Litigating mesothelioma cases falls under a highly specialized law area. Mesothelioma is a fatal form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos fibers. There is no other known cause of mesothelioma and no known cure. Once mesothelioma is diagnosed, it’s usually at an advanced stage. As a result, many patients look for a lawyer specializing in mesothelioma cases to seek due compensation.
Mesothelioma and Asbestos Litigation
Laws pertaining to asbestos-related diseases are complex and numerous. This legal field is not like regular personal injury litigation. An entire legal industry developed in the past four decades after the facts regarding how dangerous and deadly asbestos exposure truly was.
Did you know? Asbestos litigation is the largest and longest-running tort in American civil law history. More cases of asbestos claims have been filed in United States courts than any other legal issue.
What is a Mesothelioma Lawyer?
Many lawyers specialize in practicing civil law as opposed to other legal branches such as criminal, contract, and domestic work. It takes years to learn how asbestos-related cases unfold and what case law precedents are established. It also takes a specialized law firm to have a network of resources on hand to investigate asbestos-related disease complaints like mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma law firms have established extensive databases to store information on which asbestos-producing companies have been previously held liable for negligent wrongdoing. It’s this collection of knowledge that makes mesothelioma attorneys a key ally to all asbestos victims.
Mesothelioma lawyers also have intensive lists of products that contain asbestos and what workplaces were high-risk sites for asbestos exposure. High-risk work-sites include U.S. military bases, vessels, vehicles and barracks. They also encompass civilian workplaces like construction sites.
Legal specialists also know how to litigate and obtain proper compensation for each main source of compensation funds.
Legal compensation options include:
- Personal injury lawsuits
- Wrongful death lawsuits
- Asbestos bankruptcy trust funds
- Workers compensation
- Veterans Affairs benefits
Mesothelioma lawyers also have extensive knowledge about the medical side of mesothelioma. Lawyers need to have an understanding of their clients’ diagnoses in order to build a complete case. Many law firms practicing mesothelioma litigation have medical specialists on staff or professionals on retainer to give expert evidence on their clients’ individual circumstances.
Mesothelioma Lawyers Know Legal Requirements
The most important step a patient diagnosed with mesothelioma can take is immediately contacting a lawyer who specializes in mesothelioma cases. Mesothelioma litigation is extremely time-sensitive. The prognosis for survival in mesothelioma cases is poor, especially when diagnosed at an advanced stage.
Life expectancy dramatically decreases as mesothelioma spreads. Often, there are only months left between learning about having the disease and succumbing to it. This leaves little time for a lawyer to prepare, file, litigate and settle a mesothelioma claim.
There is another reason for urgency in litigating mesothelioma cases. Statutes of limitations govern the amount of time someone diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease has to file a legal claim. Each state has laws referring to the limitation of actions, meaning there is a definite window of time between a mesothelioma diagnosis and the launch of legal action.
Filing a formal complaint in court triggers the legal procedure. Some states only allow one year from diagnosis to filing before disallowing a claim. Other states are more lenient with some extending the statute of limitations as far as 5 or 6 years.
It’s vital to choose the right law firm that has the lifting power to evaluate a case, investigate it, determine the proper action course and begin litigation in such a short time. Remember, it’s the date of diagnosis that starts the limitation clock running. It’s not the date of the first lawyer appointment. This is not the time to contact a general law firm that does not handle asbestos-related cases full-time.
Working With a Mesothelioma Lawyer
An experienced attorney who specializes in mesothelioma litigation will be prepared and proactive. They’ll be attuned to evaluating each case on its particular facts and know how this individual situation compares to previous successful cases.
Working with a mesothelioma lawyer follows this path:
- Evaluation: The first thing an experienced mesothelioma lawyer does is evaluate a new case. That includes the type of disease, the stage it’s in, the prognosis for survival and how the medical evidence supports the illness was caused by asbestos exposure. A client’s medical and work history will be documented as well as known places and products where asbestos was present. It also identifies any parties who may have been negligent in contributing to a client’s situation. This review establishes how strong a case is, it also assesses what type of action to take and what value the compensation should be.
- Investigation: In litigating a mesothelioma case, an attorney conducts an in-depth investigation into all case facts as well as how the current law in that jurisdiction applies. Law firms specializing in mesothelioma litigation have a team of investigators at their disposal to uncover evidence supporting the disease was directly related to asbestos exposure at particular locations. They also identify and prove a certain party or parties were responsible by way of negligent, deceitful or otherwise wrongful acts.
Based on your diagnosis and asbestos-exposure history, an experienced mesothelioma will be able to recommend the best course of legal action and the value of compensation you should seek:
- Placement: Once facts are gathered, a mesothelioma lawyer will know where to place the claim for compensation. Strong cases with clearly identifiable defendants will have lawsuit complaints lodged in court. A lengthy legal process of discovery, motions, trial and verdict follows. Most of the time, lawsuits result in negotiated settlements out of court. If civil court action and settlement aren’t the best resort, attorneys might place claims on bankruptcy trust funds. The other claim placement is with agencies like the Department of Veterans Affairs or a state-administered workers compensation insurance plan.
- Settlement: Mesothelioma lawyers work in their clients’ best interest. Ultimately, attorneys aim for a sufficient settlement to cover patient medical expenses, lost income, dependent assistance and compensation for pain and suffering. Occasionally, lawyers seek punitive damages but this must be court-approved. Experienced mesothelioma lawyers know that the timeframe is short and valuable for clients. These specialized legal experts also know the stress that mesothelioma patients and their families suffer. A speedy settlement is the best assistance lawyers can offer.
Choosing a Mesothelioma Lawyer
There are many factors to consider when choosing a mesothelioma lawyer. Most important of all is that they specialize in mesothelioma cases. These are complicated and sensitive litigations requiring the full-time attention of the lawyer and support staff. Communication is also vital as clients must be informed at every step in the process.
If you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma, it’s important to know about your legal rights. Contact our Patient Advocates today to find out more about your diagnosis and how you may have been exposed to asbestos.