Filing a Mesothelioma Lawsuit
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, or if one of your loved ones had mesothelioma and has died as a result of it, you may want to consider filing a mesothelioma lawsuit. If successful, you will be able to receive financial compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and the pain and suffering that the illness has caused. However, there are a number of different mesothelioma lawsuits that can be filed, and it is important to understand the differences between these alternatives.
The Personal Injury Claim
Personal injury claims are generally filed by the person who is diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness. These cases are unique, however, because these illnesses often don’t become apparent until many years after exposure, sometimes as much as 50 years. In regular personal injury claims, there are usually quite short statutes of limitations, which start running from the moment the actual injury occurred. Because of the latency period of asbestos-related illnesses, however, the statute of limitations works differently in these cases. The statute of limitations starts running at the time of diagnosis, rather than the time of exposure.
The Wrongful Death Claim
Mesothelioma has a very poor prognosis, which is usually no more than 12 months. As a result, for those who file a mesothelioma lawsuit, there is a big chance that they will pass away before the case has been decided on. If this happens, then the surviving family members of the deceased can ask the court to pick the case back up, but this time as a wrongful death case. Alternatively, if the deceased did not file a personal injury claim at all, then the surviving relatives can file a wrongful death claim as well. However, they do have to do this quite quickly, as the statute of limitations clock starts ticking at the moment of diagnosis.
How to File a Claim
There are four main options to file a mesothelioma lawsuit. Because each of these options are complex, and because it is vital to file the right one, it is a good decision to seek legal advice. A lawyer who specializes in asbestos lawsuits will be able to provide you with the best advice.
1. Bankruptcy Trust
Because asbestos is now banned across the board, a lot of companies that relied heavily on it, either as part of their products or because they manufactured or mined it themselves, have now gone out of business and have filed for bankruptcy. This can be difficult for those who wanted to file a mesothelioma lawsuit against these companies. However, what is important to understand is that many of the companies that filed for bankruptcy didn’t do so because they were out of money, but rather because they wanted to become more stable in a reorganized manner. Furthermore, many bankruptcy courts have forced such companies to pay into a mesothelioma compensation fund, or bankruptcy trust, to be able to pay settlements as and when they come in. Bankruptcy trusts are in place to ensure those who have an asbestos-related illness can receive compensation.
The second option is to attempt litigation. If you have an asbestos-related illness, this may be as a result of the fact that the company that produced the asbestos was negligent, for instance, by not warning about the danger posed by asbestos. You can file a claim against these companies, asking them to compensate you for things such as pain and suffering, lost income, and loss of consortium.
Furthermore, there may be some other expenses that can be covered under litigation. A lawyer will be able to look at your case and determine what you can be compensated for. It is also for this reason that you must keep any documents relating to your illness, including medical bills, travel expenses, and more.
3. Workers’ Compensation
Different states have different workers’ compensation laws, and these often change every year. Under worker’s compensation, you may receive money towards pain and suffering, lost wages, and to cover your medical bills. In addition, it is almost always the case that if you file a worker’s compensation suit, you will not be able to also file a litigation suit. Additionally, you have to understand that there is a big difference between compensation and eligibility.
Asbestos is very complex, which is why worker’s compensation claims are equally complex. If, for instance, you became ill because you were exposed to asbestos in the workplace, a lawyer will usually recommend that you file a personal injury lawsuit, instead of workers’ compensation. The exception is when your employer was an asbestos company. In that case, it is more common for a lawsuit to be filed against that company.
4. Veterans’ Benefits
The final option is to file for VA benefits. Those who served in the armed forces are very likely to have been exposed to asbestos during their service, particularly if they were in the navy, although exposure was possible in all parts of the U.S. Armed Forces. Those who were active during World War II and during the Vietnam War are at particular risk.
If you are a veteran, and your asbestos-related illness is as a result of work that you did while serving in the military, then you can file with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which can provide you with compensation for any illnesses or injuries you sustained. You can claim for indemnity compensation, dependency compensation, VA health care, and disability compensation. It should be noted that while the system is quite clearly set out, it is still better to seek help from a legal professional.
Why You Need a Lawyer
It is very important that you find a lawyer who will be able to properly represent you. If possible, you should find an attorney who specializes in asbestos-related illnesses, including mesothelioma. They will be able to listen to your story and review the evidence you provide them with in order to determine what type of case would be most suitable to file. They can also set the ball in motion, providing the courts with all the relevant documentation. Furthermore, they will be aware of any trusts that exist that you can claim against. Lastly, they will be able to find out who is responsible for the pain and suffering you are going through, who should compensate you, and to what degree. These lawyers will also be able to help you if you are the surviving relative of someone who died as a result of an asbestos-related illness, like mesothelioma.
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