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Mesothelioma and Asbestos Lawsuits

Mesothelioma and Asbestos Lawsuits - Starting the mesothelioma lawsuit process can be difficult, especially when undergoing treatment or grieving for the loss of a loved one. Finding a lawyer who understands the process and will work with your situation can give you a refreshing sense of freedom so you can focus on recovering and spending time with family.

Types of Mesothelioma Lawsuits

There are two primary types of mesothelioma claims that can be filed: personal injury and wrongful death. Which type of complaint gets filed depends on whether the mesothelioma victim is still alive and who is filing the lawsuit. An experienced mesothelioma lawyer can help you understand which type of asbestos lawsuit you will need to file based on your individual situation.

Mesothelioma Personal Injury Lawsuit

  • Submitted by the patient after receiving a mesothelioma diagnosis.
  • Filed against the company (or companies) responsible for the asbestos exposure leading to the disease.
  • Claims specific damages due to illness caused by asbestos exposure.
  • Allows the patient to recover money for treatment, travel, lost income, pain and suffering, and related costs.

Mesothelioma Wrongful Death Lawsuit

  • Submitted by surviving family after someone dies from mesothelioma.
  • Filed against the company (or companies) responsible for the asbestos exposure that led to death.
  • Claims specific damages related to the death of the individual.
  • Allows family to recover money related to outstanding medical bills, funeral expenses, lost income potential, loss of consortium, and related costs

Mesothelioma Individual Lawsuits, Class Actions and Multidistrict Litigation

Some people may wonder whether their mesothelioma case will be handled individually, or as part of a mass tort such as a class action or multidistrict litigation. Your lawyer will advise you about which type of lawsuit is right for your specific situation.

Mesothelioma Individual Lawsuits – These generally involve a single plaintiff who files suit against one or more companies over an illness related to their individual exposure to asbestos. Each side files motions and presents their evidence to a judge, ultimately being resolved either when both sides reach a settlement or the trial jury reaches a verdict.

Mesothelioma Class Action Lawsuits – Class actions involve a person or group of people filing a lawsuit on behalf of everyone who is “similarly situated.” Classes can include anywhere from a few hundred to millions of people, and each person can decide whether to remain as part of the class action or opt out. While class actions have been filed over the years, most asbestos lawsuits are either individual or part of a multidistrict litigation.

Mesothelioma Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) – This process allows people to file individual claims using a process that regularizes similar complaints and develops efficient procedural guidelines, allowing courts to handle more cases without lumping all plaintiffs into a single class. The primary MDL handling mesothelioma cases is MDL 875, In re: Asbestos Products Liability Litigation, which is managed by the Eastern Pennsylvania District of the United States District Court and which has included more than 186,000 cases since it was formed in 2006.

Mesothelioma Lawsuit Process

While every mesothelioma lawsuit is different, there is a succession of steps that every case will need to follow.

Key Steps in the Mesothelioma Lawsuit Process

  1. Free ConsultationDiscuss legal process; answer questions

  2. Research Work & Medical HistoryBuild your case

  3. Asbestos Trust RecoveryAssess eligibility to acquire compensation from companies via an established asbestos trust fund

  4. Other Recovery OptionsAssess eligibility to acquire compensation from companies that have yet to establish an asbestos trust fund

  5. Choosing the Complaint VenueDecide what venue will provide the best outcome for your lawsuit

  6. Filing the LawsuitFile a formal complaint

  7. Discovery PhaseTry to reach financial settlement before the case goes to a full trial

Step 1: Free Consultation

Before filing a lawsuit for your mesothelioma diagnosis, we will meet with you for a free consultation to talk about the various parts of the process. This will give you an opportunity to ask any questions you might have or go over any concerns about the legal process.

This free consultation gives us an opportunity to understand more about the way that you or your loved one might have been exposed to asbestos. We’ll also discuss your medical history, including your diagnosis, with respect to mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases.

Step 2: Research Work & Medical History

Once the initial consult is completed and you choose to pursue a lawsuit, our experienced mesothelioma lawyers will start collecting data to help build your case, including:

  • Medical reports from facilities where you (or your loved one) were treated for mesothelioma
  • Employment history, military service records, union membership, and other documents that support your employment history
  • Statements from witnesses such as co-workers, family members, friends, and product-identification specialists

All of this information will help us build your case to make it as strong as possible.

Step 3: Asbestos Trust Recovery

Once we have collected all the necessary information, we will investigate the possibility of receiving compensation from an asbestos trust fund. These trust funds are created by companies who have previously admitted liability for asbestos-related damages, and if your situation matches one or more trusts’ exposure criteria, it’s possible you will be able to receive remuneration quickly.

