When you have been diagnosed with a life-threatening disease like malignant mesothelioma, legal matters are probably not the first issue on your mind.
It is completely natural to be fearful, angry and concerned over how you will pay for your mesothelioma treatment and what will happen to your family when you are no longer able to work. It is for these last two reasons however that you should be considering legal action from the moment you are diagnosed with mesothelioma. The main reason for this is because of the statute of limitations on legal action. This is a period of time within which you must file a claim, or forfeit your right to do so. The statute of limitations varies from one state to another. Any delay could impact your right to make a claim, but do not assume it is too late. A mesothelioma lawyer may still be able to recover damages on your behalf even if the common statute of limitations has passed. The other reason you need to find a mesothelioma lawyer as soon as possible is because it may be the only recourse you have in order to get compensation for medical expense and lost income. Because of the system currently in place, –retaining a lawyer and filing a lawsuit may be your best choice to hold corporations accountable and force them to cover your pain, suffering, expenses and losses – all for which they may be found liable.
Finding the right mesothelioma attorney will help maximize your chances of winning a settlement in a court of law.
What an Asbestos Attorney Does
A mesothelioma lawyer is one who practices in the field of torts – that is, personal injury law and has experience representing victims of asbestos. Torts cover everything from minor sports injuries caused by a Little League coach’s oversight to wrongful death due to gross negligence on the part of a large corporation.
Because asbestos litigation is now entering its fifth decade, has become so frequent and involves such large sums of money, it has become a sub-specialty of the law; in legal terms, asbestos liability is said to be a mature tort. This means that there have been enough cases over a sufficient amount of time to establish case law and precedent.
Because mesothelioma can take years and even decades to appear after initial asbestos exposure, these cases pose unique challenges. Over such periods of time, companies go out of business, change their names and/or go into the production of different materials; they move to other states or even other countries; often, they have been acquired by other corporations and are operated as subsidiaries.
This can cause difficulty in identifying the party who bears ultimate liability. Typically, preparing for an asbestos case requires large amounts of painstaking research which involves close examination of old records, previous cases, legal documents and even photographs. Often, witnesses must be found and asked for testimony regarding events and issues dating back twenty to forty years and more.
In addition, because the onset of the disease is often years after exposure to the cause, establishing this causation (“cause and effect,” which is at the heart of all personal injury litigation) often requires the testimony of medical experts.
How to Find the Right Mesothelioma Lawyer
It is tempting to go straight to the Internet and type “mesothelioma lawyer” into your favorite search engine. However, this may not be the best strategy. First of all, such a query will result in well over two million hits. Even if you limit your search to a specific state, you may wind up with a million hits or more. You should be satisfied with your communication with a lawyer and mesothelioma law firms before making your decision.
Consider what is at stake, and then proceed accordingly. You may want ot ask a potential mesothelioma lawyer the following questions:
- How many mesothelioma (not just asbestos) cases have they handled?
- What were the usual outcomes (out-of-court settlement, win, loss, appeal)?
- Will the attorney be handling your case personally? (At times attorneys may refer your case to another firm that may be better suited to help in your situation – often providing you with the services of both their firms and another at no extra cost to you- this may be a benefit to you)
- Will you be able to speak with him/her as needed? Will your calls be returned in a timely manner and your questions answered clearly?
- Will s/he and/or the firm accept the case on a contingency basis? (Because of high costs of this type of case, this is often the only option for many individuals; the lawyer takes his/her fee and expenses as a percentage of the final award)
- Will your case be handled on an individual basis, or “bundled” with several other similar cases? (This may hurt you if your case is a strong one, but can be helpful to weaker cases)
- Does the attorney or firm have a network of lawyers nationwide who will share their research and expertise in order to build a solid case on your behalf?
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