When you have fallen ill as the result of asbestos exposure, a lawyer is one of the most valuable resources you have available. Not only can your lawyer provide legal advice regarding a potential lawsuit, he or she can also strategize and litigate a successful outcome in your case.
Many attorneys and firms specialize in personal injury lawsuits related to illnesses like mesothelioma and asbestosis—any condition that is knowingly caused by negligent exposure. The result of any successfully handled asbestos lawsuit will be a settlement benefitting the victim and/or his or her family.
These settlements can total in the millions, so it is important to take the steps towards filing a lawsuit both quickly and carefully. Once you have been diagnosed with an illness that is linked to asbestos exposure, a lawyer who specializes in these types of cases should be one of the first people you call.
The reasoning behind taking action immediately lies with the time restraints placed on asbestos litigation. Strict statues of limitations, which vary by state, govern these types of claims. One of the first questions you should ask your attorney is, “How long do I have to file?”
Some states, including Louisiana and California, restrict the grace period for filing an asbestos claim to only one year post-diagnosis. This means that if you wait several months to contact an attorney and begin legal proceedings, you risk running out of time before the lawsuit can be filed.
There are certain steps that must be taken before your lawyer can file on your behalf. In cases of asbestos exposure, a lawyer has to first verify the specifics of that exposure—a process, which can take time. Additionally, documentation and evidence is necessary to back up your claim. You and your attorney must meet the burden of proof, showing that the responsible party was negligent in causing your exposure. Collecting the necessary support for your case can also be a somewhat time-consuming endeavor.
Once the lawsuit has been filed, it is difficult to say exactly how long the case will take to reach completion. The majority of asbestos-related personal injury claims settle before ever going to trial. In cases such as these, a settlement can be reached in as little as a year or even less. If the case does proceed to a jury, the expected timeframe expands—potentially to two years or more. Your asbestos attorney can guide you in understanding what to prepare for, in terms of timing.
It’s also important to remember that your lawyer will put in a lot of work to pursue your claim. During just the initial consultations, interviews and verification of asbestos exposure, a lawyer is likely to spend many hours on your case. That is before even filing the necessary paperwork for the lawsuit. In exchange for their time and efforts, your lawyer will receive a portion of the final settlement—likely, between 25 and 40 percent. Be sure to ask your attorney what his or her contingency fees are, prior to signing a contract.