Our attorneys are very familiar with asbestos trust requirements, and we have successfully submitted many claims on behalf of our clients who qualify.

Step 4: Other Recovery Options

Not every company that makes or has made products containing asbestos has a trust. Therefore, after evaluating the potential for compensation through asbestos trust funds, we will also assess whether your case may merit an action against any companies who have not yet fully admitted their asbestos liability. Over the course of one to two months, our attorneys will look at the various options available and provide guidance about the best course of action based on your individual case.

Step 5: Choosing the Complaint Venue

Before filing a complaint, it’s extremely important to choose the most appropriate venue. Which venue is best for your lawsuit can be affected by a number of different factors, such as:

  • Calendars and scheduling concerns
  • The process timeframe
  • Settlement and verdict history
  • Local and state laws

Mesothelioma lawsuits may be filed in any forum where a client has lived, worked, or served in the military. There are also a number of “open forum” states that may allow filing, if no other suitable venue is readily available.

Step 6: Filing the Lawsuit

Once the venue is determined, we will file a formal complaint on your behalf. The complaint will detail a number of legal causes of action against the asbestos company (or companies) that are likely culpable in causing or contributing to the mesothelioma diagnosis at the heart of the suit. The number of defendants (companies) named in the initial complaint will depend on both the type of mesothelioma that the victim was diagnosed with and the amount of exposure that person experienced.

Step 7: Discovery Phase

Upon filing the lawsuit, the legal process will move to the discovery phase, where lawyers on both sides will present information in an effort to either support the complaint (plaintiff) or undercut it (defendant). During this period, both sides will file various motions, usually with the intent of trying to reach some kind of financial settlement before the case goes to a full trial.

In most cases, the lawsuit will never reach the next stage of the legal process. Instead, most complaints will be settled before getting to trial. On the rare occasion that a mesothelioma lawsuit does go to trial – which will only happen with your consent – our attorneys have the experience, knowledge, and competence to see it all the way through.

What to Expect During a Mesothelioma Lawsuit

Filing a lawsuit can be emotionally taxing, especially if any part of the process goes on longer than anticipated. The best way to avoid or deal with unexpected complications is to have a team of dedicated attorneys who specialize in asbestos litigation. Additionally, simply familiarizing oneself with the steps involved in a lawsuit may help a mesothelioma victim and/or family member to prepare mentally for any challenging situations that may arise throughout the course of the process of filing a lawsuit.

Mesothelioma Lawsuit Duration

“How long will my lawsuit take?” is a common question asked by many mesothelioma victims and their families, especially given the dire prognosisof the disease. Unfortunately, it’s a question that cannot be answered up front, as the length of the legal procedures tied to the lawsuit can depend heavily on several different elements, including:

  • How many plaintiffs are filing
  • How many defendants are named in the complaint
  • Whether the case is consolidated with other similar cases
  • The number and type of pretrial motions that are filed
  • Complexity of the facts that need to be determined
  • Scheduling and availability of all the parties involved
  • The current docket load in the chosen venue

A study of consolidated cases in New York City Asbestos Litigation (NYCAL) showed that asbestos trials can range anywhere from 11–113 days, with an average of 11–38 days per plaintiff — and that doesn’t include the weeks or months of consultation, research, and discovery that happens before the trial. Lawsuits that are settled without going to trial may be shorter, but the duration can still vary greatly based on the factors above.

Mesothelioma Behavioral and Medical Counterclaims

At trial (or even before), the defendant may try to blame your medical diagnosis on things that let them eschew any responsibility. For example, companies may try to assert that your mesothelioma or asbestos disease was related to other factors, such as:

  • Unhealthy behaviors such as drinking, smoking, or using illegal substances
  • Exposure to asbestos somewhere other than identified, such as at home or a different workplace (for occupational asbestos exposure)
  • Genetic problems or a family history of predisposition for mesothelioma or other forms of cancer
  • The accuracy of your medical diagnosis or the qualifications of the medical professional who diagnosed you

Having all of these aspects of your life questioned again and again may cause anxiety. However, the good news is that you don’t have to respond to these assertions yourself. An attorney who has experience handling mesothelioma litigation will be able to skillfully address these counterclaims.

Mesothelioma Procedural Motions

When faced with the prospect of being held liable for damages related to asbestos, many defendants may also attack the manner in which your complaint was filed. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • That the time limit afforded by the statute of limitations has expired
  • Other technical problems with the petition, even if it is filed within the right timeframe
  • Problems with the venue chosen or reasons why a different venue is more suitable
  • Your authorization to file on behalf of someone who has died from mesothelioma

When handled by an established law firm that has diligently researched your case, these types of counterclaims are rarely successful.


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