Most people who develop mesothelioma were exposed to toxic asbestos while on the job. In order to pay for the cost of treatment and other damages, patients and families file lawsuits against manufacturers.
Mesothelioma is an aggressive form of cancer that affects predominantly the lining of the lungs (pleural mesothelioma) or abdomen (peritoneal mesothelioma). Most cases of the disease are caused by excessive exposure to a carcinogenic mineral fiber called asbestos–exposure that in most cases was preventable.
Anyone who developed an asbestos-related disease because of exposure – particularly because of occupational exposure – has legitimate grounds to consider a mesothelioma lawsuit against the manufacturers of asbestos products related to the exposure.
The dangers of asbestos to human health were known for decades by manufacturers and others in the asbestos industry, yet those dangers were not publicized. That failure led to a massive U.S. asbestos tort, one that permits people who develop mesothelioma to file lawsuits in the hope of being compensated for getting a cancer that never should have happened.
Starting in the 1960s, companies that manufactured asbestos products and those that permitted their installation were hit with thousands of mesothelioma lawsuits from employees, consumers and families. Time and again, juries found that asbestos companies acted “with malice” by covering up the dangers of asbestos.
Not surprisingly, people diagnosed with mesothelioma often begin litigation against these negligent companies to compensate them and their families for mounting medical bills, pain, suffering and loss of quality of life.
Many people diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease – mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer or asbestosis, to name three – have legal options to help pay for medical treatment and to compensate for pain and suffering. Because there is often a time limit to initiate any legal action, it is important to speak with a mesothelioma lawyer who can help you pursue any possible claims as soon as possible. An experienced lawyer can help hold asbestos manufacturers accountable for their negligence and walk you through the complex legal process
The truth about mesothelioma class-action lawsuits is that they are a myth. Class-action lawsuits are filed by one party on behalf of people in a similar situation and generally take a long time to settle. Because mesothelioma lawsuits involve a number of different defendants, each person has a unique set of circumstances, and many plaintiffs may not survive a lengthy trial, mesothelioma cases are not handled as class actions.
However, mesothelioma lawsuits may be consolidated into a mass tort. Mass torts allow plaintiffs to retain their own attorneys, and groups of cases are argued together to save time and money. Asbestos litigation began in the 1970s and is the longest-running mass tort in U.S. history. It is also one of the most expensive – costing defendants billions of dollars.
Court records show that most defendants in mesothelioma lawsuits prefer to settle out of court rather than face a jury in trial. If a case does go to court and a settlement is not reached before the conclusion of the trial, the jury will deliver a verdict. If the jury decides that the defendant is liable, it will award compensation based on two types of damages: compensatory and punitive.
Compensatory damages are based on actual economic losses. Punitive damages are based on how offensive and malicious the defendant’s behavior was that led up to the lawsuit. Punitive damages are meant to deter the defendant and other similar companies from causing the same type of injuries again. The more deplorable the defendant’s actions, the higher the amount of punitive damages awarded.
While some states set a cap on compensatory damages, there is usually no cap on punitive damages. Because many of these companies knew about the dangers of asbestos and willfully endangered their employees, the punitive damages can often reach millions of dollars.
|Big mesothelioma verdicts|
|In 2003, a former employee of U.S. Steel named Roby Worthington won a $250 million verdict. He was exposed to asbestos when he worked for the company from 1950 to 1981 and was diagnosed with mesothelioma.|
|In 2006, 49-year-old David Bakkie won a jury award of $18.5 million. He was exposed to asbestos while working as a plastic molder from 1974 to 1975 and was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2005.|
|In 2007, the family of former U.S. Navy machinist mate Richard Walmach was awarded $5.1 million after he died from mesothelioma in 2006.|
|In 2012, a jury ruled in favor of construction worker Bobbie Izell and awarded him $48 million. Izell was exposed to asbestos on construction sites in the 1960s and ’70s and was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2011.|
Each mesothelioma lawsuit is unique, but there is such a thing a general case process that someone can expect to go through. In the case of mesothelioma, often the case process is expedited because many people with this disease typically have only about a year to live after diagnosis.
After gathering enough information, your attorney will file a legal document called a complaint that details your injuries and why the defendant is liable for your injuries.
Ask the doctor’s office if they pharmaceutical reps in their offices to pitch new drugs. Sometimes this can influence the drugs the doctor prescribes in the office. You want a doctor with the patient’s best interest in mind, not a pharmaceutical company’s.
The defendant will respond to the claim in your complaint. Most of the time, they will try to get the judge assigned to your case to dismiss it, but an experienced attorney will get your case to proceed.
Before any case goes to trial or settles, both sides must gather evidence by taking depositions and requesting documents. This phase is called discovery. Your attorney will prepare you for any questions the defense may ask you.
Settlement or Trial
Mesothelioma lawsuits often settle before trial. But if the case does go all the way to trial, your attorney will make this process as easy as possible for you. You do not have to be present for the entire trial process.Because mesothelioma can take a toll on your health, you may participate in the proceedings from the comfort of your home. Your lawyer can arrange to travel to you if necessary, and you may communicate by video or phone.
If the jury awards anything to you, the defendant may file an appeal. If this happens, it may delay receiving any money from the jury’s award. If no appeal is made, you and your family may receive payments a few months after the completion of the trial.
One of the largest groups of people affected by mesothelioma is veterans. Currently, there are more than 21 million veterans who proudly served in one of the branches of the military. Unfortunately, thousands if not millions of these men and women who served our country were exposed to asbestos in Navy ships, army proving grounds and on bases around the world.
As a result of this heavy asbestos exposure, veterans have had to face life-changing asbestos-related diseases like mesothelioma, and their families have had to endure financial and emotional hardships. While the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides many benefits such as health care services and disability benefits, some veterans find that they need additional compensation to pay for the costs of living with and fighting this disease. Because of this, many veterans elect to file mesothelioma lawsuits against the companies responsible for producing the asbestos used by the military.
If you are a veteran who was diagnosed with mesothelioma, Drugwatch’s dedicated Veterans Department can help you understand your legal options and help you apply for VA benefits.
For many people diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos disease, compensation from filing a lawsuit ensures that they can get the financial help necessary to get the best medical treatment. It also helps take care of their loved ones and families. Filing a mesothelioma lawsuit can help deflect the considerable costs of treatment, compensate for emotional and physical hardship, and can also send a message to negligent companies and hold them accountable for their actions.
If you are considering mesothelioma litigation, you only have a certain amount of time in which to pursue legal action. If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or other asbestos disease and are considering filing a claim, it is important to contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible.
- Althouse, S. (2007, June 02). L.A. jury orders Foster Wheeler to pay $5.2 M in asbestos case. Retrieved from http://blog.pennlive.com/lvbreakingnews/2007/06/la_jury_orders_foster_wheeler.html
- Kelly, J. F. (2002, March 28). Roby Whittington vs. United States Steel. Retrieved from http://www.morelaw.com/verdicts/case.asp?n=No.%2002-L1113%20&s;=IL&d;=24572
- ALM. (2012). David Bakkie v. Union Carbide Corp., Dexter Hysol, AutoZone West Inc., Ram Auto Parts Inc.
- ALM. (2012). Estate of Richard Walmach, et. al. v. Aqua-Chem, et. al.
- Bronstad, A. (2012, June 27). $48M asbestos verdict is the largest this year. Daily Report. Retrieved from http://www.dailyreportonline.com/id=1202560877195
- United States Department of Veterans Affairs. (2012). Asbestos. Retrieved from http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/asbestos/index.asp