Mesothelioma Claims

People who face a mesothelioma diagnosis are entitled to recover compensation from those who negligently or knowingly exposed them to asbestos, the primary cause of mesothelioma. The Lanier Law Firm helps those diagnosed with mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses file claims for mesothelioma compensation.

A mesothelioma claim, sometimes referred to as an asbestos claim, is an avenue for recovering compensation for asbestos-related injuries, including mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis.

Successful mesothelioma claims that result in compensation accomplish the following:

  • Provides patients with access to high-quality medical care
  • Provides financial security to mesothelioma patients and their families
  • Holds asbestos companies accountable
  • Motivates companies to produce safe products and avoid exposing workers to dangerous products

The type of claim you file will determine your total compensation, and it is difficult to provide an accurate estimate of the value of a mesothelioma claim. However, it’s not unheard of for a plaintiff to recover $1 million or more.

In addition to personal injury and wrongful death claims, plaintiffs can file other types of mesothelioma claims for compensation.

Types of Mesothelioma Claims

  • Personal injury claims
  • Wrongful death claims
  • Trust fund claims
  • VA claims
  • Workers’ compensation claims

For years, the asbestos industry allowed the toxic mineral to be used on a wide scale with no safety precautions or warnings. As one of the most experienced asbestos law firms in the world, The Lanier Law Firm has been holding asbestos companies accountable for over 25 years. Our clients have recovered millions of dollars in compensation by filing multiple types of asbestos claims.

“People who are exposed to asbestos are exposed in different ways. Every case is different. We approach every case based on the circumstances of that person’s exposure. Depending on the circumstances, there could be claims against companies that are solvent, and we pursue them in the tort system. And sometimes, there are exposures involving bankrupt defendants, and there are bankruptcy trusts out there that are intended to compensate people who are exposed to their products.” – Darron Berquist

Personal Injury Lawsuits

An asbestos lawsuit may be filed against any company that knew or should have known that asbestos products were being used. Asbestos lawsuits generally fall under the category of product liability, in which a standard of strict liability is most often used.

Strict liability applies regardless of the intentions or level of care exercised by the defendant. To successfully establish strict liability, the plaintiff must be able to show that at least one of the following is true:

  • The product or product design was inherently dangerous.
  • A manufacturing defect occurred, which resulted in a hazardous product.
  • The manufacturer, distributor or other responsible party failed to provide adequate warnings or instructions.

The inherently harmful properties of asbestos exposure are well documented. In asbestos cases, strict liability generally applies to the following types of defendants:

  • Manufacturers of asbestos products
  • Mining companies
  • Distributors of asbestos or asbestos products
  • Retailers of asbestos products
  • Building contractors who use asbestos products

In some cases, a plaintiff may need to prove that negligence by the defendant caused exposure to asbestos and precipitated the illness. Negligence occurs when a defendant fails to exercise a reasonable duty of care. It may be necessary to prove negligence in mesothelioma lawsuits against employers, schools, and building contractors.

Can I sue the military?

The military cannot be named in a personal injury lawsuit. However, military personnel who were exposed to asbestos during their time in the military are not without recourse. According to Sam Taylor, the managing attorney of the asbestos litigation section in the Houston office:

“Almost universally, the military cannot be sued. However, on those military ships where they served, there are products … that were manufactured by private companies and distributed by private companies. So those are certainly viable cases.”

Where do I file a mesothelioma lawsuit?

Determining where to file a mesothelioma lawsuit is not always straightforward. Several factors determine jurisdiction, including the following:

  • Where the exposure occurred
  • Where you currently reside
  • Where the product was manufactured
  • The type of case involved

Some venues are more advantageous than others, and our experienced legal team at The Lanier Law Firm will file your case in the jurisdiction that is most favorable to you.

How much compensation is available in a mesothelioma personal injury lawsuit?

