Were you or someone you love diagnosed with mesothelioma? We recommend your contact one of our mesothelioma attorneys today for a complimentary case review. You may be entitled to financial damages from the corporation that exposed you to deadly asbestos, which gave you mesothelioma. 

For decades, many companies knew of the dangers of asbestos exposure, but callously put their workers at risk of developing cancer. If it can be proven that a company or companies exposed you to asbestos at work and this caused your disease, you have legal rights that could entitle you to making a legal claim or filing a lawsuit. Filing a lawsuit for your mesothelioma can seem daunting, but with a good attorney at your side, the odds are in your favor.

This article details all you need to know if you want to file a personal injury lawsuit or wrongful death lawsuit for asbestos exposure and mesothelioma in 2019 and beyond. If you have further questions after reading this page, please reach out to a licensed mesothelioma lawyer in your area for more detailed information

This article describes everything you need to know about filing a mesothelioma lawsuit in 2018 and beyond. If you have any questions after reading this information, please contact a mesothelioma attorney for more information.

Should You File an Asbestos Exposure Lawsuit?

Deciding to file a mesothelioma lawsuit against a large corporation is a difficult decision. You need to take care of your medical needs, your family and settlement negotiations. Plus, if settlement talks fall through, you could be in for a trial that lasts months or even years.

But when a patient with the terrible cancer of mesothelioma is staring down a massive pile of medical bills as they attempt to pay for expensive treatments, surgeries, drugs and hospitalization, there may be no other choice. Most mesothelioma patients cannot work and will ever be able to go back to the life they once had. The multiple financial burdens may make it a requirement to file a lawsuit against the company responsible for your asbestos exposure.

A person with mesothelioma related to asbestos exposure on the job may want to file a lawsuit because their employer may have risked their life by exposing them to asbestos for long periods of time, without safety equipment or warnings. Other patients might file suit against the corporation that made asbestos-containing materials. Anyone who has been exposed to asbestos and has mesothelioma needs to understand their legal rights before they make the final decision.

How To Prove Asbestos Exposure?

For your lawsuit to be successful, there must first be a diagnosis from a doctor that you have mesothelioma. This is done usually by a doctor ordering a biopsy and pathology report. If you have been diagnosed already, your doctor already has this information. Talk to your lawyer about the evidence that is needed to prove your particular asbestos exposure case.

There Must Be Conclusive Proof

A successful lawsuit for your mesothelioma depends on proving when and where you were exposed to asbestos and by whom. A skilled attorney will help you to gather this crucial evidence. Your attorney will carefully review your history of employment as well as Social Security records. You and your former co-workers could need to provide a deposition to detail your work conditions, jobs you held, and whether there were asbestos-containing materials on site.

Once you have collected sufficient evidence of exposure to asbestos, you will need to determine the legal steps you want to take.

Options For Filing a Mesothelioma Claim

There are several ways to take action with a mesothelioma claim. These include

  1. Personal injury claim
  2. Wrongful death claim
  3. Asbestos trust fund claim
  4. Workers’ compensation claim

If you are a military veteran, you may want to file a healthcare and disability claim via the US Department of Veterans Affairs or VA.

Option 1 – Personal Injury Claim

If you are exposed to asbestos, you may develop mesothelioma. This is usually due to corporate negligence. Or the company may have failed to warn employees of the dangers of asbestos exposure. Some companies also did not want to spend money on safety equipment and training for workers so they would not be exposed to asbestos.

If you file a personal injury lawsuit against the company that caused your exposure to asbestos, you could be awarded a high level of compensation for your injuries, including your medical bills, pain and suffering and lost earnings.

You may file a personal injury lawsuit for damages after you are diagnosed with mesothelioma by a doctor. You can receive some or all of the following:

  • Medical costs: Victims of mesothelioma are saddled with hundreds of thousands of dollars of medical bills, both past, present and future. The company that exposed you to asbestos could be mandated to pay these costs.
  • Lost wages: If you have been unable to work in the past and cannot today or in the future, you may obtain compensation for lost earnings.
  • Pain and suffering: Mesothelioma is very painful as it can make breathing very difficult. You could be paid for your mental and physical pain and suffering.
  • Loss of intimacy: People with serious forms of cancer may not be able to enjoy an intimate relationship with their spouse. You may obtain compensation for loss of intimacy.

Option 2 – Wrongful Death Claim

A wrongful death Mesothelioma lawsuit is different from a personal injury lawsuit. This action is taken by a loved one of the person who passed away from mesothelioma. The surviving family is not just dealing with emotional devastation from the loss of their loved one. They also are dealing with massive medical bills, loss of income, etc.

