If you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma, your first priority should be meeting with your doctor to determine your prognosis and develop the best possible treatment plan to get aggressive with your illness. Beyond what you learn about your illness at your doctor’s office, you should research on your own, find out about the disease, causes and what steps you should take next.
One of the steps to consider is whether to pursue legal action against those responsible for your illness. Here are some things you need to consider about your illness and some steps you should take to protect yourself and your family.
What Is Mesothelioma and What Causes It?
Mesothelioma is an extremely rare type of cancer that is almost always caused by exposure to asbestos – and usually on the job.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that was heavily used for decades by industries and the Armed Forces because of its fire and heat resistant properties. After being inhaled or swallowed, sharp asbestos fibers tear into cells in the mesothelium (a protective layer of cells around your body’s organs) and damage the DNA of the cells making them a prime breeding ground for cancer to develop.
Usually there are decades between exposure and serious enough symptoms to develop for a diagnosis to be possible. Because symptoms are slow to develop and seem benign at first, the cancer is often into late stages and more difficult to treat before it is discovered.
Why You Should File a Lawsuit
If your mesothelioma was caused by asbestos, it’s very likely that you were exposed knowingly by a corporation that was prioritizing profit over worker safety. You could have been a victim of primary exposure to asbestos on the job or even in your own home because of construction work or damage to your home. Secondary exposure occurs when someone else (typically a loved one) is exposed at work and brings the fibers home on their skin or clothing. Most cases we see are primary exposure that occurs on the job. Filing a mesothelioma lawsuit is about more than getting a check for you and your family – it’s about holding corporations accountable for not protecting workers.
Bergman Draper Oslund has compiled extensive research on job sites that exposed workers to asbestos.
How to Choose an Attorney
One of the most important factors in getting the best possible outcome for your case is the expertise of the law firm you choose. Hiring an attorney that works solely with mesothelioma victims ensures that you get expert legal advice as well as an advocate that truly understands what you and your family are going through. When you choose Bergman Draper Oslund for your mesothelioma lawsuit, you get more than just an advocate, you get another source of support for your family during this difficult time. We’ll assign you a small team of professionals that will work closely with you, answer all your questions, give you regular updates on your case and serve as a resource about not just your case, but your illness.
The Lawsuit Process
A mesothelioma lawsuit isn’t a simple thing that will take just a couple of weeks or months to sort out. Because corporations have intentionally sold off branches of their business or bankrupted themselves to try and avoid liability for exposing workers to asbestos, it can be a complex matter to determine who is legally responsible for your illness. We will try to minimize the impact this process has on your life and your personal time that it can consume. Our team does all of the legwork so that you can focus on your health and your family. Here is a quick overview of what you can expect:
Preparation – We examine your medical records and work history to determine which party is responsible for your disease. We determine which courts to file in and whether more than one lawsuit is appropriate (if more than one party is responsible). After thorough research and consideration, we prepare all of the legal documents necessary to pursue your case.
Filing the Case – We file what’s known as a “complaint” to get the legal ball rolling. There are very specific rules the filing must adhere to in order for it to be accepted by the court. If more than one lawsuit is to be filed, each will be a unique filing.
Response – The defendant (the party we believe is legally responsible for your illness) will be served with the lawsuit and will have a window of time to file a response – typically a 30 day period. They will likely deny all wrong-doing, point the finger at another company, cry foul or try to hide behind a corporate shield. This is normal behavior in a lawsuit, but we are accustomed to this and are ready to fight to protect your rights.
Discovery – During this stage, both sides gather evidence and information. The defendants will take this as an opportunity to look at your work and health history to try and find someone else to blame. We take this opportunity to solidify our case against the defendants. You will likely have to sit for a deposition, but this can be done from your home if your health has deteriorated.
Settlement – Sometimes before a trial begins, the defendant will make a settlement offer. If it’s a reasonable offer that meets your needs and is fair for what has happened to you, we may recommend you take it. If it’s a low ball offer that doesn’t reflect the pain and suffering you and your family are going through, we will recommend you say no. Sometimes settlement offers come in during the trial as well.
Trial – If a fair settlement offer isn’t made, the case will move forward to a trial. There are two outcomes in a trial (unless a settlement is made mid-trial that ends the lawsuit). The defendant can be found liable or not. If they are found liable, they will have a short window of time to file an appeal. Defendants can’t file an appeal just because they don’t like the outcome – they can only file if they believe the law wasn’t followed. The best case scenario is that either a good settlement offer is made before or during trial or that a verdict is found in your favor and the defendant opts not to appeal and pays the award promptly.
Bergman Draper Oslund has won more than $700 million for asbestos victims and we’re ready to help you.
Why Class Action Suits Aren’t an Option
Sometimes when corporations harm workers or consumers, many victims will join together and file one large lawsuit against the company. This is called a “class action” lawsuit. What makes suits like this feasible is similarity. For instance, if a bad batch of food gives 100 people botulism and they all end up with permanent stomach pain, these are similarities that could make a class action suit viable. By contrast, mesothelioma is a highly individualized disease. Exposure circumstances vary, the illness will progress differently and outcomes will differ drastically from person to person making asbestos illnesses unsuitable for class action.
How Long Do You Have to File?
Any type of personal injury lawsuit (and asbestos suits fall into this category) will have a statute of limitations. With mesothelioma, the clock doesn’t start ticking as soon as you find out that you have the illness, but rather as soon as you know it was caused by asbestos. If a loved one passes away because of mesothelioma, you can file a wrongful death suit and that also is subject to a statute of limitations. In Washington state, the statute of limitations is three years. In Oregon and Idaho, the statute is two years and in Montana, it’s three. It varies by state and can be as little as one year or as many as six.
What Is the Likely Outcome?
The compensation you receive from your mesothelioma lawsuit will depend on the circumstances of your asbestos exposure, the stage your illness is when diagnosed, your prognosis, the past and anticipated costs of medical treatment, additional costs if you need to travel for treatment or need special care or equipment in your home, lost wages and your pain and suffering. If your loved one has lost their struggle with mesothelioma and passed away, the damages sought will be for the “wrongful death” of your family member. We will always seek the best outcome for your unique circumstances.
Why It’s Important to Pursue Litigation
From a broader perspective, filing a suit makes a statement that you don’t agree with corporations that put profits before people and knowingly put workers at risk. Pushing back against corporations that take advantage can save lives and makes an important statement. From a personal perspective, pursuing a lawsuit to recover damages can help you cope with the costs of medical treatments for your disease, can make up for lost wages or give you peace of mind knowing you can leave a financial cushion for your family should you lose your mesothelioma battle.
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, or have a loved one stricken with this terrible disease, contact Bergman Draper Oslund as soon as possible for a free case evaluation to see how we can help you and your family.