01. Asbestos Lawsuit Options
Types of Mesothelioma Lawsuits
Personal injury and wrongful death are the two main types of asbestos lawsuits. The type of asbestos lawsuit a person files depends on the type of harm they experienced. Asbestos victims who develop mesothelioma may file a personal injury lawsuit. The loved ones of a deceased victim may file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Mesothelioma lawsuit compensation can provide much-needed help for patients and their loved ones. Compensation from a successful lawsuit can help cover treatment costs, lost wages and other expenses.
Mesothelioma Personal Injury Lawsuit
Personal injury lawsuits may be an option for people diagnosed with mesothelioma. For this type of case, an injured person files against parties allegedly responsible for their injury. For asbestos personal injury lawsuits, the parties usually include an:
- Alleged responsible party (defendant): An asbestos company
- Injured party (plaintiff): The person diagnosed with mesothelioma
Asbestos companies used asbestos in products and/or the manufacturing process. They exposed workers and consumers to this dangerous mineral. When a person develops mesothelioma as a result, the company can be held liable.
A successful mesothelioma personal injury case can result in financial compensation. Liable asbestos companies may have to pay to cover expenses related to treatment, travel and lost wages. They may also owe the injured party for other reasons, such as compensation for the pain and suffering they caused.
Mesothelioma Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Loved ones of a deceased mesothelioma patient may be able to file a wrongful death asbestos lawsuit against parties allegedly responsible for the patient’s death. For asbestos wrongful death lawsuits, the parties usually include an:
- Alleged responsible party (defendant): An asbestos company
- Injured party (plaintiff): Family members of a deceased mesothelioma patient
Asbestos companies may be held liable when a person dies from mesothelioma after the company exposed them to asbestos. Mesothelioma wrongful death lawsuits can result in compensation. Liable asbestos companies may have to pay to compensate for:
- End-of-life costs
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of inheritance
- Lost income potential
- Medical expenses
What Happens When a Person Dies During Their Personal Injury Lawsuit?
A personal injury lawsuit does not end or automatically turn into a wrongful death lawsuit if the injured party dies during the lawsuit. Instead, a representative of the deceased continues the personal injury lawsuit on their behalf. Additionally, the deceased’s representative may then pursue wrongful death damages in the personal injury lawsuit. These legal actions may result in compensation.
Other Types of Asbestos Exposure Lawsuits
Personal injury and wrongful death asbestos lawsuits are usually litigated as individual cases. In rare instances, several lawsuits may be combined in a class action or multidistrict litigation (MDL).
Class Action Lawsuits
Class action lawsuits allow one or more people to file a lawsuit on behalf of a group of people. Group members in a mesothelioma class action lawsuit often have similar injuries and asbestos-exposure histories. The lawsuit can represent anywhere from a few up to thousands of people.
Individuals can decide whether to remain part of the class action lawsuit or to opt out. Those who leave a class action lawsuit may pursue an individual lawsuit. Individuals who choose to remain in the class action lawsuit are not able to file an individual case in the future.
Mesothelioma class actions are rare, so it is difficult to determine average compensation amounts. In non-asbestos class actions, compensation is often less than a person would get from an individual lawsuit.
Multidistrict Litigation (MDL)
MDL is a method of transferring similar lawsuits to one court. It is aimed at reducing case burden on the federal court system. MDL combines similar individual lawsuits for pretrial matters. The cases then go to trial as individual lawsuits.
The primary MDL handling mesothelioma cases is MDL 875, In re: Asbestos Products Liability Litigation. The Eastern District of Pennsylvania United States District Court manages the MDL.
MDL has fallen out of favor with people filing asbestos lawsuits. Asbestos attorneys believe federal MDL tends to favor asbestos companies. They usually prefer to file in state courts that are friendlier to injured parties.
Injured parties may want to explore different methods for filing asbestos lawsuits. An experienced mesothelioma lawyer can help determine the best filing options for an individual’s case.
Did You Know?
