Types of Mesothelioma Lawsuits
If your family members are bearing the burden of mesothelioma, asbestos lawsuits may be right for you and your loved ones. Patients diagnosed with mesothelioma may be eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit. If you lost a loved one to an asbestos-related disease, you may be eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
The steps for filing a mesothelioma lawsuit vary depending on the type of claim filed.
Personal Injury Lawsuit
Mesothelioma patients may file a personal injury lawsuit. The lawsuit can name various asbestos companies that are responsible for exposing them to the carcinogenic mineral.
A company’s failure to warn employees and consumers about the hazards of asbestos is the basis for liability in a lawsuit. If the lawsuit is successful, the mesothelioma patient receives compensation for their injury.
Wrongful Death Lawsuit
The estate of a deceased mesothelioma patient may file a wrongful death claim. Compensation awarded is for medical bills, funeral expenses, lost income and past pain and suffering.
If a mesothelioma patient files a personal injury lawsuit but dies before resolution, the claim can be converted to wrongful death and the estate can continue pursuing the claim. The estate is the recipient of any compensation awarded in wrongful death lawsuits.
The Mesothelioma Center’s legal adviser Mr. Joe Lahav reached out to explain options regarding my mother’s mesothelioma. He was compassionate and straightforward. Thank you for caring.Amanda M.Mesothelioma patient’s daughter
Who Is Eligible to File an Asbestos Lawsuit?
You are eligible to file a mesothelioma lawsuit if you can provide documentation of the mesothelioma diagnosis. Documentation includes medical reports from the cancer center or hospital where you received the diagnosis of mesothelioma.
You may be eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit if you’ve lost a loved one to mesothelioma. You would need to be appointed as the representative or administrator of your loved one’s estate in order to file this type of lawsuit.
If asbestos companies are liable for your exposure and they filed for bankruptcy, your lawyer may help you file a trust fund claim instead of a lawsuit.
Key States for Asbestos Litigation
According to a leading industry report, filing of more than 3,600 mesothelioma claims occurred throughout the U.S. in 2020.
These are some of the key states for asbestos litigation:
You may be able to file a mesothelioma lawsuit outside of the state in which you live depending upon the details of your case. An experienced mesothelioma attorney can help you and your family decide the best jurisdiction in which to file your asbestos claim.
Statute of Limitations on Asbestos Lawsuits
In both personal injury and wrongful death, plaintiffs must file a lawsuit soon after diagnosis. Each state has a different statute of limitations, which sets a time limit, typically around two years, for a plaintiff to file a lawsuit after injury or discovery of their injury. In mesothelioma cases, the statute of limitations usually begins to run after the date of diagnosis of mesothelioma.
You should speak with a mesothelioma lawyer to ensure you are within the statute of limitations to file your claim.
Why File an Asbestos Lawsuit?
Compensation from an asbestos lawsuit may reduce financial hardships for you and your family. Mesothelioma lawsuits can provide money for medical expenses and compensate you for pain and suffering. This may lead to a better financial future for your loved ones.
A qualified asbestos attorney can help you decide whether to pursue a lawsuit and can guide you through the process.
Filing a Mesothelioma Lawsuit
First, you must find an attorney who will prepare and file a written complaint with a court to start the legal process.
Filing and the steps that follow may take several months. If you are very sick, your attorney may ask the court to speed the process along before your condition worsens. Your attorney will guide you and represent you every step of the way.
1. Choose an Attorney
The first step in a successful filing process is choosing an attorney experienced in asbestos cases. Top mesothelioma law firms will provide you with a free consultation to talk about your case and address your legal options.
2. Case Review and Preparation
A case review is also called a case evaluation. This is an opportunity for you and the law firm to learn about each other. How the firm handles the case review process will tell you a lot about how it operates and communicates with clients.
The first steps of a mesothelioma case review can take place virtually or in person. Often, the review begins with a phone conversation between the patient and asbestos attorney. The attorney will ask broad questions to learn more about the patient’s diagnosis and asbestos exposure.
You can prepare by gathering relevant information about your diagnosis and asbestos exposure. Don’t worry about recalling all the details now or being able to answer every question. A good mesothelioma law firm will help investigate your asbestos exposure history to aid your claim.
