Mesothelioma, a rare yet fatal cancer, can affect individuals who have served in shipbuilding, construction, and other industries, including the military, and it can also affect people who have used asbestos-containing products. Unfortunately, while treatment options are available, there is no known cure for mesothelioma. Suppose you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma. In that case, you may be considering filing a lawsuit to hold the responsible companies accountable and get compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and other damages.
The process may seem overwhelming, but we’ve broken it down into eight crucial steps to guide you through the legal process. Let’s get started:
- Contact a Mesothelioma Lawyer
Hiring lawyers in your area specializing in asbestos litigation is advised when pursuing a mesothelioma lawsuit. Once you’ve finalized a lawyer, ask them the following questions:
- How many mesothelioma cases have they handled? You want someone with a proven track record of handling similar cases.
- Do they have experience taking cases to trial? Insurance companies are more likely to offer a fair settlement if they know your lawyer isn’t afraid to go to court.
- Who will be handling your case day-to-day? Meet your lead attorney and make sure you feel comfortable with them.
- What’s their fee structure? Most mesothelioma attorneys work on contingency, taking a percentage of your settlement or verdict.
By conducting thorough research, you can find reputable mesothelioma law firms and attain guidance on filing your mesothelioma case. Since these law firms possess expertise in handling mesothelioma cases, it’s best to seek their professional advice and assistance.
- Provide Your Medical Records
You’ll need to provide detailed records of your medical history and work experience to get the compensation you deserve. Gather medical reports, test results, doctor’s notes – anything documenting your mesothelioma diagnosis and treatment. Put together an employment record of all jobs where you could have been exposed to asbestos. Include specific duties, work locations, dates employed, and names of direct supervisors. If former coworkers can provide written accounts of unsafe conditions, get their statements as well.
- Determine Which Companies Are Liable
Where did you work with asbestos exposure? Write down any companies you worked for where asbestos was present. Don’t forget part-time jobs or military service. Any company that exposed you to asbestos could potentially be liable.
What products did those companies manufacture? Previously, some companies produced raw asbestos, while others used it for insulation, flooring, roofing, etc. Both the companies that mined asbestos and made asbestos-containing products could be liable.
Do those companies still exist? Unfortunately, some companies that previously produced asbestos-containing products have gone out of business. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t file a lawsuit against them since the court ordered these insolvent companies to set up asbestos trust funds.
- Estimated Value of Your Claim
To determine how much your mesothelioma lawsuit may be worth, you’ll need to calculate the estimated value of your claim. So, assess the severity of your diagnosis, the nature of your asbestos exposure, and the impact on your life.
Some of the factors that determine a claim’s value include:
- The stage of your mesothelioma diagnosis.
- How long and how intensely were you exposed to asbestos? Longer, higher exposure translates to a higher claim value.
- Your age, occupation, and family status since younger claimants, those with dependents, and those unable to work due to illness may receive more compensation.
- File Your Claim Before the Statute of Limitations Expires
The statute of limitations sets a deadline for filing a mesothelioma lawsuit. To avoid missing the crucial cutoff, start exploring your legal options as soon as possible after diagnosis. Speaking with a qualified mesothelioma lawyer can help determine the following:
- The statute of limitations in your state
- If any exceptions apply, that may extend the deadline
- Begin the discovery phase
This step is when both parties gather evidence to support their case. As the plaintiff, this means collecting medical records, work records, witness statements, and other documents that prove your asbestos exposure and linking it to the defendant(s).
Some of the critical steps in the discovery process include:
- Requesting records from your doctors, former employers, the military, etc. These records establish your diagnosis, treatment, and history of asbestos exposure.
- Deposing witnesses like coworkers, family members, or anyone else with knowledge of how you were exposed to asbestos. Their sworn testimony can be used as evidence in court.
- Reviewing old company records, documents, personnel files, training materials, and industrial hygiene records to uncover evidence of asbestos use and exposure risks.
- Exchanging information with the defendants. They will request records and depositions from you and witnesses to try and counter your evidence. Your lawyers will evaluate their information for weaknesses in their defense.
- Receive compensation (settlement)
Once you’ve filed your mesothelioma lawsuit and the defendant has been served, you’ll go through the litigation process. To receive compensation from a settlement, follow these steps:
- Determine a Settlement Amount
Work with your lawyer to calculate a settlement amount covering your medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, and future expenses.
- Sign a Release of Claims
If you accept a settlement offer, you’ll sign a release of claims giving up your right to sue the defendant(s) again. Make sure you fully understand the terms before signing.
- Receive Your Settlement Funds
Once all parties sign the release, the defendant will issue settlement funds, usually within 4 to 6 weeks. The money can be paid out in a lump sum, installments, or through an annuity to provide income over time. Your lawyer and financial advisor can help determine the best option based on your needs.
- Pay Legal Fees and Expenses
A portion of your settlement, typically 33-40%, will pay legal fees and expenses. Your lawyer will deduct their prices, and you must pay any remaining costs from the total settlement amount.
Filing a mesothelioma lawsuit is never easy, but following these steps will help you build the strongest case possible. Do some research, find the right lawyer, gather all the necessary evidence and documents, and follow your lawyer’s guidance every step. By getting the assistance of mesothelioma lawyers, you can strengthen your case and get the odds in your favor.