02. Lawsuit Eligibility
Mesothelioma Lawsuit Eligibility
Individuals wishing to file a mesothelioma lawsuit need to meet certain requirements to be eligible. An asbestos attorney can explain these requirements and work to meet any requirements on their client’s behalf. They can also help explain how to file different types of lawsuits.
Are You Eligible to File a Mesothelioma Lawsuit?
You may be eligible to file a mesothelioma lawsuit if:
- For mesothelioma patients, you provide evidence a doctor diagnosed you with mesothelioma. For family members of deceased patients, you show the deceased died of mesothelioma.
- You can present evidence that the party you are suing may be liable. For example, you may present documents showing you or your loved one worked at a known asbestos jobsite.
- You submit the lawsuit within the time frame outlined in a state’s statute of limitations.
An experienced mesothelioma law firm can help you meet any eligibility requirements. The legal teams at these firms can help identify and gather appropriate documents. They can also help ensure a lawsuit is filed by the appropriate deadline.
How the Statute of Limitations Impacts Eligibility
Statutes of limitations are laws that set deadlines for filing different types of lawsuits. A state may have different deadlines for filing personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits. For personal injury asbestos cases, the time to file begins when a person receives a mesothelioma diagnosis. For wrongful death asbestos cases, it begins when a death from mesothelioma occurs.
Most states have one- to three-year deadlines for filing personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits. Mesothelioma patients and their loved ones may not be limited to filing in the state they live in. Other places where injured parties may be able to file asbestos lawsuits include:
- The state(s) where the asbestos company is located
- The state(s) where the asbestos exposure took place
An asbestos attorney can help locate an advantageous place to file a lawsuit. States seen as favorable for asbestos cases include Illinois, New York, Michigan and California.
Mesothelioma patients are better able to meet filing deadlines when they contact a lawyer soon after being diagnosed. Filing soon after diagnosis can help patients more quickly receive compensation to pay expenses.
States With the Longest Statute of Limitations
- In general, states set a 1- to 3-year deadline for filing personal injury lawsuits.
- Some states provide more time to file a personal injury lawsuit. For example, Maine and North Dakota both allow 6 years. Missouri allows 5 years. Florida and Minnesota allow 4 years.
- In general, states set a 1- to 3-year deadline for filing wrongful death lawsuits.
- Popular states for filing asbestos lawsuits have a mix of wrongful death deadlines. Missouri and Michigan allow 3 years. Illinois and New York allow 2 years. California only allows 1 year to file.
Learn About Mesothelioma Laws in Your State
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- Washington, D.C.
- West Virginia
03. Why File a Lawsuit?
Why File a Mesothelioma Lawsuit?
Asbestos lawsuits may result in financial compensation for mesothelioma patients. Mesothelioma compensation can help cover medical bills, travel expenses, lost wages and other costs. It can also help provide families financial stability.
Average award amounts for asbestos lawsuits vary and may depend on whether the injured party settles before trial. Mesothelioma settlements usually range from $1 – $1.4 million. Trial verdicts average around $2.4 million.
Ultimately, the choice to file a lawsuit is yours. An experienced mesothelioma lawyer can help you decide whether to pursue legal action. Asbestos law firms usually provide a free consultation to people considering an asbestos lawsuit.
Individuals who decide to pursue a lawsuit receive support throughout the process. For instance, a mesothelioma lawyer can handle filing and litigating the case, leaving patients time to focus on treatment.
Reasons to File an Asbestos Lawsuit
- Cover lost earning potential caused by inability to work
- Cover lost wages caused by inability to work
- Cover medical and other treatment-related costs, like travel expenses and follow-up care
- Hold companies responsible for their wrongdoing and set a precedent for future accountability
- Provide financial security for asbestos victims and their families
Resources for Mesothelioma Patients
04. Steps to File a Lawsuit
How to File a Mesothelioma Lawsuit
Filing a mesothelioma lawsuit begins with talking to an attorney, typically at a free consultation. The mesothelioma attorney then assists in gathering the information needed to file. This may include medical records, employment records and other evidence. The attorney can then file and litigate the case on behalf of the injured party.
