If you or someone you love suffers from mesothelioma, you may be entitled to compensation by the party or parties responsible for the asbestos exposure that caused your illness.
Criteria for Compensation from a Mesothelioma Claim
If you feel you may have a lung disease caused by exposure to asbestos, the first step is to see your doctor and receive a medical diagnosis. Some of the symptoms of pleural mesothelioma or lung cancer are:
- Persistent cough
- Unexplained weight loss
- Difficultly swallowing
- Excessive tiredness
- Shortness of breath
If you receive a diagnosis of mesothelioma or another asbestos-related illness, the next step is to trace your history of exposure to asbestos. Mesothelioma may not manifest until many years after you were exposed, so you and your lawyer will need to investigate employers and locations where you may have encountered asbestos from when you were born until about the year 2000. This investigation will hopefully uncover the times and places where you may have been exposed to harmful levels of this toxic substance.
When corporations are named in asbestos lawsuits, they often go on the attack. They may argue that a plaintiff’s illness is caused by factors unrelated to corporate negligence, such as a plaintiff’s smoking or drinking habits or a family history of illness. In the face of this pushback, it is important to document past asbestos exposure as much as possible. Other asbestos lawsuits against these companies may help provide evidence on which to base your claims.
Even if you do have a history of smoking, asbestos may be implicated in your lung cancer. Studies have shown that asbestos fibers act together synergistically with cigarette smoke and cause increased rates of lung cancer among smokers, so you may still have a case even if you are or have been a smoker. Pleural mesothelioma is a rare and dangerous cancer that is only caused by asbestos exposure.
In order to build your legal case, you and your lawyer will also need to document your losses due to your illness. These can include financial hardship, from medical bills and lost income, and pain and suffering. In most cases, these losses are all too easy to document.
Proving your claim may sound like a challenge, but it’s not as hard as it may seem at first glance. Victims of asbestos exposure have been filing suit against negligent corporations since the 1970s and the procedures for proving and litigating a claim are well established. Millions of dollars have been paid out to people suffering from mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses, so the precedent for compensating victims is also well established.
Options for Compensation from a Mesothelioma Claim
Once you have established the responsible parties and filed suit, there are several options for receiving compensation for your mesothelioma claim.
- Settlement: Most lawsuits end in settlement before trial. Settlement payments are often less than jury verdicts, but you will receive compensation more quickly and without the risk inherent in a jury trial and the appeals process. Your lawyer and the defendants’ lawyers may choose a mediator to help them come to an agreement on fair compensation for your losses.
- Trial: If your case makes it to court, the outcome is not guaranteed. Even if you win at trial, the defendant may appeal the decision, which can stretch the trial process out by months or even years. However, juries often award higher damages than you could achieve through the settlement process, including punitive damages, which are sometimes greater than the compensation for your losses.
- Asbestos trusts: Some companies that are known to have negligently exposed people to asbestos have declared bankruptcy because of asbestos litigation. In those cases, the bankruptcy court requires the companies to set up an asbestos trust fund to compensate victims. If you are entitled to damages from one of these funds, your lawyer can navigate the paperwork to document your diagnosis and your losses and to ask for compensation. While trust distribution procedures (TDP) may vary from trust to trust, the process is fairly standardized and most trusts will accept the same paperwork.
Work with an Attorney to Secure Your Compensation from a Mesothelioma Claim
Selecting the right attorney to represent you in your mesothelioma claim is an important choice. An attorney with experience in asbestos litigation can help you through the investigation and claims process quickly, as he or she has been through the process many times before. You deserve the best compensation for your injuries and to support your family and you deserve the best lawyer to get you there.