Considering a Mesothelioma Lawsuit? 5 Important Things You Need to Know

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A diagnosis of mesothelioma can completely turn your life upside down. Besides the impact on your health, you’ll also have to deal with financial repercussions ranging from a loss of income to extensive treatment costs. 

Many people who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma have successfully sued the responsible parties and received substantial compensation. However, it’s completely normal to feel hesitant about filing a lawsuit. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, understanding a few important points can help you decide whether suing for damages is right for you. 

5 Important Factors to Consider

Whether you’re already prepared to file a lawsuit or you’ve just started exploring your options, there are a few critical factors you'll need to consider. Following are five of the most important. 

1. Statute of Limitations

Mesothelioma typically develops within 10 to 40 years after exposure to asbestos. However, legally, the clock doesn’t start ticking until you’ve officially received a diagnosis. At that point, the amount of time you’ll have to file a lawsuit varies depending on the state where you reside.

Many states allow victims to file lawsuits up to five years after diagnosis. However, it’s important not to delay. Some states – like California and Louisiana – only allow you to file a lawsuit within 12 months from the date of diagnosis. If you hesitate too long, you may find out that it's too late to seek compensation. 

If a loved one has already passed away from mesothelioma, the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death lawsuit is commonly between 12 months and three years. While you'll certainly want to take some time to grieve, it's also important to speak with an attorney fairly quickly. 

It’s also important to note that since each victim’s medical history and prognosis are different, there are no class action lawsuits for those who have been diagnosed with this disease. If you wish to file a lawsuit, you will need to do it on an individual basis. 

2. Exposure Without a Diagnosis

If you or a loved one has been exposed to asbestos but do not have a mesothelioma diagnosis, you will not have sufficient grounds for a claim. If you feel that you may have mesothelioma, it’s important to see a medical doctor as soon as possible. When consulting with your physician, be sure to make them aware of your history of prolonged exposure to asbestos. If your doctor diagnoses you with mesothelioma, then you’ll want to contact an attorney right away to discuss your options.

3. Average Timeline for a Mesothelioma Case

It’s common for patients to worry about getting involved in a long, drawn-out lawsuit. This is particularly true if your health is suffering. However, the majority of mesothelioma cases are settled before they ever get to court. In this case, it’s often possible to receive your settlement in under a year.

If your case does go to court, it can take two years or longer to receive money for your damages. However, the courts in many states take into consideration the short life expectancy for mesothelioma patients and process these lawsuits as quickly as possible. In the case that a mesothelioma patient dies before the case is resolved, the award will be divided among the surviving relatives.

4. Assessing the Value of Your Case

If you have a history of working with or around asbestos and you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you likely have a good chance of receiving at least some compensation. While every case is different, there are some common factors that can impact the amount you’re likely to receive. This includes:

  • How your illness has impacted your life
  • The amount of wages lost due to illness
  • The cost of your medical expenses
  • Your “pain and suffering”

The source of your payment can impact your compensation as well. Since many asbestos manufacturers and installers have gone out of business, your compensation may come from an asbestos victims’ compensation fund. As these begin to get depleted, the amount awarded to victims may start to decrease.

Settling vs. Going to Court 

The amount of time it takes to settle your case can also impact the compensation you receive. Settling quickly out of court may result in a lower payout amount. However, the trade-off is time and certainty. Going to court will take longer, and you can't be sure how much you'll get when it's all done. 

It's also important to note that sometimes the other party will offer a lowball settlement in the hopes that the victim will want to settle quickly. This is one reason why it's so important to have an experienced attorney who can help with your negotiations. 

5. Wrongful Death Lawsuits

If a loved one has died from mesothelioma, certain relatives may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit. The ability to do this varies by state, so it’s best to speak to an attorney to determine whether this is an option.

One factor determining whether you qualify for a wrongful death suit is your relationship with the deceased. Only certain relatives are eligible, including: 

  • Spouses
  • Children (including step and adopted)
  • Parents
  • Grandparents
  • Siblings

In some states, individuals who are financially dependent on the deceased may also be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

Engaging Legal Counsel

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, it’s critical to consult with an attorney who has significant experience and a long history of success with asbestos litigation. Just as not every doctor is a specialist, not every attorney has the knowledge needed to put you in the best position to receive the compensation you deserve.

Your lawyer will perform many important functions throughout the course of your lawsuit. This includes identifying the parties who may be liable and leading the process in a manner that will help you get the best possible outcome.

Request a Free Case Evaluation

Whether you’re ready to move forward with your lawsuit or you’re still exploring your options, consulting with an attorney will help you decide on your next steps. Regardless of the state you lived in when your asbestos exposure occurred, the attorneys at Cooney & Conway can handle your case. 

To get started, complete the free case evaluation form below.