The available compensation will vary based on multiple factors, the following of which are most important:

  • The jurisdiction where your case is tried
  • The severity of your illness
  • Your age at diagnosis
  • Your prognosis
  • The economic impact of your illness

Damages for a personal injury mesothelioma lawsuit may include economic, non-economic, and punitive damages.

  • Economic damages
    • Economic damages may include medical expenses, lost wages and earning potential, and loss of business opportunities.
  • Non-economic damages
    • These subjective losses brought on by the illness include pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of society.
  • Punitive damages
    • Punitive damages, which are awarded as a punishment and deterrence against a defendant whose conduct constitutes blatant recklessness, fraud, or malice, may be limited or prohibited in some jurisdictions.

Wrongful Death Lawsuits

The decedent’s family can file a wrongful death lawsuit in cases in which mesothelioma or another asbestos illness resulted in a death that could have been prevented if not for the wrongful acts or omissions of another.

Each state has its own guidelines to determine who has legal standing to file a wrongful death lawsuit, what types of damages are available and how proceeds are distributed. In most states, a personal representative or immediate family member files the lawsuit on behalf of the estate, and proceeds are distributed to the spouse and children, then to other family members.

Wrongful Death Compensation

Most jurisdictions allow family members to claim the following types of damages:

  • Pain and suffering of the deceased
  • Medical expenses of the deceased
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Pecuniary losses
  • Loss of consortium
  • Loss of parental guidance
  • Loss of companionship

In some jurisdictions, courts award damages for pain, suffering and grief of the family and punitive damages that would have been recoverable by the deceased.

Mesothelioma Trust Fund Claims

An asbestos trust fund is a fund that has been established for the purpose of compensating asbestos victims for their damages. These funds are managed by a third-party administrator who verifies claims and disburses funds accordingly. Mesothelioma trust funds are available for asbestos victims who were exposed by companies that have reorganized under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

These companies faced the prospect of exhausting all their assets and going out of business altogether, a situation that would have harmed the significant number of future asbestos victims that would need compensation from these companies in order to provide for their medical care.

Congress added § 524(g), which required the companies to set up asbestos trust funds as part of their bankruptcy reorganization, to the Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Code to ensure compensation would remain available to the growing number of mesothelioma victims.

“When a person calls our office and tells us that they have mesothelioma, the first thing we always do is try to obtain a copy of the pathology report for the purpose of determining whether or not there is, in fact, malignant mesothelioma. And once we get that, then we will immediately schedule a meeting with the client and go out and explore the client’s exposure history. That means we need to find out how the person was exposed because if there’s a malignant mesothelioma diagnosis, we know that’s the only thing that causes mesothelioma is asbestos exposure. So we meet with the client, try to identify asbestos exposure throughout the person’s life. And after that, at that point, we pretty much know if a person has a viable claim or not.” – Sam Taylor

What is the process for filing an asbestos trust fund claim?

Compensation from asbestos trust funds is available without the involvement of the court system. This is advantageous because it can help victims recover compensation sooner.

Each fund is operated separately and has its own procedures for filing claims. Most funds offer a standard and expedited filing process which must be initiated through each trust fund’s website.

How much compensation can I recover from a trust fund claim?

There is currently an estimated $30 billion available through asbestos trust funds. Each fund uses a separate formula to calculate compensation, taking into consideration individual factors, such as the severity of the illness, age at diagnosis and prognosis.

However, the number of mesothelioma victims coming forward has continued to rise, and some of the trust funds are short of funds. In an attempt to make compensation available to the largest number of claimants, many trust funds have reduced the compensation per claimant.

As a result, some trust fund claimants are not receiving sufficient compensation from the trust funds alone. The Lanier Law Firm can often help claimants identify multiple sources of exposure and maximize the total compensation available.

VA Mesothelioma Claims

Injuries and illnesses that result from military service are known as service-connected disabilities. Eligible veterans who have not received a dishonorable discharge and have contracted an asbestos-related illness as a result of asbestos exposure during military service may be entitled to service-connected VA benefits.

