Last Updated on August 17, 2021
At A Glance
- This Alert Affects:
- Anyone who has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, as well as their loved ones.
- What Legal Options Do I Have?
- You may be able to file a lawsuit or claim money from an asbestos trust fund.
- How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Lawyer?
- Nothing upfront – your attorney will only get paid if he or she wins your case. In these situations, your lawyer will take a percentage (usually around 25-35%) of your settlement or payout.
- What Could I Be Owed Money For?
- Medical and funeral expenses, physical and mental anguish, lost income, and loss of spousal relations.
- How Can I Get More Help?
- Attorneys working with ClassAction.org represent mesothelioma patients across the country. If you want to learn more about your options, fill out the form on this page.
- How Much Does It Cost to Talk to Someone?
- It’s free and there’s no obligation to hire the attorney you speak with or even to move forward with taking legal action.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may have several options to collect money for medical expenses, lost income and physical suffering. Read on for more.
What Legal Options Are Available for Mesothelioma Patients?
There are generally two main options for those who were diagnosed with mesothelioma.
Option 1 Filing a Lawsuit
Option 2 Submitting a Claim to an Asbestos Trust Fund
How Will I Know Which Option Is Right for Me?
Your lawyer will tell you. He or she can determine whether the company suspected to be responsible for the illness has a trust fund set up. If so, he or she will submit a claim to that fund. If not, your attorney will proceed with the formal process of filing a lawsuit.
It’s important to note that, in some cases, you may be able to file a lawsuit and submit a claim to one or more asbestos trust fund(s). This happens in cases where there are multiple companies that may be responsible for the asbestos exposure. Furthermore, if you or your loved one served in the military, you may be able to file a claim for benefits with the Veterans’ Administration.
Which Companies Have Trust Funds?
Companies that have trust funds are typically those that have filed for bankruptcy or were bought out by other companies. Just because the company went out of business, however, does not mean it doesn’t have money.
In fact, some (former) asbestos companies that filed for bankruptcy were ordered to set up funds for mesothelioma victims as part of the process. In addition, some of these companies filed for bankruptcy simply to restructure and stabilize the business.
What’s Involved in Filing a Mesothelioma Lawsuit?
There are several steps of the lawsuit process; however, your attorney will do the bulk of the work.
Your attorney will first draft what’s known in the legal world as a “complaint.” This is a document that contains:
- The asbestos company (or companies) being sued
- The allegations being presented
- How asbestos caused you or your loved one’s mesothelioma
- You or your loved one’s work and medical history
When your attorney finishes this document and files it with the court, your lawsuit officially begins.
From the filing of the complaint to the settlement, the lawsuit process is a lot of back and forth. The defendant will almost certainly respond to the lawsuit saying they’re not liable and your attorney will answer back in your defense. Both sides will then go back and forth requesting documents from each other. For instance, the plaintiff’s attorney may ask for files regarding you or your loved one’s work history; the defendant’s side may ask for medical records from before the diagnosis, information on personal habits, or prior work records in an effort to claim that the asbestos company was not responsible for the exposure and subsequent diagnosis.
Depositions will also need to be taken. These are generally conducted in the attorneys’ offices. During a deposition, witnesses will be asked questions.
At any point in this process, the defendants may offer a settlement agreement. If a settlement is not reached, the case will proceed to trial.
How Involved Will I Have to Be?
In the beginning, you may need to be more involved as the attorney gathers information about the illness/diagnosis, work history, medical treatments, etc. The more information he or she has, the better your claim will be.
After the initial upfront paperwork, your involvement will decrease significantly. Moving forward, your attorney will keep you apprised of what’s happening with your case and you will have time to focus on treatment or caring for a loved one.
If depositions are needed, your attorney will prepare you for any questions you may be asked. In cases where you or your loved one is too ill to appear, the deposition may be videotaped.
Will I Have to Go to Court?
In most cases, no. The majority of these lawsuits settle, which means you’ll never even have to set foot in a courtroom. Even depositions are taken outside the courtroom.
Most asbestos manufacturers don’t want to risk going to trial – especially when there’s a proven link between asbestos and mesothelioma. It’s too expensive, too uncertain and too time consuming. Juries have been known to hand down hundreds of millions in trials involving asbestos exposure and it’s just too much of a risk for most of these companies.
Furthermore, there’s a chance that, in your situation, you won’t even have to file a lawsuit to get money from an asbestos manufacturer. You may simply need to submit a claim to an asbestos trust.