3. File Mesothelioma Lawsuit
Your attorney will research what claim and compensation options best fit your individual needs. A skilled attorney will help you prepare all the documentation needed to support your claim. They will handle everything when you file a personal injury lawsuit, a wrongful death lawsuit or a claim with an asbestos trust.
After gathering relevant information, your attorney will file the lawsuit on your behalf. They will manage the legal proceedings and recommend when to take a settlement offer or negotiate for more compensation.
4. Responses and Discovery
Each defendant in your lawsuit will receive a copy of your complaint. They will have a certain amount of time, usually 30 days, to respond. Defendants rarely admit fault, and typically they will deny your allegations and argue your complaint’s validity. Defendants may contend that someone else is to blame for your asbestos exposure. However, your attorney will respond to the defendant’s assertions and argue on your behalf.
Lawyers on both sides will gather information about your allegations. They ask the other side to answer written questions, produce documents and take part in depositions. Some of the information may become evidence used at trial. You may need to do a deposition and answer questions under oath from both your lawyer and the defendants’ lawyers. This is often done from the comfort of your own home and always under the guidance of your attorney.
5. Settlement or Trial
Before a trial starts, defendants may offer to resolve the case by offering you money. Mesothelioma settlements depend on multiple factors and can influence your decision whether to go to trial. If you decline a settlement offer, it’s possible the defendant will make another offer. Your attorney will negotiate on your behalf.
Going to trial is rare. Even if a case does go to court, you may not be required to appear. The trial process varies depending on where you file a claim. Results depend on your history of asbestos exposure, the state where the lawsuit is filed, your medical history and other factors. If you win and the defendant does not appeal, you will usually start receiving payments a few months after the verdict.
If you win the trial, defendants may decide to file an appeal. There is a limited amount of time to file an appeal, usually between 30 and 180 days after the verdict. This will delay any monetary award, but defendants will need to post a “bond” for the amount awarded while the appeal proceeds.
If the defendants lose their appeal, you will receive payment. If the appeal is successful, defendants may end up paying a smaller amount or nothing at all.
If you win at trial and the defendant does not choose to appeal, you will typically receive payments within a few months after the verdict.
Notable Asbestos Lawsuit Verdicts
There have been many notable asbestos lawsuit verdicts, including:
- $43 million awarded to a woman in 2022 over exposure to asbestos fire doors.
- $250 million awarded to a retired steel worker in 2003 over asbestos exposure in insulation.
- $75 million awarded to the wife of a race car driver in 2017 over exposure to asbestos-containing engine gaskets.
- $48 million awarded to the family of a construction worker in 2012 over asbestos exposure in building materials.
- $29.4 million awarded in a talc lawsuit to a long-time talcum powder user in 2019 over exposure to talcum powder contaminated with asbestos.
- $18.6 million awarded to the family of a factory worker in 2014 over asbestos exposure at a tire plant.
- $18 million awarded to a barber’s son in 2016 over exposure to asbestos-contaminated talcum powder.
These trial verdicts are often higher than what someone may receive from a mesothelioma settlement offer or asbestos trust funds.
History of Asbestos Litigation
Asbestos litigation is the longest-running mass tort in U.S. history, dating back to the late 1960s. Dozens of companies have filed for bankruptcy under the weight of asbestos lawsuits, they establish asbestos trust funds to compensate future victims and their families.
Doctors Prove Asbestos Causes Cancer
Researchers proved that asbestos exposure causes lung damage and disease. Dr. Irving J. Selikoff, Dr. Jacob Churg and Dr. E. Cuyler Hammond did research that showed that people who worked with asbestos were more likely to be diagnosed with lung damage or disease. There had been evidence among asbestos workers for decades, but the asbestos industry had denied the validity of the claims.
Tort Laws Pave Way for Asbestos Litigation
In 1965, The American Law Institute published “The Restatement of the Law of Torts.” It said that anyone “who sells any product in a defective condition unreasonably dangerous to the user or consumer or to his property is liable for the harm caused by that product to the consumer or end user.” It also explained this would not include unsafe products as long as they were “accompanied by proper directions and warning.” Courts decided asbestos manufacturers knew the dangers of asbestos exposure but failed to appropriately warn asbestos workers and consumers. This opened the floodgates for asbestos-related lawsuits.
