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What Is an Asbestos Lawsuit?
An asbestos lawsuit is a means of securing financial compensation to help victims of asbestos exposure. Anyone exposed to asbestos who has suffered from mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis, or other asbestos-related diseases can seek compensation for their suffering.
If you were harmed by asbestos exposure, you deserve compensation for your lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering.
Who Can File an Asbestos Exposure Lawsuit?
In order to file an asbestos lung cancer lawsuit or another suit based on an asbestos-related injury, there are a few important criteria you must meet.
To file an asbestos lawsuit, you must:
- Be the injured party, an immediate family member, or their estate representative
- Be able to show a history of asbestos exposure
- Have a confirmed diagnosis for an asbestos-related illness
Because it can take up to 50 years after asbestos exposure for symptoms to appear, some people may not remember exactly where, when, or how they were exposed. Nonetheless, a good asbestos law firm with a solid legal team can investigate and gather evidence that can support your case.
Our team at LawFirm.com can help you determine if you qualify for an asbestos lawsuit. Contact the LawFirm.com team today to connect with an asbestos law firm that can help secure your family’s financial future.
Types of Asbestos Lawsuits
There are four main types of asbestos cancer lawsuits: personal injury, wrongful death, product liability, and class action. A good mesothelioma attorney will consider all the legal options with you before deciding on the right legal process for your case.
This is the most common type of asbestos lawsuit. Experienced mesothelioma lawyers file personal injury lawsuits against the companies responsible for exposing clients to asbestos and thereby causing their illness.
These companies knew that asbestos was potentially harmful for decades, but they kept this information secret and continued to produce and sell their products. Because of these unethical business practices, they can often be held accountable for the harm inflicted on employees and consumers.
Asbestos causes mesothelioma, asbestosis, and other terrible diseases. Unfortunately, these asbestos-related diseases are often fatal. If a person has died from an asbestos-related illness, their family or estate representative can file a wrongful death lawsuit on their behalf.
The money recovered from a wrongful death lawsuit can help cover medical expenses and funeral costs in addition to making up for lost wages.
Product liability lawsuits seek to hold asbestos product manufacturers accountable for not warning the public of the risks their products pose. The connection between asbestos and certain diseases goes back as far as 1906. Between the 1940s and 60s, it was known within the industry that there was a strong connection between asbestos and several diseases, including:
- Pleural disease
- Cancer of the larynx, lungs, ovaries, and stomach
Despite knowing this, asbestos product manufacturers continued to produce asbestos products without any warning to the general public about the known dangers associated with asbestos.
Asbestos class action lawsuits may seem like the ideal way to seek compensation for exposure to asbestos. After all, millions of people were exposed to asbestos products.
In order for a class action to move forward, the entire class must have a largely similar complaint and be seeking equal compensation. Because different victims were exposed to asbestos and affected by it in different ways, class actions are usually not the best choice for asbestos cases.
Though there have been some asbestos class actions, the unique nature of each person’s exposure, symptoms, and costs make personal injury cases far more common.
How Much Does It Cost to File an Asbestos Lawsuit?
Almost all asbestos law firms work on a contingency-fee basis. This means that there are no up-front costs or out-of-pocket expenses for the client. The way that a contingency-fee works is that the law firm only gets paid if your asbestos lawsuit is successful in getting you compensated.
If the firm is able to get you a settlement or judgment, the law firm will keep a percentage of the compensation to cover the costs of the lawsuit.
If an asbestos lawsuit doesn’t secure compensation for the victim or their estate, there is no cost to be paid to the law firm.
How Much Is a Mesothelioma Lawsuit Worth?
It’s important to keep in mind that every lawsuit is different, but there have been enough asbestos lawsuits and settlements to know the average compensation.
When asbestos lawsuits are settled, the average settlement is between $1 million and $1.4 million dollars. If a settlement isn’t reached and there’s a verdict in favor of the victim, the average verdict is between $5 and $11.4 million.
The largest asbestos lawsuit payout to date awarded $250 million.
Other Types of Asbestos Compensation
An asbestos lawsuit is not the only way that victims of asbestos exposure and their families can get compensated.
Asbestos Trust Funds
If the company that was responsible for your asbestos exposure is bankrupt, it can no longer be sued. This protection from lawsuits would be unfair considering the harm asbestos companies did, so as a condition of bankruptcy, asbestos companies were forced to establish bankruptcy trusts.
Thanks to the asbestos trust funds, there is now more than $30 billion available for victims of asbestos-related diseases. An experienced asbestos lawyer can determine which trust funds you qualify for and file claims with these trusts to help you be compensated.
The military made extensive use of asbestos during and after World War II. Just like the public, the military was unaware of the risks asbestos posed, but they exposed many veterans to asbestos in the line of duty nonetheless.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers many veterans benefits to help veterans who were harmed by asbestos and their families.
Timeline of an Asbestos Lawsuit
If you qualify to file an asbestos lawsuit, here’s how it will proceed:
Choosing an Asbestos Lawyer and Preparing Your Case
The first step is to find the asbestos law firm and attorney that you want to represent you. You can ask questions, request to speak to former clients, and take your time with this decision — it’s an important one.
After you start working with a legal team, they will work with you to gather information and evidence to support your case. Your asbestos law firm will have access to databases of exposure sites and information on trust funds that the team will use to decide how to proceed. Once they consider the relevant facts, they’ll decide where to file your claim to get you the best result.