Asbestos litigation may vary in some ways depending on the type of lawsuit, but they tend to follow a general procedure. The typical asbestos lawsuit process involves these steps:
- Receive a free consultation
- Research the details of your case
- Determine your recovery options
- File the lawsuit
- Begin the discovery phase
- Reach a resolution through settlement or verdict
Asbestos cases may result in compensation for patients and their loved ones.
Step 1: Receive a Free Consultation
Before filing a lawsuit, a mesothelioma law firm typically provides a free consultation. The firm’s lawyers can explain the asbestos litigation process during this consultation. You can use this time to ask questions and express any concerns you may have about filing.
The consultation also gives attorneys the opportunity to learn about your case. They can ask about your medical history, including your asbestos-related disease diagnosis. Also, they can ask about your work history to help determine how you may have been exposed if it is not already clear. Asbestos attorneys know which companies have a history of asbestos use and can help pinpoint exposure sources.
Step 2: Research the Details of Your Lawsuit
Once you have decided to pursue your lawsuit, your mesothelioma lawyers will begin building your case. Your attorney will assist in collecting the components of a strong mesothelioma lawsuit, including:
- Employment history records: Records of jobs where asbestos exposure may have occurred are an important part of a case. These may include military service records, union memberships or any other work-history documentation.
- Medical reports: Medical records confirm a mesothelioma diagnosis and verify treatment costs. These records can be requested from the facilities where a patient received their diagnosis or treatment.
- Witness statements: Co-workers, family members and friends may be able to provide firsthand knowledge of your asbestos exposure. Also, expert witnesses and specialists may provide useful statements on your behalf.
Often, you have options where to file your lawsuit and a mesothelioma lawyer can research the best place. For example, you may be able to file where you live, have lived or where an asbestos company is located.
Your lawyers will consider several factors when choosing the best place to file your asbestos lawsuit, including:
- Court’s settlement and verdict history
- State’s statutes of limitations
- Other local and state laws related to your case
Your mesothelioma attorney can determine the most favorable place to file given the unique facts of your case.
Step 3: Determine Your Recovery Options
After collecting vital information, your asbestos attorneys will investigate different possibilities for compensation. Financial compensation may be available through a mesothelioma verdict or settlement. It may also be available through other legal options like trust fund claims and veterans’ claims.
Your legal team will provide guidance about the best course of action for your case. This may include both filing a lawsuit and pursuing other legal options. An experienced attorney can help navigate these options to give you the best chance of receiving compensation.
Step 4: File the Lawsuit
Once your case is built and your filing options determined, your lawyer will file a lawsuit on your behalf. The filing will detail the legal case against those alleged to have caused the asbestos exposure.
The lawsuit may seek compensation from several parties. This is because some individuals may have come into contact with multiple asbestos sources. A single lawsuit may name several allegedly responsible parties. Some of these parties may try to settle, others may not. At trial, a judge or jury will decide whether different parties are wholly or partially responsible for a person’s injuries.
Step 5: Begin the Discovery Phase
Upon filing the lawsuit, the legal process will move to the discovery phase. During this phase, both sides will present and ask for information to support their case. Both sides will likely file various motions, often with the intent of settling before trial.
Step 6: Reach Resolution Through a Settlement or Verdict
Some lawsuits will be settled before going to trial. You may choose to accept, counter or reject a settlement offer. Mesothelioma settlement amounts average $1 million – $1.4 million. Your lawyer can negotiate on your behalf if a settlement is offered.
If the mesothelioma lawsuit does go to trial, your attorney can argue your case. A trial may result in a verdict in your favor. The average verdict for mesothelioma cases is $2.4 million.
Alternatives to Asbestos Lawsuits
Mesothelioma patients and their loved ones may be able to receive compensation in other ways than lawsuits. But lawsuits may result in higher compensation than other types of mesothelioma claims. In many cases, other avenues for compensation are supplemental to filing a lawsuit. These other ways to receive mesothelioma compensation may include:
- Asbestos bankruptcy trust claim: Many asbestos companies filed for bankruptcy because of the high number of asbestos cases filed against them. These companies have established trusts to pay out all present and future asbestos claims.
