If you develop mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, it is important to consider contacting an experienced mesothelioma attorney as soon as possible. Due to the wide range of disciplines and topics that are involved in a mesothelioma lawsuit, only attorneys trained in litigating these types of cases are qualified to help you. Important topics to address include determining if you should pursue a lawsuit, when to do so, and any possible time constraints.
Because each state determines its own time restrictions for filing a claim, it is important to quickly contact an attorney experienced in such specifics. In addition to helping you file a claim before the statute of limitations has expired, an experienced mesothelioma attorney can also help you determine who is accountable for your asbestos exposure.
A mesothelioma lawsuit is filed to provide reparations for medical expenses, replace lost income, and compensate for the pain and suffering you and your family has experienced. Only skilled attorneys with years of representing mesothelioma victims should be trusted to help you.
Mesothelioma Lawsuit Process
If you decide to move forward and file a lawsuit, an experienced attorney can walk you through the process. The basic trial stages include a response to the lawsuit, discovery, depositions, settlement discussions, a potential trial, verdict, and a potential appeal, though you will need to take part in preparation before the trial as well. Although no two cases are the same, these standard steps apply to virtually everyone who files an asbestos-related lawsuit. Therefore, your process will likely include the following stages, unless a settlement is reached.
During this process, your lawyer will help you consider your legal options, gather your asbestos exposure details, and collect your disease information in order to determine who should be held accountable for your asbestos exposure and which court your lawsuit should be filed to. In some instances, a lawsuit may be eligible to appear in more than one court. An experienced mesothelioma attorney can help you determine which court will yield the most favorable result.
In this stage, a formal, written complaint must be filed with a court to begin the lawsuit process. During this stage, your attorney will prepare and file this document, which must follow the specific conventions of the court regarding its format and claim details. An experienced mesothelioma attorney can assure this process progresses as smoothly as possible, most effectively presenting your claims to the court.
During this step in the process, each defendant will receive a copy of your filing and have the opportunity to respond. Due to the characteristic latency period of mesothelioma, this process may be complicated. During the delay in your asbestos exposure and your filing of suit, many changes could have met the responsible company, including its sale or filing for bankruptcy. This makes locating all responsible parties difficult and frequently time consuming. However, your attorney will manage this process.
Following receipt of your complaint, each defendant will be given a set amount of time to respond. These responses will almost always involve a denial of the claims and actions to defend themselves, which your attorney will respond to. Common arguments against claims include calling them invalid or saying some other situation is responsible for your asbestos exposure. In some instances, a company may even state your illness is unrelated to asbestos exposure.
Discovery involves lawyers from both sides of the lawsuit collecting information regarding your claims. Each legal team will be required to produce documents, answer questions and take part in depositions. Some of the evidence collected during this process will make its way to be used at trial, though it can take several months. In the case of a plaintiff’s failing health, the attorney can request the court to accelerate the process.
Your participation in videotaped depositions is also required during this stage. Under sworn oath, you will answer questions from the defendant’s lawyer. This process can range in length from a few hours to several days, though this can be done at your home. Your attorney will be present during the deposition to help you respond to discovery requests.
The defendant’s lawyers will also attempt to find evidence that their client did not cause your illness. This means the defense will demand you produce detailed, personal information, including your medical history and records, work history and even personal habits. Further information about you will be sought from your friends and family, doctors and co-workers. Your attorney will make similar demands of the defense, asking for any and all information supporting your claim that the defense is responsible for your negligent exposure to asbestos.
Many mesothelioma and asbestos-related claims end without even going to trial. Very often, the defense lawyers will offer to resolve the claim through settlement, or the exchange of a specific amount of money. This offer to settle frequently occurs before the trial starts, though a settlement can be reached at any point after the start of the trial. Many of these later settlement offers involve higher amounts of money. However, your attorney will negotiate for you no matter the size or time when a settlement offer is presented.
The format of your trial will vary, depending on where you filed your claim. Thanks to taped depositions, though, it is possible you will never even have to appear in court. If you win at trial, you will generally begin receiving payments within a few months, unless the defense appeals the decision.
If you prevail after going to trial, the defense may file an appeal, which must be done within a specified amount of time. During appeal, any monetary awards will be delayed, though the defendant will be required to post bond for the awarded amount. An appeal means a higher court will review the case to determine if any mistakes in applying the law were made. The appeals court generally accepts all the facts of the initial trial. If appeal is granted, the higher court may make three different rulings: The court may affirm the previous decision, reverse it, or send it back to the lower court for an additional hearing. This process may add years to the legal process, though to avoid additional delay, the parties may choose to settle even after the appeal has been filed for.