4 Things to Know About Mesothelioma Commercials

Gavel commercial on a flatscreen television

A mesothelioma television commercial is often the first introduction most people have to this rare and aggressive cancer caused by exposure to asbestos.

The commercials usually start with: “If you or a loved one was diagnosed with mesothelioma…” The information that follows is almost always about reaching a lawyer regarding a potential legal claim.

While these commercials help raise awareness about the disease, they often leave viewers with unanswered questions:

  • Can any attorney represent mesothelioma patients?
  • What are asbestos trust funds?
  • How do mesothelioma lawyers get paid?
  • Why do people with mesothelioma have to call now?

Malignant mesothelioma is unique among medical conditions.

It is a deadly cancer caused almost exclusively by manmade asbestos products. Those who manufactured these products and the companies that used them often knew asbestos was toxic to humans, but didn’t warn workers or their families.

Because of the negligence of these companies, those affected by asbestos products seek attorneys who can handle complex asbestos-related cases, which leads to the television advertisements for mesothelioma lawyers across the country.

Can Any Attorney Represent Mesothelioma Patients?

The short answer is no.

Mesothelioma presents unique challenges in the legal sense, even for experienced injury attorneys.

There is no easily identified single act or occurrence immediately evident because exposure to asbestos may have occurred 20, 30 or 40 years before diagnosis, making it difficult to trace.

Law firms that regularly handle these types of cases work with their clients on work history and witnesses to gain a better sense of determining the exact moment of exposure and the company or employer responsible.

Asbestos Trust Funds

Companies that manufactured asbestos products or companies in which employees worked with asbestos products are generally liable for causing the disease because they failed to warn employees as part of an industrywide asbestos cover-up.

Many of these negligent companies filed for bankruptcy reorganization and are protected from lawsuits, but the U.S. government required them to create asbestos trust funds with enough money to pay a portion of the asbestos claims.

People injured by these companies can file an asbestos bankruptcy claim — which is not a lawsuit — against one of these trusts. Once a claim is filed, trustees who manage the asbestos trusts will determine the amount of compensation based on certain categories, levels of disease and medical criteria.

There are more than 50 asbestos trusts today with an estimated $30 billion in assets designed to compensate those harmed by asbestos.

How Do Mesothelioma Lawyers Get Paid?

Mesothelioma lawyers work on a contingency fee basis.

That means their clients pay nothing until they receive compensation from various asbestos trust funds or companies sued. Clients also pay nothing if the attorneys do not recover anything for the client.

Total compensation will vary depending upon the diagnosis, the companies responsible, the medical history of the patient, where the claim is filed and other factors.

The amounts can range from just enough to cover medical expenses to millions of dollars.

Why Do People with Mesothelioma Have to Call Now?

There’s a reason viewers are told “Don’t wait. Call the number on the screen now.” That’s not an overstatement.

The statutes of limitation will vary from state to state, usually ranging from one to five years from the date of diagnosis to file your claim. If you wait too long, it could be too late.

The average life expectancy for a person with mesothelioma ranges from 12 to 21 months after diagnosis. That’s why timing is critical.

Family members of a person who already died of the disease will have much the same rights. Even after a patient dies, the family can file a claim and receive compensation, provided it is within the statute of limitation.

It’s important to understand that commercials about mesothelioma lawyers help raise awareness of the disease among possible victims and their family members, but it’s also crucial to have all the information about this rare disease before contacting an attorney.


Tim Povtak is an award-winning writer with more than 30 years of reporting national and international news. His most recent experience is in researching and writing about asbestos litigation issues and asbestos-related conditions like mesothelioma. If you have a story idea for Tim, please email him at tpovtak@asbestos.com

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