Mesothelioma lawsuits serve two purposes: to compensate mesothelioma patients and other victims of asbestos exposure and to hold asbestos companies accountable for their negligence.
Key Points about Mesothelioma Lawsuits
- There are three main types of mesothelioma lawsuits: individual claims, class actions, and multidistrict litigation (MDL).
- Lawsuits give mesothelioma patients and their families a chance to be compensated for treatment expenses and lost income.
- Individuals have a limited amount of time after a mesothelioma diagnosis or wrongful death to file a lawsuit.
- Most mesothelioma lawsuits and class actions are settled before reaching a verdict.
Not every mesothelioma lawsuit is the same. Some are handled on a case-by-case basis, while others may be part of class actions, in which lots of people are involved in a single suit brought against a company or other party.
Types of Mesothelioma Lawsuits
|Individual Claim||Class Actions||Multidistrict Litigation (MDL)|
|A mesothelioma patient (or survivors) sues the party responsible for their asbestos exposure on a one-on-one basis.||Many mesothelioma patients (or survivors) collectively bring a legal action against an asbestos company.||Many mesothelioma patients (or survivors) bring individual claims that are very similar through a special legal process.|
Any of these lawsuit types can be used to file a personal injury or wrongful death claim due to asbestos exposure.
How to File a Mesothelioma Lawsuit
The specific procedures for filing mesothelioma lawsuits differ from state to state, and between state courts and federal courts. Nonetheless, in most cases mesothelioma patients will follow the general process below when looking to bring a suit against a corporation or other party liable for their asbestos exposure.
1. Consult a Lawyer
Finding an experienced mesothelioma lawyer is the most important thing you can do to help you through the lawsuit process. Most mesothelioma lawyers offer a free consultation to assess your case and answer any questions you may have.
2. Gather Medical and Asbestos Exposure History
An important aspect of making a legal case is establishing your medical and asbestos exposure history. Your lawyer will be able to help you determine which documents to gather, but examples include:
- Medical records showing mesothelioma diagnosis and treatment
- Employment, union, or military service records
- Statements from family, co-workers, friends, and specialists
3. Consider Compensation Options
Once the supporting materials are gathered, your lawyer will help you determine the best opportunity for receiving compensation. Other options beside filing a lawsuit may be available, such as submitting a claim to one of the many asbestos trust funds or applying for veterans benefits.
4. Identifying the Legal Venue
Choosing the right court in which to file your mesothelioma complaint is very important. Different states and federal courts have different criteria, and getting the timing right is critical. In most cases, mesothelioma patients can file a lawsuit in any state where they have lived, worked, or been exposed to asbestos.
5. Filing and Trial
Once the venue is chosen, filing the formal complaint is the next step. This will trigger the trial process – although it will often take months or even years before the trial actually begins. During that time, both sides will file motions and enter a discovery phase where they share information.
6. Settlement or Verdict
At some point during the pretrial motions or the trial itself, you may be presented with one or more settlement offers from the opposing party. You and your lawyer can discuss the pros and cons of accepting the offer versus continuing to a verdict. If you choose to go to verdict, the jury or judge will determine what amount of compensation you will receive (if any).
Common Mesothelioma Lawsuit Questions
Anyone considering filing a lawsuit against a company or other party for personal injury or wrongful death due to asbestos exposure is likely to have many questions. Here are some of the most common ones:
How long can I take to decide whether to file a lawsuit?
A number of factors, including where you live, will determine how much time you have to file a suit once you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma (this is known as the statute of limitations). The deadline to file can range from 1 year to 6 years, though the average deadline is 2 – 3 years in most states.
This statute of limitations is part of the reason why consulting with an experienced mesothelioma lawyer is so important. He or she will be able to inform you as to the deadline in the state where you plan to file a claim.
How long will my lawsuit take?
Mesothelioma lawsuit timeframes vary from case to case. If you are suing a company (or companies) still in business, your settlement may be higher than if your suit involves a bankrupt company that has established a trust fund. Companies who have entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy often have a limited amount of money available to compensate asbestos exposure victims and their families.
If I file a lawsuit, will I have to go to court?
Not necessarily. For one thing, many defendants try to settle before spending a lot of money on their defense, which means you could receive compensation before ever going to trial. Even if your case does go to trial, your lawyer will typically be able to handle courtroom proceedings on your behalf, especially if you are undergoing mesothelioma treatment or are too ill to travel.
I don’t know how I was exposed to asbestos. Can I still sue?
A good lawyer with a knowledgeable staff can help determine where and how you were exposed to asbestos by examining your work history, military service, the locations where you lived, and other details of your life. Even if you are not sure where your asbestos exposure may have occurred, it is worth consulting with a lawyer – it’s free and they may be able to help you receive compensation you never would have otherwise had access to.