First Asbestos Lawsuit Filed
Insulation worker Claude Tomplait received an asbestosis diagnosis in July 1966. Attorney Ward Stephenson filed the first asbestos products lawsuit on Tomplait’s behalf in December 1966. The defendants were 11 manufacturers of asbestos insulation products, including Johns Manville, Fibreboard Paper Products and Owens-Corning Fiberglas. The case went to trial on May 12, 1969, and the verdict came a week later in favor of the defendants.
Borel v. Fibreboard Paper Products
In October 1969, attorney Stephenson represented one of Tomplait’s co-workers, Clarence Borel. He developed mesothelioma while working in shipyards and at oil refineries. Stephenson once again filed a lawsuit, seeking $1 million in damages, against several asbestos manufacturers across America. This time, the result was different. Borel died of mesothelioma in June 1970 and never heard the final disposition from the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. In 1973, Borel’s estate received a verdict in the amount of $79,436.
1980 – Present
Asbestos Tort Litigation Grows
Buoyed by the success of Borel’s victory, asbestos workers turned to tort litigation to get compensation for their injuries. While some other countries created centralized benefits systems for injured workers, U.S. mesothelioma patients must rely on the tort system. Although there is no national registry for asbestos personal injury claims, independent reports show asbestos litigation has grown during the past several decades. The RAND Institute for Civil Justice began analyzing asbestos lawsuits in the early 1980s. According to RAND’s findings, approximately 730,000 people in the U.S. filed compensation claims for asbestos-related injuries from the early 1970s through the end of 2002, costing businesses and insurance companies more than $70 billion. Between 1982 and 2002, the number of companies sued in asbestos related lawsuits increased from 300 to 8,400. By 2013, the number of asbestos defendants had grown to more than 10,000 companies.
Asbestos Litigation Shifts to Online Practices
Asbestos attorneys have transitioned to virtual and teleconferencing services to prevent infection risks for mesothelioma patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mesothelioma lawyers now provide remote virtual consultations to help clients file mesothelioma claims without missing deadlines because of restricted travel or health issues. Attorneys can handle many aspects of the legal process through video calls or electronic signatures.
Common Questions About Mesothelioma Lawsuits
- What Are Mesothelioma Lawsuits?
Mesothelioma lawsuits are legal actions taken by people diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease. These lawsuits seek compensation from companies responsible for their asbestos exposure.
- How long does a mesothelioma lawsuit take?
The legal process for an asbestos-related lawsuit depends on the health of the plaintiff. If you are in poor health, the case may take an expedited track. If there is no urgency, the process may take several months or longer.
In either scenario, the defendants may try to delay the progress of your case. Your attorney will work to resolve your case as soon as possible. They will handle each step so you can focus on your health and spend time with your loved ones.
- Should I join a mesothelioma class-action lawsuit?
In general, mesothelioma class-action lawsuits are uncommon. Patients with mesothelioma and their families usually have a better chance of receiving compensation through an individual personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits. You may be able to join a multidistrict litigation, where many individual claims get grouped and processed together without lumping plaintiffs into a single class. For example, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania manages the largest multidistrict litigation for mesothelioma cases.
- How much do mesothelioma lawyers charge?
Most mesothelioma law firms work on a contingency fee basis. This means your attorney gets paid if you agree to a settlement or obtain a favorable verdict. When you receive compensation, your lawyer’s fee is a percentage of the funds. However, if you do not receive any compensation, your attorney does not receive any fee.
- What should you expect from a mesothelioma lawsuit?
It is difficult to generalize because each case is different. Results depend on your history of asbestos exposure, your medical history, and other factors including the jurisdiction your case is filed. The best person to advise you on what to expect is someone that knows the specific intricacies of your claims, such as your attorney.
- Will I need to travel?
You may not need to travel. Mesothelioma attorneys can often handle the entire case process from their office and travel to you when necessary.