Asbestos Lawsuits

Negligent companies exposed innocent victims to asbestos, causing them to develop severe and fatal illnesses like mesothelioma. Victims can hold companies accountable by filing lawsuits against them, potentially earning compensation to pay for expensive treatments and other associated costs. Asbestos lawsuits are complicated process best handled by experienced mesothelioma attorneys.

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What Is an Asbestos Lawsuit?

An asbestos lawsuit is a type of dispute against a company in the civil court of law. The asbestos victim (the plaintiff) seeks financial compensation from companies (the defendants) for injuries caused by asbestos exposure. The goal is to hold negligent companies accountable for causing asbestos-related diseases like mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis and pleural disorders.

If you or a loved one developed an asbestos-related disease after being exposed to asbestos, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the companies responsible.

Filing Asbestos Lawsuits

Your asbestos lawsuit can be successful if you follow the legal system requirements carefully. In most cases, claimants retain competent attorneys from established law firms experienced in asbestos litigation. Navigating the legal waters of an asbestos case is a complicated journey and should not be attempted alone.

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The Asbestos Lawsuit Process

The civil lawsuit process follows a few general steps. Some states have slightly different procedures than others, but every lawsuit starts in the same manner and proceeds along a predictable path until its outcome.

1. Research

Before filing a lawsuit, careful research must be done to evaluate whether or not your suit has a chance of success. An experienced attorney will know how to uncover your history of asbestos exposure and determine the companies responsible for your illness.

Your lawyer will collect as much information as possible to build your case, including:

  • Medical reports
  • Employment history
  • Employment documents
  • Military service records
  • Witness statements

2. Filing

After your lawyer has collected the information needed, they will file a written complaint. A complaint explains the wrongdoing or negligence that caused you to develop mesothelioma. This written document sets out exactly what the defendant did to expose you to asbestos and outlines what remedies you are seeking as compensation.

File within the Statute of Limitations

Each state has a specific timeframe in which people can take legal action, called a statute of limitations. You will need to file your lawsuit before the statute of limitations runs out, which is typically 2-3 years after receiving a diagnosis. Your lawyer will ensure that you file your claim within this period.

3. Response

The defendants formally receive a copy of the complaint document and have a specific period to respond. Often, defendants will point out flaws in the documents or mistakes in the legal process and apply to have the case dismissed before it proceeds. These early steps are referred to as pleadings.

4. Discovery

During discovery, plaintiffs and defendants share the evidence they have to support their claims. Legal teams on either side collect documents, photos and historical records, and may call witnesses to give testimony under oath. Discovery can be a slow process, but the court may accelerate the process for mesothelioma patients.

5. Pre-Trial Settlements

Before the lawsuit goes to trial, the plaintiffs and defendants weigh the evidence against them and determine the best course of action. Each party carefully considers offering an out-of-court settlement. Most defendants and plaintiffs prefer a settlement because it eliminates the risk of an unfavorable trial verdict.

Upwards of 95% of asbestos lawsuits reach a negotiated settlement instead of going to trial.

6. Trial Process

Although most asbestos-related cases never make it to trial, some defendants or plaintiffs decide to take a chance in the courtroom. During an asbestos trial, all evidence is called and cross-examined, and the case is decided by a jury. If the trial verdict finds that the defendant is at fault, the jury will assess compensation for the plaintiff.

While you may be able to get more compensation by winning a trial than accepting a settlement, you receive nothing if you lose.

7. Appeals

Both the defendant and the plaintiff can file an appeal if they disagree with the trial verdict or award. So, even if you win in a trial, the defendant’s legal team may be able to appeal the decision. The appeal courts will deny an appeal unless the defendant’s legal team can show that the trial was not conducted properly.

Settlement vs. Trial

Most mesothelioma lawsuits are settled out of court because it reduces the risk of losing the case for both sides. Going to trial can earn you a much higher payout if you win. However, if you lose your case, you’ll receive nothing.

Lawsuit Compensation Amounts

There is no way to predict precisely how much to expect from a settlement — it depends on the severity of the individual case, the jurisdiction and the type of disease suffered by the complainant. Regardless, compensation amounts for lawsuits tend to be very high.

Winning an asbestos trial typically returns the highest compensation awards to plaintiffs, but settlements also reach significant figures. The average settlement for asbestos cases falls between $1 million and $1.4 million.

Retaining a Law Firm Experienced in Asbestos Lawsuits

To increase your chances of receiving a high compensation amount for your suffering, work with an experienced asbestos law firm. Settlement amounts depend on several factors, like your place and duration of asbestos exposure, exact diagnosis, treatment costs, medical history and lost income.

Experienced asbestos lawyers know how to leverage the details of your illness and exposure history to negotiate with the defendants for higher settlement amounts.

Streamline the Process

Unfortunately, mesothelioma has a bleak prognosis. Because of this, mesothelioma patients need to accelerate the lawsuit process, so they can get the compensation they need quickly. Lawsuits can take years without the help of a good lawyer. Asbestos attorneys at experienced law firms will ensure your case is handled quickly and adequately.

Get the Most Compensation

Local law firms may not have the necessary expertise to handle your case. This can result in compensation payouts that are lower than you deserve. On the other hand, national law firms have the resources and experience needed to win you the highest compensation amounts possible.

Learn Alternatives to Asbestos-Related Lawsuits

Sometimes, asbestos lawyers will recommend pursuing alternative compensation avenues instead of filing a lawsuit. Asbestos litigations are expensive and time-consuming. On top of this, there’s no guarantee that either side will be successful. If your case is weak and the success of a lawsuit is unlikely, your lawyer may suggest an alternative compensation approach.

Your layer may recommend filing an asbestos trust fund claim or exploring compensation through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Access Asbestos Trust Funds

Compensation for treatment, loss of income and other damages are available through Asbestos Trust Funds. Mesothelioma patients exposed to asbestos may qualify.

Find Out If You Qualify

Learn More About Filing a Lawsuit

Filing a lawsuit can be overwhelming for anyone, especially someone suffering from mesothelioma. The lawsuit process can be even more challenging for families who just lost a loved one to an asbestos-related disease.

Personal injury and wrongful death claims come with complicated legal issues that are best handled by a competent lawyer and an experienced asbestos-litigation law firm. Contact our Justice Support Team today for more information on asbestos exposure and your compensation options.

Author:Stephanie Kidd

Editor-in-Chief of the Mesothelioma Justice Network

Stephanie Kidd

Stephanie Kidd works tirelessly as a dedicated advocate for the vulnerable and underrepresented. Stephanie worked as a copywriter for an agency whose focus was communicating safety procedures on construction work sites. With her extensive background in victim advocacy and a dedication to seeing justice done, Stephanie works hard to ensure that all online content is reliable, truthful and helpful.

Last modified: July 1, 2019

View 4 Sources
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  2. Civil Cases. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.uscourts.gov/about-federal-courts/types-cases/civil-cases.
  3. Stephen, C., Hensler, D., Abrahamse, A., Gross, J., White, M., Ashwood, S., & Sloss, E. (2002). Asbestos Litigation Costs and Compensation. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation. Retrieved from https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/documented_briefings/2005/DB397.pdf.
  4. Behrens, M. A. (2009). What’s New in Asbestos Litigation? The Review of Litigation, 28(3), 501-557. Retrieved from https://www.casact.org/education/clrs/2009/handouts/st1behrens.pdf.
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