawsuits are settled out of court. This means that neither side has to risk an unfavorable trial result. When it comes to settled cases, you may get your money within a year of filing the lawsuit.
It should be noted that cases often involve multiple defendants. Some defendants may choose to settle early, while others may wait until the eve of the trial. In rare cases, they may even choose to take a chance and try the case. Therefore, your settlement money can come at different times. You may receive some money right away, more a little later, then the bulk of it near your trial date.
Since you will likely get the majority of your compensation near your trial date, how quickly you are able to get a trial date is important. This is where a national asbestos firm comes in.
Some states have courts and/or judges dedicated to hearing asbestos cases. Further, some states also have rules or laws that require asbestos cases to be heard quickly.
If you have choices regarding where your case can be filed, a national asbestos lawyer will file in the court that is best for you. They will be licensed to file anywhere and will not be limited to only one location.
An experienced asbestos attorney understands that victims have limited time and can navigate these complex cases efficiently.
Is Asbestos Still Legal?
The first information on the danger of asbestos surfaced in the 1960s. However, the companies using asbestos in their products knew long before then and hid it from the public to protect their profits. In 1970, the EPA listed asbestos as a toxic substance. Finally, in the 1980s, civil litigation began as the public became aware of the real dangers of asbestos exposure.
Currently, asbestos is still legal. Although there are laws to control asbestos use, asbestos has not been banned in the U.S. Most laws and regulations surrounding the asbestos industry have to do with safe-handling.
However, some individual asbestos products have been banned, including:
- Flooring and roofing felt
- Pipe insulation
Today, asbestos litigation is the largest and longest-running mass tort in U.S. history.
What Kind of Lawyer Should I Hire?
Choose a national law firm that is highly experienced in mesothelioma and asbestos cases to help you review your asbestos legal options. Asbestos litigation comes with special rules and procedures. General personal injury lawyers may not have the experience or knowledge they need to handle these complex cases.
Experienced law firms with a national presence are equipped with the skills, resources and knowledge needed to build a successful case and get you the justice you deserve.
With vast experience handling mesothelioma cases, we fight on behalf of patients, demanding justice from negligent asbestos companies.
Contact a Mesothelioma Lawyer Today
If you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma, contact the Mesothelioma Justice Network today for more information on asbestos legal options. We can direct you to a law firm with over 40 years of handling mesothelioma cases. Our Justice Support Team fights for mesothelioma victims, getting them the justice they may be entitled to.
Get a free legal case review today to learn more about your asbestos legal options after a mesothelioma diagnosis. Call us today at (888) 360-4215 or receive your FREE Mesothelioma Justice Guide—a comprehensive resource that will explain your legal rights and help you better understand your disease and diagnosis.