The VA uses a rating system to classify service-connected disabilities according to the extent of the disability. Each rating is
expressed as a percentage in the range of 10 to 100 percent, with 10 percent being the lowest. Veterans with a mesothelioma diagnosis typically receive a 100 percent rating, affording them the highest level of benefits the VA offers.

Disability Compensation

Disability compensation is a tax-free monthly payment offered to veterans with service-connected disabilities. The higher the level of disability, the higher the amount. The VA also considers other factors such as the number of dependents the veteran supports.

Are VA benefits available to family members?

Family members may be entitled to receive the following benefits:

  • Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) – Tax-free monthly income available upon the death of a veteran or military member as a result of a service-connected injury or illness
  • Health care benefits through TRICARE or CHAMPVA, depending on the veteran’s status and service details

Workers’ Compensation Claims

Mesothelioma claims frequently involve people who were exposed at work. Some may qualify for workers’ compensation, a no-fault system that provides benefits to workers who experience occupational injuries or illnesses.

Workers’ compensation benefits, which may include partial wage replacement, medical care, and death benefits, may be available in some cases of mesothelioma depending on several factors:

  • Solvency of the company and insurance company
  • The state where the company is located
  • The statute of limitations for filing workers’ compensation claims in the state where employment occurred
  • Whether the workers’ compensation policy covers asbestos claims

Workers’ compensation filing deadlines may differ from statutes of limitations for taking legal action, and some states allow insurance companies to opt out of coverage for asbestos-related illnesses.

Employees covered by workers’ compensation generally cannot file a lawsuit against the employer. In these cases, third parties — such as asbestos product manufacturers — can still be sued.

 

“The only established cause of mesothelioma is asbestos exposure. And so, when someone comes to us or even before someone comes to us and they’re considering whether or not to pursue a claim related to their diagnosis, it’s already understood that somehow that person was exposed to asbestos and that exposure could have happened 10, 20, 30, 40, or more years ago. And it could have happened in ways that the person isn’t aware of, whether they were a child or maybe a family member unwittingly brought it home on their clothing, or even exposure to things that contain talc, makeup and cosmetics, things like that.
So there are multitude of ways that one can be exposed to asbestos. And most of these companies, if not all of them, starting in the 1920s, if not before, were aware, or at least should have been aware, that asbestos was dangerous, extremely dangerous. By the time we get to the 1960s, mesothelioma and its link to asbestos exposure was established. And so these companies were well aware for decades including into the years that they continued to sell these products, that they were dangerous, caused cancer, and should have taken them off the shelves.” – Darron Berquist

What documentation will I need to file a mesothelioma claim?

For all claim types, you will be required to provide documentation that verifies the following:

  • Identity
  • Diagnosis and prognosis
  • Sources of exposure
  • Financial hardships
  • Employment history or other proof of where exposure occurred
  • Proof of how your quality of life has been adversely impacted

What if the source of asbestos exposure is unknown to me?

Identifying the source of exposure is critical to claiming mesothelioma compensation for all types of claims. The Lanier Law Firm has developed an extensive database including pictures of asbestos-containing products to help mesothelioma clients identify as many sources of exposure as possible.
It is not uncommon for mesothelioma patients to be unaware they were exposed to asbestos.

Can I file more than one asbestos claim?

People with mesothelioma are entitled to file a separate claim against each source of exposure, whether those claims are multiple trust fund claims or a combination of VA, trust fund and civil claims. When filing multiple trust fund claims, you are required to disclose this to each fund, and the amount you receive from each fund will be proportionate to the respective company’s share of liability.

When filing a lawsuit, you will also need to disclose other forms of compensation you have received, including VA compensation and trust fund compensation. Lawsuit proceeds may have an impact on some trust fund claims but do not impact VA disability compensation or VA health care if your disability rating is above 50 percent.

When should I contact an asbestos lawyer?

