Asbestos lawsuits are commonly filed by individuals diagnosed with mesothelioma. If asbestos exposure can be traced back to a specific product or workplace, mesothelioma patients may be able to file a lawsuit and receive compensation for their asbestos-related injuries.Looking to file a mesothelioma lawsuit? Talk to an asbestos lawyer today
Why People File Mesothelioma Lawsuits
Patients diagnosed with mesothelioma face high medical expenses related to cancer treatments, prescriptions, follow-up doctors’ visits, hospitalization, and long-term home care. In most cases, they will also be unable to work, meaning lost or reduced income. Given the strong correlation between mesothelioma and exposure to asbestos, many mesothelioma patients file a legal claim in order to meet the new financial demands placed on them. Successful lawsuits can potentially provide plaintiffs with compensatory damages to cover medical bills, lost wages and other unexpected costs created by their mesothelioma diagnosis.
About 3,000 new mesothelioma cases are diagnosed each year. Likewise, more than 2,000 mesothelioma claims are filed each year, meaning that over the long term, as many as two-thirds of mesothelioma patients or their families seek compensation for their diagnosis. (Note that lawsuits filed in any given year may be connected to diagnoses from previous years.)
Mesothelioma Lawsuits Against Employers
Many asbestos exposure lawsuits are filed against employers or former employers. While each individual complaint is different, plaintiffs often claim that employers knew the dangers of asbestos exposure but did not properly inform workers; that employers failed to provide adequate safety measures or equipment; or that employers did not maintain facilities according to the safety standards required by labor regulations (e.g., OSHA or MSHA). As a result, plaintiffs allege that their mesothelioma diagnosis was directly related to asbestos exposure in the workplace.
More recently, employers have also been liable in some cases for secondary exposure to asbestos – that is, spouses, children, and other family and friends who develop mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos brought home on an employee’s clothing (sometimes called “domestic exposure” or “take-home exposure”).
Common Occupations with High Asbestos Exposure Rates
- Construction Workers
- Factory Workers
- Machine Operators
- Metal Workers
- Military Personnel/Veterans
- Oil Rig Workers
- Shipyard Workers
Mesothelioma Lawsuits Against Asbestos Manufacturers
Other common defendants in mesothelioma lawsuits are manufacturers of asbestos and asbestos-containing products. While asbestos is heavily regulated today, in the past it was used in many types of construction and consumer products, from hair dryers and oven mitts to drywall and textured paints. Pure asbestos “snow” was even used in Christmas decorations and on film sets like The Wizard of Oz. Most homes built before the 1980s still contain at least some asbestos, and there are even some products made today that have asbestos in them.
The most common personal injury claim against asbestos manufacturers is that these companies knew about the strong link between asbestos and mesothelioma but did not properly warn consumers about the potentially harmful effects of their products. The first big company to face lawsuits over asbestos exposure was Johns-Manville Corporation, which eventually went bankrupt due to the amount of asbestos litigation filed against it. Dozens of other companies have since gone bankrupt because of mesothelioma lawsuits, leading to the establishment of asbestos trust funds that have paid billions of dollars in compensation to mesothelioma patients or their survivors.
Large Companies That Have Faced Asbestos Litigation
- Garlock Sealing Technologies
- Georgia Pacific Corporation
- Ingersoll Rand
- John Deere
- Johns-Manville Corporation
- National Gypsum
- Owens Corning / Fibreboard
- UNR Industries
Personal Injury vs. Wrongful Death Lawsuits
Mesothelioma has a long latency period, often taking decades from the initial asbestos exposure to diagnosis. However, once an individual is diagnosed with mesothelioma, their prognosis is typically pretty grim, with most mesothelioma patients living less than two years after diagnosis.
Because lawsuits can take a long time to work their way through the court system, many mesothelioma patients are at risk of passing away before their case gets resolved. As a result, some venues have implemented expedited procedures for terminally ill patients in an attempt to help them reach a just resolution to their case while they are still alive. These cases are handled as personal injury cases, with the primary plaintiff being the person who was diagnosed. The plaintiff can typically claim multiple types of legal damages associated with their diagnosis.
For those patients who do die before they are able to receive compensation, in many cases their next of kin can continue the case as a wrongful death lawsuit. In such cases, compensation can go toward paying outstanding medical bills at the time of their loved one’s death, funeral expenses, and even lost income that the person would have otherwise earned had they not developed such a deadly form of cancer. Wrongful death claims can also be filed by family members of a loved one who died from mesothelioma even if the patient never filed a personal injury lawsuit while alive.
To find out what type of mesothelioma lawsuit you may be able to file, talk with an asbestos attorney today to get a free case review.
Mesothelioma is the largest and longest-running mass tort in the United States. The first mesothelioma lawsuits were filed in the late 1970s and early 1980s against large companies that manufactured asbestos products. Since then, more than 190,000 asbestos exposure lawsuits have been filed across the United States, focusing on the impact of asbestos not only for mesothelioma but also asbestosis, pulmonary fibrosis, and lung cancer.
In recent years, some lawsuits have even been filed against Johnson & Johnson, alleging their baby powder products contained asbestos and caused users to develop mesothelioma. J&J settled three of those lawsuits in March 2019, but the details of those settlements remain confidential.
MDL 875 In Re: Asbestos Products Liability Litigation
The current multidistrict litigation handling federal mesothelioma cases is MDL 875, overseen by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. More than 190,000 asbestos lawsuits have passed through MDL 875, with those lawsuits being split into two separate “tracks” based on where the exposure occurred:
- Land-Based Cases: asbestos lawsuits related to product and occupational exposures on land
- Maritime Docket (MARDOC) Cases: asbestos lawsuits related to exposures on merchant marine ships
Approximately two-thirds of asbestos lawsuits in the MDL have been land-based cases, while about one-third have been MARDOC cases. Whether your asbestos exposure happened on land or water, you should talk to a mesothelioma lawyer to discuss your case’s viability as a federal lawsuit.
