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Mesothelioma Lawsuits for Asbestos Exposure

Have you been diagnosed with mesothelioma, or do you have a loved one who passed away from this brutal disease? If so, it pays to know your options. 

If you’ve had a mesothelioma diagnosis, you’ve almost certainly been exposed to asbestos at some point. That means you may have a case for an asbestos lawsuit. If you file one and win, you could recover money from the companies that exposed you to this cancer-causing substance. 

An asbestos lawsuit can possibly recover a large amount. But before you decide what to do, you should understand the legal process for a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. Consulting a qualified mesothelioma lawyer from an experienced mesothelioma law firm is vital. Here is a guide for what to expect in the process. 

What is mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is an aggressive disease caused by asbestos exposure. The dangers of asbestos are familiar today. But before the risks were well known, it was widely used in building materials and vehicle brake pads. 

This deadly asbestos-related disease has symptoms similar to lung cancer, and the prognosis for mesothelioma patients is grim. Symptoms include coughing, chest pain, and shortness of breath. 

Because mesothelioma is almost always caused by asbestos exposure, it’s usually the fault of companies that used asbestos products. If these asbestos companies had protected their employees with safeguards against exposure, the mesothelioma cases could have been prevented. 

Mesothelioma lawsuits and other asbestos cases filed in the United States seek to hold these asbestos companies accountable for their negligence.

Types of Mesothelioma Lawsuits

How can I recover money for my or my loved one’s asbestos exposure? 

There are different types of lawsuits for mesothelioma claims. Individual lawsuits take one of two forms. 1) If you’ve been exposed to asbestos yourself, you can file a personal injury lawsuit. 2) If a loved one has died of mesothelioma, you can file a wrongful death lawsuit on their behalf. 

The compensation amount for asbestos claims varies with the conditions of each case.

Asbestos lawsuits: personal injury vs. wrongful death 

There’s a key difference between a personal injury lawsuit and a wrongful death lawsuit. With a personal injury claim, you’re suing a company responsible for exposing you to asbestos. To bring this type of asbestos lawsuit, you must have been diagnosed with mesothelioma yourself. Most likely, you worked in the construction or automotive industry and were exposed to asbestos on the job. 

A wrongful death lawsuit is brought by family members of someone who died from mesothelioma. Wrongful death lawsuits (also called death claims) are typically filed by administrators for the estates of those who have died. In most states, the estate accepts a settlement, and the deceased person’s heirs receive the amount settled upon.  

Mesothelioma multidistrict litigation (MDL) lawsuits

You may have heard of class-action lawsuits, but you probably haven’t heard of MDL lawsuits. Mesothelioma cases are no longer filed as class-action lawsuits. (You can still file a class-action suit. But a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit will more likely win you the damages you seek.) 

However, MDL lawsuits are still an option if you have mesothelioma. These are mass tort cases handled by a special U.S. federal court. The asbestos MDL cases that now reside in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania include more than 180,000 cases.

Asbestos trust funds

You also can recover money through an asbestos trust fund — and often more quickly than you can through a lawsuit. When mesothelioma cases began, some companies filed for bankruptcy to avoid paying. So courts ordered that bankruptcy trust funds be established to pay people who developed illnesses from asbestos exposure.

These trust funds benefit victims of asbestos exposure. They were established by the companies whose negligence led to employees’ or families’ illness. In some cases, multiple companies might be responsible, and you could qualify to receive money from more than one fund.

An experienced mesothelioma lawyer will have a background working with asbestos trust funds. A mesothelioma law firm can assist you with filing the necessary paperwork and negotiating the amount you recover.

Other types of benefits 

There are other forms of mesothelioma compensation through which you can recover money for your asbestos exposure. 

Workers’ compensation cases are an option for mesothelioma victims, but they limit your options. You can only sue your employer through a workers’ comp claim. Because more than one negligent company, manufacturer, or supplier may have been responsible, filing a lawsuit may be a better option. Talk to an asbestos attorney before making a decision.

