For thousands of innocent victims affected by asbestos exposure each year, it’s important to know that recourse is possible and legal help is available. Perhaps most importantly, asbestos exposure victims should know that they do not have to be in a financial position to afford legal representation-for valid, qualifying cases, legal fees are paid out of the settlemment or trial award received, not the victim’s pocket.
Most people who are diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related illness-including other types of cancers, asbestosis and pleural effusion-did not even realize that they were at risk. This is because most victims of asbestos exposure had no idea they were exposed to what is known to be a highly toxic and dangerous carcinogen.
Fortunately, there is a silver lining of hope for those who have suffered the physical and financial consequences of negligent and/or illegal asbestos exposure. Recourse and compensation is possible via multiple avenues, including toxic tort and workers’ compensation laws as well as well as disability claims through the Social Security Administration and (for Veterans) the Department of Veteran Affairs.
PART IV: THE TWO MAIN MESOTHELIOMA LAWSUIT TYPES
There are two different types of mesothelioma lawsuits that may be filed in cases of illness resultant from negligent (and in some cases, illegal) asbestos exposure. In this installment of our series, we’ll look at both forms of legal action in brief detail.
Personal Injury Lawsuits
Personal injury claims are filed directly by the claimant, alleging harm at the fault of a named defendant or group of defendants, who must be proven as both liable and negligent (assuming no intentional harm is suspected). Mesothelioma lawsuits, more specifically, fall under the umbrella of tort law-a particular type of personal injury involving a poisonous organic or inorganic substance. In addition to asbestos, examples of toxins addressed under tort law include certain pharmaceuticals and the military-utilized pesticide Agent Orange.
All personal injury lawsuits require proof of both liability and damages, assigned to the defendant(s), in order to result in compensation awarded to the claimant. It is not uncommon for personal injury cases to be resolved privately, between the two parties, outside of the courtroom through mediation or settlement negotiations. In fact, the majority of asbestos-injury lawsuits result in the payment of mesothelioma settlement-typically in the $1 million range but potentially totaling into the multi-millions.
Wrongful Death Lawsuits
A second but not quite so common type of mesothelioma lawsuit, which can be filed by the family or another appointed representative of a victim after his or her demise, is called a wrongful death claim. This type of claim must be filed within a strict time window after a victim’s death, differing from state to state but generally falling within the one- to three-year range. A prevailing claimant in a wrongful death suit can recover significant monetary compensation, typically comparable to amounts awarded in personal injury mesothelioma claims.