- VA claim: Asbestos use in the military was common during the 20th century. Veterans with mesothelioma may be eligible for benefits through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
- Workers’ compensation claim: Most states require businesses to have insurance to cover employees injured on the job. Workers’ compensation insurance may cover a mesothelioma diagnosis from on-the-job asbestos exposure.
Seeking one form of compensation does not necessarily prevent a person from seeking other types. Mesothelioma patients and their loved ones may end up filing several legal actions. They can discuss their options for compensation with their legal team.
Besides compensation, mesothelioma patients may also be eligible for other benefits. For example, private health insurance, Medicare and Medicaid can provide coverage for treatment costs. However, these options may not reimburse patients and family members for treatment-related costs, such as traveling to an out-of-state cancer center. Mesothelioma compensation awards can help pay for these and other expenses.
Connect With a Top Mesothelioma Lawyer
Get help identifying and contacting a top mesothelioma lawyer near you.
05. What to Expect
What to Expect When You File an Asbestos Lawsuit
Each mesothelioma lawsuit will be different. The unique facts of the case, the behavior of the party being sued and other factors can affect how the case proceeds. An experienced mesothelioma attorney can explain how these factors affect a specific case.
How Long Does a Mesothelioma Lawsuit Take?
Mesothelioma patients and their loved ones often ask how long they can expect a mesothelioma lawsuit to last. Several factors can influence a mesothelioma lawsuit timeline, including:
- Availability of parties
- Availability of witnesses for depositions
- Court’s caseload
- Facts of the case
- Lawsuit type
- Number of motions filed
- Number of parties
Depending on the case, asbestos lawsuits may take anywhere from several months to one year or longer. Lawsuits settled without going to trial may be shorter, but the duration can still vary.
Behavioral and Medical Counterclaims
Asbestos companies may challenge cases against them with counterclaims. Companies file counterclaims before trial and may try to challenge the validity of the case. They may argue that a person’s mesothelioma or asbestos-related cancer was caused by other things, including:
- Exposure in a different place, like at home or a different workplace
- Genetics, like a family history of mesothelioma or other forms of cancer
- Unhealthy behavior, like drinking, smoking or illegal-substance use
Asbestos companies may also challenge a diagnosis’s accuracy or a diagnosing doctor’s qualifications. An experienced asbestos attorney can address any counterclaims on their client’s behalf.
Asbestos companies may not only challenge the facts of a case, but they may also challenge how a case was filed. For example, an asbestos company may claim:
- Lawsuit filed in the wrong court
- Statute of limitations expired
- Wrong person to file on behalf of deceased patient
- Other technical problems with the filing
Working with an experienced mesothelioma law firm will help make sure these types of motions are unsuccessful.
06. Notable Lawsuit Verdicts
Notable Mesothelioma Lawsuit Verdicts
Mesothelioma lawsuit verdicts may result in higher compensation than settlements or other claims. Several factors affect the amount of compensation in each case, such as disease severity, exposure history and the court where the case is tried. Patients and families can receive millions of dollars through favorable verdicts.
In addition to standard compensation, a verdict may include punitive damages. Standard compensation covers a person’s injuries. Punitive damages are additional compensation owed by the liable party meant to punish them for bad behavior. Despite their different purposes, an injured party receives both types of compensation if they are awarded at trial.
Some notable mesothelioma lawsuit verdicts include:
A 71-year-old woman developed mesothelioma through exposure to asbestos on her husband’s clothing. The award included $200 million in punitive damages against CertainTeed Corporation and $8.8 million in compensatory damages.
A former employee of a heating and cooling firm alleged asbestos exposure from several jobsites where he worked on boilers and furnaces in the 1970s and 1980s. The award included $5 million for pain and suffering, $1.5 million to his wife for loss of services and $1 million in punitive damages.
