Before deciding whether or not to pursue an asbestos lawsuit and settlement, it’s important to know exactly what the requirements are for doing so, what all that process will entail and where to begin once you’re ready. The following guide is intended to provide you with all of that information, giving you the best possible opportunity to make informed decisions about your potential case. It should be noted, however, that your attorney will be the best person to answer questions specific to your situation and should always be your exclusive source of legal advice and guidance.
Meeting the Necessary Qualifications for an Asbestos Lawsuit and Settlement
In order to be a good candidate for filing a personal injury claim involving asbestos, you must have two things, first and foremost. One, you must have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease like mesothelioma or asbestosis. Second, you must have been exposed to asbestos over the past 50 or so years—and be able to prove it.
Most people who develop mesothelioma cancer and other related conditions had exposure that was both repetitive and consistent. Anyone who worked in an affected industry during the years that asbestos was in heavy use and people living in homes containing interior asbestos are the two groups that are most often affected.
Understanding the Legal Journey Involved in an Asbestos Lawsuit and Settlement
An asbestos claim is not an endeavor that is completed overnight. In fact it can take many months or even years to reach a settlement in your case. A good-quality law firm can generally complete the litigation process in one to two years, but nothing is guaranteed.
Fortunately, each court that hears cases related to asbestos will have its own rules and procedures designed to expedite the process, out of consideration for the fact that plaintiffs in these kinds of lawsuits are generally sick and often terminal.
After your attorney files the claim, the defendant—or negligent party— will receive notice of the lawsuit and enter a response with the court. If responsibility is admitted, your case ends there, with a settlement negotiated very quickly—but this scenario is rare. Generally, your claim will be challenged and enter a phase called discovery. During discovery, both sides of the lawsuit answer written questions and turn over requested documentation pertinent to the case. You will likely take part in a deposition, which is a legal proceeding during which you’ll provide evidence in verbal format—very similar to a courtroom testimony but with no judge or jury present. Usually, after or during the discovery phase, the other side chooses to settle (assuming your case is legitimate), and your attorney helps to negotiate an amount on your behalf. In other less common situations, the defendant forgoes a pre-trial settlement, and your case proceeds to the courtroom.
Finding an Attorney to Pursue an Asbestos Lawsuit and Settlement
You’ll need a very good asbestos attorney to file—and if necessary, fight—your case. This person will be your advocate throughout the process of your claim, gathering necessary evidence of your illness and the asbestos contact that caused it and then using that evidence to prove your claim and hold the negligent party responsible.