Legal Options

Mesothelioma Lawsuits

Mesothelioma patients and family memebers of people with an asbestos-related illness may wish to explore legal options. Utilizing a qualified lawyer may result in compensation that can assist with medical costs and other expenses incurred as a result of illness.

Although a mesothelioma diagnosis can be overwhelming, following appointments with doctors and cancer specialists, many patients may want to make an appointment to meet with a reputable attorney with experience in asbestos-related litigation. During a meeting with a lawyer patients or family members may wish to ask the following questions:

  • How many cases have they handled?
  • What was the success rate?
  • Have they won any "out-of-court" settlements?
  • Will they take your case on a contingency basis?

At the same time, the lawyer(s) will have to determine if you have a viable case. You will want to have as much documentation as possible about your illness, including employment and military service history as well as all medical records related to your diagnosis. This information will assist the lawyer(s) in determining liability and againt who or what company a suit will be filed.

1800Asbestos.com offers a free case evaluation and information about lawyers specializing in asbestos-related illnesses. Please use fill out the form below or call us at 1-800-ASBESTOS. 1800Asbestos.com can recommend top attorneys nationwide.

After a lawyer determines that a mesothelioma lawsuit is viable, the legal process will begin.

Filing a Suit

Legally, anyone can file a lawsuit on their own behalf, but it may be best to let the attorney(s) do this for you. The legal document that will be filed with the court gives notice to the defendants (the companies or entities being sued) that legal action is being taken against them and provides them with the opportunity to respond.

A corporate defendant will respond in one of two ways:

  • Deny any wrongdoing
  • File a motion for dismissal on the grounds that you have no case

Filing a motion for dismissal is often used by big corporations when the defendant's condition is advanced and death is expected. However, surviving family members may continue to pursue legal action on a patient's behalf to recover medical costs (and may add wrongful death to the complaint as well).

Once the case has been filed, there is the lengthy period of "discovery," during which both parties file motions, gather evidence and obtain testimony. Each party to the suit may make ask relevant questions of the other, which is another good reason to have legal representation from an experienced asbestos litigator.

Trials

Many asbestos cases are not heard in court. The defendant may decide that the time, expense and publicity of a trial is not worth it and will offer a settlement. If the case does go to trial however, it may take some time to reach a verdict.

One of the differences between a criminal trial and a civil trial such as a mesothelioma suit is that the standard of proof is lower. Unlike the former, in which a defendant must be found innocent if there is "reasonable doubt" of guilt, a jury can find a defendant liable based on "clear and convincing evidence." This is why an accused killer can sometimes be found innocent of the crime of murder, but later found liable for wrongful death in a civil lawsuit.

After a Case

Most asbestos litigation will result in a favorable outcome for the plaintiff if there is a documented diagnosis of disease and "clear and convincing" evidence of liability. However, corporate defendants can appeal their cases to a higher court. Nonetheless, the defendant is legally obligated to post bond for the amount of the award pending the outcome.

If the defendant chooses not to appeal, your lawyer will retain a portion of the verdict, on which you and/or your family should start receiving payments within three to four months (such awards are rarely paid in a lump sum except when the case is settled out of court).

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