Asbestos is a heat and fire-resistant naturally occurring silicate material. It’s commonly used in construction materials and other industrial and commercial purposes. However, asbestos is highly toxic to the human body, and its exposure can cause several diseases and cancers.
Asbestos exposure happens when the asbestos fibers are released into the air and remain airborne for hours. When a person inhales or digests these fibers, it increases the risk of severe health effects. Even in an ideal environment, asbestos fibers can remain airborne for 48 to 72 hours. However, the dust is so light that the slightest disturbance can cause it to become airborne again.
Suppose you have asbestosis, mesothelioma, lung cancer, etc. In that case, it’s most likely because of prolonged exposure to asbestos during some time in your life. In most cases, workers are knowingly or unknowingly exposed to asbestos in their work environment. And this includes many occupations such as construction workers, electricians, power plant workers, and shipyard workers who are more likely to get exposed to asbestos during their work. If that is the case, and you have an asbestos-related disease, you must file a claim against your employer.
For this reason, we will discuss the step-by-step procedure of filing a lawsuit.
Filing a lawsuit
First, you’ll need to find a reliable attorney who can prepare for the lawsuit and file a complaint in court so that the legal process can begin. Let’s say that you’ve developed mesothelioma because of asbestos exposure at the workplace. In that case, they’ll help you with the mesothelioma lawsuit and ensure that you get your rightful compensation.
The preparations and filing step can last for up to several months. But if your health is declining fast, the attorney will rush the process in the court before your health condition worsens further. It’s crucial to have a trustworthy attorney by your side to guide you and represent you throughout the process. Moreover, your attorney will walk you through the process of filing a mesothelioma lawsuit.
1. Choose an attorney
Naturally, the first step in filing a successful claim is to choose an attorney who has experience in asbestos litigation and unknown asbestos exposure cases. Some mesothelioma law firms give a free consultation, where you can talk with the best lawyers available and discuss your legal options.
2. Prove asbestos exposure
To prove asbestos exposure in a legal claim, you will need to provide evidence of asbestos exposure. You will need to provide medical documentation, including your pathology reports, test results, etc. If you don’t have the documents ready, a qualified attorney can help you gather all the necessary documentation. But the most common sources of asbestos exposure are:
- Usage of asbestos products
- Working in specific job sites
- High-risk occupations
- Second-hand exposure
- Military exposure
Proving your exposure in the court can be a daunting task. That’s why it’s crucial to hire a mesothelioma attorney who can help you pinpoint specific job sites or products which could have possibly exposed you to asbestos. For this purpose, you will need the help of an experienced mesothelioma law firm. They can help you prove your exposure history as they have access to proprietary asbestos databases. This database contains evidence against employers, liable manufacturers, and job sites.
3. Case review and preparation
In the case review step, you will have to answer questions about your asbestos exposure history, job history, and medical history. Then, you will have to work with your attorney to find out if additional testimony is necessary for your case. Moving on, your attorney will research which claim and what type of compensation options will suit your needs. Whether it is a wrongful death lawsuit, a personal injury lawsuit, or any other kind of claim, your attorney will prepare the necessary documents for your claim.
4. File the lawsuit
Once your attorney has gathered all the relevant information, they will file a lawsuit on your behalf and manage all the legal proceedings. Moreover, your attorney will advise you on whether or not you should take the settlement or negotiate for more compensation.
5. Response and discovery
All the defendants in the lawsuit will receive a copy of your official complaint. Then, they will have a certain amount of time to respond to your complaint. Typically, defendants get 30 days during which they have to submit an official response to your complaint. Moreover, it is unlikely that the defendants will admit themselves at fault and will most likely argue the validity of your claim or deny it altogether. In addition to that, they may try to contend that some other party is responsible for your exposure. In all of these cases, your attorney will respond on your behalf.
The lawyers on your side and the defendant’s side will gather information regarding your complaint and allegations. They’ll ask the other side to submit written responses to questions, participate in depositions, and produce necessary documents. Some of these documents and information may later become evidence during the trial. Moreover, you will also have to answer questions under oath, but your attorney will guide you through the process.
6. Settlement or trial
Before the trial starts, the defendants will try to end the matter by offering you settlement money. The settlement depends on multiple factors, and it can influence your decision about proceeding with the trial. If you decline the first offer, the defendant will make the second offer, and your attorney will carry out negotiations on your behalf.
Most of the time, such cases don’t go to trial. Even if they do, you may not be required to appear during the trial. However, the process will vary according to your claim and state. The results typically depend on your history of exposure, state law, medical history, etc. If you win and the defendant does not appeal, you will start receiving the payments a few months after the trial is over.
Typically, most people don’t have to go as far as to file a claim because states provide compensation for people who suffer from asbestos exposure. But if you still file a claim, the process can become straightforward if you have the help of a qualified mesothelioma attorney. Moreover, if you have records of your exposure, medical records, lab results proving your illness, you’ll likely win the case.