Can I pursue compensation even if I don’t know where I was exposed to asbestos?
Generally speaking, the answer is yes. If you’re unsure about where you may have been exposed to asbestos, you are certainly not alone. In fact, because most mesothelioma patients were never warned about the dangers of asbestos, many need help tracking down and verifying the source of their exposure.
Whether you served in the military or worked in one of the many other occupations where you may have been surrounded by or came into contact with asbestos-containing products on a regular basis, a knowledgeable mesothelioma attorney may be able to help. He or she will work with you to try to determine if, how, when, and where you may have been exposed. If your lawyer is confident that exposure took place, appropriate legal action against the responsible parties can begin.
Will I have to go to court to get compensation?
Not likely, but every case is unique. That said, many mesothelioma lawsuits are resolved without having to go to court. Instead, settlement amounts are typically negotiated and then agreed to by all sides to avoid going to trial. This system is an effective way for victims to receive fair compensation.
Where does settlement money come from?
There are 2 different sources of financial compensation that may be available to mesothelioma victims and their families:
- Court-ordered asbestos trusts that hold the bankrupt manufacturers of asbestos-containing products responsible for their actions
- Manufacturers that once produced asbestos-containing products and are still viable companies doing business today
Compensation is unlikely to come from your employer, the U.S. government or any branch of the military because the dangers of asbestos were hidden from them as well.
For decades, dozens of companies produced thousands of asbestos-containing products. Many of these manufacturers continued to make and distribute these products even after they learned that exposure to asbestos could be deadly. Whether they are bankrupt or still in business, these companies are legally responsible for compensating people who develop mesothelioma as a result of being exposed to the products they made.
What are asbestos trusts?
During the 1970s, thousands of lawsuits against major manufacturers of asbestos-containing products began to flood the court system. To stop asbestos victims from filing these lawsuits and to protect their ill-gotten profits, many companies chose to file for bankruptcy. Thankfully, the courts held strong. They allowed these companies to file for bankruptcy, but to be approved, they first had to put aside money into trusts that would pay those people who had been killed or harmed by the asbestos-containing products they manufactured and sold. The courts also ruled that these trusts had to compensate future victims of asbestos exposure and their families—even if it takes 40-50 years or longer for those people to become sick.
More than 55 companies have established trusts with the courts. To date, approximately $30 Billion has been placed into these trusts, and that amount is expected to grow. The courts have appointed trustees to pay money to every person who has a valid claim.
Victims of asbestos-related disease who are filing a claim against a trust do not have to go through a lengthy trial to receive compensation. The money is awarded through a simplified claims process that can be completed with the help of a knowledgeable mesothelioma attorney. There are often time limits associated with these claims, so it is important to act quickly.
How do I take legal action against a company that is still in business?
Mesothelioma attorneys have gathered detailed lists of the companies that once produced asbestos-containing products and are still viable companies doing business today. Newly discovered companies are still being added to these lists. If you believe you were exposed to asbestos-containing products that were manufactured by a company (or companies) still in business, a mesothelioma attorney will work with you to investigate the details and take appropriate legal action against that specific company or companies. The rules vary from state to state, but time restrictions often apply, so it is important to secure legal assistance quickly.
How can I afford to pay for a lawyer?
Typically, there are no up-front or out-of-pocket costs involved with hiring a mesothelioma attorney. Instead, most lawyers will often agree to take only a percentage of the settlement if they recover money on your behalf. This is standard practice for mesothelioma cases and is referred to as working on a contingency basis. And that means your lawyer does not receive any money unless you win your case. You may also choose to hire a lawyer who charges an hourly fee. Because this option can be very expensive, most people find the contingency fee arrangement to be easier and more affordable. Whether you decide on a contingency or a fee-based arrangement, the choice is entirely yours.
Can a claim be pursued on behalf of a family member who died of mesothelioma?
Yes, there are legal options available for family members. The rules vary from state to state, so be sure to speak with a mesothelioma attorney to find out if you are eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Will filing a claim affect my VA benefits?
No. VA benefits are separate from any compensation you may receive from a mesothelioma lawsuit. As a veteran of the U.S. military, you may be entitled to VA benefits even if you also receive a legal settlement.
What happens if I pass away before my case is over?
If you were to die before your mesothelioma case is over, a legal representative can continue to pursue the case on behalf of your heirs. You can be at peace knowing that the people you love can still pursue justice and financial compensation if your death was caused by exposure to asbestos.
I’m a veteran. Is my lawyer going to sue the government?
The answer is no. Although your asbestos exposure may have occurred during your time in the military, it is not likely that the government or the branch of service you served is responsible. Instead, the manufacturers who sold asbestos-containing products to the military are the responsible parties.