It is crucial that you contact an experienced mesothelioma lawyer as soon as possible after your diagnosis. The statute of limitations for mesothelioma claims in some jurisdictions is as short as one year after diagnosis. The mesothelioma attorneys at The Lanier Law Firm conduct an important exposure evaluation for each case and will require sufficient time to complete this process.

How long will it take to recover compensation?

The amount of time required to recover compensation is highly variable. No hard-and-fast rules apply to every case, but in general, trust fund claims provide the fastest pathway to compensation. VA claims generally take five to six months to receive a denial or approval.

Personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits require the most preparation and thus take the longest time. However, cases that settle result in significantly faster recovery of compensation. At The Lanier Law Firm, our mesothelioma attorneys settle approximately 95 percent of cases outside of court.

This is usually in the best interests of the client. However, if a corporation refuses to take responsibility for its wrongful acts, our attorneys are well-prepared to litigate in court. It is always the decision of the client whether to take the case to court or settle.

How much does it cost to hire a mesothelioma lawyer?

The Lanier Law Firm takes cases on a contingency agreement, which means our clients pay nothing until we successfully recover compensation for them. Upon recovery of compensation, our law firm receives a percentage of the compensation as was agreed upon up front.

“One of the, I think, most prominent misconceptions of asbestos cases is that there are a multitude of trusts out there with billions of dollars sitting there waiting to be had. The process is much more complicated than that. And it really does require a lawyer to guide you through that process to determine whether or not you qualify for those trusts, and if you don’t, whether there are other avenues of recourse.” – Darron Berquist

“I think one of the common misconceptions in the public generally is that because asbestos exposures frequently occurred 10, 20, or 30 years ago, that it’s now been too long to file a claim. And fortunately, that’s not true. There’s a thing called statute of limitations, which governs when lawsuits have to be filed. And fortunately, the statute of limitations does not begin to run until a person is diagnosed with mesothelioma.” – Sam Taylor

How can The Lanier Law Firm help me with my mesothelioma claim?

The Lanier Law Firm understands the difficulties that accompany a mesothelioma diagnosis. Our attorneys spend substantial time with each client building relationships, learning about the client’s needs and working to make the claims process as low-stress and rewarding for the client as possible.

The Lanier Law Firm provides vigorous and skilled advocacy and representation while helping clients with the following:

  • Identifying sources of exposure
  • Identifying liable parties
  • Filing trust fund claims
  • Filing civil lawsuits
  • Filing workers’ compensation claims
  • Negotiating civil settlements

The Lanier Law Firm has a strong track record of achieving maximum compensation for deserving clients so that they can take advantage of the latest breakthroughs in medicine while experiencing financial security and hope for themselves and their families.

The Lanier Law Firm has handled asbestos cases for over 25 years. During that time, we have developed an extensive database of documents, corporate records and deposition transcripts that average practitioners would not have. We have also had the opportunity to develop decades-long relationships with some of the best experts in the country.

These advantages along with the reputation and experience of our attorneys give our law firm an edge that allows us to maximize the compensation our clients recover.

Our results are a testament to the experience, skill and passion of our mesothelioma attorneys, who focus exclusively on asbestos exposure cases, with the following results:

  • A $115 million verdict against an Alabama steel mill on behalf of 21 steelworkers after successfully having the venue transferred to Texas due to a more favorable statute of limitations
  • An undisclosed verdict in a case against John Crane Inc. on behalf of a retired pipefitter who contracted mesothelioma
  • On behalf of a 46-year-old father who died of mesothelioma 90 days after diagnosis, a structured settlement that would provide a college fund forhis two young children
  • A $4.69 billion verdict in the first trial linking baby powder to asbestos and ovarian cancer, a verdict that was upheld by the Missouri Supreme Court, with a final settlement of $2.11 billion

The accomplishments of which we are most proud are not the numbers, but the difference we have made in the lives of people who were exposed to mesothelioma through no fault of their own.

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may have multiple claims for compensation, but time is limited. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with a mesothelioma attorney.

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