Filing a Mesothelioma Claim

Mesothelioma claims can be filed by asbestos victims with workers’ compensation, a corporate trust or a personal injury lawsuit. Surviving family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit. The possible damages can cover medical bills and lost wages. Statutes of limitations vary by state.

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Lawyer and on-site legal advisor Joe Lahav explains why it’s important to hire an asbestos attorney to help you file a mesothelioma lawsuit or claim.

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If you or a loved one is considering seeking compensation for asbestos-related injuries, choosing the right attorney is an important first step.

Your case will have a better chance of proceeding more efficiently — and with the best chance for compensation — if you work with an experienced asbestos and mesothelioma attorney. When you decide to file a claim, your attorney will prepare and submit the required legal documents to begin the lawsuit process.

Experienced mesothelioma lawyers are familiar with asbestos manufacturers and can help you determine which ones are responsible for your illness. A qualified attorney is also knowledgeable about mesothelioma trust funds set aside for asbestos victims and can help you file a claim.

Options for Filing a Claim

There are multiple ways to file a mesothelioma claim, including traditional lawsuits, asbestos trust fund claims and Social Security disability claims. Military veterans exposed to asbestos during service may be eligible to file disability and health care claims with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Litigation

Asbestos-related medical problems are very frequently the result of a corporation’s negligence or a company’s failure to warn of asbestos hazards. Filing a lawsuit against the company or companies responsible for your asbestos exposure may result in compensation for many types of damages.

There are two types of mesothelioma lawsuits: Personal injury claims and wrongful death claims.

Your attorney will be aware of the legal options available and can guide you through the process of filing a claim. After speaking with your attorney, you may determine that a lawsuit offers the best opportunity to obtain a large award for your injuries. Most mesothelioma lawsuits are settled out of court before a trial takes place.

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Personal Injury Claims

A personal injury claim is a lawsuit an individual can file after they are diagnosed with mesothelioma.

Damages covered by an asbestos claim:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost income
  • Pain or suffering
  • Loss of intimacy

A lawyer can determine whether additional expenses may be covered under your claim. It is important to save all medical and financial records relating to your illness for this reason.

Wrongful Death Claims

A wrongful death claim is a lawsuit family members can file when their loved one dies of mesothelioma.

If the original claimant on a personal injury claim dies as a result of the disease, family members may be able to step in as plaintiffs. If a claim was never submitted, they may have the option to file a wrongful death claim on behalf of their deceased loved one.

Bankruptcy Trusts

In the past few decades, many asbestos manufacturing companies have declared bankruptcy for a variety of reasons. Filing for bankruptcy does not always mean the asbestos companies have run out of money. Instead, most asbestos companies that declare bankruptcy simply do it to reorganize and become more stable. In some cases, the courts involved in these bankruptcies ordered the creation of mesothelioma compensation funds, also known as trust funds.

These funds are intended to provide compensation for patients affected by an asbestos-related cancer. A lawyer with a specialty in asbestos diseases can help you determine whether the company responsible for your injuries has a trust fund and help you file a claim.

Find Out If You Qualify

Workers’ Compensation

Workers’ compensation laws can vary by state. Some of those laws change from year to year. If you have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness, you may be able to file for workers’ compensation to cover medical bills, pain and suffering.

But eligibility and compensation are two different things. The workers’ compensation board in your state can provide more information.

While filing workers’ compensation may be an option, a lawsuit often provides larger compensation. Before pursuing workers’ compensation, speak with an experienced asbestos and mesothelioma lawyer to determine if a traditional lawsuit is a better route.

Attorneys usually don’t file a claim against your employer, unless the employer is an asbestos company. Instead, attorneys typically file lawsuits against the manufacturers of asbestos-containing products. These manufacturers are generally held liable.

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Veterans Benefits

The men and women who served in the U.S. armed forces have a higher risk of developing mesothelioma because of the dependence on asbestos in vessels, barracks and pipe coverings, among other military parts, tools and machinery. Those who served in the U.S. Navy — especially the ones who worked in shipyards are among the most at risk.

Veterans can file a claim with the VA seeking compensation for any injuries or illnesses resulting from their military service. They can seek disability compensation, VA health care and dependency and indemnity compensation.

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Deadlines for Mesothelioma Claims

Unlike most common personal injury claims where the clock starts ticking at the specific moment of injury, it’s difficult to determine exactly when and where the asbestos injury occurred because an accurate diagnosis typically comes 20 to 50 years after the initial exposure.

Because of this long latency period, courts in some states have made exceptions applying statutes of limitations.

Joe Lahav, Lawyer and on-site legal advisor
Joe Lahav Lawyer and on-site legal advisor

“Claimants need to be careful to select attorneys that are very familiar with the laws pertaining to asbestos claims. For example, if a person happens to choose an attorney unfamiliar with the statute of limitation that applies, he or she could end up completely unable to file the claim. Statutes of limitation vary from state to state and if an attorney doesn’t understand which statute of limitations applies, a person could literally run out of time to file the claim and be ineligible to seek financial compensation.”

Statutes of limitations refer to the amount of time a person has to file a claim. For victims of asbestos exposure, this time frame typically begins once a person is diagnosed with an asbestos-related cancer.

A qualified mesothelioma attorney can ensure your claim is filed before the statute of limitations expires.

You may also be able to file a lawsuit in multiple states, depending on the location of the companies identified as defendants and where the asbestos exposure occurred. An attorney who specializes in these cases can explain your rights, which vary by state and jurisdiction, in these types of lawsuits.

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Last Modified September 26, 2018

Lawyer and On-Site Legal Advisor

Joe Lahav is a lawyer and legal advisor at The Mesothelioma Center. He graduated with honors from the University of Florida College of Law in 2000, and he's licensed to practice in Washington, D.C., and Florida. Joe lost his mother to cancer, and he understands the emotional toll mesothelioma can have on families.

Walter Pacheco, Managing Editor at Asbestos.com
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6 Cited Article Sources

  1. Dixon, L. McGovern, D. and Coombe, A. (2010). Asbestos Bankruptcy Trusts: An Overview of Trust Structure and Activity with Detailed Reports on the Largest Trusts. Retrieved from: https://www.rand.org/pubs/technical_reports/TR872.html
  2. Hare, J. & Ryan, D. (2016, April 19). COMMENTARY: Uncloaking Bankruptcy Trust Filings In Asbestos Litigation: Refuting the Myths About Transparency. Retrieved from: https://www.lexislegalnews.com/articles/7668/commentary-uncloaking-bankruptcy-trust-filings-in-asbestos-litigation-refuting-the-myths-about-transparency
  3. Scarcella, M. & Kelso, P. (2013, December 11). Asbestos Bankrupcy Trusts: A 2013 Overview of Trust Assets, Compensation & Governance. Retrieved from: https://www.lexisnexis.com/legalnewsroom/litigation/b/litigation-blog/archive/2013/12/11/asbestos-bankruptcy-trusts-a-2013-overview-of-trust-assets-compensation-amp-governance.aspx
  4. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2013, October 22). Compensation: Asbestos Exposure. Retrieved from: http://www.benefits.va.gov/COMPENSATION/claims-postservice-exposures-asbestos.asp
  5. NOLO. (2015, September 18). Chart: Statutes of Limitations in All 50 States. Retrieved from: http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/statute-of-limitations-state-laws-chart-29941.html
  6. NOLO. (n.d.). Statutes of Limitations: Is It Too Late to Sue? Retrieved from: http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/statutes-limitations-is-it-too-late-sue-faq.html
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