2018 Mesothelioma Lawsuit News: Johnson & Johnson recently faced a guilty verdict of $117 million in an asbestos talcum powder lawsuit. The plaintiff claimed the company’s contaminated baby powder led to his later mesothelioma diagnosis. If you or a loved one are facing a mesothelioma diagnosis, get a free case evaluation to learn about your options.

Exposure to asbestos is the only known cause of mesothelioma. Over the years, numerous companies have knowingly put their employees and their families at risk of asbestos exposure from making or distributing asbestos materials or using asbestos products in their day-to-day processes. Millions of people are exposed on the job each year, with their loved ones also at risk of coming into contact with the toxin through secondhand exposure. Asbestos is still not banned in the United States, continuing to put many people at risk of exposure, even with products that they use. For those affected, it’s crucial to understand legal rights.

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The Decision to File a Mesothelioma Lawsuit

The decision to file a lawsuit after a startling diagnosis can be difficult, especially when balancing treatments. However, patients face a mounting number of bills as they struggle to pay for treatments, medications, doctors’ visits, hospitalization, and home care, while likely also being pulled out of work. Those diagnosed, as well as their loved ones, should understand their legal rights and how compensation could help combat growing bills and secure a better financial future.

Mesothelioma patients who have been diagnosed as a result of occupational exposure may want to address the fact that their employers knowingly put them in a life-threatening situation with carcinogenic materials. Others exposed to asbestos through products may also seek to sue manufacturers and sellers for their pain, suffering and other loses as a result of an asbestos-related diagnosis. Depending on nature of exposure and severity of suffering, reasoning behind litigation can differ, but every individual affected should understand his or her rights and seek that help that they need during a difficult time.

Types of Mesothelioma and Asbestos Exposure Lawsuits

There are two main types of mesothelioma lawsuits, including personal injury lawsuits and wrongful death lawsuits. The type of lawsuit filed will depend on the claimant, whether it’s the mesothelioma victim or surviving loved ones.

Personal Injury Mesothelioma Lawsuit

Individuals that have been diagnosed with mesothelioma may take legal action against asbestos companies or employers that put them in an asbestos-contaminated environment, against companies that contributed to secondhand exposure, or against manufacturers that produced contaminated products and sellers that knowingly sold these items. If an individual directly submits a lawsuit on behalf of him or herself, the case classifies as a personal injury lawsuit. The patient may be able to seek compensation for damages suffered from asbestos-caused conditions and diseases, such as mesothelioma and lung cancer.

Personal Injury Claims Compensation

  • Medication and treatment costs
  • Travel expenses to seek proper medical care
  • Doctor and hospital bills
  • Lost income from being out of work
  • Pain and suffering
  • Related personal and medical expenses

Wrongful Death from Mesothelioma Lawsuit

Wrongful death lawsuits differ from personal injuries in that they are submitted by a surviving family member of a victim that has passed away. Family members face not just an emotional loss, but often have to deal with a financial burden of lost income and left-behind medical bills and expenses. Mesothelioma lawsuits submitted by loved ones can be used to find help for a variety of reasons.

Wrongful Death Claims Compensation

  • Outstanding medical bills
  • Lost household income
  • Pain and suffering
  • Funeral expenses
  • Loss of consortium
  • Related expenses

How are Mesothelioma and Asbestos Lawsuits Handled?

The legal process can be hard for individuals to understand if they’ve never been involved in litigation. They may wonder how the case will be handled after it is submitted, like if the case will be individualized or grouped with others. In sum, these lawsuits are generally divided into individual claims, class action lawsuits and multidistrict litigations, each with differing eligibility criteria. Talk with an asbestos attorney to better understand what to expect throughout the legal process for your claim.

Types of Lawsuits & How They Are Handled

Individual ClaimsClass Action LawsuitsMultidistrict Litigation (MDL)
  • Single plaintiff sues a company (or multiple) for illnesses suffered as a result of asbestos exposure
  • Each side presents details and evidence to the judge
  • Resolution is achieved by a settlement or verdict from the jury
  • One person or group of affected people file a lawsuit on behalf of the larger group for collective suffering from asbestos
  • Every individual is able to continue with the class action or opt out
  • Least common lawsuit type with asbestos litigations
  • Mesothelioma victims file individual claims in an efficient, regulated process established for similar complaints
  • MDL 875 is the primary MDL used for mesothelioma cases
  • More than 186,000 cases have been filed under MDL 875 since its 1991 formation

Filing a Mesothelioma Lawsuit

A legal process from start to finish can be daunting, especially when the defendant takes action. If you are looking into filing a asbestos lawsuit after a mesothelioma diagnosis, understand the process and know what to expect. Note that each case is going to be handled differently, and ultimately it’s going to be up to the chosen mesothelioma lawyer to advise the best path of litigation.

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Consultation and Finding a Mesothelioma Lawyer

It’s important to seek a mesothelioma law firm that has ample experience in handling these types of cases. You will be able to schedule a free consultation with your chosen lawyer, asking questions, expressing concerns and gaining a great understanding of the legal process. This initial consultation will help you decide whether or not you’d like to move forward.

Research and Building Your Case

Your legal team will dive into your medical history, as well as all related information to your asbestos exposure and suffering, pulling together as much relevant evidence as possible to put together a promising case. Given the time constraints for filing asbestos-related lawsuits, with some states allowing just one year after diagnosis or wrongful death, it’s important to start this process immediately as it may take time for your legal team to sync the appropriate resources.

