If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and are wondering about taking legal action, 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.
This guide will cover some key points regarding mesothelioma lawsuits, including timelines, statutes of limitations, settlements, and more.
Statute of Limitations
An important point that victims must consider is how much time they have under the law to take legal action.
A statute of limitations is a law that places a limit on the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit after an event has taken place. If a lawsuit is not filed within the time allotted by the statute of limitations, it is barred and you are not able to proceed with the suit. These statutes are in place to promote justice and to ensure that legal action is taken in a timely manner. For example, evidence may not be accessible if too much time has passed since the occurrence of an event. Also, witnesses may be more difficult to locate if too much time has elapsed.
Since mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis tend to develop many years after a person’s initial exposure to asbestos, the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit related to asbestos exposure may be based on either the date of diagnosis of an asbestos related disease or the date of death caused by one of these diseases.
Statute of limitations also may vary from state-to-state. The appropriate statute of limitations for each lawsuit may depend on multiple factors, such as where a person lives, when he or she was exposed, the place of exposure, and the location of any asbestos companies that may be involved. We recommend connecting with a law firm experienced with mesothelioma cases, such as Cooney & Conway, to find out if you are within the statute of limitations.
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.
How Long Do Mesothelioma Lawsuits Take?
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
Next we'll cover a typical lawsuit timeline so you can see why the process varies from case to case.
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.
What You Can Expect When Working with a Mesothelioma Law Firm
Mesothelioma law firms are experts in all things relating to asbestos exposure and the resulting asbestos-related diseases. The ones that stand out from the rest have:
- Years of experience in the field
- Databases of local asbestos-contaminated sites and local companies that have knowingly exposed people to asbestos
- Teams of investigators that can track down the cause of your exposure, find the companies that are responsible, and compile the proof needed for a strong case
- Knowledge of all options on the table, including asbestos trust funds and VA benefits
- The ability to make you feel comfortable and taken care of
- Free case evaluations and won't charge you for your case until they win it for you (also known as a contingency fee basis)
What Happens Before Filing the Suit
This experienced legal team will take you through the process of filing your mesothelioma lawsuit by going through the following steps:
- Identifying the companies and manufacturers who are at fault: Compiling information on the asbestos-containing products that you used and which companies made them (which can be complicated since asbestos victims don't know they've been exposed until their diagnosis 10-50 years later).
- Filing your mesothelioma claim: More than one company may be at fault for your asbestos exposure, which can increase the value of your claim. Your lawyer will determine all specifics of your case and then file the claim on your behalf once they're confident they have a strong case built. They will file either a personal injury lawsuit, wrongful death lawsuit, asbestos trust fund claim, or VA benefit.
- Reach a settlement on your behalf: The goal of your law firm will be to settle your case as quickly as possible for the highest amount of financial compensation possible. Many times this is done through a settlement. On average, settlements award between $1-1.4 Million in total compensation, and victims receive payouts in under a year. This can vary depending on a lot of factors relating to the case.
Mesothelioma settlement compensation is usually awarded to cover:
- Lost wages
- Medical treatment
- Travel expenses to and from treatment
- Funeral expenses (in a wrongful death lawsuit)
- And a variety of other expenses that may have resulted from your diagnosis
Mesothelioma settlements are more common than mesothelioma trials because trials are very expensive and most companies want to avoid them. Trial verdicts can result in higher awards for victims in many cases, but less than 5% of cases typically go to trial, and not all of the ones that do result in a favorable verdict for the mesothelioma victim. Trials are a lot more of a gamble, whereas settlements are not.
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.
Lawyers can have many types of specializations, and one such specialization is mesothelioma. Mesothelioma law firms and lawyers focus on lawsuits involving victims of asbestos exposure that resulted in a mesothelioma diagnosis. It's especially important for mesothelioma victims to get financial compensation from the organizations that knowingly exposed them to asbestos in order to cover the ongoing medical costs that they will have for the remainder of their life.
If you are a victim of mesothelioma, you're likely aware of this by now, as your doctor should have informed you of what life will be like going forward. Having lawyers from a mesothelioma law firm in your corner is the key to getting the maximum financial compensation possible for your situation to ensure that financial stress is not also something you need to be concerned about going forward.
Chicago Mesothelioma Attorneys
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, a knowledgeable mesothelioma lawyer at Cooney & Conway can help you pursue legal action and walk alongside you through the legal process.
Our team of mesothelioma lawyers can:
- Build a case against the companies and manufacturers who put you at risk of asbestos exposure
- Identify your legal options for compensation to help cover the costs of your healthcare and provide for you and your family
- Provide you with peace of mind as they walk you through every step of the process and are your biggest advocates
You and others do not deserve to suffer for the choices that many industries knowingly made when they allowed asbestos to be widely used. Asbestos product manufacturers knew the risks of asbestos, covered them up, and continued to sell their products until they were caught. Our experienced mesothelioma law firm can help bring justice to those at fault and get you compensation for what you've endured.
Are you ready to start the process with our mesothelioma law firm in Chicago? We have a large team that is ready to get to work on your behalf and who will walk alongside you every step of the way! Fill out the free case evaluation form below to get started.