You have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit as a family member if your loved one died from mesothelioma. If the plaintiff on the original lawsuit dies, family members may continue with the personal injury claim. Or, if the claim was not made official, they can file a wrongful death lawsuit.

Some parties that can file a wrongful death claim for mesothelioma include:

  • Husbands, wives and children, mothers and fathers, sisters or brothers
  • Grandparents
  • People who were financially dependent upon the deceased; this can vary by state

A Mesothelioma wrongful death lawsuit can be submitted by one or more of these loved ones for these forms of compensation:

  • Medical costs and bills from doctors, hospitals, rehabilitation, prescription drugs, chemotherapy and more.
  • Lost income: Many mesothelioma patients were the major breadwinner in the home. Their demise leaves a massive financial loss for the family. Some families might end up in foreclosure or even declare bankruptcy unless they can get a mesothelioma settlement.
  • Funeral expenses: Some loved ones go deep into debt to pay funeral costs of their loved one. This is really upsetting when the death was caused by the negligence of a former employer.
  • Pain and suffering: This cancer is terribly painful. In the end stages, the person can barely breathe and they suffer. The suffering the family sees is devastating. You could be entitled to payment for your and your loved one’s pain and suffering.
  • Loss of consortium: The partner or spouse of the deceased may receive compensation for the loss of their intimate partner.

Option 3 – Asbestos Trust Fund Claim

Many companies who exposed their employees to asbestos were forced to declare bankruptcy due to ongoing litigation costs. Filing bankruptcy does not always mean the company is completely broke without a dollar to its name. Instead, many companies in the asbestos trade will declare bankruptcy so they can reorganize financially. In many cases, judges presiding over these bankruptcies will order the company to form an asbestos trust fund to pay out claims to former employers who got mesothelioma.

These funds provide compensation to patients and loved ones whose lives were turned upside down by mesothelioma. A lawyer specialized in asbestos cancer can help you decide if it is worth pursuing a payment through one of these trust funds.

Option 4 – Workers’ Compensation Claim

Every state has a workers’ compensation program. If you have mesothelioma, you could file a workers’ comp claim to pay your bills, lost earnings and pain and suffering.

Each state has its own workers’ compensation laws. Some of the laws can change from year to year. If you were diagnosed with mesothelioma or another disease related to asbestos, you might be able to file a workers’ compensation claim to pay your medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering.

Personal Injury Lawsuit Means Higher Compensation

Some mesothelioma sufferers do file for workers’ comp, but a personal injury claim usually provides a higher amount of compensation. Before you make the decision to file workers’ comp, talk to your attorney to decide which avenue affords you the chance for the most compensation.

In most cases, your attorney will not file suit against the company that employed you, unless it actually produced the asbestos-containing products. A better option is to file suit against companies that provided your company with asbestos-containing products.

In many cases, mesothelioma attorneys will not file a claim against the company you worked for, unless that company produces asbestos. Rather, attorneys will often file lawsuits against the companies that manufacture products that contain asbestos.

Veterans Benefits and Mesothelioma Claims

People who served their country in the United States military, especially the Navy and Army, have a greater risk of getting mesothelioma because of high asbestos levels in materials used to build barracks, ships, boilers, etc. Veterans can file a claim with the VA to get compensation for their illness and injuries from mesothelioma. You can receive compensation for disability, get healthcare as well as indemnity compensation.

Class Action Lawsuits for Mesothelioma

Another possible option to get compensation for mesothelioma is to participate in a class action lawsuit. These lawsuits first started in the 1960s. It was in this era that people became aware of the dangers of asbestos exposure. Now judges often use class action lawsuits to handle the large number of claims, especially claims filed after the death of the individual; there have been millions to date.

Class Action Lawsuit – Large Number of Similar Plaintiffs

In the US justice system, class action lawsuits can be used to solve cases that deal with many plaintiffs with similar injuries to the identical defendants. This is a lawsuit where a large group will bring a legal complaint to a court. They lawsuits are then filed against the company or companies by many plaintiffs.

Each state and the federal courts have varying rules for their class action lawsuits. To have a class action lawsuit, the group must share related injuries that were caused by similar circumstances, such as asbestos exposure that caused mesothelioma.

It Is Your Choice

If you are asked to join a class action lawsuit, you want to remember that you can join the class action, or you can file your own suit. In a class action, out of court settlement is the most likely action. Any compensation obtained is divided among all plaintiffs.

This can be a good option if you do not want to deal with a long trial. But it is difficult for many plaintiffs and the defending companies to come to an agreement. In any case, the court must approve the terms of the settlement.

Class Action or Individual Lawsuit?

Litigants should remember that members of a class action have less control over the case, as opposed to being a single plaintiff. Attorneys who handle class actions are representing the cases of many plaintiffs.