Isn’t There a Class Action I Can Join?
No. Mesothelioma cases are what’s known in the legal world as a “mass tort.” These share some similarities to class actions, but have one major difference: mass tort lawsuits are filed individually. You can learn more about mass torts here.
What’s Involved When Filing a Trust Fund Claim?
Filing a claim with an asbestos trust is a relatively straightforward process. Once your attorney has gathered the required information/documentation and put together your claim, he or she will submit it for review.
You will have the option of submitting the claim for expedited or individual review. Expedited reviews are generally quicker, but the claimant may be eligible for a larger payout through the individual review process.
During an expedited review, the trust will review the information provided to determine whether the asbestos company was responsible for the claimant’s illness. If the trust approves the claim, it will pay out a pre-determined amount of money depending on the type of disease the individual suffered. Each asbestos-related disease corresponds to a certain amount of money; mesothelioma is associated with the highest amount of compensation in this setup.
This option is available for those who would prefer a lengthier, more detailed review, as well as those who were denied compensation through the expedited review process. During the individual review process, the trust may ask for documentation/information beyond that which was submitted with the claim. This personalized review allows the claimant to challenge the pre-determined amount set aside for mesothelioma patients, potentially giving him or her the chance to get a higher payout.
Do I Need a Lawyer If I’m Only Going Through the Trust Fund Claims Process?
It is in your best interest to hire an attorney.
The process of putting together a claim and putting together a complaint (that is, the document that “starts” a lawsuit and outlines your allegations) is relatively similar.
Even if you know which company is responsible for the asbestos exposure, an attorney is still going to put together a stronger claim than you, no matter how much research you’ve done. Furthermore, he or she may identify additional defendants who you could take action against that you may not have even known about it.
What If I Don’t Know Which Companies Are Responsible for the Asbestos Exposure?
It’s not uncommon; most people don’t know. It’s your attorney’s job to figure out which companies you can take action against.
Most experienced mesothelioma lawyers will have a database of products known to cause mesothelioma. Your attorney will ask you questions about your employment history to narrow down which products you may have been exposed to. They may even show you pictures of certain products to identify what may have been the root of your exposure. From there, they can determine the manufacturer of the product(s) and take it from there.
How Much Will Hiring a Lawyer Cost?
Hiring an attorney to handle your mesothelioma case will cost nothing upfront. It would be very rare for an attorney to charge to look at a patient’s background and determine whether he or she has a case.
Furthermore, your attorney will only get paid if you win your case. In these instances, the attorney will take a percentage of the settlement or payout. This is typically around 30%. Some asbestos trusts, however, limit the amount attorneys can collect to 25%.
Are There Any Time Limitations on This? Can I Wait to Take Legal Action?
There is a time limit for filing a claim for mesothelioma. It can range anywhere between one year and six years from, in most cases, the date of the diagnosis. If you fail to take action within this window, you may be barred from ever collecting compensation for the illness. The time limit (also known as the statute of limitations) varies by state.
How Long Will a Lawsuit Take?
This may depend on the health of the patient. In cases where the patient is particularly ill, the attorney may be able to convince the court to have his or her case expedited. In these situations, the case can be resolved in less than a year. Non-expedited cases may take two years or longer.
How About a Trust Fund Claim?
Asbestos claims generally work on a first-come, first-served basis. In general, these cases may take six months or less.
What Could I Collect Money For?
You may be able to collect money for the following:
- Lost income
- Loss of love and sexual relations with a spouse
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Medical expenses
- Funeral expenses
Why Are There So Many Commercials for Mesothelioma Lawsuits?
Mesothelioma cases are worth a lot of money. And, there are typically only a few hundred diagnoses a year, making a viable claim hard to come by. Furthermore, the link between asbestos exposure and mesothelioma is strong. In fact, there is no other known cause of mesothelioma, making these cases, in many instances, pretty solid for the attorney.
What About Other Disease Linked to Asbestos? Can I Sue for Those?
It depends. Some lawyers will only take cases where the patient was diagnosed with mesothelioma. A smaller segment of mesothelioma lawyers will also take on cases where the patient was diagnosed with lung cancer or asbestosis.
How Do I Go About Getting More Help?
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you can reach out to us by filling out the form on this page. After you get in touch, one of the attorneys we work with will reach out you to gather more information and answer any questions you may have.
There’s no cost to speak with one of the attorneys we work with and you are never obligated to take legal action unless you decide that it’s right for you.
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