Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, which commonly develops in the lining surrounding the lungs or the abdomen. Unfortunately, most people with mesothelioma are diagnosed at a late stage, making it difficult to cure the cancer. While there is no cure for mesothelioma, treatment options like surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy can help manage the disease. Mesothelioma patients and their families may also file a mesothelioma claim, also known as an asbestos claim, to seek compensation for the harm caused by exposure to asbestos. However, the legal process can be quite confusing, especially for those new to the legal world. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about filing a mesothelioma claim and the resources available to patients and their families.
The average life expectancy of a person diagnosed with mesothelioma is usually only around 18 to 31 months.(1, 2) Symptoms of mesothelioma can include shortness of breath, fatigue, and chest pain, along with a variety of other symptoms that depend on where the cancer develops. Most people with mesothelioma tend to be diagnosed at a fairly late stage, due to which the chances of successfully curing the cancer are very less. While there is no cure for mesothelioma, there are treatment options that involve surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.(3, 4, 5)
Patients diagnosed with mesothelioma often feel a lot of anger because the cancer is most likely caused by exposure to asbestos, usually at their place of work. People often file an asbestos claim on their employers to receive compensation after getting a mesothelioma diagnosis. Known as mesothelioma or asbestos claim, this type of legal action allows patients and their families to feel a sense of purpose as they feel they have done something to seek action against what was done to them. The compensation patients receive from their mesothelioma claim can help pay for their treatment. However, this entire process of filing a claim and the entire legal process can be quite confusing, especially to someone who has never before dabbled in the legal world before. Here is everything you need to know about the legal process for filing a mesothelioma claim and the various resources available to patients and their families.(6, 7)
What is a Mesothelioma Claim?
A mesothelioma claim, sometimes also called an asbestos claim, is a type of legal action or legal lawsuit that makes it possible for mesothelioma patients and their families to seek compensation for diseases that are known to be caused by exposure to asbestos. The most common asbestos-related disease is mesothelioma, and exposure to asbestos also mostly happens in workplaces.
Why to File Mesothelioma Claims?
But why do patients and their families file a mesothelioma claim? Getting compensation by filing mesothelioma claims can help victims of mesothelioma cover the significantly high medical expenses in the treatment of mesothelioma cancer. Apart from this, the compensation you get from a successful legal suit helps the family members support themselves financially in the years to come, especially if the patient is the only earning member in the family.
Filing mesothelioma claims is the surest and best way to ensure that the responsible companies are held accountable for the harm they have caused while ensuring that the patient and their family receive the financial payout that they deserve. Many of these legal claims are paid or settled by an asbestos trust fund, an employer, or a manufacturer, depending on how exactly the victim was exposed to the asbestos and how the mesothelioma developed. Thousands of mesothelioma victims have received compensation through jury awards and out-of-court settlements as well. Most of the mesothelioma claims are filed by patients who are suffering from malignant mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos in their workplace for a prolonged period of time.(8)
In addition to this, surviving family members can also file wrongful death lawsuits if their loved one has died from mesothelioma cancer caused by the negligence of the employer.
There are several types of mesothelioma claims. Keep reading to find out about the different types of mesothelioma claims and which one is right for you.
Types of Mesothelioma Claims
There are several types of mesothelioma claims, with the most common types being personal injury claims as well as wrongful death claims. It is important to note that many asbestos companies that have gone bankrupt have created asbestos trust funds, which is also another type of mesothelioma claim that helps provide the required compensation for mesothelioma victims.(9, 10)
A mesothelioma claim is a legal action that victims of asbestos exposure and their families can take in order to receive compensation for their illness. These claims are filed as a result of the victim being exposed to asbestos, and as a result, are known as asbestos claims as well. These mesothelioma claims may successfully result in receiving compensation through a trial verdict, a settlement, or payment by an asbestos trust fund. Payout or compensation varies from case to case and depends on many factors such as the exact type of claim filed. However, many claims are often worth over a million dollars.
