Mesothelioma lawsuits vary in how long they take from start to finish. The length of these lawsuits are determined by many factors, including:
- The law firm you choose to represent you
- How you choose to seek justice for your case
- The defendant's legal team and how they choose to represent their client
One thing is for sure—you need an experienced asbestos lawyer in your corner to secure the settlement you deserve. An experienced attorney will also represent you if there is a trial and ensure you see the justice and compensation you deserve as a victim of asbestos exposure.
Types of Mesothelioma Lawsuits
One of the first things your lawyer will determine is which type of mesothelioma lawsuit to file. The type chosen depends on whether you are the victim or a family member who lost someone to mesothelioma.
Personal Injury Lawsuit
This type of mesothelioma lawsuit is filed on behalf of a victim against the parties responsible for their asbestos exposure and resulting diagnosis. A mesothelioma personal injury lawsuit is usually expedited because the patient's condition only worsens over time and they deserve justice and compensation as soon as possible.
Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Victims of asbestos exposure don't always live to see the results of their lawsuit or may never be able to file a lawsuit in time. In cases such as these, family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit, or they can continue the ongoing claim that was started by their family member who had mesothelioma. These types of lawsuits may take longer than a personal injury lawsuit, but in the end, they usually provide compensation to cover any medical bills and funeral expenses. Sometimes they may also cover pain and suffering as well as the loss of companionship.
Mesothelioma Lawsuit Timelines
Mesothelioma lawsuits are complex and can be time-consuming if you attempt to take one on by yourself or with an inexperienced lawyer. Contrarily, with an experienced mesothelioma lawyer, the timeline can move pretty quickly (as long as the defense doesn't make things more difficult by drawing out the process). Once you've secured a lawyer to represent you, the process looks like this:
- Preparation and Filing: The information-gathering phase of the lawsuit. This can take weeks to months.
- Response: The defendant is given a chance to respond to the claim brought against them. This is typically about 30 days or less. If they don't respond in a timely manner, you could win your case by default.
- Discovery: This takes place after the defendant responds and includes more information gathering and compiling of the case. This can take weeks to months.
- Settlement or trial: Most mesothelioma cases never go to trial and are resolved with a settlement. A settlement can take an average of 18 months.
What if there is a Trial?
A trial can take longer than a settlement and is much more public, typically requiring a jury. The award amount in a trial is usually higher than a settlement. Asbestos and mesothelioma trials can take several years. However, if the victim is extremely ill, the judge may choose to accelerate the process.
The Truth about Mesothelioma Settlements
A defendant's lawyer will almost always try to settle a case before it goes to trial because they know that a trial could mean more money out of the pockets of their clients. They also understand that time is not on a patient's side in a mesothelioma case, and they will typically try to offer meager settlements upfront to see if the patient will just settle quickly to get it over with.
This is another reason why it's not a good idea for a patient or loved one to handle these legal dealings. Without a knowledgeable mesothelioma lawyer, you risk taking too small of an offer because you may not understand what your case is worth. A mesothelioma lawyer will know what is fair for your case and can advise you on settlement offers (or advise you to go to trial). They'll work hard to avoid any delays so that you reach a fair settlement as quickly as possible.
Settling outside of court is typically the fastest option available to mesothelioma clients and is often necessary for patients with advanced mesothelioma. Many times, a great mesothelioma lawyer can get a fair settlement offer for their client, and going to trial isn't necessary. Typically, going to trial is only necessary if the defendant and their lawyers are being difficult and refuse to provide the victim with fair compensation through a settlement and there aren't other options available for the victim.
Seeking Compensation from Asbestos Trust Funds
Another option that you can pursue legally with the help of a lawyer is compensation from an asbestos trust fund. These trust funds are set up by companies responsible for asbestos exposure that were so inundated with lawsuits that they declared bankruptcy and set up a trust fund to compensate victims. A knowledgeable mesothelioma lawyer will have a list of these companies and the trust funds that have been set up, and they will be able to help you determine which of these you can benefit from.
If you have a mesothelioma diagnosis, you need to be able to focus on fighting the disease, not dealing with legal paperwork and research and meetings with defending lawyers. A mesothelioma and asbestos lawyer can take care of everything while you focus on what matters most. Once you receive compensation, you won't have to worry about the high medical bills and income loss you may be facing.
Do you need an experienced law firm to represent you in your mesothelioma lawsuit? Fill out our free case evaluation to get the process started.