Mesothelioma Lawsuit Timeline
Generally speaking, most mesothelioma lawsuits follow a similar timeline. Get a step-by-step breakdown of the process below.
1. Case Evaluation
Before filing a lawsuit, your legal team will conduct a case evaluation, which determines when, where, and how you were exposed to asbestos and which manufacturers may be responsible.
Evidence gathered during this process may include:
- Employment history and related documents
- Medical records that confirm your mesothelioma diagnosis
- Military service records
- Which asbestos-containing products you used
- Witness statements
This preliminary evidence is strong enough, then it may be possible to file a lawsuit.
2. Filing the Lawsuit
After your lawyer has collected the evidence they need, they will start to take action against the manufacturers that may have harmed you.
In some cases, they may send the manufacturers a demand letter, which requests compensation without formally filing a lawsuit.
Did You Know?
If the demand letter is rejected, your lawyer will file the lawsuit in a court system that best suits your case.
Some courts may be more favorable to mesothelioma lawsuits than others, allowing victims to maximize their case’s value and receive compensation quicker.
The complaint explains how the defendants may have exposed you to asbestos and why you need compensation.
3. Defendant Response
Once the lawsuit is received by the court and processed, the defendants will be notified. The defendants then have a set time limit — generally 30 days or less — to respond.
Once the defendants have responded, they can either agree to pay the victims or refuse.
If the defendants refuse, both legal teams will start or continue gathering evidence to build their cases.
4. Discovery Phase
The discovery process allows both legal teams to build the strongest cases they can with the evidence available.
During the discovery process, legal teams collect documents, photos, and historical records from the opposing side. The plaintiff’s team will want to prove that the defendants had asbestos in their products.
Lawyers may also call witnesses to give testimony under oath through depositions. The victims must provide answers to written interrogatories (questions).
5. Pre-Trial Settlements
As a lawsuit progresses, the lawyers representing both sides may try to reach an out-of-court settlement to avoid a trial.
Each defendant named in a lawsuit will communicate with your lawyer to settle the case brought against them individually.
Most Mesothelioma Lawsuits Settle
Over 95% of mesothelioma lawsuits reach a negotiated settlement instead of going to trial, as most lawyers prefer settlements to trials.
Settlements are typically preferred because they allow the lawsuit to come to a quick and definitive end. Once you receive compensation, the case is over.
Another benefit of settlements is that they award money faster. In most cases, you can expect to start receiving money from a settlement in under a year’s time.
Settlements can happen at almost any stage of a mesothelioma lawsuit. Yet while some defendants may decide to settle early on, most will settle right before a trial is set to begin.
6. Motion Phase
If a settlement is not reached, the lawyers for both parties can file motions to take action on the case.
Lawyers can file motions for a number of different reasons, including to dismiss the case or to reach a conclusion through summary judgment.
Through a motion for summary judgment, the judge decides the case without having it go to trial.
If the summary judgment fails, the case then goes to trial unless both parties can reach a settlement.
7. Trial Process
During an asbestos trial, both legal teams present their cases before a judge and jury. The jury then decides the winner.
Although a jury trial could get you more compensation, trials are often unfavorable when compared to settlements for a number of reasons.
Learn more about these reasons below.
Unless you have received money from other defendants already, trials are nothing but risk. If you lose at a trial, you won’t receive compensation unless you take further legal action.
Time and Energy
If you’re healthy enough, you may have to appear in court during a trial when you could be recuperating at home or in a hospital or spending time with family.
Trials can add more legal fees to your case, and money from a trial will be used to pay them. You may wind up with less money from a trial than through a settlement due to these added expenses.
Even worse, many trials don’t end with a verdict. Even if you win the case, the defendant may file a “motion of reconsideration” to re-examine the case or reduce the overall verdict amount.
After a trial verdict has been reached, the losing side may be able to appeal the decision. Through a mesothelioma lawsuit verdict appeal, a higher court is asked to review the decision and issue a new verdict.
Did You Know?
While an appeal may turn your loss into a win, it can also do the opposite. Appeals can also add more time to a case and prevent you from quickly receiving compensation.
Another drawback of the appeals process is that it is very expensive.
For example, just getting an official transcript of the original trial can cost tens of thousands of dollars, which may come out of the overall verdict award.
For these reasons, most lawyers will work to settle a mesothelioma lawsuit before a trial can take place.