Alternatives to Mesothelioma Class-Action Lawsuits
There are several alternatives to mesothelioma class-action lawsuits. Most mesothelioma lawsuits are filed by individuals as personal injury claims or wrongful death claims. Compensation may also be available from asbestos trust funds, workers’ compensation or the Department of Veterans Affairs.
- If you are asked to join an asbestos class action, remember that you can choose to join the class or “opt out” so you can pursue your own lawsuit.
- Asbestos Class Actions vs. Individual Claims
- Class action lawyers represent the whole group rather than individual clients
- Class action members have less control over their case
- Class action compensation is divided between all claimants
Most mesothelioma lawsuits are settled out of court, whether they are class actions or individual claims. Settlement negotiations can be more complicated in class-action lawsuits because usually all or most of the plaintiffs have to agree to the terms.
Be sure to work with an experienced asbestos law firm when you evaluate your legal options for seeking mesothelioma compensation.
How to File an Asbestos Claim
To file an asbestos claim, you must have medical records showing a diagnosis of an asbestos-related illness such as mesothelioma. You must also gather documentation explaining what companies were responsible for the asbestos exposure that led to the illness.
The defendants in these cases could include manufacturers and distributors of asbestos-containing products, mining and construction companies, and other companies that used asbestos in industrial processes such as chemical refining or power generation.
Attorneys who specialize in asbestos lawsuits can help you identify the source of the asbestos exposure that made you or your loved one sick.
Another important aspect of filing an asbestos claim is making sure you file within the statute of limitations. For most states, the time limit to file is within two years of receiving a mesothelioma diagnosis.
Types of Mesothelioma Lawsuits
If your family is bearing the burden of mesothelioma, asbestos litigation may be right for you and your loved ones. There are two types of legal claims your family may be able to file.
Personal Injury Claims: A person diagnosed with mesothelioma is eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit against the companies responsible for exposing them to asbestos. Asbestos liability is usually based on companies’ failure to warn employees and consumers about the dangers linked to inhaling the toxic mineral. When compensation is awarded in personal injury lawsuits, mesothelioma patients are the recipients.
Wrongful Death Claims: The estate of a deceased mesothelioma patient is eligible to file a wrongful death claim, seeking compensation to cover medical bills, funeral expenses and lost income. Similarly, if a mesothelioma patient files a personal injury lawsuit but passes away before it is resolved, the estate may continue the claim. When compensation is awarded in wrongful death lawsuits, the estate is the recipient.
Types of Mesothelioma Lawsuits
Depending on who is filing the claim, mesothelioma patients or loved ones may file a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. The type of lawsuit differs based on who is filing, where the money is going and what expenses are being taken into consideration when determining the compensation amount. In addition to personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits, mesothelioma and asbestos cases may be handled as class action lawsuits or through multidistrict litigation.
Mesothelioma Personal Injury Lawsuit
- Submitted by the patient after receiving a mesothelioma diagnosis.
- Filed against the company or companies likely responsible for asbestos exposure.
- Claims specific damages due to illness caused by asbestos exposure.
- Allows the patient to recover money for treatment, travel, lost income, pain, suffering and related costs.
Mesothelioma Wrongful Death Lawsuit
- Submitted by surviving family member after the death of a loved one from mesothelioma.
- Filed against the company or companies responsible for the asbestos exposure leading to death.
- Claims specific damages related to the death of the individual.
- Allows the family to recover compensation related to outstanding medical bills, funeral expenses, lost income potential, loss of consortium and related costs.
The legal process for an asbestos-related lawsuit depends on the health of the plaintiff. If you are in poor health, the entire process may be expedited. If there is no urgency, the process may take several months or longer. In either case, the defendant typically tries to drag out the process. Your attorney will work to resolve your case as quickly as possible. They will handle each step so you can focus on your health and spend time with your loved ones.
Will I Need to Travel?
The location where you file can affect the length of the case process. Your attorney will help you choose the best jurisdiction for your case. It may be necessary to file outside the state where you live. You typically will not need to travel. Mesothelioma attorneys can often handle the entire case process and travel to you when necessary.
How Much Do Mesothelioma Lawyers Charge?
Most mesothelioma lawyers typically work on a contingency-fee basis. This typically means your attorney gets paid if you agree to a settlement or win your lawsuit. When you settle or win a case, a percentage of the award will be paid to your lawyer. If not, you pay no attorney fees.
What Is a Class-Action Lawsuit for Mesothelioma?
In a class-action lawsuit, a group of people bring a joint claim to court. When medical evidence linked asbestos exposure to mesothelioma in the 1960s, class-action lawsuits were an efficient way to hold negligent companies accountable.
But individual lawsuits have proven more appropriate. Mesothelioma lawyers and judges came to realize class actions are not the best type of litigation for asbestos cases, which involve a rare cancer with a long latency period.
Class-action lawsuits are civil suits filed against a defendant by one or more plaintiffs on behalf of a group of “similarly situated” people. Instead of hearing the details of every plaintiff’s case, the court hears one case that represents the whole class.
State and federal courts have their own procedural rules governing class actions. Most agree the group must share similar injuries caused by shared circumstances that raise the same legal issues.
A court must determine there are sufficient similarities and that separate lawsuits would be impractical or burdensome. Then it can certify the group as a class and allow them to litigate their case collectively.