Filing A Mesothelioma Lawsuit

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Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer, affecting the protective lining around most of the organs in the body. It is diagnosed in approximately 2,000 to 3,000 patients annually in America.

Asbestos is a fiber that occurs naturally and has heat resistant and fire retardant qualities. Because of these particular properties, asbestos has been widely used in building materials and automotive parts, as well as other products that must be able be susceptible to extreme heat or are apt to catch fire. People who have worked in construction, as iron workers, roofers, metal lathers, in ship yards, in the U.S. Navy, as electricians, and firefighters may have been exposed to asbestos. There are many other industries and occupations not listed here that people may have, or still, work in that could expose them to asbestos.

Mesothelioma can remain dormant in people's bodies for up to 40 years, meaning that people who worked around asbestos years ago may still not know if they will end up with the disease. When an individual is diagnosed with mesothelioma, it can be an extremely difficult time. Not only is it emotionally upsetting, but the financial expenses, including loss of income and medical expenses, related to mesothelioma can add up very quickly.

When diagnosed with mesothelioma and facing financial issues, people may consider filing a lawsuit. A mesothelioma lawsuit falls into tort law. Torts refer to a civil wrong that resulted in an injury or harm and is grounds for a lawsuit. The injuries and damages incurred from a wrong comprise the basis from which people can make a claim. The primary focus of tort law is to provide injured parties with compensation for the damages, such as medical expenses and pain and suffering, they incurred as a result of their injury. Specific torts that may be used to establish a mesothelioma lawsuit include: products liability, premises liability, economic property loss, and workers' compensation.

Types of Mesothelioma Lawsuits
Mesothelioma lawsuits may be filed in one of two ways: as a single lawsuit, or as part of a class action lawsuit. Defendants in mesothelioma lawsuits are usually either the company for which an individual was employed, or the manufacturer of a product linked to asbestos exposure and the development of mesothelioma.

Individual Lawsuits: This is a lawsuit between a single plaintiff and a defendant. A lawyer will file a lawsuit on behalf of an individual and his or her unique case in pursuit of compensation. If the judge hands down a decision in the favor of the who filed the suit, he or she will typically be able to retain their full settlement, minus legal expenses.

Class Action lawsuits: These lawsuits may be filed by a single lawyer or team of lawyers on behalf of a large amount of people. If, for example, a group of individuals developed mesothelioma as the result of a very specific incident of exposure or a specific location in which they were exposed to asbestos, they may file a lawsuit together. An example may be a group of miners pursuing a class action suit against the mining company for whom they worked.

Class action lawsuits have multiple plaintiffs, and it is this primary fact that sets them apart from single person lawsuits. If a decision is made in favor of the plaintiffs, the settlement is typically divided among the plaintiffs in a way that has been agreed upon previous to the trying of the lawsuit.

A United States Supreme Court ruling in 1999, in relation to the 1993 case Esteban Ortiz v. Fibreboard Corp. stated that class action lawsuits cannot be filed if the plaintiffs have different interests. A class action lawsuit may only be made if the plaintiffs all have similar interests, or a very specific interest. If plaintiffs have different interests or cases, they must each file a lawsuit individually.

Filing a Lawsuit
Filing a mesothelioma lawsuit can be a complicated and arduous process. Evidence to verify where asbestos exposure occurred can be difficult to collect, especially if an individual's mesothelioma did not surface until decades after he or she was exposed to asbestos. It can also be challenging to identify who to identify as the party responsible for an individual's mesothelioma. Sometimes lawsuits are brought up against the manufacturer of a product that utilized asbestos, while other times the lawsuits are brought up against the employers. Occasionally people who file lawsuits have been exposed to asbestos on a number of different occasions, for different employers. This can make it difficult to pinpoint who is responsible. In addition, there are statutes of limitations for each state regarding the time frame for which a lawsuit can be made following a mesothelioma diagnosis.

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and it is linked to asbestos exposure, speak with an attorney who specializes in mesothelioma and asbestos tort law. He or she will guide you through the legal process and determine what the best approach is.


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