The aftermath of asbestos usage in the United States has left an often tragic and even devastating path of destruction for exposure victims. For close to 100 years, between the late 1800s and mid- to late-1900s, millions of people were unknowingly exposed to a toxic and potentially fatal material. Many were exposed at work, while others came into contact with asbestos in their own homes-either from building components used during construction or through a process called secondary exposure.
Life after asbestos goes on with no detectable consequences for many people. But for the small and unfortunate portion that develops an asbestos-linked illness-such as asbestosis, mesothelioma or other forms of cancer-life is never the same again. All of these chronic and pervasive conditions cause significant physical and emotional distress for the victim-and in the case of mesothelioma cancers, death.
There is much information available about asbestos, its consequences and options for legal recourses. To offer victims of asbestos an easy and straightforward guide that is designed to cover a myriad of topics-from veteran exposure and cutting-edge treatment options to choosing a legal representative and taking your personal injury case to court.
PART IV: A ROADMAP OF THE MESOTHELIOMA LEGAL JOURNEY
The mesothelioma legal journey is not necessarily as long or complicated as many victims initial fear. With the representation of a competent and experienced asbestos attorney, you can take a backseat ride-with limited stress and responsibility placed on your and your loved ones directly. As the average asbestos-injury case takes around a year-sometimes longer-to reach its conclusion, you will almost certainly be undergoing cancer treatment concurrently as the case progresses. Fortunately, a qualified attorney will be able to represent you interests throughout any settlement negotiations that may take place and also at trial (if necessary).
Here’s a basic overview of the typical mesothelioma legal process, which will be explored further in future sections:
Destination 1: Drafting and Filing a Claim
Your attorney will draw up the appropriate legal paperwork and file your claim with the court clerk(s). These actions officially commence the journey towards recourse.
Destination 2: Service of Defendant(s) and Response Entry
A process server will deliver notice of the filed claim directly to the defendant(s) in your case. Once served, defendant(s) must enter a response with the court in which the claim was filed within a set frame of time. In most cases, claims are-at least initially-challenged by the other side.
Destination 3: Discovery
Once defendant(s) have filed a response with the court, the discovery process will soon commence. During this phase, both sides will submit interrogatories and requests for disclosure to the opponent. These formal requests for information and evidence in your case are designed to ensure transparency prior to court proceedings and also give both sides some leverage or at least insight for possible negotiations.
Destination 4: Settlement Negotiations
Most asbestos claims end with a mesothelioma settlement in an amount agreed upon by both parties and negotiated by their respective attorneys. Once a settlement is accepted, it is binding and the case has reached its conclusion.
Destination 5: Trial
For a small number of claimants, the mesothelioma legal journey ends in a courtroom-where, after a trial allowing both sides to present their respective cases, a judge or jury will make the final decision regarding both liability and compensation amount.