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Steps to Filing a Mesothelioma Claim

Filing an mesothelioma claimMesothelioma is caused by asbestos exposure. If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you are entitled to compensation from the parties responsible for negligently exposing you to this toxic substance.

Working with An Attorney to File a Mesothelioma Claim

When you are struggling with a serious illness such as mesothelioma, it can be hard to find the energy to pursue the compensation you are due for your injuries. A top-notch mesothelioma lawyer can take this burden off you and ensure that you get the highest possible award.

Mesothelioma claims and lawsuits can result in awards in the hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars. Choosing the right mesothelioma lawyer can make a huge financial difference for you and your family, so it’s important to make an informed choice.

Ask about your mesothelioma lawyers’ background and experience before you hire them to handle your case. Find out how long they have been practicing, how many claims such as yours they have handled, the range of settlements they have achieved for their clients, and how many lawsuits they have won and lost. Make sure the attorney you are speaking with will handle your case personally rather than acting as a case broker who will sell your claim to an unknown third party.

A reputable asbestos law firm will work with you on a contingency basis. This means that you pay no fees up front and, if you don’t win your case, you owe your lawyer nothing for his or her work. If you do receive a settlement or jury award, your lawyer will be paid an agreed-upon percentage.

It is important to act swiftly after you are diagnosed with mesothelioma because, if you wait too long, the statute of limitations may bar you from filing suit. The statute of limitations is different in different states. In California, you have one year from your diagnosis with mesothelioma or other disabling asbestos-related illness to file suit against the responsible companies for your personal injuries. You may sue for compensation for past and future medical expenses, lost wages, and the pain and suffering caused by your illness.

If you are pursuing a wrongful death claim on behalf of a spouse or family member who has died due to mesothelioma, you have one year after his or her death to bring a lawsuit. In a wrongful death lawsuit, you may seek to recover past medical expenses, past and future lost wages, and the value of your loss of care, comfort, companionship, and other aspects resulting from the death.

You and your attorney may explore multiple avenues to obtain the compensation you deserve. In addition to filing a lawsuit against the company or companies responsible for your injuries, you may be entitled to workers compensation, if you were exposed to asbestos on the job. If your exposure happened during military service, you may be entitled to veteran’s benefits.

Filing a Mesothelioma Claim: Choosing the Right State and Plaintiffs

When an experienced mesothelioma law firm takes your case, the first thing it will ask for is a detailed work history so it can determine which corporations should be named as defendants. Good mesothelioma law firms employ investigators who work to locate every party who might bear responsibility for your illness.

After that, your attorneys will decide what state is the best venue in which to file your lawsuit. California courts look more favorably on asbestos plaintiffs than courts in some other states. You don’t have to live in the state where you file your lawsuit. You don’t even have to live in the same state as your lawyer. If travel is required, your attorney will come to you.

Once your lawsuit is filed, the discovery or factual investigation part of the process begins. Your lawyer will request documents from the defendants and provide records of your medical diagnosis, medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages. You, and possibly your spouse or other family members, will be asked to give a deposition. A deposition is recorded testimony, taken under oath, before trial. If you are too ill to appear at trial, your deposition testimony may be used instead.

What Happens After You File a Mesothelioma Claim?

Because mesothelioma is such a serious illness, your lawyer should file your case as quickly as possible so your lawsuit can be handled on an expedited schedule.

Your case is likely to involve multiple defendants and some may offer to settle with you fairly quickly. The time frame can vary greatly, but many of Kazan Law’s clients begin to receive settlements within a few months after filing suit.

Other defendants may drag the process out by attempting to have your claims against them thrown out of court. They might bring up factors such as family health issues or a history of smoking. Some will argue that other defendants bear the responsibility for your asbestos exposure, not them. Defendants might even challenge your mesothelioma diagnosis.

Experienced mesothelioma lawyers have seen this all before and they know how to respond to every objection a defendant can throw their way. While your lawyer may be working hard as your case moves toward settlement or trial, you won’t have much to do, other than answering occasional questions. You can focus your energies on taking care of your health and spending quality time with your family.

Am I Entitled to Compensation from a Mesothelioma Claim?

Compensation for mesothelioma claim

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
  • Fever
  • Excessive tiredness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Hoarseness

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.

 

Appellate Court Decides in Favor of Victim in Ford Mesothelioma Case

mesothelioma caseSometimes even in the tragic world of a mesothelioma case, there is reason to celebrate.  At Kazan Law that is what keeps us doing what we do.  When we snatch victory from the jaws of defeat for our clients through tenacious asbestos litigation and are able to get justice in a mesothelioma case, it’s a good day.

In our latest victory, we achieved justice for not only the specific mesothelioma case we were representing but for all mesothelioma cases.  That is because the court upheld two important principles in asbestos law:

  1. That the average working person cannot be expected to have the same level of scientific knowledge about the long term consequences of asbestos exposure that the decision-makers at a large company should have.
  2. That a company cannot be let off the hook for causing injury to someone in one state because the laws of the state where the company has its headquarters are different.

These are important concepts. We are very proud of our work in this case well handled by Ted Pelletier and our appellate and motions team, and of the brilliant appellate court that protected the rights of all citizens.

Specifically, a California appellate court upheld a $1.5 million judgment for our client Patrick Scott and his family. They also decided that the Scotts should be allowed to pursue punitive damages which the trial court had said they couldn’t do.

Scott, a former service-station owner, was exposed to asbestos from car parts made by Ford Motor Company since the 1960s.  In a published opinion in Scott v. Ford Motor Co., No. A137975, Division One of the First Appellate District first rejected Ford’s argument that Scott was a “sophisticated user” who should have known the dangers of Ford’s products.  Because Ford insisted during the trial that those dangers were not scientifically established when Scott was exposed, the jury rejected Ford’s contradictory claim that he was supposed to know all about those very dangers.  The opinion notes that there are different standards for what Scott as owner of a “local automotive business,” was expected to know compared to what Ford, a “large international business directly involved in the manufacture of the products” should have known.

The opinion also reinstates the Scotts’ claim for punitive damages, which the lower court had rejected because the law in Michigan, where Ford is headquartered, disallows punitive damages.  Every part of this case occurred in California: Ford’s sale of its products; Scott’s exposures, his disease diagnosis and treatment.  So the appeals court decided California law is what matters here.  Otherwise Ford would get a free pass or as they put it “a nationwide shield from punitive damage liability,” to sell defective products in California and every other state without fear of punishment.  That would be a nightmare not just for mesothelioma cases but for every case that could result from driving a car with parts that malfunctioned.

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