Friday, April 8, 2022

Mesothelioma Lawsuit Statute of Limitations

Types of Mesothelioma Lawsuits

If your family is bearing the burden of mesothelioma, an asbestos exposure lawsuit may be right for you and your loved ones. The steps for filing a mesothelioma lawsuit vary depending on the type of claim filed. 


The two types of legal claims your family may be able to file through asbestos litigation include:

Personal Injury Claims: A person diagnosed with mesothelioma is eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit against the companies responsible for exposing them to asbestos. Asbestos liability is usually based on companies’ failure to warn employees and consumers about the dangers linked to inhaling the toxic mineral. When compensation is awarded in personal injury lawsuits, mesothelioma patients are the recipients.

Personal Injury Claims: A person diagnosed with mesothelioma is eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit against the companies responsible for exposing them to asbestos. Asbestos liability is usually based on companies’ failure to warn employees and consumers about the dangers linked to inhaling the toxic mineral. When compensation is awarded in personal injury lawsuits, mesothelioma patients are the recipients.

Why Should You File an Asbestos Lawsuit?

Compensation from an asbestos lawsuit can reduce financial hardships for you and your family.

Mesothelioma lawsuits can provide money for:

Treatments not covered by insurance

Travel expenses

Pain and suffering related to the illness

Funeral expenses and end-of-life decisions

A stable future for your loved ones

A qualified mesothelioma attorney can help you decide whether to pursue a lawsuit and guide you through the process.

Filing a Mesothelioma Lawsuit

1. Choose an Attorney

The first step in a successful filing process is choosing an attorney experienced in asbestos litigation. Top mesothelioma law firms will provide you with a free consultation to talk about your case and go over your legal options. 

2. Discovery Phase

Answer your attorney’s questions about your asbestos exposure history, work history and medical history.

3. Provide Testimony

Work with your lawyer if they need additional testimony for your case. You might need to answer additional questions about your work history and asbestos exposure history.

4. Consider Different Types of Claims

Your attorney will also advise you on filing other types of claims that you are eligible for. Whether you file a personal injury lawsuit, a wrongful death lawsuit or a claim with an asbestos trust, a skilled attorney will help you prepare all the documentation needed to back up your claim.

5. File Mesothelioma Lawsuit

Once all the relevant information is gathered, your attorney will file your lawsuit on your behalf and manage the legal proceedings. They will advise you on whether to take a settlement offer or negotiate for additional compensation. 

Are You Eligible to File an Asbestos Lawsuit?

You are typically eligible to file a mesothelioma lawsuit if:

You can provide documentation of the mesothelioma diagnosis, including medical reports from the cancer center where you or your loved one were treated.

You can document the asbestos exposure history that caused the mesothelioma. This can include employment records as well as detailed descriptions and testimony about the asbestos exposure.

You are within the statute of limitations, which varies from one to a few years depending on the state. 

To file a wrongful death lawsuit:

The representative of the deceased patient’s estate, which can include a family member, needs to determine whether to proceed and act as the decision maker during the legal process. 

If an asbestos company is liable for your exposure and they filed for bankruptcy:

Your lawyer may help you file a trust fund claim instead of a lawsuit. 

Your options for compensation may also include private health insurance, Medicare or Medicaid, Social Security disability benefits or filing a claim with the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Filing a Lawsuit in Your State

You may be able to file a mesothelioma lawsuit outside of the state you live. An experienced attorney can help you and your family decide the best court to file your asbestos claim. 

Notable Asbestos Lawsuit Verdicts

These payouts are known as trial verdicts, and they are often higher than what a patient may receive from a settlement offer or a trust fund claim. 

$250 million awarded to a retired steel worker in 2003 over exposure to asbestos insulation.

$75 million awarded to the wife of a race car driver in 2017 over exposure to asbestos-containing engine gaskets.

$48 million awarded to the family of a construction worker in 2012 over exposure to asbestos in building materials.

$29.4 million awarded in a talc lawsuit to a long-time talcum powder user in 2019 over exposure to asbestos-contamination

$18.6 million awarded to the family of a factory worker in 2014 over asbestos exposure at a tire plant.

$18 million awarded to a barber’s son in 2016 over exposure to asbestos-contaminated talcum powder.

Mesothelioma Lawsuit Process

1. Preparation

Your attorney will gather information about your history of asbestos exposure to determine who is responsible for your condition and where to file your lawsuit. You may be eligible to file your lawsuit in more than one jurisdiction.

2. Filing

Your lawyer will prepare and file a written complaint with a court to start the legal process.

Because many years have likely passed since your asbestos exposure, the responsible company could now be a different company or be bankrupt. It may take some time to locate and serve the appropriate people with your complaint. Your attorney will oversee this process.

3. Responses

Each defendant in your lawsuit will receive a copy of your complaint. They will have a certain amount of time, usually 30 days, to respond.

Defendants rarely admit fault. They most likely will deny your claims and argue your complaint is not valid or someone else is responsible for your exposure to asbestos. Your attorney will reply to each defendant’s responses.

 Defendants may allege that:

Exposure to asbestos and other toxic substances happened at home or elsewhere, not just at work.

Your family history shows significant health problems among relatives.

Smoking, drinking or drug use caused your health problems.

