If you or someone you love was diagnosed with mesothelioma and you have reason to believe exposure to asbestos was to blame, your family may be entitled to compensation for the associated damages.
An aggressive form of cancer that affects the thin layer of tissue covering most internal organs, mesothelioma can cause life-threatening complications. Pleural mesothelioma, which is the most common type, occurs in the tissue surrounding the lungs and has been linked to asbestos exposure.
Since asbestos exposure is generally avoidable nowadays as long as everyone exercises proper care, those who are diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma can usually attribute their condition to some kind of preventable scenario. For example, perhaps their employer failed to outfit them with adequate safety gear on a job site.
When this is the case, the ill parties typically have grounds for legal action. To see if your family might be able to sue over a cancer diagnosis, fill out the form on our site. We’ll connect with you law firm that’s equipped to evaluate the situation and help you determine how to proceed.
- What Is Mesothelioma?
- What Should I Do if I Have Been Affected by Mesothelioma?
- How Do I Know if I Have Grounds for a Mesothelioma Lawsuit?
- How Does a Mesothelioma Lawsuit Work?
- Do I Need Legal Counsel to File a Mesothelioma Lawsuit?
- How Long Does It Take to Resolve a Mesothelioma Lawsuit?
- What Is the Statute of Limitations for a Mesothelioma Lawsuit?
- How Much Can You Recover From a Mesothelioma Lawsuit?
- How Long Does It Take to Receive the Funds After Resolving a Mesothelioma Lawsuit?
- Final Thoughts
What Is Mesothelioma?
Like all forms of cancer, mesothelioma starts with the mutation of cells. If the cell’s DNA develops an abnormality and the cell proceeds to multiply, malignant growths can develop.
While researchers remain unsure what causes the initial mutations that result in mesothelioma, they have identified a number of risk factors that may contribute to cancer in general. Examples include inherited conditions, lifestyle choices, environmental factors, and medical vulnerabilities.
When it comes to mesothelioma in particular, the biggest risk factor identified to date is asbestos exposure. A naturally occurring mineral, asbestos was once widely used in all kinds of products because of its resistance to both heat and corrosion. It could be found in everything from flooring materials to automotive brakes.
Once it became clear that asbestos exposure posed a major health risk, the government stepped in to protect the public. In 1989, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned the manufacture of most products that contained asbestos. Unfortunately, in 1991, the regulation was overturned, and only new uses for asbestos from that date forward were banned.
As such, asbestos exposure remains a concern today. This is especially true for those who work with materials that contain the mineral. At-risk professionals include:
- Automotive mechanics
- Demolition workers
- Shipyard workers
- Some military personnel
Since it happens to be miniscule asbestos fibers that pose a problem—once inhaled or swallowed, they can settle in the lungs or stomach, causing irritation until mesothelioma eventually develops—family members of those who are exposed to asbestos are also at risk. For example, if a demolition worker gets asbestos fibers on his clothing, those who live in his household will also be exposed once he returns home.
It can take decades for asbestos exposure to cause mesothelioma, but once the cancer does develop, it tends to be aggressive. Pleural mesothelioma is especially problematic because as the disease spreads, it puts considerable pressure on the chest. This can lead to chest pain, difficulty swallowing, and trouble breathing.
Like most forms of cancer, the early detection of mesothelioma usually ensures a better prognosis. As such, it’s essential for those who know they’ve been exposed to asbestos at some point in their lifetime to tell their doctor so they can undergo preventive screenings at periodic intervals. With an early diagnosis, prompt intervention—before the condition metastasizes—is possible.
The best treatment for any given mesothelioma case will depend on a variety of factors. Examples include the disease’s stage, the precise location of the malignant growths, and their rate of progression. Surgery is often a viable option for early-stage mesothelioma, while chemotherapy can slow the progression of the disease at a later stage.
Regardless of the cancer’s stage, treatment, or ultimate outcome, though, a mesothelioma diagnosis is always devastating. It’s enough to take a toll on the whole family’s physical, emotional, and financial well-being. While suing those who were to blame for the asbestos exposure in the first place won’t undo the trauma you and your loved ones experience, it could at least yield the compensation needed to rebuild your lives.
To see if you have grounds for a claim, fill out our form, and our compassionate team will connect you with a legal professional who can help.
History of Mesothelioma Lawsuits
The first successful asbestos-related claim dates back to 1926, when an ill worker received a settlement that was processed by the Massachusetts Industrial Accidents Board. It wasn’t until the 1980s, though, that hordes of asbestos lawsuits referencing mesothelioma in particular were filed.