Determining Options for Compensation

Often referred to as “recovery,” your lawyer will look into all possible options for compensation, including potential recovery from an asbestos trust fund or suing of a negligent employer. Options are going to vary on a case-by-case basis.

Complaint Venue Decision

After completing research and discussing options, you and your lawyers will then have to determine the path you’re going to pursue when filing your claim. Your lawyer will be responsible for guiding you in the direction that could end in the best possible outcome.

Filing the Lawsuit and Defendant Action

At this point, a lawsuit is filed and the defendant becomes aware of the complaint. All details are released and the defendant is able to start pulling together their own evidence and arguments in preparation for trial or for a settlement. In most asbestos lawsuits, a settlement is reached out of court.

Duration of a lawsuit from start to finish will vary greatly, depending on whether a settlement occurs before making its way to court, or due to any or all of the following:

  • Number of filing plaintiffs
  • How the case is being handled
  • How many defendants are being targeted with the complaint
  • Length of time it takes to complete and collect research and evidence
  • Scheduling and availability
  • Nature of the venue decision

Counterclaims in Asbestos Lawsuits

It’s impossible to predict how the defendant is going to respond to litigation. However, past mesothelioma cases have provided insight into popular responses that defendants use as counterclaims against the plaintiff.

Defenses to Occupational Asbestos Exposure Claims

LegalPersonal/HealthOther
  • Incorrect/incomplete filing process
  • Family member is not qualified to file for deceased victim
  • Unreasonable venue chosen
  • Timing doesn’t conform to statute of limitations
  • Previous health problems
  • Smoking, drinking or drug abuse
  • Family history of medical conditions
  • Genetic concerns
  • Asbestos exposure occurred elsewhere
  • Inaccurate/improper diagnosis
  • Asbestos was not the cause
  • Overall fabrication

It can be hard to face aggressive or inaccurate counterclaims, and understanding the potential defenses that might emerge can help you and your lawyers prepare the best case. There have been many successful mesothelioma lawsuits that have occurred as asbestos exposure continues to be a growing concern. Understand your right to challenge a settlement. Common worries are travel for trial and other legal matters, however, lawyers can often speak on behalf of the claimant.

Common Questions Regarding Asbestos Exposure Lawsuits

Depending on who is filing a claim, how the case is being handled, and what state you reside in, a plethora of questions could pop up through the litigation process. While general answers for some of these common questions are provided below, an experienced mesothelioma lawyer can provide accurate, detailed answers to any inquiries you may have specific to your claim.

What Is the Cost to Hire a Mesothelioma Lawyer?

Asbestos attorneys often handle mesothelioma cases on a contingency basis, meaning there is no upfront cost. Typically, the individual filing will only pay once they get paid out after a settlement or verdict, but a contingency fee may also be required. Reputable law firms will also offer a free case review to determine your eligibility and start going over the details of your claim.

What If I Don’t Know How I Was Exposed to Asbestos?

For some people, how asbestos exposure occurred may be more obvious, especially for those who have worked in high-risk environments. For others, where and when they were exposed is a little more unclear.

For instance, research has found that many women were likely exposed to the material when laundering their husbands’ or fathers’ clothing. Asbestos fibers attached to the clothes and were then released back into the air during laundry preparation. Some have come into contact with products that contain asbestos when renovating a home, or others through regular use of contaminated products such as talcum powder.

Again, these situations call for a highly experienced mesothelioma attorney to do all of the necessary research to pinpoint the circumstances of exposure. Even if you are unclear of how exposure occurred, you may still be eligible to file a claim.

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How Do I Make Sure I File an Asbestos Lawsuit in Time?

Mesothelioma lawsuits must be handled in a timely manner, per the statute of limitations which can range from one year to six years, depending on the state where the lawsuit is filed. Asbestos-related diseases must be reported as soon as possible to ensure eligibility for compensation.

Personal injury lawsuits have a deadline for filing based on the time of diagnosis, which will vary based on state. Some states only have a year limitation, requiring plaintiffs to take rapid action. Wrongful death lawsuits are based on the death of the mesothelioma victim, again, varying by state. Ultimately, seeking legal help immediately will help ensure the best odds for compensation, especially in asbestos cases that are unclear and require in-depth research into the time, nature and location of asbestos exposure.

What If I Didn’t File in Time?

If you are outside of the time frame posed through the statute of limitations in your state, check with your lawyer about other potential options. You may be able to still benefit from company trust funds, worker’s compensation or veterans benefits if you have previously served.

Can I Still Seek Compensation If the Defendant Is Bankrupt?

Since asbestos-related lawsuits have been very large-scale, many companies were forced to sell or go bankrupt due to the mounting number of claims against them. As a result, these companies were required to set up asbestos bankruptcy trust funds, allowing them to pay towards existing and future legal claims. For companies that were acquired or sold, there is potential to file against the parent company for past exposure. However, a legal professional will be able to best advise.

What If I Don’t Want to Accept a Settlement for My Mesothelioma Case?

If the defendant offers a settlement ahead of the case going to trial, the individual filing a claim is responsible for determining whether or not to accept. Settlements are how majority of mesothelioma cases conclude, but individuals should consult with their lawyer if going to trial seems to be the better option.