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The Claims Process: A Step-by-Step Guide for Mesothelioma Victims

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may have several legal options available to you. These include filing a claim with an asbestos trust, filing a formal lawsuit in court, or filing a claim for workers’ compensation or veterans’ benefits. The purpose of filing these claims is to recover compensation to help offset the costs associated with a mesothelioma diagnosis. If the company responsible for your asbestos exposure has not dissolved or gone bankrupt, your attorney may suggest that you file a lawsuit. Through a lawsuit, you may be able to recover compensation for medical bills, funeral expenses, pain and suffering, and even punitive damages, which are an additional monetary award granted as a punishment to the asbestos company.

Although the mesothelioma claims process can be complicated, working with an attorney who has experience representing asbestos victims can simplify the process for you and your family. An attorney can explain in detail how the mesothelioma claims process works and answer any questions you may have. For more information complete our free case review form.

What Happens in a Mesothelioma Lawsuit?

If one or more of the companies responsible for your asbestos exposure has not established a trust fund, your attorney may file a lawsuit. As part of the mesothelioma lawsuit process, your attorney may take the following steps:

  • Investigate Which Asbestos Companies Can Be Held Liable: Many mesothelioma victims have been exposed to asbestos-containing products manufactured by several companies. For example, if you are a veteran who was exposed to asbestos while serving on a military ship, multiple defense contractors may have supplied the military with the asbestos-containing products that caused you to develop mesothelioma. Each of these companies could potentially be held liable in court for contributing to the development of your mesothelioma. Your attorney will review your work history and investigate which asbestos-containing products were used at your jobs to determine the companies that could be sued.
  • File a Lawsuit: If one or more of the asbestos companies that caused your injuries has not gone bankrupt, your attorney may file a lawsuit against the companies that manufactured, sold or handled the asbestos. Your attorney will draft a document called a “complaint” describing how you were exposed to asbestos. Your attorney will then file the complaint in a court of law, and the company or companies you are suing will be given an opportunity to respond.
  • Conduct Discovery: The purpose of the discovery process in a mesothelioma lawsuit is to gather evidence to help you win your case. During discovery, your attorney can request documents from the asbestos companies that you are suing. In addition, your attorney may interview witnesses under oath. Discovery may take six months or more to complete and is often the longest part of the mesothelioma claims process.
  • Evaluate Settlement Offers: Many mesothelioma lawsuits settle. Asbestos companies often choose to settle mesothelioma lawsuits for a fixed amount rather than face the uncertainty of a jury trial. If any settlement offers are received, your attorney will help you determine if the proposed settlement provides you with sufficient compensation for your injuries. If the settlement offer is too low, your attorney may negotiate on your behalf for a higher amount.
  • Prepare for Trial: If your mesothelioma case goes to trial, your attorney may present opening and closing arguments, question witnesses, and cross-examine any witnesses offered by the defendant.

Can a Mesothelioma Lawsuit Be Filed After Death?

Yes. These lawsuits are typically filed by the spouse, child, or other relative of a person who has died from mesothelioma. Through a wrongful death lawsuit, the survivors of a mesothelioma victim may be able to obtain compensation for:

  • Medical expenses, including any costs not covered by health insurance
  • Lost wages and future income
  • Travel expenses for medical treatment
  • Physical pain, emotional suffering and mental distress
  • Funeral expenses

Is There a Time Limit for Filing a Mesothelioma Lawsuit?

Yes. This time limit (referred to as the “statute of limitations”) varies from state to state. In general, the statute of limitations begins to run when an individual receives a diagnosis of mesothelioma. For a wrongful death lawsuit, the statute of limitations begins to run at the date of death.

In most states, the statute of limitations for a mesothelioma lawsuit is two or three years from when the individual receives a mesothelioma diagnosis, but some states have shorter statute of limitations. For example, in California, the statute of limitations is only one year from the time a person has been diagnosed with mesothelioma.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, it is important that you speak with an experienced asbestos attorney as soon as possible so that you are not time-barred from filing a lawsuit. Complete our free case review form today to get in touch with an attorney.