Walking In Your Shoes: Making Informed Decisions about Asbestos Cancer

Afflicted Lungs

I recently found out that my mom may have died because of occupational asbestos exposure. At the time, we didn’t know that asbestos exposure may have caused her stomach cancer.

My mom lived a relatively healthy lifestyle. Not knowing what caused her cancer really bothered her. So, I think finding out the potential cause would have relieved her a little.

But that relief likely would have disappeared a few seconds later when she realized her suffering was preventable. Finding out someone’s negligence may have jeopardized her life probably would have made her sad, angry, or both.

Her feelings would have been justified.

So what would she have done if she had found out about asbestos? Let’s see.

Ask Plenty of Questions

So would she think about filing a lawsuit?  Yes, eventually. But first, she would have asked questions. Lots of them. I would have done my best to get answers for her.

These would have been some of her questions and my answers:

Could my former employer have prevented my injuries?

I would have explained that workplace asbestos exposure is usually preventable. Government regulations require employers to make the workplace safe.

Employers should follow safety procedures like providing protective clothing, masks, goggles or other safety equipment. But most of all, they should warn workers about asbestos dangers. Others, like asbestos manufacturers and distributors, also have a duty to warn.

Have asbestos manufacturers and others been held accountable for asbestos injuries?

So far, litigation has been the main way to make companies answer for asbestos injuries. In many instances, they have paid money damages for losses like medical expenses and lost wages.

Some asbestos defendants have even been ordered to pay punitive damages.

But it’s up to the individual to decide whether to sue. I would have stressed that there’s always a risk of losing.

Should I sue?

Only my mom could answer that question. Last week, I talked about some the reasons she might want to file a lawsuit, like providing for her medical care and her family. I would have encouraged her to reflect on those reasons.

Like any other lawyer, the best I could do was provide information to help her make a decision. I could explain the case process, but she would have to decide if she could commit to it.

And it is a commitment. True, the lawyer does all of the footwork, but ultimately it’s your case. You’ll have to participate, especially in the beginning.

Your lawyer will need to collect information from you before filing your claim. At some point, you may have to consider a settlement offer.

But a qualified attorney can help so you can concentrate on your treatment.

How Do I Choose an Attorney?

I’m a lawyer, but I wouldn’t have represented my mom. She needed me to help her with other things. But I would have helped her find someone competent with whom she felt comfortable. Visit our Mesothelioma Attorney page to find out what I would have told my mom about choosing an attorney.

When Should I File a Claim?

I wouldn’t have pressured my mom to file a claim. But I would have told her that she had a limited time to do it.

At first, my mom probably would have decided not to sue. But I think she would have changed her mind later when she had a clearer picture of the financial and emotional burdens of her illness. That’s why I would have encouraged her talk to an attorney early. That way, she’d be in a better position to file a claim later.

I’ll explain more next week.


Karen Marshall has more than 17 years of legal experience and is an attorney with The Peterson Firm. She has been contributing to The Mesothelioma Center since 2011 and writes about asbestos-related legal issues and blogs for Asbestos.com.

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