Researchers Begin Linking Asbestos Exposure to Mesothelioma
In 1960, an epidemiological study confirmed a link between exposure to asbestos and mesothelioma. This opened the door for ill workers to take action against their employers, who failed to implement reasonable safety measures to protect their health.
Patients Begin Filing Mesothelioma Lawsuits
The first major mesothelioma suit was filed by an insulation worker, who won his case in 1973. In 1982, a thousand more claims were filed. In 2002, 730,000 actions were filed. Many more suits have been filed—and resolved—in the years since. Thanks to the thousands of claims that have since been won, there’s considerable precedent for mesothelioma patients to recover compensation for the damages they incur.
Verdicts & Settlements Awarded
The largest verdict for a mesothelioma suit to date was awarded in 2003. A single plaintiff recovered $250 million. The average trial award is considerably smaller, however, and hovers right around $2.5 million. The average settlement, on the other hand, is about $1 million.
While past payouts do not necessarily guarantee future wins, the fact that so many mesothelioma claims yield seven-figure payouts is undoubtedly reassuring.
If you’ve been wondering whether taking action will be worth the hassle that comes with navigating complicated legal proceedings, fill out our form. We’ll connect you with a local personal injury attorney, who will be happy to evaluate your situation and let you know what you can expect every step of the way.
What Should I Do if I Have Been Affected by Mesothelioma?
If you or someone you love was diagnosed with mesothelioma and you think the disease could’ve been prevented had another party acted with reasonable care, there are a number of steps you should take.
While there’s no way to guarantee any given asbestos-related suit will yield a payout—legal proceedings are both complicated and unpredictable, after all—there are things you can do to strengthen your claim from day one.
- Preserving all relevant medical records
- Tracking illness-related expenses
- Staying off social media, or at least refraining from posting about the illness and the circumstances that caused it
- Taking reasonable measures to mitigate damages, like following your doctor’s orders
- Seeking legal counsel
- Referring all correspondence from the opposing party to your personal injury attorney
While the first four steps are straightforward enough, you’re probably wondering how to go about finding legal counsel. Chances are you’ve never needed a personal injury lawyer, and you’re therefore unsure what to look for in such a professional.
For help getting started, fill out our form. We’ll connect you with a firm in your area that’s equipped to handle your mesothelioma lawsuit.
How Do I Know if I Have Grounds for a Mesothelioma Lawsuit?
Mesothelioma lawsuits are generally founded on negligence, which is characterized by four essential elements. If you can prove the following, there’s a good chance you have grounds for legal action:
- A duty of care
- A breach of duty
A duty of care refers to the liable party’s obligation to you. Were they somehow responsible for protecting you from asbestos exposure? For example, employers have a duty of care to ensure a safe working environment for their employees. Likewise, manufacturers have a duty of care to sell products that do not pose any known health hazards (or at least to inform consumers of all necessary precautions if they do).
After proving the liable party did, in fact, owe you a duty of care, you’ll have to prove how they then breached said duty. Did they fail to give you adequate safety gear? Or perhaps they failed to warn you of the risks associated with using their products? If you’re unsure how to go about proving a breach of duty, don’t worry; a resourceful personal injury attorney can help.
Causation simply means there exists a direct link between the liable party’s breach of duty and the condition—in this case, cancer—that resulted. Thankfully, proving causation is usually fairly straightforward for mesothelioma lawsuits because the connection between the condition and asbestos exposure is so well documented.
Damages are the fourth and final element of every successful mesothelioma claim. In order to have grounds for legal action, your family must have incurred actual damages as a result of the liable party’s breach of duty. Such damages might include medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
How Does a Mesothelioma Lawsuit Work?
Although every mesothelioma case is unique, they all follow the same basic proceedings. Your claim will undoubtedly start with a thorough investigation, for example, during which your legal team attempts to gather evidence of both liability and damages.
Once your attorney has compiled enough evidence to proceed, they will send the liable party a demand letter. Since the liable party is unlikely to agree to the requested payout without challenging it—remember, many of these cases involve seven-figure settlements and verdicts—negotiations will commence.
This is the stage at which many mesothelioma cases are resolved. Since both parties are usually inclined to avoid the hassle of going to trial, they’re typically willing to compromise. If the liable party proves uncooperative or refuses to settle for some reason, though, you may have to file a formal lawsuit.
Such proceedings start with discovery, which is essentially another investigation. During this stage, both parties depose witnesses, file subpoenas, review studies, and ultimately gather the evidence needed to bolster their arguments.
