Legal Options For Mesothelioma Patients
Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that’s usually caused by prolonged exposure to a mineral known as asbestos. When this type of exposure occurs, it’s usually because the mineral wasn’t adequately removed from a product, worksite, residence, or other location. Since researchers discovered asbestos was toxic to human health, it was outlawed in most capacities. Workers and residents have the right to file a lawsuit if this type of prolonged exposure happens to them and they are diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related illness.
Building owners, managers, and contractors are usually held accountable if asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) aren’t properly removed from a job site before allowing their employees or residents to frequent the area. It’s also their responsibility to fully inform them of all health risks they can encounter on the job.
Manufacturers of products containing asbestos can also be held liable for damages because asbestos-related cancers can be prevented when the mineral is handled properly. In most places, a company must inform state authorities and get approval before they perform any construction, demolition, or renovation projects in an asbestos-structure.
Diagnosed with mesothelioma? Learn how to fight this life-altering disease.
Should You Hire an Asbestos Attorney?
Asbestos is still found in many capacities even today, despite it being outlawed. If you’re diagnosed with a type of mesothelioma due to prolonged exposure to asbestos on the job, a legal attorney is a good next step to take. Your lawyer will be able to gather all pertinent information on your behalf and ensure documents are filled out correctly and sent to the right place.
The latency period (time to develop) for mesothelioma can take several decades after exposure for tumors to appear. This makes pinpointing exposure difficult, as it could‘ve happened in several jobs and locations. Your lawyer will be able to better navigate this investigation and narrow it down more efficiently. They’ll also conduct all interviews and meetings with employers, coworkers, doctors, and other individuals to help build an even stronger legal case on your behalf.
If you’re wondering whether to hire a mesothelioma attorney or not, it’s important to understand why you should. An attorney will fight to make sure you receive the highest financial compensation available, as they’ll know the intricacies and nuances of these types of litigations. Treatment costs can get expensive, not to mention you’ll likely need to take time off work due to illness and monetary compensation won can go a long way to offset these expenses. Have a lawyer do all the heavy lifting for you so that while you’re sick you can just focus on treatment.
Asbestos and Hazardous Air Pollutants
The mineral asbestos is classified as a Hazardous Air Pollutant (HAP) by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). While asbestos is the most common cause of mesothelioma, it isn’t the only one. Other air pollutants exist in nature and can also be easily inhaled, potentially causing harmful effects to the lungs or nearby regions in the body through prolonged exposure.
Some air pollutants include gases like benzene, carbon dioxide, hydrogen chloride, and radon to name a few. Poisonous compounds that can become airborne (like asbestos) include chromium, mercury, and cadmium. The EPA has identified approximately 187 pollutants as hazardous.
What Are My Legal Rights?
Occupational asbestos exposure is usually the result of corporate negligence. Some companies have known since the early 1900s about the toxic risks of the mineral yet still utilized it in their products because of its cost-effectiveness. If employees develop mesothelioma or other illness because of this type of exposure, they are usually entitled to financial compensation for their injury.
The EPA and other government entities like the World Health Organization and the US Department of Labor have put together multiple sets of regulations to ensure the safety of the public from negligent exposure to harmful substances.
The National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP), puts together a mandatory set of rules for organizations to follow when encountering asbestos hazards. It largely highlights the mandate of adequate asbestos removal from all structures before any projects can commence. Each state also has its own set of laws regarding proper handling of the mineral and other toxic substances.
How Legal Compensation Can Help
Besides covering the hefty costs of primary treatments and sick leave from work, compensation won from litigation can help enforce the proper handling of asbestos within the negligent company so future workers don’t get exposed.
Other things that legal compensation can help mesothelioma patients with include:
- Caregiver and/ or hospice services
- Clinical trials
- Complementary treatments
- Family support
- Household necessities
The type and amount of compensation received from a mesothelioma legal case will vary with each patient and situation. Different lawyers may also have specialized information on the nuances of getting more money in a case. This is why it’s pertinent to find an attorney with ample experience in asbestos litigation.
What to Look for in a Good Lawyer
Not all lawyers are good, it can be helpful to know what traits to look for when beginning your search and what to ask them when you call. Choosing the wrong lawyer at first can cost you months of precious time. A good attorney will excel in:
There’s a statute of limitations (time limit) on how long after a positive mesothelioma diagnosis the patient has to file a claim. To handle this properly, a lawyer must have good communication skills they can put towards efficiently navigate your case. Good communication is also a matter of respect, if an attorney takes weeks to respond then your time is being wasted.
Do a little research on any attorney you find. Besides a relevant history in asbestos and mesothelioma litigation, you should also search for online reviews and any negative charges or complaints that may have been made in the past.
Free Case Evaluation
It shouldn’t cost you money to get a case evaluation on your potential legal case when you can find an experienced attorney who can do it for free. If a law firm is charging you for an evaluation, move on.
