A mesothelioma lawyer is versed in both products liability law and the special legal protections for victims of asbestos exposure. Finding a lawyer who is knowledgeable and experienced in this very specialized area of law is vital for victims of asbestos exposure who are seeking compensation for their injuries.
While the AMA certifies doctors in specialized fields of medicine, the ABA does not offer any special certifications in law, so individuals seeking legal counsel must check the background and experience of lawyers when choosing one to represent them. A lawyer that practices family or estate law can represent someone in an asbestos lawsuit, but he or she does not have experience and expertise in this field of law. It is best to select a lawyer that has handled similar lawsuits and knows the relevant statutory and case law.
Where Will the Lawsuit Be Filed?
It usually takes between 20 and 50 years for asbestos-related injuries to become apparent. Since asbestos was widely used in many industries, one individual may have been exposed in several different workplaces. As a rule, a lawsuit is filed in the jurisdiction where the injury occurred, but if a person was exposed in more than one jurisdiction, this may be problematic. An experienced legal representative can help clients choose the best jurisdiction to file their asbestos litigation in.
What Is a Class Action?
Some asbestos lawsuits are class actions, which means that a number of unrelated individuals that were exposed to asbestos through the same source and suffered similar injuries filed a single lawsuit. Most mesothelioma lawsuits are not class actions and are filed by individual plaintiffs. A mesothelioma lawyer can offer legal advice about the advantages and disadvantages of joining a class action suit or filing an individual lawsuit. Not every victim of asbestos poisoning is eligible to join a class action.
Compensatory and Punitive Damages
A lawyer can file a lawsuit for both compensatory and punitive damages. Compensatory damages are medical bills, lost wages, essential services and pain and suffering. Punitive damages are intended to punish wrongdoers, and are appropriate if the defendant was aware of the potential danger and took no steps to protect employees or their family members. Punitive damage awards may be as much or more than compensatory damage awards in cases which go to trial.
Time Limits for Filing Asbestos Lawsuits
In most states, the products liability statutes of limitation are between 1 and 3 years from the time of injury. Because it may take decades for asbestos injuries to show symptoms, most states have chosen to extend the statutes to between 1 and 3 years from the time of diagnosis of mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis. Since the time for filing a legal action is limited, it is smart to consult a mesothelioma attorney as soon as a diagnosis is received so he or she can begin the work necessary to file a lawsuit.
Settling Out of Court
The vast majority of lawsuits are settled by the parties without the need to go to trial. A mesothelioma attorney is an expert in negotiating settlements for his or her clients, and can get fair compensation for the clients’ injuries without lengthy court proceedings. When consulting a lawyer specializing in asbestos cases, potential clients can ask about the length of time it may take to get compensation and whether the lawyer believes it will be necessary to try their case in court.
Who Should Consult a Mesothelioma Law Firm?
Anyone who has developed an asbestos-related disease and was exposed to asbestos at work should see a lawyer specializing in asbestos exposure. Family members of individuals who worked with asbestos may develop mesothelioma and other diseases due to second-hand asbestos exposure, and they are also eligible for compensation in most states. Individuals who worked in older government building where asbestos insulation broke down due to age or was disturbed during repairs may also be able to file a lawsuit.
Individuals seeing a mesothelioma attorney for the first time should bring a copy of their diagnosis and medical records and a list of possible sources of their asbestos exposure so the lawyer can properly evaluate their case. Anyone consulting a lawyer should ask questions about their experience, the number of similar cases they have handled and the number of cases they have tried in court. While lawyers cannot release information about specific cases, they can offer general information about their past performance in this area of law.
Cost of an Asbestos Lawsuit
There is no fee for a consultation with a legal professional, and attorney fees for handling an asbestos lawsuit are deferred until the lawyer gets compensation for his client. There may be some small expenses for copies of necessary records and court filing fees. In asbestos lawsuits, the lawyer does not receive payment unless and until he gets monetary compensation for his client’s injuries. People with the devastating injuries caused by asbestos need not be concerned about legal costs when they seek assistance for payment of their medical and other expenses.
If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis or another asbestos-related disease, you can get a free compensation evaluation of your case here on our website by completing the short questionnaire. An experienced mesothelioma lawyer will contact you if you qualify for compensation.