Asbestos Lawsuit: FAQs and Answers
Below are answers to the questions we hear most often from people suffering from mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, or other asbestos diseases.
What Are My Compensation Options for My Asbestos Injury?
Trust: Some of the companies responsible for exposing people to asbestos have faced so many lawsuits that they have declared bankruptcy. Through the bankruptcy process, they have created asbestos trust funds to compensate people who are currently ill because of asbestos exposure as well as those who become ill in the future. If one or more of the companies responsible for your asbestos exposure has set up an asbestos trust fund, you cannot sue that company but you can apply to the trust for compensation. On the positive side, these companies have acknowledged their liability and The Trusts will pay restitution to people with asbestos diseases without the expense or delay of a trial. On the negative side, asbestos trusts have a finite amount of funding and some pay only a fraction of the award due to each claimant.
Lawsuits: Your lawyer will determine which of the companies that exposed you to asbestos should be named in a lawsuit. Lawsuits can end in settlement before (and sometimes during) trial or in a verdict at the end of a trial.
Settlements: After your lawyer files suit, both sides will begin an exchange of information called the discovery process. More than 80 percent of lawsuits settle during this pre-trial phase. After viewing the evidence against them, defendants often decide that negotiating a settlement is a better option than going through the expense of a trial. Your lawyer will handle almost all the work during this phase of your case and will negotiate settlements, with your approval.
Trial: If one of the defendants in your asbestos lawsuit refuses to negotiate a settlement or doesn’t offer a fair settlement, your case may proceed to trial. The upside of a jury verdict is that a jury may award more compensation than you would have received in a settlement. In addition, juries can include hefty punitive damage awards on top of compensation for your lost wages, medical expenses, and pain and suffering. The downside of a trial is that they can cost a lot in expenses which will come out of your total recovery, there is always a risk that the jury will award less than was offered in settlement, or the jury could even decide in favor of the defense. Even if you do win at trial, the trial process will push back the time frame for you and you family to receive compensation by months or even years.
What is the Process for Filing an Asbestos Lawsuit?
Investigation: When you hire an asbestos law firm to represent you, the first step is to determine all the places where you were exposed to asbestos during your life. Your attorney will ask you for a complete employment history, starting with your first job. The firm’s investigators will research which companies used products containing asbestos and which manufacturers provided those asbestos products. Your attorney will also review your medical history to determine if any other factors could have contributed to your illness and to understand what issues the defendants may bring up in the course of your lawsuit.
Client’s Responsibilities: The good news is that your lawyer can do almost all the intricate detail work on your case. You will only need to appear for your deposition. Your lawyer will accompany you and support you through the deposition. When an in-person meeting is required, your lawyer will travel to you.
Time Frame for Compensation: Plaintiffs with mesothelioma or other asbestos diseases can start receiving payments within several weeks to a few months of filing a claim. Trust fund payments and settlements will come first. If any of the defendants don’t settle and the case goes to trial, money from those parties can take a year or longer.
Compensation Amounts: The amount of compensation you receive will depend on a range of factors, including the severity of your illness, the amount of your economic losses due to your illness, your medical history, and the fiscal health of the companies responsible for your asbestos exposure. Kazan Law has won many settlements for clients that range from the hundreds of thousands of dollars into the millions. We have won verdicts at trial of as much as $27 million.
Why is it Important to Work Only with an Attorney Versed in Asbestos Litigation?
Asbestos Cases are not Personal Injury Cases: There are many attorneys who handle personal injury cases such as car accidents and slip and fall injuries. While mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses are technically personal injuries, asbestos litigation has a specialized set of rules and procedures that are different from other personal injury cases. Because of the high volume of asbestos lawsuits, courts have set up special procedures to streamline these cases. Courts hear mesothelioma cases on an expedited schedule because of the seriousness of this illness.
The Benefit of an Experienced Asbestos Attorney: A general personal injury attorney may not have experience filing asbestos trust claims, investigating asbestos exposure, and bringing the issues around asbestos disease to light during the trial process that will help you get the highest possible compensation. An attorney whose practice centers around asbestos litigation will know the parties involved and understand the procedures that can move your case forward quickly.
Contingency Fees: Good asbestos attorneys will work with you under a contingency fee agreement. This means that you will not be billed for legal fees and expenses. Your lawyer will be compensated by receiving a percentage of any monies you are awarded. If you do not receive compensation, you do not owe your lawyer any money for his or her work.
If you have any other questions or would like further information about filing an asbestos lawsuit, please contact Kazan Law.