Hundreds of thousands of individuals have received an asbestos settlement throughout the U.S. alone, in a windfall of litigation that shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon. Sadly however, some individuals who are eligible for a settlement may not even know it. To find out if you may be one of these unknowing victims, read on to discover the: who, what, when, why and how of pursuing an asbestos claim and settlement.
WHO? You may be eligible for an asbestos settlement if you have developed mesothelioma, asbestosis or another related illness after being exposed to asbestos. This is a group that includes more than 10,000 Americans each year, most of whom encountered the dangerous carcinogen that led to their illness while at work or even in their own home. As many as 90% of mesothelioma cases are directly caused by asbestos exposure, which means that most people diagnosed with it are eligible to file suit.
WHAT? A settlement refers to a monetary sum paid out to a victim by a responsible party, after personal injury or property damage has been determined to be the result of neglect on the defendant’s part. In asbestos cases, personal injury means the development of any asbestos-caused illness. A settlement is reached when the responsible party concedes fault and negotiates a reasonable sum to be paid out to the victim.
WHEN? An asbestos lawsuit should be filed posthaste after receiving a diagnosis of any asbestos-related illness. Each state has what is called a statute of limitations, which lay out rules governing how long after the initial diagnosis a claim may be filed. Once filed, a lawsuit may take anywhere from several months to several years to reach a settlement, though this particular type of litigation is designed to progress in a relatively timely manner.
WHY? An asbestos settlement is awarded to provide compensation for injuries and losses related to mesothelioma and other illnesses known to be caused by exposure to asbestos. In these cases, the manufacturer or other responsible party is shown to have exposed the victim to asbestos while knowing about the dangers with which it is associated, thus qualifying as negligent.
HOW? The steps to be taken in pursuit of an asbestos settlement are similar to those taken when filing any lawsuit related to personal injury. An attorney files the claim with the court, the defendant is served and the two parties either reach an agreed upon settlement or proceed to trial. One element of a lawsuit involving an asbestos injury, which may not be found in other personal injury claims, is the requirement for solid scientific proof. In order to win their case, attorneys who specialize in asbestos injuries must obtain and document indisputable proof that their client was both exposed to asbestos and became ill as a result of that exposure.