Attorneys who represent an individual client have more freedom and autonomy. If you have mesothelioma, it makes sense to want more control over your claim so that you can get more compensation. But you should talk to your attorney about which is the best option.

Defenses to Mesothelioma Lawsuits

We cannot say for sure how a company will act in response to a mesothelioma claim. But history tells us that most companies fight the claim hard. Some of the most common defenses to mesothelioma lawsuits include:

Legal

  • The legal paperwork was incomplete or filed wrong or in the wrong venue.
  • The family member is the wrong person to file the wrongful death claim.
  • The wrong court was chosen. Your attorney will make sure the proper court is chosen for the claim.
  • The legal claim is past the statute of limitations. You must show your legal action was filed in time, which is usually two or four years after the date of diagnosis.

Personal and Health

  • Plaintiff had serious health problems prior to diagnosis
  • The plaintiff smoked, drank or took drugs.
  • The plaintiff’s family history includes mesothelioma or related cancers
  • Genetic problems could have caused the mesothelioma

Other Defenses

  • The asbestos exposure was done by another company or source.
  • Mesothelioma diagnosis is wrong.
  • Asbestos exposure did not cause the disease.
  • Plaintiff is lying.

Successful Mesothelioma Lawsuits

Having mesothelioma can make it very difficult to deal with an aggressive defense. But knowing what the common defenses are will help your legal team to make a strong legal argument. In recent times, there have been many successful mesothelioma settlements and verdicts.

Mealey’s Litigation Report states the average mesothelioma lawsuit award is $2.4 million. The typical settlement in a mesothelioma case is between $1 million to $1.4 million. Many settlements are paid by multiple defendants.

Recent mesothelioma verdicts and settlements of note include:

  • California: A Los Angeles jury in 2010 gave more than $200 million in damages to Rhoda Evans. The woman was diagnosed with mesothelioma after heavy layers of asbestos dust on her husband’s uniform were breathed in by her for years in the 70s.
  • Mississippi: Thomas Brown received $322 million for his asbestosis in 2000. He worked in oil fields in the 1970s. He mixed drilling mud that included asbestos. Union Carbide was the defendant.
  • Missouri: In 2011, a judge approved a $10 million settlement for Nancy Lopez. She worked at a courthouse in Jackson County MO and was exposed to asbestos during a renovation project. Two co-workers also filed and won an $80 million settlement.
  • Illinois: US Steel was mandated to pay $250 million to a steel worker’s wife who died from mesothelioma. This was a post-verdict settlement, which is very rare.
  • New Jersey: The loved ones of Mark Buttitta died of mesothelioma in 2002 and they received $30 million compensation. He is believed to have brought asbestos dust home on his clothes when working at GM.
  • New York: A former boilermaker got a $3.7 million award after he got mesothelioma from being exposed to asbestos. Also, a man in 2006 who worked on brakes got a settlement of $25 million from Daimler Chrysler. He was exposed to brake dust full of asbestos fibers.
  • Montana: This state is the home of vermiculite mines from which asbestos is mined and processed. There were two major settlements in recent years. One was for $43 million 2011 that was for 1300 mines. The other was a class action that awarded $25 million to 1000 residents in January 2017.

Duration of Mesothelioma Lawsuit

How long the lawsuit will take depends on a lot of things. Sometimes the case will settle before trial. Other important factors:

  • How many plaintiffs are filing suit
  • How many defendants are subject to the lawsuit
  • How long it takes to collect evidence
  • Court schedule and load
  • Which venue the lawsuit is in

Statute of Limitations for Mesothelioma Lawsuits

Mesothelioma lawsuits are different than other personal injury claims where the clock starts to tick at the moment of injury. With asbestos and mesothelioma, it is challenging to determine when and where the injury occurred; a diagnosis often comes decades after the first asbestos exposure.

20-40 Year Latency Period in Most Cases

It can take up to 40 years for a person exposed to asbestos to get mesothelioma. That is why many state courts make exceptions for the statute of limitations for these claims. Most states allow the statute of limitations clock to start when the person is diagnosed with cancer.

Some plaintiffs might file a lawsuit in more than one state. This depends upon where the companies are situated that caused your asbestos exposure.

Contact a Mesothelioma Attorney Now

Mesothelioma is almost always preventable and usually is terminal. It is important to file a claim soon. Talk to a skilled mesothelioma attorney today for more information.

Michael Bennett
About the Author

Michael Bennett

Michael Bennett is Editor-in-Chief of Consumer Protect.com. Since 1999, he's worked across a multitude of areas of consumer protection including medical malpractice, personal injury, environmental hazards, and consumer fraud. If you find his articles helpful please share them with your readers.