Mediation usually follows discovery. Depending on the kind of evidence that comes to light during the discovery phase, the defendant may be more willing to negotiate at this point. If not, the case will go to court, where a judge will issue a verdict after evaluating the evidence that each party presents.
Do I Need Legal Counsel to File a Mesothelioma Lawsuit?
While it’s entirely possible to build a mesothelioma case on your own, doing so is unadvisable for a few reasons.
- First, you have enough to worry about with the illness without having to conduct investigations and navigate complex proceedings.
- Second, an established law firm will have the resources needed to gather the evidence that gives your case the best chance of success.
- Third, most defendants in these cases are major corporations, which means they have the ability to challenge every claim that’s filed against them.
By hiring a seasoned personal injury attorney, you can focus on taking care of your family while your case moves forward in good hands. What’s more, you’ll essentially level the playing field because your legal team won’t let the liable party violate your rights or otherwise take advantage of you at any point.
How Long Does It Take to Resolve a Mesothelioma Lawsuit?
If you have grounds for legal action, the total duration of your case will depend on a variety of factors. Naturally, cases that are settled are resolved much more quickly—often in less than 12 months—than those that end up going to trial.
A knowledgeable personal injury attorney will be able to give you a much more concrete answer regarding the potential duration of your claim after evaluating your situation. To find a reputable professional in your home state, fill out the form on our site.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for a Mesothelioma Lawsuit?
When it comes to personal injury suits, every state has strict filing deadlines for taking these cases to court. Should you attempt to go to trial after the deadline has passed, the judge will merely dismiss your case.
The statute of limitations typically varies from one to six years. Thankfully, the “clock” doesn’t start ticking until the day on which you became aware—or should have become aware—that the liable party’s negligence contributed to your diagnosis.
In other words, if the applicable deadline is two years but it’s been two decades since you were actually exposed to asbestos, you may still have grounds for a claim. The courts recognize that mesothelioma can take decades to develop, so plaintiffs are granted a bit of a grace period when it comes to taking action.
How Much Can You Recover From a Mesothelioma Lawsuit?
Since every mesothelioma case is unique, there’s no standardized formula for determining the value of any given claim. During your initial case review with a personal injury attorney, though, you can discuss the kinds of damages your family has incurred as a result of the diagnosis. This will allow your lawyer to estimate the potential value of your claim, so you can decide whether proceeding will be worth your while.
When it comes to personal injury suits, every state allows for the recovery of both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are tangible, calculable losses. Examples include the costs associated with health care, replacement services, and missed work. Non-economic damages, on the other hand, are intangible losses that aren’t exactly quantifiable. Examples include loss of enjoyment in life, pain and suffering, and emotional distress.
If the patient dies before he or she has the opportunity to take action on his or her own, surviving loved ones may be able to bring a wrongful death suit in the wake of the loss. In these kinds of cases, recoverable damages include funeral and burial expenses, medical bills, loss of companionship, loss of support, and lost income and benefits.
How Long Does It Take to Receive the Funds After Resolving a Mesothelioma Lawsuit?
If your mesothelioma lawsuit yields a payout, you can expect to receive the funds within several weeks.
When a personal injury claim is successful, the resulting settlement or verdict is usually given to the plaintiff’s lawyer, who covers all pending obligations—e.g. attorney fees and health care liens—on behalf of the client. The attorney then gives the client the remaining balance. This ensures he or she doesn’t accidentally spend any money that ought to be earmarked for another party.
It’s worth noting, however, that if your case is resolved in your favor in court but the defendant ends up appealing the verdict, it could be some time before you receive the compensation you deserve. Generally speaking, defendants are not obligated to pay out any awards until they have exhausted all appeal opportunities.
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, it’s natural to be scared. A cancer diagnosis brings with it so many unknowns, after all, and living in uncertainty is inherently stressful.
Major medical complications also tend to pose a heavy financial burden on the whole family. Even with adequate health insurance, treating cancer can be costly. What’s more, there are usually indirect expenses like lost wages that can add up quickly.
While you might be powerless in some respects, though, it’s important to remember that you can, in fact, take control of your financial situation. With help from an experienced personal injury attorney, it may be possible to sue those who failed to mitigate the asbestos exposure that caused the condition in the first place. Taking action against the negligent party could yield the funds needed to protect your family’s financial security no matter what happens.
To start building your claim with a reputable lawyer near you, fill out our form. We’ll connect you with a local law firm that can help you pursue the compensation your family deserves.