Mesothelioma Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
If you or a loved one has recently been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you undoubtedly have many questions. You may be able to find the answer here.
Asbestos is a mineral fiber that is mined out of rock. Due to its heat-resistant qualities, asbestos was used extensively in industry and onboard ships for thermal insulation. Asbestos was also used as a binder in numerous drywall and cement products.
Asbestos is not dangerous in its inert form. However, when it is cut or disturbed, asbestos releases millions of microscopic fibers into the atmosphere. These fibers, when inhaled deep into the lung, can cause irreversible injury to humans.
Only your doctor can tell you for sure. If you have been exposed to asbestos, you should closely monitor your health and be sure to tell your doctor about your exposure during your regular physicals.
Dr. Irving Selikoff, one of the foremost researchers in the field, once observed that “asbestos does not respect job classifications.” He meant that the fibers that cause asbestos diseases are invisible and travel throughout the work area. Just because you never worked with asbestos does not mean you were never exposed.
Our firm has represented hundreds of sailors, plumbers, electricians, ship scalars, painters, riggers, carpenters, janitors, sheet metal workers, millwrights, and other trades who never personally worked with asbestos but suffered from serous asbestos diseases. We have also represented spouses and family members who were exposed to asbestos indirectly from washing their husband’s or father’s clothing.
Under the laws of Washington and Oregon, every company that manufactured and supplied an asbestos product to which you were exposed is potentially liable for your asbestos injury. Thus, in prosecuting an asbestos lawsuit, one of the biggest challenges is identifying the manufacturers of the asbestos products to which you were exposed.
We have detailed product identification information on hundreds of job sites in Washington, Oregon, and Alaska, as well as hundreds of Navy vessels. Even if you do not know the manufacturers of the asbestos products that you worked around, we can probably identify some of the products to which you may have been exposed based on the job sites where you worked.
Although the dangers of asbestos were well-known in the medical community by the 1930s, asbestos was manufactured and used in industry and construction until the mid-1970s. These companies understood that there was a lot of money to be made distributing asbestos products, and they were confident that the illnesses would develop so long after the individuals were exposed to their products that they would never be held responsible.
The lawyer-client relationship is a partnership, and the client must be comfortable with his or her lawyers for the relationship to succeed. Clients should always talk to several different law firms before making a final selection. Below are suggested questions to ask and issues to consider:
- Where are you located? Would your lawyers be willing to meet me at my home so that personal communication is not costly or difficult?
- How many years have you handled mesothelioma cases?
- What percentage of the firm’s lawyers work on mesothelioma cases?
- Are your lawyers licensed to practice in and familiar with the courts and the law in the state where I live?
- Does your law firm do the actual legal work on mesothelioma cases, or do you refer them to other law firms? If you do work on mesothelioma cases, will you work on all aspects of my case? If my case, or any portion of it, will be referred to another law firm, which firm?
- Do your lawyers have a proven track record in winning mesothelioma cases at trial, should my case not settle out of court?
- Do your lawyers have a successful record in the appellate courts, should my case be taken up on appeal?
While no amount of compensation can make up for the diagnosis of a devastating illness, filing a lawsuit in a timely manner makes sense for many reasons. Mesothelioma is almost always caused by asbestos exposure. That means your illness is not your fault and you may be owed compensation.
Filing a claim can be life-changing and it won’t cost you a thing unless we win.
Every mesothelioma case is unique. Some cases settle relatively quickly; others will take time to work their way through trials and appeals. But here’s a brief overview of what to expect during mesothelioma litigation.
- Case evaluation: When you contact our firm, you will speak to an experienced mesothelioma lawyer who will talk to you about your illness, your work history, your family, and the places you’ve lived. We will collect medical and Social Security records from the course of your entire lifetime. The time we spend with you, your family members, and any available coworkers you can recall will help us create a record of the events that caused your mesothelioma and the impact it has had on your family. After gathering this information, we will be in a position to decide whether we may be able to help you by filing a lawsuit on your behalf.
- Case filing: A case begins with the filing of a complaint. In your complaint, our firm will choose the proper court to file your claim and the proper companies to sue. The complaint will briefly set out the facts of your case, explain the nature of the defendants’ wrongful conduct, and describe how you and your family have been harmed.
- Discovery: During discovery, your Bergman Oslund Udo Little lawyer and the lawyers who represent the defendants will trade information. The two sides work to “discover” all the facts that will be relevant should the case to go to trial. Discovery is helpful for lawyers in two ways. Obviously, it helps them to prepare for a trial. But the information gathered during discovery may be more useful in helping the defendants’ lawyers to determine whether a case should be settled, and if so, for how much.
- Settlement and trial: After a case is filed and the discovery phase is underway, the judge will set your case for trial. Now is also when asbestos defendants have a real incentive to settle your case. For this reason, your lawyer from Bergman Oslund Udo Little will work to have your case set for trial as soon as possible. If the defendants in your case do make a settlement offer, we will communicate those offers to you and share our opinion about whether you should accept or reject them. If a settlement cannot be reached, then your case will proceed to trial. The jury will make the final determination about the defendant’s responsibility for your injuries and the amount of compensation that would be fair in your case.
- Appeal: If your case goes to trial and we are successful, the defendant has the right to appeal the decision. If it does so, it will ask a higher court (usually called the court of appeals) to review the case to see whether mistakes were made at trial that were so serious that the jury’s verdict should be disregarded and a new trial granted.