Were you recently exposed to asbestos at work or in your home? Or, were you recently diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-caused disease? Dealing with asbestos exposure can be extremely difficult, but you shouldn’t have to find your way through the legal process alone. If you have an asbestos case, it’s important that you understand what to expect next. No two asbestos cases are the same, but specific medical methods and the overall legal procedure can be similar. Find out what you should do if you think you may have an asbestos lawsuit on your hands.
About Asbestos Exposure
Asbestos is a natural mineral that has been used around the world in construction projects and in various other products. It has been highly prized for its heat-retardant qualities, and was used in insulation, textiles, and construction products before it was classified as a carcinogen. Asbestos fibers can cause serious health problems when inhaled, leading to debilitating, life-threatening diseases.
Most of the people who have developed asbestos-related diseases were exposed to asbestos at work, though some people develop asbestos from exposure in the home.
The most common occupations in danger of asbestos exposure include:
- Power plant workers
- Oil refinery workers
- Shipyard employees or builders
- HVAC workers
- Navy engine room workers
When individuals are exposed to asbestos over a prolonged period of time, they can develop certain diseases and cancers. One of the most common diseases caused by asbestos exposure is mesothelioma, a rare but deadly cancer that affects the lining of the body’s vital organs.
Asbestos exposure can also cause asbestoses, a widespread scarring of the lungs, and other lung diseases. It can also cause lung cancer, ovarian cancer, laryngeal cancer, and several other types of cancer.
Once you’ve established that you were exposed to asbestos and that your exposure led to your current health problem, you need to figure out how to handle the legal side of things.
1. Drafting & Filing a Claim
Once you’ve spoken to your attorney about your case, he or she will fill out the appropriate legal paperwork and file your claim with the court clerk.
2. Informing the Defendant
The defendant will need to receive a notice of the filed claim. You can ask your attorney to find out precisely how the defendant in your case will be notified. When the defendant has been served the legal notice, they will respond to the court within a designated time frame. Usually, the defendant will respond by challenging the claim.
3. Gathering Evidence
After the defendant’s response is filed with the court clerk, the discovery process will begin. During the discovery process, each side will submit interrogatories and requests for disclosure to their respective opponents. In short, these are formal request to see what the other side is up to and to set the stage for future negotiations.
4. Settlement Negotiations
Once both sides have gathered sufficient evidence, both parties can meet, with their attorneys, to discuss potential negotiations. For most asbestos and mesothelioma cases, the issue can be addressed through a settlement, thus avoiding drawn-out court proceedings. If both parties are satisfied with their settlement terms, the case can be legally concluded here.
Not all mesothelioma or asbestos cases will go to trial, in fact, most are handled through settlement negotiations. However, if a settlement cannot be reached, a trial is the next available option. During a trial, each side will present their evidence and the attorneys will make a case for their respective clients. In the end, the judge will rule in favor of one party or the other. If the injured party is to be awarded any compensation, the compensation amount will be decided by the judge as well.
Do you think you have an asbestos claim? Contact Shrader & Associates L.L.P. for help with your case.