Mesothelioma is a form of cancer which has been linked to exposure to asbestos. This exposure could have occurred in many ways, but is most often related to those who have worked directly with the fiber or dust of the material. It also occurs in other ways such as those who clean the clothes of those who worked with asbestos.
Just as in the case with many diseases and conditions, mesothelioma can occur at any time, most often many years after the exposure. It is for this reason that most mesothelioma claims are filed by those suffering from the disease or the loved ones of those who have been killed by it many years after their exposure.
Use of Asbestos
Asbestos has been known of since antiquity but it was not mined or widely used until the late 19th century, peaking during World War II. Since the early 1940s, millions of Americans who worked in shipbuilding, construction, mining, and other trades were regularly exposed to asbestos.
Mesothelioma is unique among diseases in that it can take as few as 1-3 months of exposure to asbestos to develop the disease, however, the actual disease can take as long as 30 years to develop latency.
It is for this reason that state laws usually give people from one to five years from the time of diagnosis or discovery of the disease to file a lawsuit.
The law provides for the families of those who have already died of mesothelioma to file a lawsuit from one to three years after the date of death.
It is important to understand that since medical conditions and prognoses can differ victims and their families cannot join or initiate class action lawsuits. Each suit must be filed individually by the victim or his or her heirs.
How Long Does a Mesothelioma Case Take?
A vast majority of mesothelioma cases are settled out of court, which means that a settlement amount and conditions of the settlement are reached prior to going to court. This is largely dependent on a variety of issues, mainly the ready source of a settlement fund. If this is available a victim could receive a settlement in less than a year after the date of filing. Otherwise, it can take as long as one to three years for a settlement to be arrived at. Fortunately, states recognize that mesothelioma victims might have a short life expectancy, and these particular cases are often fast tracked.
How Much Can a Case Be Worth?
The final settlement amount that could be awarded to a mesothelioma victim and their heirs is difficult to estimate. Some victims in the past have been awarded millions of dollars in compensation. Others have received relatively little. The primary determiner is the availability of funds, and since some firms which have exposed their workers to these substances have gone bankrupt, they are not able to pay. Insurance companies and victim funds are other sources that can be used for settlements.
When determining how much of a settlement a victim will receive the courts generally look at how much the disease has affected the victim’s life and that of his heirs. It is also important to understand that lawsuits take time and money to pursue, all adding to the time that must be allowed to receive a settlement.
How Do I Hire a Mesothelioma Lawyer?
Most mesothelioma lawyers work on a contingency basis, which means that their payment is dependent on the amount of the final settlement, plus their expenses. Naturally, if there is no cash award, the attorney receives nothing.
How Do I Find a Mesothelioma Attorney?
Finding an attorney to handle a mesothelioma case for you is either very hard or very easy, depending on how hard you look. In the legal business, finding an attorney is usually easy, but finding the right attorney can be very difficult. The truth is, you don’t want to find just any attorney to work for you. You want to find someone who has experience dealing with the type of case you have. In this case, someone who knows about how to pursue your case in as efficiently a manner as possible is important. This will result in a mesothelioma victim receiving an equitable amount for their case. How do you do that? Ask. If the attorney is any good, they will be happy to provide you with the information you are asking for. If not, keep looking.