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Vanessa Blanco, patient advocate for the Mesothelioma Prognosis Network
Written By Vanessa Blanco

Why do people get cancer? In most cases, it’s a tragic mystery. But mesothelioma is an exception because it usually traces back to one specific cause: Asbestos exposure.

Almost all asbestos-related diseases are the result of business decisions with deadly consequences.

Business leaders knew asbestos dust was toxic as far back as the 1930s. But rather than warning workers and consumers about it, executives covered up the dangers of asbestos for decades. They put their profits before the health of their employees and customers.

American companies only phased out the use of asbestos in the 1980s because they were finally being held accountable.

Mesothelioma comes with heavy costs — not just in pain and suffering — but in medical bills, loss of income, caregiving costs and other expenses. People who have to bear these costs because of the asbestos industry’s negligence are entitled to financial compensation.

Asbestos litigation is a very complex area of the law, however. Working with a specialized mesothelioma attorney gives you the best chance of getting the compensation your family needs. You should seek out a knowledgeable, experienced lawyer from a law firm with robust resources.

Initial Consultation with a Mesothelioma Law Firm

How will you know if you are choosing the right mesothelioma lawyer? The most important indicator is a strong track record of success with asbestos-related claims. A reputable law firm will offer you a free initial consultation so you can see what advantages they have to offer.

Every mesothelioma case is unique. There are hundreds of products and thousands of worksites that could have exposed you to asbestos. It’s completely understandable if you cannot remember all the details of how it happened.

Law firms that specialize in mesothelioma cases have archival resources about asbestos exposure. This helps clients pinpoint the cause of their cancer.

Mesothelioma attorneys know which companies used asbestos and how. At your initial consultation, they can begin to help you reconstruct your asbestos-exposure history. This is essential to building a strong case for your compensation claim.

Before you sign any contract, a reputable mesothelioma lawyer will also discuss the terms of their contingency fee with you. But you will be under no obligation to hire them at the initial consultation.

Couple receiving financial assistance
Find Ways to Cover Mesothelioma Costs
Mesothelioma patients have several options for paying for treatment, travel, lost wages and other costs.

Mesothelioma Compensation Options

Once you have a mesothelioma attorney in your corner, they can help you review your legal options. You may be able to file a mesothelioma lawsuit, a trust-fund claim or a disability benefits claim, depending on your circumstances. In each case, your lawyer can estimate the potential value of your claim.

Two of the most important factors are when and where you file your claim.

When to File: Every state has its own statutes-of-limitations law that defines how long you can wait before filing a mesothelioma claim. This legal time limit is why you should find a qualified attorney as soon as possible after a mesothelioma diagnosis.

Where to File: You don’t necessarily have to file a claim in the state where you live. It may be better to file in the state where the liable business is based or where the asbestos exposure occurred.

Your lawyer will advise you on the best strategy for seeking financial compensation.

Asbestos Personal Injury Trusts

In the 1980s, the Johns Manville Corporation’s long, reckless history with asbestos was catching up to it through a flood of lawsuits. It sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection from the government. To stay in business, the corporation agreed to set up a special asbestos trust fund to provide compensation.

At the time, it was a novel use of bankruptcy law. But since then, it has become an almost standard practice for companies with extensive asbestos liabilities.

Your asbestos exposure may have been caused by a company that has set up an asbestos personal injury trust. An experienced lawyer will know how to file a trust-fund claim that could be processed in a matter of months.

Filing a Mesothelioma Lawsuit

For many families, threatening to take a company to court is still the best way to seek a fair amount of financial compensation. A mesothelioma claim can take the form of a personal-injury lawsuit or a wrongful-death lawsuit.

Juries have been known to award plaintiffs substantial amounts of damages – sometimes millions of dollars for mesothelioma cases. This is because juries take into account not just medical expenses but also pain and suffering and spousal loss of consortium.

Juries may also award punitive damages to make an example of a company and discourage corporate negligence in the future.

Companies usually do not want to risk losing millions in court. Even when they win lawsuits, the legal fees are still expensive, and it generates bad publicity. This is why most mesothelioma lawsuits actually resolve through out-of-court settlements.

In negotiating a settlement, an experienced lawyer will know how to balance your needs. You need to cover all your expenses, but you also need to receive the money in a timely manner. Sometimes it’s best to take an early settlement, and sometimes it’s better to hold out for more compensation.

A personal-injury lawsuit often happens at the same time as mesothelioma treatment. A wrongful-death lawsuit often occurs during a time of loss and grieving.

Good mesothelioma lawyers understand how difficult these times are. They do everything they can to take the stress out of the legal process.

When you work with a national law firm that specializes in mesothelioma cases, their attorneys can usually work with you in your own home. That way, you do not have to travel. They can record your testimony and represent you at hearings so you spend as little time in court as possible.

Part of building a strong case for compensation is tracking all expenses related to mesothelioma. This includes money spent on hospital bills and traveling for treatment as well as income lost when members of the household cannot work.

Your attorney can help you quantify how the cancer has affected your budget and lifestyle. They will know how to organize your medical and financial records in order to build your case.

How Mesothelioma Attorneys Are Paid

Asbestos-industry companies come armed with high-priced lawyers. But having these expensive defense attorneys can put companies at a disadvantage.

Their lawyers are usually paid by the hour and have every reason to drag the process out. But your lawyer typically is not paid until you get your money.

Qualified mesothelioma lawyers usually work on a contingency-fee basis. This means their fee comes out of whatever compensation you receive. You agree to a set percentage when you hire them, and you never pay anything out of pocket. If you get no compensation, they get no attorney fee.

When negotiating a mesothelioma settlement, remember to keep the contingency fee in mind. The settlement needs to be large enough to meet your needs after your lawyer receives their percentage of it.

But what you don’t have to worry about is going into debt to hire a good lawyer. The best mesothelioma lawyers will work with you based on the strength of your case, rather than how much cash is in your pocket.