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The legal process can be daunting for patients and their loved ones. However, mesothelioma law firms can provide you with an experienced team that will help you understand all options and guide you through the entire process. It’s important to note that a patient can seek legal assistance on their own or a family member can take legal action on behalf of a loved one who has died.
Building Your Mesothelioma Case
When deciding to pursue legal action after a mesothelioma diagnosis, the process typically begins with an introductory meeting with your law firm, followed by medical and work research. The first meeting, or free consultation, covers the following:
- Steps of the legal process
- Information and details regarding your asbestos exposure
- Potential options for compensation
- Any questions or concerns you have
The law firm will then work on your behalf to perform in-depth research, gathering details and evidence to determine eligibility and begin building your case before the mesothelioma lawsuit is filed. Research will look extensively into work history and product identification to pinpoint exposure. Research can include:
- Medical reports from the medical facilities where you were diagnosed and treated.
- Investigation to all previous occupations, including documents such as work history records, union records and military service records.
- Interviews with you and any family members, coworkers and product identification witnesses who can assist in providing details about potential exposure and work history details.
In some cases, patients are unable to pinpoint when and how they were exposed, which is when a mesothelioma law firm’s experience and resources are particularly helpful in building your case.
Understanding Legal Terms
- Complaint: First formal action taken to start a lawsuit, pleading for legal rights against a defendant.
- Defendant: The individual or company legal action is being taken against.
- Discovery: Collection and exchange of information prior to trial.
- Plaintiff: Person or group filing the lawsuit.
- Recovery: The compensation awarded to the plaintiff.
- Venue: Where the mesothelioma case is filed and handled.
Pursuing Recovery Options
After the research process, your law firm will then look into avenues of financial compensation. A common recovery option is through asbestos trust funds. A number of companies have admitted past asbestos liability and have set up asbestos trusts to compensate clients who present qualifying mesothelioma claims. The law firm should be familiar with these asbestos trusts and their requirements for successful claims submission. For the most part, compensation through these trusts happens relatively quickly assuming your particular case meets each trust’s exposure criteria.
After your case has been evaluated for recovery through the asbestos trusts, the law firm then begins the investigation of your case against viable companies who have yet to fully admit their asbestos liability.
Venue Selection and Filing the Lawsuit
After an investigation period of typically 30 – 60 days, the law firm will determine the proper venue to file the legal action, determined by scheduling, process time-frame, settlement history and local laws. An experienced, well-connected law firm can file a lawsuit in any forum where a mesothelioma client has resided, worked or served in the military. The law firm may also file your lawsuit in “open forum” states that are agreeable to allowing non-resident/non-exposure claimants to file.
After proper forum is determined, your law firm will file a formal complaint on your behalf.
- The complaint typically asserts various legal causes of action against asbestos companies likely responsible for the exposure that led to a mesothelioma diagnosis.
- The number of asbestos companies or defendants named in your complaint will vary based on the type and amount of asbestos exposure you may have had in your lifetime.
After your complaint has been filed, your law firm will undergo the discovery phase, which typically lasts three to four months. During this time, your firm will present information to the defendant(s), documenting where, when, how and to what extent you were exposed to asbestos products. This information can be presented through written documents (interrogatories) and/or an oral testimony (deposition).
The defendant asbestos companies can present their own information and/or documentation to the law firm during the discovery phase, and the law firm will file appropriate motions in court on your behalf. In most cases, the mesothelioma law firm will try to reach a financial settlement during this period.
Most mesothelioma lawsuits do not end up going to trial and resolve in settlements well before the set trial date. As options to settle emerge, your law firm should discuss the strengths and weaknesses of accepting a settlement with you. If you choose to not settle, you can move forward with the lawsuit and seek a trial resolution.
Top mesothelioma law firms will value your input, respect your rights and allow you to decide what is in your best legal interest. If you decide to pursue trial, your mesothelioma lawyer will be well-equipped, experienced, qualified and prepared to fight for your financial compensation.