Veterans and Mesothelioma Lawsuits
In addition to traditional VA benefits, veterans with mesothelioma are usually eligible to receive financial compensation from the asbestos company responsible for their exposure. If the asbestos company still exists, your attorney can do this by filing a lawsuit. To do this, you will want to work with an attorney who has experience filing these types of claims.
Types of Mesothelioma Lawsuits
There are two types of mesothelioma lawsuits:
- Personal Injury: Veterans living with mesothelioma file this type of claim. The winnings from a personal injury lawsuit may provide compensation for medical treatment, lost wages, and any pain and suffering that has occurred as a result of the patient’s illness. If the patient dies before the lawsuit is resolved, the case does not end; it continues in the name of the estate.
- Wrongful Death: Family members may pursue this type of lawsuit after the death of a loved one from mesothelioma. The winnings from a wrongful death lawsuit may provide money for medical bills, loss of income, hospice care, and funeral expenses.
Statute of Limitations
Each state has a set timeframe during which claims must be filed. The legal term for this timeframe is the “statute of limitations” and it begins at the time of diagnosis. The average statute of limitations for mesothelioma is two to three years, so it’s important to contact an attorney as early as possible. In some states, the mesothelioma statute of limitations is different for personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits.
The Legal Process
In order to pursue a lawsuit against an asbestos company, you must have medical proof of a mesothelioma diagnosis and proof of asbestos exposure. In most cases, it is easy to prove the diagnosis: the patient either has mesothelioma (or another asbestos-caused illness) or they do not. A needle biopsy is usually necessary to provide medical proof.
But, asbestos lawsuits involve more than just a mesothelioma diagnosis. The more significant challenge is proving that a specific asbestos company’s products caused the cancer. Proof of exposure can be difficult if the patient can’t remember which asbestos-containing products they encountered on the job.
Attorneys who specialize in mesothelioma litigation have access to an extensive database of asbestos products, including company logos and product packaging. These images can help patients who have trouble remembering which asbestos products they were exposed to. The database is extremely comprehensive and most of the products can be traced back to individual job sites or military installations. You don’t have to go through the identification process alone — you’ll have a team of asbestos product experts available to help.
Your legal team will need to determine the length of time and amount of asbestos you were exposed to, locate and question witnesses, and secure expert testimony if needed. It typically takes about six months to gather all of the information for a mesothelioma case.
Factors that can affect the legal process for mesothelioma lawsuits include:
- The patient’s age at diagnosis
- The patient’s exposure history
- The available legal venues
Importance of Legal Venue
The legal venue (the location of the court where a case is tried) is important when filing a mesothelioma lawsuit. Since claims can involve more than one asbestos company, there may be multiple venue options. Some legal venues will expedite mesothelioma cases if the patient is still living, but many do not. In these venues, it can take up to a year or more for the case to be heard.
Filing a mesothelioma lawsuit can be confusing and intimidating, but the process isn’t as complicated as it seems. In most cases, an attorney will travel to meet the patient or family members filing the lawsuit to ask questions and take statements. Although it may take several months to resolve a claim and receive compensation, your involvement is minimal and typically only lasts a few days.
If you or a family member has mesothelioma or another illness caused by asbestos, consider pursuing legal action against the asbestos company or companies responsible, as well as filing for VA benefits. You have a right to compensation!