Clear Price Structure
This falls under transparency and respect and is one of the most important qualities in a good lawyer. A good lawyer is fair, upfront, and honest with you about the fees and pricing so you don’t get any unexpected charges later on. Ask if your attorney charges by the hour or if it’s a flat fee. Usually, for mesothelioma, you can find a lawyer that won’t charge you any money unless you win the case.
When a lawyer has enough experience, they’ll have a lot of specialized knowledge to go with it. It’s also vital for your attorney to understand all the differences in laws that come in each state, as well as the varying statute of limitations.
Types of Legal Claims and Lawsuits Handled By Mesothelioma Lawyers
If you were diagnosed with cancer from occupational asbestos exposure, there are multiple ways you can pursue legal help. The process begins with you or a family member filing a legal claim either with the assistance of a lawyer or alone. Compensation can be obtained from following multiple legal paths.
A common legal option for mesothelioma patients, a personal injury claim is for people who are currently living with the disease and suffering. Compensation from a personal injury claim can cover the costs of treatments, therapies, lost wages, and any other pain attributed to the patient’s condition. As the name ‘personal injury’ implies, this claim encompasses any injuries to the body, mind, and emotions.
In contrast to personal injury lawsuits, a wrongful death case is filed by the patient’s family after the patient has passed away. The entire mesothelioma timeline isn’t easy for family members either. There are many support groups, grief help, and helpful resources available to anyone who’s lost a loved one to the disease. Money attained from this type of litigation can cover past medical bills, loss of income or income support, and potentially funeral costs.
Asbestos Trust Funds
After many companies got sued for asbestos-related injuries, a law was passed to help the companies who had to file for bankruptcy when paying out injury settlements in court. When a company has enough asbestos claims against them they have to file for bankruptcy, they could elect to receive bankruptcy protection that can supply asbestos trust funds to pay out future lawsuits.
A settlement is the potential endpoint of most litigation. If a person is filing a personal injury claim on an organization that doesn’t have an asbestos trust fund in place, that company may make a settlement to pay them off. A settlement is a legal agreement between the person filing and the defendant that gives the person compensation in exchange for dropping legal charges against the company and not taking the case to court.
Approximately 30 percent of yearly mesothelioma cases are from military veterans. The U.S. military was one of the largest proprietors of asbestos all the way until the early 90s. They largely used the mineral in the development of military barracks, uniforms, equipment, tools, tanks, ships, and more.
Generally, veterans’ benefits can be applied to compensate a veteran that was diagnosed with mesothelioma, but if they don’t, the veteran may have to file a personal injury claim instead. Only certain diseases and circumstances will qualify for veterans’ benefits.
One of the largest social insurance programs in the United States, workers’ compensation originated in 1911 and provides monetary remittance to federal workers who were disabled from an injury attained at work. Litigation is made through the employer and cannot be covered with an asbestos trust.
Payments from workers’ compensation can be limited and other times employers can be cleared of any liability. It’s sometimes more helpful to file a separate lawsuit instead of going for workers’ compensation with asbestos litigation.
These are examples of asbestos litigations that have been successful and granted patients financial compensation for their pain and injuries.
Honeywell International Inc.
An Arkansas brake shop owned by Honeywell International Inc was sued by an employee who said he was exposed to asbestos for years through the handling of brake-shoe linings. He was awarded $18.5 by a Little Rock jury, and this wasn’t the first case against Honeywell.
When Honeywell International Inc. purchased Allied Signal, they inherited that company’s many asbestos-related liabilities. This included those of Allied Signal’s acquired company Bendix, one of the largest manufacturers of contaminated brake-shoe linings in the US.
Honeywell is currently facing a class-action lawsuit from investors stating the industrial corporation misrepresented it’s asbestos liabilities of over $616 million.
Metalclad Insulation Corp.
A retired U.S. Navy veteran took legal action against Metalclad Insulation Corp., a company that develops and produces specialty insulation. His claim was that he was exposed to asbestos during his service in a case against Metalclad.
Compensation attained applies for the veteran and his wife, and he was awarded 2.5 million.
Paddock Enterprises LLC.
An affiliate of Owens-Illinois Group Inc., one of the largest glass container manufacturers in the world, filed bankruptcy in January 2020 due to debt obtained from thousands of asbestos injury claims.
Once called Owens-Illinois, the company has spent over $5 billion in attempting to pay off over 400,000 claims, all from people who claimed to have been harmed by asbestos-contaminated pipe coverings and block insulation products that were sold from 1948 to 1958.
Get a Case Evaluation
Diagnosed with an illness due to prolonged exposure to asbestos or other hazardous air pollutants? Get a free case evaluation with our experienced asbestos litigation attorneys. They’ll be able to assess your unique situation and recommend steps for moving forward with legal representation. You don’t have to go through this alone.
Have you or a loved one been diagnosed with mesothelioma? Request your free guide and take all the information we have to offer, wherever you go.