Asbestos and Mesothelioma Law-Key things you Must Know
What is Asbestos and Mesothelioma Law?
Asbestos and mesothelioma law covers personal injury litigation brought by victims of a rare cancer, whose condition resulted from exposure to a toxic mineral previously used in the construction and manufacturing industries. These tort actions seek compensation for the medical expenses and suffering of victims. Or, if the victim has passed away, the goal is to compensate family members for the loss of their loved one. In either case, the basis of the suit is the gross negligence of the defendant, for exposing the victim to a substance known to cause disease.
Asbestos is the name used to describe several natural minerals with physical characteristics making them ideal for all sorts of commercial applications. These minerals are strong, heat resistant, and cheap to produce. Asbestos fibers can be mixed with cement or woven into cloth. Until several decades ago, the material was commonly used to make home ceiling insulation, floor tiles, vehicle brake pads, firefighting suits, and more. The maritime industry also made extensive use of asbestos in the manufacture of civilian and military vessels.
Concerns over the health related impacts of asbestos began during the industrial revolution and continued well into the 20th century. Early cases of illness involved asbestos workers who suffered respiratory problems from breathing the airborne fibers. The first case of mesothelioma traced to asbestos exposure was reported in 1964, and widespread use of asbestos finally ceased in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Evidence suggests that during the time asbestos health concerns were on the rise, so too was the use of the material, as companies made the strategic decision to increase production and use profits to pay future legal claims. This was possible due to the lengthy amount of time (20 to 50 years) that typically elapses between exposure and the onset of mesothelioma. The reprehensible conduct of asbestos producers, and the devastation mesothelioma inflicts on its victims, have led to mass tort litigation in recent years.
Legal Recourse for Mesothelioma Patients
Financial compensation is available for those diagnosed with mesothelioma. But legal action must be taken quickly, as a number of factors can make obtaining compensation difficult or impossible for victims who delay. For example, all states have enacted “statutes of limitation” that impose time limits for bringing an asbestos-related lawsuit. Statutes of limitation generally run from the time of diagnoses. In a few states, including California, the deadline for filing suit is as short as one year.
Sadly, patients who wait to pursue legal action will also find themselves up against the reality of the short lifespan associated with mesothelioma. Money awarded in these cases is meant to provide an opportunity to seek the best medical treatment possible, and alleviate financial concerns so the victim can concentrate on fighting the disease. If a legal claim is not brought immediately, the proceeds may come too late to directly benefit the victim (although the money can be a means for the victim to provide for the financial security of surviving family members).
Hiring an Attorney and Filing Suit
Once a victim meets with an attorney, the attorney’s law firm will step in and handle nearly all aspects of the case, so the client can concentrate on medical and personal matters. The responsible parties will be identified, as well as any additional sources of funding, such as victim trust accounts set up by asbestos companies that have closed down or gone bankrupt. Suit will be brought either in the state where the client lives, or in another state if doing so will increase the odds of obtaining a large damage award.
The attorneys for both sides of the case will then conduct “discovery.” Discovery is the process of exchanging records and other evidence. During discovery, the client may need to appear and give testimony at a deposition, which will be held nearby for the convenience of a client who is sick and suffering. Representatives for the defendant will also be deposed. This is the opportunity for victim’s lawyer to question the defendant about the case, on the record and under oath.
When discovery is complete, the parties will have the evidence they need to evaluate the value of the plaintiff’s claim. Settlement discussions will then be held, and if a dollar amount can be agreed on, the money will be paid to the plaintiff and the case will be dismissed. If an agreement cannot be reached, the case will go to trial. Often, mesothelioma victims will opt to resolve the matter through settlement, although those who go to trial are routinely rewarded with large, multimillion dollar jury verdicts.
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Mesothelioma Lawyers are Standing By
If you or a family member has been diagnosed with mesothelioma as a result of asbestos exposure, you do not need to worry about the cost of seeking justice. Attorneys who specialize in these cases are available to meet with you for free, and to pursue your claim on a contingency basis. Contact a lawyer now to find out more.