Mesothelioma Case Process
Cases involving asbestos-related illnesses like mesothelioma have their own way of starting, continuing and ending. If you have mesothelioma and you think you will file a lawsuit – or if you already have filed a lawsuit – here is the process you can expect from start to finish.
Your case can rise or fall on the prep work. Gathering information about you, about your work history and about your past employers is central to the process. Some of the preparation will happen before you decide whether to sue. Plan to share any information you already have during your first meeting with a lawyer. Your information will help your attorney decide whether you should file a lawsuit and determine which companies to sue. Your lawyer will also start building a case strategy.
Once you decide to file a claim, the attorney you hire will ask you to review and sign a client agreement. This agreement should explain exactly the services you can expect from your attorney and how much help and cooperation your attorney needs from you as the case proceeds.
The agreement will also explain your attorney will be paid. Most mesothelioma attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, which means they get paid if you win your lawsuit or if you successfully settle it.
After your attorney has all the information, next comes the decision about where to file your lawsuit. Once the proper state and court is chosen, the next official step is filing a legal document called a complaint. This document will provide specific details about your claim, spelling out how the defendants’ actions caused your injury and illness and also the dollar amount of the claim.
Once your lawsuit is filed, the defendants will have a certain amount of time to answer it. They will likely deny your claims. And they probably will ask the court to dismiss it. But if you hired an experienced mesothelioma attorney and your lawsuit is properly prepared and filed, your complaint most likely will proceed.
Your case will not go to trial immediately – if ever. Before any trial and even before there is talk of a settlement, the focus of the case will be on discovery. This means gathering evidence by taking depositions, seeking responses to written questions and reviewing medical records and other documents central to your claim. Your attorney and the defendants’ attorney will send each other requests for documents and depositions. You will be asked to answer questions for the other side, both written and recorded. But you will never be by yourself. Your attorney will handle practically every step of your lawsuit.
5. Settlement or Trial
Some mesothelioma lawsuits will not go to trial but will be settled with the defendant(s) before a trial begins. For many people, that is the desired outcome. Some cases, though, do go all the way to trial. If there is more than one defendant, some defendants may settle out of court while others will prefer a trial.
A typical trial includes:
- Jury selection
- Opening statements by attorneys for plaintiff and defendant
- Plaintiff’s evidence is presented and witnesses testify
- Defendant’s evidence is presented and witnesses testify
- Closing statements by both parties
- Judge's instructions to jury before deliberation
- Deliberation by jury
- Reading of the verdict
Unless you prefer it, you do not need to need to be actively involved in the entire case process. Your attorney will travel to you when necessary. Most, if not all, of your involvement can take place from the comfort of your home.
If the jury finds in favor of the plaintiff, the defendant may file an appeal. This will delay any monetary award made by the jury. That said, the defendant must post a bond for any financial awards made by the jury. If the defendant does not appeal, the plaintiff often receives payments within a few months of the completion of the trial.