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A mesothelioma lawsuit can provide families with compensation to pay for expenses related to a mesothelioma diagnosis or death. There are two primary types of mesothelioma lawsuits: personal injury and wrongful death. A mesothelioma lawyer can advise patients and their families throughout the compensation process.


01. Types of Lawsuits

Types of Mesothelioma Lawsuits

There are two main types of asbestos lawsuits: personal injury and wrongful death. In addition to personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits, mesothelioma and asbestos cases may be handled as class action lawsuits or through multidistrict litigation.

The type of lawsuit filed will differ based on several factors, including who is filing and what kind of damages they wish to pursue.

Mesothelioma Personal Injury Lawsuit

Personal injury lawsuits are filed by the mesothelioma patient after diagnosis. Compensation from personal injury lawsuits allows the patient to recover money for treatment, travel, lost income, pain, suffering and related costs.

About Mesothelioma Personal Injury Lawsuits

  • Filed against the parties responsible for the patient’s asbestos exposure and resulting asbestos-related diagnosis
  • Claim specific damages due to illness caused by asbestos exposure

Mesothelioma Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Wrongful death lawsuits are filed by family members after the death of a loved one from mesothelioma. These lawsuits are different from personal injury cases.

Filing a mesothelioma lawsuit after death allows the family to recover compensation related to outstanding medical bills, funeral expenses, lost income potential, loss of consortium and related costs.

About Mesothelioma Wrongful Death Lawsuits

  • Filed against the parties responsible for the asbestos exposure leading to death
  • Claim specific damages related to the death of the individual

Other Types of Mesothelioma & Asbestos Lawsuits

In addition to individual lawsuits, there are also class action mesothelioma lawsuits and multidistrict litigations.

Your personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit may be handled individually. In some cases, lawsuits may be combined with other similar claims through a mesothelioma class action lawsuit or multidistrict litigation.

Individual Lawsuits

  • A single plaintiff files a lawsuit against one or more companies for injuries caused by asbestos exposure.
  • Each side files motions and presents evidence to the judge and jury.
  • Resolution occurs when a settlement is accepted or when the trial jury reaches a verdict.

Class Action Lawsuits

  • One or more plaintiffs file a lawsuit on behalf of a group of people. The plaintiffs have similar injuries caused by the same incident. The lawsuit can represent anywhere from a small group to millions of people.
  • Each individual can decide whether to remain part of the class action lawsuit or to opt out. If you choose to leave a class action lawsuit, you are still able to pursue an individual case or claim.
  • Most asbestos lawsuits are handled as individual cases or as part of multidistrict litigation.

Multidistrict Litigation (MDL)

  • Multiple people file individual asbestos claims using a process that standardizes similar complaints.
  • The standardized procedure allows the courts to handle a large number of cases quickly.
  • The primary MDL handling mesothelioma cases is MDL 875, In re: Asbestos Products Liability Litigation. The Eastern Pennsylvania District of the United States District Court manages the MDL. Since its formation in 2006, MDL 875 includes more than 186,000 cases.

Ultimately, an experienced mesothelioma lawyer will be able to provide you with information regarding all filing options and advise what is best for you.

02. Why File a Lawsuit?

Why Should You File a Mesothelioma Lawsuit?

A mesothelioma lawsuit may result in compensation to cover expenses. A mesothelioma diagnosis can cost families thousands of dollars in medical expenses, lost wages and other related costs.

Average award amounts vary from $1 – $1.4 million for settlements and around $2.4 million for verdicts.

Filing a lawsuit can be a solution for mesothelioma patients and families to cover long-term expenses, such as treatment and follow-up care. Although health insurance may cover health-related costs, it typically doesn’t compensate for financial losses. When determining compensation awards, historical and expected future expenses will be considered.

Mesothelioma lawsuits may provide compensation for:

  • Treatment costs not covered by insurance
  • Lost income
  • Travel expenses
  • Pain and suffering

In addition to compensating victims, mesothelioma lawsuits also hold companies and other defendants accountable for their negligence. Filing a mesothelioma cancer lawsuit may set a precedent to ensure future claimants receive the compensation they deserve.

Ultimately, the decision to file a lawsuit is yours. An experienced mesothelioma attorney can help you decide the best legal option for your case.

03. Lawsuit Eligibility

Mesothelioma & Asbestos Lawsuit Eligibility

If you choose to pursue a lawsuit, you will need to meet a set of requirements. Criteria may differ depending on the type of lawsuit you file.

Are You Eligible to File a Mesothelioma Lawsuit?

You may be eligible to file a mesothelioma lawsuit if:

  • You have medical documentation of a mesothelioma diagnosis.
  • You submit the claim within the time frame of the statute of limitations.
  • You and your attorney are able to provide compelling evidence against the defendant, such as proof of asbestos exposure.

Finding all of this information may be a long process, but the correct legal representation can make the process easier.

How the Statute of Limitations Impacts Eligibility

The statute of limitations is a state-specific time limit in which you are able to file a lawsuit for personal injury or wrongful death. Typically, these time periods begin after a mesothelioma diagnosis or the death of a loved one.