New York Mesothelioma Lawsuits
New York City has a long and complex history with construction, shipping, and other industries where asbestos has been used heavily. Because so much asbestos exposure has occurred over the decades in such a small geographical area, New York set up a separate court to handle asbestos-related lawsuits called the New York City Asbestos Litigation docket, or NYCAL.
NYCAL has been home to some of the largest compensation awards for asbestos victims in the country, a situation which has angered many corporate defendants in mesothelioma lawsuits. A recent case management order – a judicial order that details administrative procedures for a particular case or set of cases – issued by a judge who has since retired now allows plaintiffs who file asbestos lawsuits to seek punitive damages, which they were not allowed to do previously. This could raise compensation amounts even higher for those who file their asbestos claim in NYCAL.
Individuals who have lived, worked, or had a military posting in New York and later were diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease could be eligible to file their lawsuit in NYCAL. Get a free case evaluation from a New York mesothelioma lawyer to see if NYCAL is the right venue for you.Connect with an experienced mesothelioma attorney Start the lawsuit process today
Mesothelioma Settlements, Verdicts and Other Compensation
Mesothelioma lawsuits have been around for decades, and it is probably not possible to tally the total amount of compensation that patients and their families have received from settlements, verdicts, and other legal remuneration, such as asbestos trust fund claims.
In 2016, Mealey’s Litigation Report calculated that the average mesothelioma trial award was $2.4 million, while the average mesothelioma settlement amount is between $1 million and $1.4 million. However, every case is different, and individual circumstances could significantly raise that amount.
Mesothelioma settlements and verdicts are frequently split between multiple defendants. In addition, some defendants may offer a settlement, while others may wish to take the case to trial, hoping to have the case thrown out or receive a favorable verdict from a jury.
Asbestos Trust Funds
Many companies have gone bankrupt due to asbestos litigation. During bankruptcy proceedings, these companies are often required to establish trust funds to settle future claims from people who develop mesothelioma later (due to the disease’s long latency period). Over the last 40 years, more than 60 bankrupted companies have established asbestos trust funds totaling over $30 billion.
In recent years, the subject of adequate funding for these trust funds has come up frequently, as more and more asbestos claims are being filed. Some plaintiffs have asked successor companies – companies that have made it out of bankruptcy after reorganization, or companies that have purchased the bankrupt companies – to provide additional funds so that these claims can be fully paid. However, bankruptcy typically protects successor companies from the liability of their predecessors.
To see if you may be eligible to receive money from an asbestos trust fund, you should talk with an asbestos attorney today.
Veterans Benefits for Asbestos Exposure
Sadly, many of the men and women who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, especially those in the U.S. Navy. Those who have been exposed to asbestos while on active duty and later developed mesothelioma could be eligible for special disability benefits. These benefits cover both the cost of healthcare and compensation payments.
Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance that helps pay a portion of the person’s wages while they are disabled due to an injury sustained on the job. Employees who are exposed to asbestos at a work site may be eligible for workers’ compensation to help recover some lost income while they are unable to work. Every state has some kind of workers’ compensation requirement for employers, though specific rules differ from state to state.
Note that in some cases you may be able to file for workers’ compensation even after you have left a job or retired. You should talk to an experienced attorney to find out what workers’ compensation may be available to you.
Asbestos Lawsuit FAQs
Answers are provided below to some of the most common questions about mesothelioma lawsuits.
What If I Don’t Know How I Was Exposed to Asbestos?
Some people know exactly where and when they were exposed to asbestos. Others, however, may not even realize they were exposed until after receiving a mesothelioma diagnosis.
Once you learn that you do have an asbestos-related disease, you should reach out to a mesothelioma lawyer immediately. Your attorney will go over your work history, military service, places you’ve lived, and other relevant details in your personal and medical history to find out where your exposure might have occurred. They have access to lists of known workplaces where exposure occurred, and they can also help you identify problematic products (like talcum powder) that contained asbestos.
How Long Do I Have to File an Asbestos Lawsuit?
Deadlines for filing mesothelioma lawsuits (known as statutes of limitations) vary from state to state. The average statute of limitations is about 3 years after a mesothelioma diagnosis or death to file a lawsuit, though some states allow as little as 1 year for filing an asbestos claim. Therefore, it is important to contact a mesothelioma law firm as soon as possible after your diagnosis, to get the legal process started right away.
If you think you have missed the deadline, you should still talk to a lawyer about other potential compensation options. Veterans’ benefits, workers’ compensation, and some asbestos trust funds may have different deadlines and filing requirements than a standard lawsuit. Also, in some extenuating circumstances, you may be able to get the amount of time you have to file extended.
Can I Seek Compensation If the Asbestos Company Is Bankrupt?
Many companies that have gone bankrupt due to asbestos litigation have set up asbestos trust funds to pay claims made after the company has reorganized or dissolved. In general, these trust funds have their own claim filing procedures and deadlines intended to expedite the claim process.
For companies that were acquired or sold, you may also be able to file a lawsuit against the successor company for past asbestos exposure. Your legal team will be able to advise you about what trust funds may be available for you and your family, as well as whether you can pursue additional compensation through a lawsuit.
How Much Do Mesothelioma Lawyers Cost?
Mesothelioma 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.Connect with a Mesothelioma Law Firm
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