Asbestos is a widely used natural mineral, harmful to humans after long exposures. Almost everyone has been exposed to low levels of asbestos given its presence everywhere— from wall-insulations to car brakes. But this low-level exposure is not harmful. The health concerns arise if you are a blue-collar worker who spent years in an industry that previously used or currently uses the mineral and its deriving products.
If you belong to the high-risk categories and have recently been diagnosed with an asbestos-induced disease, you can claim compensation for it if you meet certain criteria. The compensation can cover your lost wages, medical and travel expenses and psychological damage to your person. The average compensation received for an asbestos claim is between $1 million and $1.4 million. The payout can be higher depending on the circumstances of your claim and other factors like the efficiency of your legal team.
An experienced attorney will help you through the process, represent you well and get you compensation for damages ensued. You can click here to connect to a firm that can help you receive justified compensation for your asbestos claim.
Before you dive into the process of litigation, there are some things you should know and consider. Let’s discuss them!
What Type of Claim are You Eligible to Make?
Generally, there are two types of asbestos claims: personal injury and wrongful death.
For the first type of claim, the affected party has to file a claim themselves. For the second type of claim, the family of the deceased patient can claim compensation. These claims are made based on the negligence of the employer. To be eligible for a personal injury claim, you need to prove that your employer failed to protect the workers from asbestos exposure and was responsible for the breach. You can make a personal injury claim if you are diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestosis, asbestos-related lung cancer, or asbestos-related diffuse pleural thickening.
A wrongful death claim is an extension of the breach since it affects the family of the affected deceased worker.
Are you Within the Statute of Limitations?
One of the complications of asbestos litigation is the period in which you can claim. As soon as the diagnosis is made, the time counter starts. The usual period in which you can claim is three years after the diagnosis.
However, the limitations can vary depending on several factors—who you are claiming against, the state you are making a claim in, degree of severity and company location, and how the diagnosis was made. Since some asbestos-caused diseases are misdiagnosed initially, the correct diagnosis is attained in later stages. It can affect the statute of limitation (or the deadline of the claim period). In the case of a wrongful death claim, the statute of limitation is slightly different and extends to a few years after the death of the patient. The count of years is dependent on state law and the trust fund rules.
Who Should You Sue?
If you worked for a private company, you can file a claim against them. However, since many companies started running bankrupt, the government directed them to set up an asbestos trust fund. So, even if your old employer has no funds, they probably have a trust fund you can claim against. Currently, there are around 60 active trust funds nationwide.
If you served in the armed forces, your claim would be against the military or the government itself. Moreover, depending on your case, you might be able to sue companies you didn’t even work for. This can be a result of product liability claims. In this scenario, you would be litigating against the manufacturer of some unreasonably harmful product.
What Evidences Would You Need?
Since your claim is based on negligence that has caused health issues, you would need medical reports. Your firm diagnosis report and the medical tests run to conclude will be the most basic shreds of evidence you would need to produce—proofs of your employment and exposure, as well as documents that show financial hardship. You would need testimonies stating the cause of exposure and related diagnosis.
What Help Can you Get From Your Attorney?
Your attorney can help you hire expert witnesses by interviewing them and conducting background research. They can also look for internal memos showing that the defendants knew about the harms of asbestos and yet displayed negligence. They will help you prepare the perfect answers for the case filing process. In short, your attorney will ensure you win the case, which is why their record, performance and previous case wins are of great concern.
You will also be required to respond to any questions posed by the opposition; this is the process of deposition. Your attorney will help you with the process and help formulate answers.
Will the Case Go For a Trial or End With a Settlement?
The two routes for the case are a quick settlement before the case is presented to a judge. If the concerned organization wishes to settle on agreeable terms, you might receive an offer soon. You can either decline or accept the offer. Often declined offers are replaced with better settlement offers. If you decline all settlements, the case is then taken into court for the hearing.
The length of the cases can vary drastically depending on how the case proceeds. The standard response period is of 30 days. These 30 days are a set deadline for the opposition’s attorneys to respond to the claim. The settlements are usually made within or immediately after the period of response. If the case goes for a trial, the case period depends on the lawyers’ approach.
In a Nutshell
Your services to your employer shouldn’t make you pay with your health, quality of life, or life itself. If any of these are affected, you are entitled to compensation—for which you should make a claim. Making a claim and going through the process requires considering several factors, starting with the statute of limitation: the time of making a claim and collecting documents to strengthen your case.
This process requires great diligence and attention to detail, both of which can be helped by your attorney selection. The duration of the process is subjective, although you can go for well-negotiated settlements if you want a quick payout.