Most states have a one- to four-year timeline after these events to file a mesothelioma claim. Where to file may depend on the state you reside in, the state where the defendant is located or the state where the exposure took place. A legal representative can help you determine if you are within the appropriate time frame.

04. How to File a Lawsuit

How to File a Mesothelioma Lawsuit

The mesothelioma lawsuit process begins with consulting an attorney and gathering information. Lawyers will assist you throughout the process, providing guidance and representation.

By filing a lawsuit, plaintiffs may be able to receive compensation.

Mesothelioma Lawsuit Process

  1. Receive a Free Consultation
  2. Research the Details of Your Case
  3. Determine Your Recovery Options
  4. File the Lawsuit
  5. Begin the Discovery Phase

Step 1: Receive a Free Consultation

Before filing a lawsuit, a mesothelioma law firm typically provides a free consultation to talk about the process. This will give you an opportunity to ask questions and express any concerns you may have.

The consultation also gives your law firm the opportunity to understand more about how you or your loved one might have been exposed to asbestos. You’ll then discuss your medical history, including your diagnosis of an asbestos-related disease.

Step 2: Research the Details of Your Lawsuit

Once the initial consultation is completed, your mesothelioma lawyer will start collecting data. This information will help build your case to make it as strong as possible. To build a strong mesothelioma lawsuit, you will need:

  • Medical reports: Medical records confirm a mesothelioma diagnosis and provide verification of treatment costs. These records should come from facilities where the patient received diagnosis or treatment for mesothelioma.
  • Employment history: Records from any jobs with potential asbestos exposure are vital for building a case. This may include military service records, union memberships or any other work-history documentation.
  • Witness statements: Statements from coworkers, family members and friends who can testify about your exposure can be helpful. Other parties, such as product-identification specialists, can also provide strong evidence.

Before filing a complaint, it is also important to choose the most appropriate venue to file. A venue is the state where your case will be handled. Factors that can impact which venue is best for your lawsuit include:

  • Statute of limitations
  • Settlement and verdict history
  • Local and state laws

Claimants may file a mesothelioma lawsuit where they have lived, worked or served in the military. There are also “open forum” states that may allow filing if no other suitable venue is available.

Step 3: Determine Your Recovery Options

Once you’ve decided to move forward with a case, your asbestos attorneys will investigate different possibilities for compensation. In addition to lawsuit verdict awards, compensation may be available through asbestos trusts, settlements or veterans’ claims.

Your lawyers will investigate the possibility of filing a claim with an asbestos trust fund. For a trust claim, you file a claim against the asbestos company responsible for your exposure. Trust funds are set up to provide compensation for current and future claimants. If you meet the trust’s criteria, you may be able to receive mesothelioma compensation quickly.

Your mesothelioma attorney will also assess other opportunities. Often, successful cases can be built against companies that have not yet established trust funds. Your legal team will provide guidance about the best course of action for your case.

Step 4: File the Lawsuit

After conducting research and determining a venue, your lawyer will file a formal complaint on your behalf. This complaint will detail legal causes of action against the defendants. The number of defendants named in the complaint will depend on your asbestos exposure history. Some individuals may have come into contact with asbestos at several jobs and will name all of these employers in a lawsuit.

Step 5: Begin the Discovery Phase

Upon filing the lawsuit, the legal process will move to the discovery phase. In this phase, your lawyer and the defendant’s lawyer will present information to support each side of the case. Both sides will file various motions, often with the intent of reaching a financial settlement before the case goes to trial.

Some complaints will be settled before going to trial. If the mesothelioma lawsuit does go to trial, your attorney can guide you through the process.

05. What to Expect

What to Expect When You File an Asbestos Lawsuit

Every lawsuit is different. Patients and loved ones should talk to an attorney to get a better idea of what to expect.

How Long Does a Mesothelioma Lawsuit Take?

Mesothelioma patients often ask how long they can expect a mesothelioma lawsuit to last. A number of factors can influence a mesothelioma lawsuit timeline, including:

  • Number of plaintiffs filing
  • Current caseload of chosen venue
  • Number of defendants named in the complaint
  • Lawsuit type
  • Number and type of pretrial motions filed
  • Complexity of facts that need to be determined
  • Scheduling and availability of all involved parties

According to New York City data, asbestos trials can range anywhere from 11 to 113 days, with an average of 11 to 38 days per plaintiff. Those averages also don’t include the consultation, research and discovery phases that happen before the trial.

Lawsuits settled without going to trial may be shorter, but the duration can still vary.

Behavioral and Medical Counterclaims

The defendant may try to defend their case by making counterclaims and disputing a claim’s validity. Counterclaims can occur before or during the trial. Asbestos companies may try to assert your diagnosis of mesothelioma or asbestos cancer was caused by other factors, including:

  • Unhealthy behaviors, such as drinking, smoking or using illegal substances
  • Exposure to asbestos elsewhere, such as at home or a different workplace (for those who faced occupational asbestos exposure)
  • Genetic problems or a family history of predisposition for mesothelioma or other forms of cancer

They may also challenge the accuracy of your medical diagnosis or the qualifications of the medical professional who gave your diagnosis. Although disconcerting, an experienced asbestos attorney can address these counterclaims on your behalf.

