Mesothelioma is a cancer that affects the lining of organs like the lungs, stomach and heart. The form of mesothelioma that affects the lungs is called pleural mesothelioma. The malignant form of pleural mesothelioma is usually the result of breathing in asbestos particles at work. More than 700,000 people have filed claims related to asbestos since 2002. Many of the lawyers who specialize in handling these mesothelioma/asbestos claims work on contingency. This means that they do not charge their clients a fee up front for their services; instead, they receive a percentage of the settlement if there is one. The lawyer’s fee will usually be less than a third of the settlement or award. The client pays only if the claim is successful. A contingency fee arrangement means that an individual who has mesothelioma incurs no financial risk by engaging a lawyer who specializes in mesothelioma lawsuits.
Is a Mesothelioma Attorney Worth the Cost?
The preventable nature of asbestos exposure is one of the reasons that mesothelioma sufferers file lawsuits. The fact that it was preventable means that their exposure was the result of someone else’s negligence. The mesothelioma sufferer will likely have high medical bills as a result of their condition, along with lost wages and other expenses. It is only fair that the person responsible for their exposure to asbestos be held responsible. Most mesothelioma cases never get to the trial stage as the defendants usually settle out of court. A lawyer who is experienced at dealing with mesothelioma cases can help to ensure that the settlement is favorable to their client.
How Much Will the Plaintiff Recover?
When considering the cost of mesothelioma lawyers, it is usually worthwhile to consider how much the plaintiff is likely to recover from a suit. This is a difficult figure to estimate. Some cases result in multimillion dollar settlements while others settle for considerably less money. Factors taken into account when arriving at a settlement figure or jury award include:
• The plaintiff’s degree of pain and suffering
• The financial costs of the illness (including medical expenses and lost wages)
• Whether a settlement is accepted or if the amount of compensation is decided by a jury (settlements tend to be less money)
Many people with mesothelioma are seriously ill, which means that they may be more inclined to accept a settlement since a jury trial can take several years.
What Do Asbestos Attorneys Do?
Lawyers who specialize in mesothelioma and asbestos cases earn their fees by taking steps to ensure that the lawsuits they file on behalf of their clients are successful. The steps for a successful mesothelioma lawsuit include:
• Evaluating the Case
An asbestos attorney will evaluate an individual’s case and determine if it is strong enough to be successful. It is important for those with the condition to note that the time that they have to file a suit after their mesothelioma diagnosis is limited. The length of time varies depending on the state in which they file the suit.
• Preparing the Case
This is the stage where the lawyer gathers all the information that is relevant to their client’s case in order to determine who is liable. During this stage they will gather information related to their client’s work history and medical history.
• Filing the Case
To begin the lawsuit, a formal complaint must be written. A part of the attorney’s work is to prepare this document. It may be possible to file a complaint in multiple courts in multiple states.
• Handling Responses
Upon receiving the plaintiff’s complaint, the defendants will have a chance to respond to it. They will usually have about 30 days. Most defendants will deny the claims and hire attorneys to represent them.
• Dealing with the Discovery Process
This is the part of the process where evidence is collected and shared with the other sides. Both the lawyers for the defendant and the lawyers for the plaintiff will be seeking information about the plaintiff’s case. There will be written questions and depositions. The information that is acquired in these proceedings will be used if the case goes to trial. The plaintiff’s lawyer will help the plaintiff to respond to discovery requests and will also demand information from the defendant.
• Handling Settlements
A defendant may decide that it is in their best interest to resolve the case as quickly as possible before it goes to trial. In which case, they will offer a certain amount of money to the plaintiff. If there is no settlement before the trial, the defendant may make an offer during the trial. The plaintiff will rely on their attorney to handle these negotiations.
• Handling the Trial
The trial process varies depending on where the court is located. In some cases, the plaintiff will have to make an appearance in court; in others, an appearance will not be necessary. In any case, their lawyer will appear in court on their behalf.
• Managing the Appeals Process
If the plaintiff wins, the defendant may appeal the verdict. While an appeal will delay the payment of compensation, the defendant will still have to post bond for the jury award until the appeals process is complete. If the defendant loses their appeal, the plaintiff will receive their award. The plaintiff’s mesothelioma attorney will continue to represent them through this part of the lawsuit.
Hiring a lawyer to handle a mesothelioma case involves more than just considering the cost. It is important for the mesothelioma sufferer (or their surviving family members) to meet with the attorney and find out about their experience and how they practice law. Finding the right attorney will provide the best chance of getting compensation.