Mesothelioma is a vicious disease caused by asbestos exposure. Unfortunately, during the 1940s-1970s, many companies and manufacturers knowingly used asbestos. Why would they do this? Well, as far as construction materials go, asbestos was brilliant. It was strong, fire-resistant, water-resistant, and affordable. For these reasons, many buildings were built with asbestos as insulation. The major problem, though, is that asbestos is highly toxic. Even though companies knew this, they used it anyway.
Mesothelioma symptoms generally do not show up until ten to fifteen years after exposure to asbestos. If you or a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may be eligible to file for a personal injury lawsuit. If your loved one passes away before a lawsuit is settled or even filed, it becomes a wrongful death lawsuit.
Personal Injury Lawsuits
You should consult with a mesothelioma lawyer to see if you may file a personal injury claim if you or a loved one are diagnosed with mesothelioma. In a settlement, you could be eligible to receive compensation for medical costs, pain and suffering, loss of wages, and end-of-life costs. The first step in a personal injury claim due to mesothelioma is to contact a trusted and experienced attorney. They have the resources, precedent, and experience to gather evidence and help you through the process.
Unfortunately, mesothelioma is usually not diagnosed until advanced stages. Because of this, once diagnosed, time is of the essence. If your loved one passes away before their case is settled, you can still receive the compensation on their behalf.
Death During the Claim Process
If your loved one passes before the claim is settled, the claim becomes part of their estate. Compensation won by the settlement cannot go to the victim directly, so it is passed on to their beneficiaries, just like their other possessions.
Before death, the mesothelioma victim should create a will or a trust, a power of attorney, and or an executor. As long as these things are in place, the estate representative takes responsibility for the lawsuit. They decide whether or not to continue pursuing the claim, and how to proceed. They also speak on behalf of the estate and the victim. Again, any compensation that is won becomes part of the estate and is passed on to the beneficiary or beneficiaries.
Wrongful Death Lawsuits
A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil cause of action, brought on by the victim’s immediate family, against the individuals or corporations who knowingly or negligently caused their death. The survivors can seek pecuniary damages, which are the main measure of damage and loss in a wrongful death lawsuit. Pecuniary damages include medical expenses, funeral expenses, loss of potential inheritance, loss of wages, and loss of support.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
If one of your loved ones passes away from mesothelioma as a consequence of toxic asbestos exposure, you are able to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Depending on the state you live in, certain family members are eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit. In every state, the children of the victim, the spouse of the victim, and the parents of the victim (if the victim is unmarried) can file a wrongful death claim. In some states, grandparents, siblings, and other financial dependents can file as well.
Challenges in Pursuing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Because the plaintiff is no longer alive to offer information, closing a personal injury claim and filing a wrongful death lawsuit can be challenging for a number of reasons. However, an experienced attorney will be able to support you through the process, regardless of your situation.
One challenge that occurs is that determining the plaintiff’s asbestos exposure history becomes difficult. Gathering medical records, work records, or any other documents may become more challenging without the help of the victim. The plaintiff can no longer make statements at their trial, and it may be more difficult to track down potential witnesses. Despite these challenges, the experienced attorneys at Cooney & Conway have had success in these types of cases.
Why File a Wrongful Death Claim?
After the death of a loved one, filing a lawsuit and pursuing a legal battle probably sounds like the last thing you want to do. However, this is an important process to find closure for your family. While there are some challenges to filing a wrongful death claim, it is still worth pursuing.
Accountability for Manufacturers
First, filing a wrongful death lawsuit helps to hold companies and manufacturers accountable. Despite knowing that asbestos exposure causes lung cancer, mesothelioma, and other deadly diseases, they used it anyway. Manufacturing companies continued to produce asbestos, construction companies continued to use it, and building owners kept employees working in asbestos-filled office buildings. Rather than having integrity and ceasing production and use, these companies hid the known risks from the public. This cowardly act exposed millions of Americans to a deadly, cancer-causing toxin. Because they caused such a widespread tragedy, they should be held accountable. These companies, not the victims or their families, should be responsible for covering the cost of suffering and medical expenses.
Ease the Financial Burden
Going further, the compensation from a wrongful death settlement can ease the financial burden on your family. Typically, compensation from a wrongful death lawsuit is lower than personal injury settlements. Because the victim is no longer living, they are no longer experiencing ongoing damages, such as pain and suffering or emotional distress. Further, the medical bills are not piling up anymore. While the settlement may be lower, pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit is still worth it. You can still receive compensation for funeral costs, burial expenses, family living expenses, lost wages, loss of potential inheritance, unpaid medical bills, and more.
Determining the average settlement in wrongful death cases is difficult because the records are kept confidential. Records that are released to the public include the total from personal injury claims and wrongful death claims combined, so determining what amount was won from which lawsuit is nearly impossible. However, there are many factors that make up the settlement amount. These factors include:
- The age of the victim. Usually, the younger the victim, the higher the settlement. This is because there are more years their spouse and children must live without them, more lost wages, and more lost potential inheritance.
- The income of the victim. If the asbestos victim had a higher income, the settlement may be higher so their family can continue their lifestyle. Also, if the victim was still working, this has a much larger impact on the family, as they depended on his or her income.
- The number of defendants. If the victim was exposed in multiple buildings or from multiple jobs, there will probably be multiple defendants in the case. The more defendants, the higher the total settlement will be because each defendant will have to pay.
- State laws. Depending on the state you live in, there will be limits and precedents for the amount in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Although the wrongful death cases can take time, they are worth it. It is important to hold manufacturers accountable and ensure that you and your family are taken care of.
How Do I File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
After the death of a loved one, the statute of limitations to file a wrongful death lawsuit goes into effect. The statute of limitations depends on the state you live in, so it is important to act quickly. The first, and only, step you need to worry about is contacting the professionals at Cooney & Conway for a free case evaluation. We will listen to your story and help you determine the best course of action. Our team works tirelessly to ensure that your family is taken care of and ensures that you will get representation from a caring and experienced team.