Here’s everything you need to know about the three types of mesothelioma claims.
- Personal injury lawsuits: When a patient files a mesothelioma lawsuit, it is usually in the form of filing a personal injury claim. Juries in these cases can award monetary damages for losses suffered such as lost income, medical expenses, the pain and suffering of the victim, and loss of consortium. In some cases of mesothelioma personal injury lawsuits, juries even award punitive damages. Punitive damages are monetary damages that are awarded in an attempt to discourage future wrongdoings by companies. This type of claim can name many companies that are responsible for exposing the victim to asbestos. A company’s failure to warn employees as well as its consumers about the many hazards associated with asbestos is usually the basis of the liability in this type of lawsuit. Most mesothelioma lawsuits are usually settled out of court before the case even goes to court. If the lawsuit is successful, the mesothelioma victim receives compensation for their medical injury.(11, 12)
- Wrongful death lawsuit: A wrongful death claim is filed by the estate, which includes the family members. This type of mesothelioma claim is filed after the death of a person due to mesothelioma. In such cases, the juries are likely to award compensation for different losses, including even the funeral costs, medical bills, lost income, past pain and suffering, and all other cancer-related costs. If a mesothelioma patient has already filed a personal injury lawsuit and then died before the case was resolved, that claim can be changed into a wrongful death lawsuit from a personal injury lawsuit, with the estate continuing to pursue the mesothelioma claim after the patient’s death. In such cases, the estate will receive any compensation that is awarded.(13, 14)
- Trust fund claims: There are many asbestos companies that have set up an asbestos trust fund list. Companies often do this in order to keep aside some funds for compensating people who were harmed by asbestos exposure and to also avoid any further lawsuits. By hiring an experienced mesothelioma law firm, you will be able to find out whether the company that is responsible for causing your asbestos exposure has a trust fund in place or not. If the company has a trust fund, your lawyers will take you through the process of how to properly file a mesothelioma trust fund claim.(15, 16)
What Occupations Commonly Put Employees at Risk of Asbestos Exposure?
Not every occupation puts its employees at risk of being exposed to harmful substances like asbestos. The highest rate of asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma is of course, known to occur in workers who handle asbestos-containing products directly. Most such employees belong to certain industries like:
- Construction industry (17, 18, 19)
- Petroleum refineries (20)
- Chemical industries (21, 22)
- Shipyards that are involved in ship repair or shipbuilding (23, 24)
- Electric power and light companies
- Vessel operators and seamen (25, 26)
How to File a Mesothelioma Claim?
You need to hire a lawyer or law firm that specializes in filing mesothelioma claims. A lawyer can help patients and their families in filing a mesothelioma or asbestos claim. Many mesothelioma patients often wonder about whether they are eligible, how much compensation they can receive by filing a claim, and how much time it will take for them to receive this compensation. Having a lawyer who is familiar with asbestos-related litigation will help you find out all these answers and the attorney will also be able to guide you properly through the entire mesothelioma claim filing process.
The general process of filing a mesothelioma claim involves meeting the eligibility criteria, determining which claim type will be best for you, gathering all the required documents, and then awaiting claim review. Some of the documents that you need to file an asbestos claim are as follows:
- Documents to show the financial hardship you went through.
- Documentation of work history at the asbestos company.
- Medical records to prove that your illness is related to asbestos exposure.
- Proof of the asbestos exposure.
- Testimony that states the cause of exposure and the related diagnosis.
Some of the steps involved in the legal process of filing a mesothelioma claim include:
Step 1: To find out if you are eligible
You have to work together with a mesothelioma claim lawyer to find out if you are eligible to file an asbestos claim. Requirements for filing such a claim differs depending on the type of claim to be filed. Mesothelioma law firms help the victims understand what are the various compensation options that they are eligible for. The eligibility requirement usually includes producing a proof of exposure, having an asbestos-related diagnosis, and also following the statute of limitations.