Procedural Motions

When faced with an asbestos exposure lawsuit, the defendant may also challenge how you filed your complaint. Some possible claims defendants may make include:

  • Expiration of the statute of limitations
  • Other technical problems with the petition, even if it is filed within the right time frame
  • 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 spent time researching and building all aspects of your case, these types of counterclaims are rarely successful.

Asbestos Lawsuits by State

Each state has rules and regulations for mesothelioma lawsuits and other types of asbestos litigation. State regulations may also provide limits for compensation awards based on the type of lawsuit.

For state-specific information about mesothelioma and asbestos laws, choose your state from the list below:

06. Notable Lawsuit Verdicts

Notable Mesothelioma & Asbestos Lawsuit Verdicts

Mesothelioma lawsuit verdicts may result in more compensation for the plaintiff than a trust fund claim or settlement. The amounts won in these cases vary based on a number of details, such as disease severity and exposure history. Many patients and families receive millions of dollars through favorable verdicts.

For trial verdicts, jurors will determine the amount of compensation awarded. Trial verdicts can also be appealed or overturned.

Some notable mesothelioma and asbestos lawsuit verdicts include:

  • In 2010, a California jury awarded a 71-year-old woman $208.8 million in total damages. She developed mesothelioma caused by secondary exposure to asbestos fibers on her husband’s clothing. The trial award included $200 million in punitive damages against CertainTeed Corporation and $8.8 million in compensatory damages.
  • In 2017, a jury awarded $82 million in a wrongful death lawsuit. The claimant’s wife was exposed to asbestos in auto parts sold by NAPA Auto.
  • In 2015, a man won a $7.5 million verdict in his personal injury case. His lawsuit alleged asbestos exposure during his work on boilers and furnaces in the 1970s and 1980s. The total award included $5 million for pain and suffering, $1.5 million to his wife for loss of services and $1 million in punitive damages.

Verdict amounts can vary widely based on the details of specific cases.

07. Common Questions

Common Questions About Mesothelioma Lawsuits

Can I file a lawsuit on behalf of a deceased loved one?

Family members can file lawsuits on behalf of a lost loved one. This is known as a wrongful death lawsuit. An experienced lawyer can help with your mesothelioma claim and determine if you are eligible.

How do I choose a defendant if I don’t know how I was exposed to asbestos?

Your mesothelioma legal team will thoroughly research your personal and occupational history to pinpoint potential instances of asbestos exposure. This research will include your employment records, service records and other details.

Even individuals exposed at home, school or in other ways are often able to find data to support a claim. Based on these details and documents, your lawyer can 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?

You can file claims or lawsuits against companies that no longer exist. For example, companies that have ceased operations are often required to set up asbestos bankruptcy trust funds to pay current and future claims brought against them.

If an asbestos company has been acquired by another company, it may be possible to bring a lawsuit against the parent company.

Will I need to travel if I file a lawsuit?

Mesothelioma lawyers typically travel to you for interviews, research and other tasks pertaining to the case. They will also appear in court on your behalf, allowing you to avoid travel.

How much time does a lawsuit take?

Lawsuits may take anywhere from 11 to 113 days, according to data compiled from New York City Asbestos Litigation (NYCAL). Though every case is different, an average of 11 to 38 days from filing to finish, per plaintiff, may be expected.

Can I receive compensation for other asbestos-related diseases?

You can receive compensation for asbestos-related diseases besides mesothelioma. If you meet the filing requirements for a lawsuit, you may be able to pursue a verdict for your asbestosis or asbestos lung cancer diagnosis.

How much money can I expect from an asbestos case?

The average mesothelioma verdict award is around $2.4 million. Award amounts vary depending on the unique details of a case and what type of compensation you choose to pursue.
Jennifer is a legal advisor and contributor to Mesothelioma.com.
Written by

Jennifer Lucarelli Legal Advisor and Contributor

Jennifer Lucarelli is a partner at the law firm of Early, Lucarelli, Sweeney & Meisenkothen, specializing in asbestos litigation.


Full Bio Editorial Guidelines
Linda is the editor in chief at Mesothelioma.com.
Reviewed By

Linda Molinari Editor in Chief

Linda Molinari has more than 15 years of experience as a writer and advocate for mesothelioma patients and a ban on asbestos.


Full Bio
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    Ableman PL, Kelso PR and Scarcella MC. The Consolidation Effect: New York City Asbestos Verdicts, Due Process And Judicial Efficiency. Mealey’s Litigation Report: Asbestos. May 2015.

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    Bates CE and Mullin CH. Show Me The Money. Mealey’s Litigation Report: Asbestos. December 2007.

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    Redding B. Los Angeles Jury Awards $200 Million in Punitive Damages for Secondhand Asbestos Exposure. Lexis Nexis. April 2010.

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    Van Gelder SE and Linton AM. Non-Traditional Asbestos Litigation: New Products And Industries In The Crosshairs. Mealey’s Litigation Report: Asbestos. November 2014.

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