You worked at other places where asbestos was a bigger problem.

Defendants may also include a settlement request in their response, but this is rare. Companies may be willing to settle right away in order to avoid a lengthy and costly lawsuit. However, the first settlement offer may be very low.

Expect to wait until closer to trial, or during the trial itself, to receive a reasonable offer.

4. Discovery

 Lawyers on both sides will gather information about your allegations, asking the other side to answer written questions, produce documents and participate in depositions. Some of the information may become evidence used at trial.

You may need to participate in a videotaped deposition and answer questions under oath from the defendants’ lawyers. This is often done from the comfort of your own home and under the guidance of your attorney.

Discovery may take several months, but if you are very sick, your attorney may ask the court to speed the process along before your condition worsens.

5. Settlement

Before a trial starts, defendants may offer to resolve the case by offering you money. Mesothelioma settlements depend on multiple factors and can influence your decision of whether to go to trial.

If you decline a settlement offer, it’s possible the defendant will make another offer. Your attorney will negotiate on your behalf.

Settlements and trial verdicts vary depending on the case. While verdicts typically produce more compensation, settlements may award claimants quicker. This can make it easier to pay for cancer treatments and expenses. 

6. Trial

Going to trial is rare. Even if a case does go to court, you may not be required to appear. The trial process varies depending on where you file a claim. Results depend on your history of asbestos exposure, the state where the lawsuit is filed, your medical history and other factors. 

If you win and the defendant does not appeal, you will usually start receiving payments a few months after the verdict.

7. Appeal

If you win the trial, defendants may decide to file an appeal. There is a limited amount of time to file an appeal, usually between 30 and 180 days from the time the verdict is given. This will delay any monetary award, but defendants will need to post “bond” for the amount awarded while the appeal proceeds.

If the defendants lose their appeal, you will start receiving payments. If the appeal is successful, defendants may end up paying a smaller amount or nothing at all.

Common Questions About Mesothelioma Lawsuits 

How Long Does a Mesothelioma Lawsuit Take? 

The legal process for an asbestos-related lawsuit depends on the health of the plaintiff. If you are in poor health, the entire process may be expedited. If there is no urgency, the process may take several months or longer. 

In either case, the defendant typically tries to drag out the process. Your attorney will work to resolve your case as quickly as possible. They will handle each step so you can focus on your health and spend time with your loved ones.

Will I Need to Travel?

You typically will not need to travel. Mesothelioma attorneys can often handle the entire case process from their office and travel to you when necessary.

The location where you file can affect the length of the case process. Your attorney will help you choose the best jurisdiction for your case. It may be necessary to file outside the state where you live.

How Much Do Mesothelioma Lawyers Charge?

Most mesothelioma law firms work on a contingency-fee basis. This typically means your attorney gets paid if you agree to a settlement or win your lawsuit. When you settle or win a case, a percentage of the award will be paid to your lawyer. If not, you pay no attorney fees.

What Should You Expect from a Mesothelioma Lawsuit?

It is difficult to say what you should expect from a mesothelioma lawsuit because every case is different. Results depend on your history with asbestos exposure, the state where the lawsuit is filed, your medical history and other factors.

Should I Join a Class-Action Lawsuit?

In general, mesothelioma class-action lawsuits are uncommon. Patients with mesothelioma and their families usually have a better chance of getting the compensation they deserve through a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. You may be able to join a multidistrict litigation, where individual claims are grouped and processed without lumping plaintiffs into a single class. The largest MDL for mesothelioma cases is managed by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. 

Asbestos Litigation

In personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits, plaintiffs must file a claim soon after an injury occurs. Statutes of limitations set a time limit, usually around two years, for a plaintiff to file a lawsuit after they are injured.

Asbestos litigation is unique in the legal landscape because statutes of limitations were adapted to offer justice to the victims of asbestos exposure. Asbestos-related diseases have a latency period ranging from 20 to 50 years from the time of first exposure, and the first exposure is considered the point at which the injury occurred.

Applying conventional statutes of limitations to a plaintiff’s first asbestos exposure would bar them from filing a claim. Instead, the law requires plaintiffs to file a claim within two years of being diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, the point at which the plaintiff realizes they have an injury.

Asbestos regulations in the U.S. began with the passage of the Clean Air Act of 1970. Since then, several asbestos products have been banned. The U.S. hasn’t fully banned asbestos, but it remains regulated at federal, state and local levels.

More than 50 countries have fully banned asbestos including Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia. Canada banned it in 2018, the U.K. in 2006 and Australia in 2003. Asbestos litigation in these countries continues to sort out norms for compensation and liability.

For example, in the U.K., the House of Lords decided in 2007 that pleural plaques caused by occupational asbestos exposure did not qualify a plaintiff for compensation. U.S. courts have upheld the same stance on pleural plaques for decades. 

Mesothelioma Lawsuits Today

Thousands of mesothelioma lawsuits are still filed every year.

A total of 4,029 asbestos lawsuits were filed in 2018, including more than 2,000 related to mesothelioma, according to a KCIC industry report.

Asbestos lawsuits are often the best way to obtain compensation for financial hardships related to a mesothelioma diagnosis. The best advice when considering filing a lawsuit is to seek the legal assistance of an experienced mesothelioma lawyer.