The statute of limitations is an important factor that must be taken into account. Mesothelioma claims have to be filed within a specified time frame, which is known as the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations differs according to the type of claim and also by state. In the case of personal injury claims, the asbestos victim has to file the claim within a specific number of years after receiving a diagnosis of mesothelioma. In case of wrongful death claims, it is the family member of the deceased patient who files the claim. This claim also has to be filed within a number of specified years after the death of the mesothelioma victim. The exact time frame differs by state.(27, 28, 29)
If mesothelioma victims miss the deadline for filing the claim, this does not mean that there are no further options available to them. In such cases also there are some special circumstances in which the deadlines may be extended, or there could be other venues for seeking compensation.
Step 2: Get the documentation in place
After finding out, with the help of your lawyer, the exact type of claim that has to be filed, it is time to get the documentation in place. Your lawyer will inform you about the various documents that will be needed. These usually include medical records, proof of exposure to asbestos at the workplace, and documented work history to show exposure occurred during that period.
Remember that it is very important to have proof of an asbestos-related diagnosis in order to be eligible to file a mesothelioma claim. Some of the common asbestos-related diseases include mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis. However, in some cases, just having proof of asbestos exposure does not mean that you are automatically eligible to file a mesothelioma case.(30, 31)
Step 3: Filing the actual Asbestos Claim
Your lawyer will then submit the asbestos claim along with all the necessary documents. Mesothelioma lawyers are aware of where and how the claim has to be filed. And by filing on your behalf, the lawyers will help you remain free and concentrate on your treatment and family matters.
In some cases, you can file a mesothelioma claim in the state where you currently reside. However, some people may also file mesothelioma claims based on factors like their previous place of residence, the location of the asbestos company, and the location of where the asbestos exposure occurred.
In some cases, you may even need to file the claim in several states if the exact exposure location, the company location, and your residence are in different states. Your lawyers will go through all the evidence and details of the case and then only advise you about which state or state to file your claim in.
Step 4: Review of your claim and Compensation Award
After submitting a mesothelioma claim, it will undergo a review during which lawyers are allowed to negotiate in order to ensure that their claimants receive the highest compensation possible. The nature of the review that is carried out differs according to the nature of the claim filed. The exact amount of compensation received by the claimant also depends on the claim type and personal circumstances of the victim. It should be noted that mesothelioma lawsuits generally have the highest payouts, followed by trust fund awards and settlements.
How Long Does It take to Receive Compensation from a Mesothelioma Claim?
The exact amount of time it takes to receive the compensation from a mesothelioma claim ranges from several months to a year or longer. The time frame varies quite a bit depending on the type of claim filed as well as the individual circumstances of each case. For example, asbestos companies can offer a settlement, which usually happens a lot faster. However, if the claimant decides to deny the settlement, they may pursue a jury verdict, which can take longer, though it may result in a higher payout. Having an experienced mesothelioma attorney can advise you best on which option to take.
What are the Benefits of Filing a Mesothelioma Claim?
Filing a mesothelioma claim can help the patient with financial assistance. They also get peace of mind and an opportunity to exercise their rights to fight against wrongful exposure to asbestos due to the negligence of their employer. Compensation also helps with the many expenses that are associated with mesothelioma treatment. It can help your entire family with financial security.(32)
It is important to remember that claimants should not feel discouraged at the thought of the amount of work involved in filing a claim even if they feel that the process is too difficult to time consuming. Mesothelioma lawyers are there to help you navigate through the entire process, allowing the victims to focus on their health, treatment, and family members. In case the victim is already dead, the compensation helps family members carry on financially after the passing of their loved one. Remember that you developed this type of disease because of the negligence of your employer and you are entitled to receive compensation for that. While no amount of money can make up for the loss of health and life, it can help provide financial stability to the victim and their family, allowing them to manage the expenses associated with mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases.
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