A jury found two companies liable after a 62-year-old woman died of mesothelioma caused by secondary asbestos exposure. The award included $22 million for personal injury and $10 million for wrongful death.
History of Asbestos Litigation and Famous Mesothelioma Cases
The history of asbestos litigation stretches back several decades. In 1973, Borel v. Fibreboard Paper Products Corporation marked the first major victory of a mesothelioma patient against an asbestos company.
This case was decided 13 years after scientists definitively linked mesothelioma to asbestos exposure. Borel involved an insulation worker who developed both mesothelioma and asbestosis. He claimed that several manufacturers failed to warn him of the dangers of handling asbestos.
Other major mesothelioma cases include:
- In 1997, the Supreme Court rejected a major settlement in a mesothelioma class action lawsuit. The court noted several issues with filing asbestos cases as class actions. After this, the trend has been for mesothelioma victims and their families to file their cases individually.
- In 2003, an Illinois jury awarded $250 million to a former U.S. Steel employee who developed mesothelioma. This verdict is one of the highest awards ever in an individual mesothelioma case.
Trends in asbestos litigation depend on many factors. Court rulings, asbestos laws and new information about asbestos companies all affect litigation. For example, a 2018 report revealed evidence that Johnson & Johnson (J&J) knew about asbestos in its talc products. J&J now faces lawsuits from thousands of victims of asbestos exposure.
The asbestos litigation landscape has continually changed since the first major asbestos case in the 1970s. It will likely continue to evolve. Dedicated asbestos attorneys stay on the forefront of these changes.
07. Common Questions
Common Questions About Mesothelioma Lawsuits
Can I file a lawsuit on behalf of a deceased loved one?
- Family members, and sometimes other loved ones, can file lawsuits on behalf of a deceased mesothelioma patient. This is known as a wrongful death lawsuit. An experienced mesothelioma lawyer can determine eligibility and help with your lawsuit.
How do I choose a defendant if I don’t know how I was exposed to asbestos?
- Your mesothelioma legal team will research your personal and occupational history, including employment records, service records and other details. This will help them pinpoint potential instances of asbestos exposure. Even individuals exposed at home, at school or in other ways are often able to find data to support a case. Based on this research, your lawyer can help determine where and how you were exposed to asbestos.
Is it too late to get compensation if a company has been bought or no longer exists?
- Often, you can file claims or lawsuits against companies that no longer exist. For example, asbestos companies that have ceased operations are often required to set up asbestos bankruptcy trust funds. These funds are designed to pay current and future claims brought against them. If an asbestos company is acquired, it may be possible to bring an asbestos lawsuit against the new parent company.
Will I need to travel if I file a lawsuit?
- You will likely not need to travel for your lawsuit. Mesothelioma lawyers usually travel to you for case-related matters. This includes interviews, research and other tasks. They will also appear in court on your behalf, allowing you to avoid travel and stress.
How long does a mesothelioma lawsuit take?
- Each mesothelioma lawsuit is unique, so there is no exact time frame of how long it will take. Depending on the case, a mesothelioma lawsuit may take several months to one year or longer. Settlements may be reached more quickly than trial verdicts.
Can you sue if you have asbestosis?
- Asbestosis patients may be able to file an asbestosis lawsuit against parties responsible for their asbestos exposure. If the court finds the company liable, you may receive compensation.
How much money can I expect from an asbestos case?
- The average mesothelioma verdict award is around $2.4 million. The average mesothelioma lawsuit settlement ranges between $1 million and $1.4 million. Mesothelioma compensation varies depending on the unique details of a case, the type of lawsuit or claim and other factors.
What are my asbestos lawsuit options if the liable company filed for bankruptcy?
- If an asbestos company filed for bankruptcy, you may still have compensation options. Many bankrupt asbestos companies create trust funds to compensate victims. You may also be able to file a VA claim or workers’ compensation claim. Private health insurance, Medicaid, Medicare and/or disability insurance may also cover expenses.