Also, if you’re a veteran suffering from mesothelioma resulting from asbestos exposure, you may qualify for disability benefits from Veterans Affairs. To qualify, you must have been exposed to asbestos while serving in the military and not received a dishonorable discharge. You may be entitled to health care and compensation payments.  

How long do I have to file a mesothelioma lawsuit?

Under what’s called a statute of limitations, you must bring your lawsuit within a specified period of time. After this time period expires, you’re no longer eligible to file. The statutes of limitations tell you how long you have. If you don’t file your lawsuit within that time, you won’t see any money for your mesothelioma diagnosis.

Typically, mesothelioma lawsuits work under the discovery rule. It says that the statute of limitations begins on the date you discover you have an injury or illness. This can be tricky because mesothelioma can develop up to 40 years after exposure to asbestos. Usually, the date of your diagnosis sets the clock ticking toward the date you’re required to file a lawsuit.

If you or a family member are diagnosed with mesothelioma from exposure to asbestos, you need help. Contact a law firm with mesothelioma experience as soon as possible. The statute of limitations for these cases varies by state. In some states, you have only one (1) year from your date of diagnosis to file a lawsuit. 

What should I look for in a mesothelioma attorney? 

If you’ve gotten mesothelioma from asbestos exposure, you could be entitled to a mesothelioma settlement. But a lot of factors go into how much you might be awarded. The best way to obtain a solid case evaluation is to speak to an experienced mesothelioma attorney in your state.

Look for a mesothelioma attorney with a good reputation and actual jury trial experience. Many attorneys can settle a case, but fewer have experience in taking a case through the trial process. Contact an attorney who can offer you a free consultation on your legal options. Ask if they can take your case on contingency, meaning they’ll only get paid if they secure money for you.

Make sure you find an experienced lawyer from a law firm with a record of handling mesothelioma lawsuits. This is a highly specialized area of law, and you want an attorney and law firm with experience in these cases. 

What can I expect during my mesothelioma lawsuit?

Sometimes, lawsuits can be very simple: If a company decides to settle quickly, you may receive your money relatively soon. But a lawsuit (especially asbestos litigation) can be long and difficult. It could require a lot of work by your legal team before you see any money — if you ever do. These lawsuits can take years, and a jury verdict is never guaranteed. 

A mesothelioma lawsuit begins by filing a document called a complaint, which explains what happened to you (the plaintiff). It details the facts of your case and tells the court what the other side (the defendant) did wrong. The defendant then files a responsive pleading, which is typically an answer.

Your case will then proceed to the discovery phase, beginning with written discovery. Each side can send questions to the other, along with requests for documents. There are time limits on how long you can take to respond. 

The questions require responses sworn under oath. You and your attorney will work together to answer these questions and compile a lot of documents. You’ll most likely have to sign a medical release that allows the defendant to obtain your medical records and medical history. 

Once written discovery is complete, the defendant’s attorneys most likely will want your deposition. The attorneys ask you general questions about your life and history, then move on to your mesothelioma diagnosis and asbestos exposure. 

You’ll answer the questions under oath, in the presence of a court reporter who types everything you say. Sometimes, a deposition is videotaped, as well. Your attorney is present during the deposition.

Once depositions are filed, your case may go to mediation, where the plaintiff and defendant attempt to settle a suit. Or, if your case goes to trial, you’ll testify in court about your exposure and diagnosis. 

In most trial cases, a jury will make a decision, called a verdict. They could decide to award you any amount — from zero to millions of dollars — depending on the strength of your case.

Any jury trial verdict may face an appeal, which can delay or overturn the jury’s award. You might face a new trial, or the verdict might be set aside, meaning you wouldn’t receive any money. In an appeal, your attorney writes briefs for a higher court to read and may speak to the court about your case. 

802 Comments

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  4. ypically, mesothelioma lawsuits work under the discovery rule. It says that the statute of limitations begins on the date you discover you have an injury or illness. This can be tricky because mesothelioma can develop up to 40 years after exposure to asbestos. Usually, the date of your diagnosis sets the clock ticking toward the date you’re required to file a lawsuit.