Filing Your Asbestos Claim
The first official step in any asbestos lawsuit is filing a claim. An asbestos claim is a short, straightforward document filed with the court that explains how you were harmed, what the harm was, that the defendant (the person you’re suing) is responsible, and the compensation you deserve.
After the court and the defendant are given copies of the claim, the defendant will have a certain amount of time — which can be different in different courts — to respond. If they deny any part of your claim, the case will proceed to discovery.
In many instances, however, the defendant will seek to settle rather than move forward with discovery and the rest of the trial.
Reaching a Settlement
More than 95% of all lawsuits are resolved without going to trial. An asbestos lawsuit settlement offer is a likely outcome of your filing, and there are good and bad things about settling.
Settlements can allow families to receive compensation sooner and avoid the hassle of going to court. An experienced asbestos lawyer can help make sure you get the highest settlement amount possible in your case. The average asbestos lawsuit settlement is between $1 million and $1.4 million.
Proceeding to Discovery
If no settlement is reached, the case will move forward to the discovery phase of the trial. During discovery, both sides of the suit get to gather evidence from one-another. Both your lawyer and the defendant’s can request affidavits, schedule depositions, and gather documents from the other side to help their case.
At any point during discovery, a settlement offer can be made and accepted.
Going to Trial
The trial itself is probably the part you’re most familiar with from TV and movies. The trial is held before a judge with both sides present and seated at a table. Sometimes there’s a jury and sometimes the judge will decide which side wins — it’s up to the defendant whether or not they want a jury trial.
Your lawyer will get to present your case first by introducing evidence to support your claim. Any evidence in the form of witness testimony can be challenged by the defendant through cross-examination. After your side is finished presenting their case — after the plaintiff “rests” — the defendant gets to present their case. Finally, the judge or jury will deliberate and deliver a verdict.
Bear in mind that more than 95% of cases don’t reach a verdict — or even a trial. Often a settlement is reached, sometimes in less than 90 days.
At any time before the verdict is delivered, a settlement can still be reached.
Whether you accepted a settlement or were awarded compensation through a trial verdict, the final step is to receive your compensation. From start to finish, the average asbestos lawsuit takes less than 12 months. Many clients can start receiving compensation in less than 90 days. Of course, the further a case proceeds through these steps, the longer it can take to get compensation.
Asbestos Lawsuit History
The first link between asbestos fibers and cancers was made as early as 1906, but there were no asbestos lawsuits prior to the 1970s when the dangers of asbestos became publicly known. Before 1980, less than 1,000 asbestos lawsuits were filed in federal court, but by the end of the 1980s, there had been nearly 50,000.
As these cases were proceeding, many asbestos manufacturers saw a decrease in demand for their products and a dramatic increase in legal liability for the harm they caused. In an attempt to avoid responsibility and having to pay for the damage their product caused, companies started to file for bankruptcy.
Once a company is bankrupt, it can no longer be sued, but courts weren’t willing to let these companies escape responsibility. Courts ordered the creation of asbestos trust funds as a term of allowing the bankruptcies to proceed. There are currently approximately $30 billion in asbestos trust funds.
Asbestos continues to be a major cause of litigation and a major cause of suffering. There have been hundreds of thousands of asbestos lawsuits, and sadly, asbestos kills thousands of Americans every year. Over 40,000 Americans died from asbestos-caused diseases in 2019 alone.
How to File an Asbestos Lawsuit
The best way to file a lawsuit seeking compensation for mesothelioma, asbestosis, or other asbestos-related illness is to work with an experienced asbestos law firm.
LawFirm.com has a nationwide network of attorneys and can connect you with an experienced law firm that can help. Every law firm in our network has a proven track record of getting compensation for victims of asbestos exposure, and none of the firms we work with charge clients any upfront or out-of-pocket expenses.
There’s no risk in contacting us today to get your free consultation.
FAQs About Asbestos Lawsuits
What happens when someone dies during an asbestos lawsuit?
Mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses are often terminal, unfortunately. If someone is in the midst of pursuing compensation through a personal injury lawsuit but passes before things are resolved, the case becomes part of their estate.
This means that the personal representative of the victim’s estate would decide whether to continue to pursue legal action. Any compensation awarded would become part of their estate and be distributed accordingly.
How long do I have to file an asbestos lawsuit?
The most common types of asbestos lawsuits — personal injury claims and wrongful death claims — are subject to the statute of limitations. Though these laws can vary in different states, they typically range from 1 to 6 years.
Keep in mind that these statutes of limitations don’t start running at the time of exposure, however. It can take up to 50 years from exposure to asbestos before there are any symptoms. The statute of limitations starts from diagnosis with an asbestos-related disease for personal injury cases and from the death of the victim when it comes to wrongful death suits.
Should I join an asbestos class action lawsuit?
Asbestos class action lawsuits are rare. If you’ve suffered an injury from exposure to asbestos such as a diagnosis of mesothelioma or lung cancer, you should consider a personal injury lawsuit instead.
Class actions treat all members of the class essentially the same, but the circumstances of your exposure to asbestos and the nature of your injury are unique. You can call (888) 726-9160 for help finding an asbestos attorney who can get you the compensation you deserve.