Table of Contents
- What is Mesothelioma?
- How Does Mesothelioma Affect a Person’s Life and Family?
- What Damages are Available in a Mesothelioma Lawsuit?
- What is the Benefit of Receiving a Damages Award?
- Who Can be Exposed to Asbestos?
- How Long Does a Mesothelioma Lawsuit Take?
- How Can a Mesothelioma Lawyer Help?
Due to their strength and heat resistance, asbestos fibers were often used to make a variety of things such as flooring, insulation, shingles, and brakes. However, when broken up, asbestos can create dust, which can settle in the lungs or stomach if inhaled or swallowed. This asbestos exposure can have many serious and often life-threatening consequences, such as mesothelioma cancer, that show up years after exposure.
While banned for most purposes in the 1970’s, many major companies continued using asbestos even after its harmful properties were known. Instead, they suppressed evidence of just how serious the conditions linked to asbestos could be. By putting profits above people, many individuals were exposed and suffered and/or died as a result. For this reason they should be held accountable for their actions and the manner in which they harmed so many.
Mesothelioma can cause many serious consequences, which although cannot be undone, should be considered when receiving monetary damages. Whether you’re inundated with medical bills, trying to stay afloat despite disability and lost wages, or enduring unfair pain and suffering, a mesothelioma lawsuit can hold those responsible accountable and can help with your financial wellbeing.
What is Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a rare, aggressive, and often deadly type of cancer that occurs in the layer of tissue, called the mesothelium, which covers most of your internal organs. While there may be treatments available for mesothelioma, there isn’t a cure. While all factors are yet to be determined, the number one cause of mesothelioma is asbestos exposure.
There are different types of mesothelioma based upon the part of the mesothelium that is impacted. The most commonly affected tissue is that which surrounds the lungs (pleura). This is called pleural mesothelioma. However, there are also more rare types of mesothelioma, affecting the tissue in the abdomen (peritoneal mesothelioma), around the heart (pericardial mesothelioma), and the testicles (mesothelioma of tunica vaginalis).
The symptoms of mesothelioma depend upon the location of the cancer. Pleural mesothelioma, which impacts the tissue surrounding the lungs often causes:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Painful coughing
- Unexplained weight loss
- Lumps on your chest under your skin
Peritoneal mesothelioma, which impacts the tissue in the abdomen, often causes:
- Abdominal swelling
- Abdominal pain
- Unexplained weight loss
Pericardial mesothelioma and mesothelioma of tunica vaginalis are much more rare, with the former often causing difficulty breathing and chest pains and the latter swelling or a mass on a testicle.
How Does Mesothelioma Affect a Person’s Life and Family?
Unfortunately, the impact of mesothelioma is often widespread, greatly affecting a person’s life. Aside from the financial impact of a diagnosis, it can also affect their ability to do everything from play sports and participate in hobbies that they’re passionate about, to conduct physical, manual labor, or even play with their children or grandchildren.
Many individuals who suffer from the rare cancer often don’t even know that they have it. This is because the only way to confirm a diagnosis of mesothelioma is with a biopsy. And while the prognosis is often poor, an early diagnosis can increase a patient’s eligibility for various treatment options such as surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, clinical trials, and emerging cancer treatments. Individuals who receive two or more treatments have an improved prognosis.
As it spreads, mesothelioma can cause multiple complications. For instance, pleural mesothelioma that spreads in the chest puts pressure on the structures within that general location. Mesothelioma symptoms and serious complications include:
- Chest pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Difficulty swallowing
- Pleural effusion (Accumulation of fluid in the chest, which can compress the lung)
- Pain caused by pressure on the nerves, spinal cord, and vital organs
As this aggressive disease progresses, it can truly result in suffering, causing pain with most activities – even those that are necessary like breathing, eating, and talking.
Aside from the financial impact that a diagnosis of mesothelioma can have on the patient and their loved ones, it can also pose a serious risk. Spouses, children, and others who have lived with someone who was regularly exposed to asbestos fibers are at risk of developing it themselves.
Even longer-term, after someone dies of mesothelioma, their family may struggle with paying for their medical bills and dealing with the loss of their income. If they too now suffer from mesothelioma, they may have to worry about mounting medical bills of their own. This is why collecting monetary damages through a personal injury lawsuit can make a significant difference.
What Damages are Available in a Mesothelioma Lawsuit?
In a mesothelioma personal injury lawsuit, there are a variety of monetary damages often available. These include:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
You may also be entitled to punitive damages if the defendant intentionally or egregiously caused your injuries. This is more common in mesothelioma cases, as products containing asbestos were banned due to their health risks.
The amount of money awarded is often determined based upon several factors:
- Victim’s age
- Lost wages (when they can no longer work)
- Cost of medical treatments
- Number of defendants named in the lawsuit
- Number of dependants (e.g. spouses and children)
- Travel expenses for treatment
- Pain and suffering
What is the Benefit of Receiving a Damages Award?
While the prognosis often isn’t good for a mesothelioma diagnosis, there are still many different benefits of receiving monetary damages (award):
Cover Medical Expenses
Since mesothelioma is such an aggressive disease, it requires aggressive treatments by physicians who specialize in it. Treatment for mesothelioma is often in the hundreds of thousands. Since successful mesothelioma suits award families an average of at least $1 million, it can make a big difference in helping to ease this financial burden.
Hold People Accountable
As of now, the only known cause of mesothelioma is asbestos exposure. In order to profit, many companies put millions of people at great risk for many years. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), from 2005-2014, between 2,500 and 2,900 people died of mesothelioma each year. The suffering and deaths caused by these companies cannot be ignored. It’s only right for them to pay for all of the harm that they have caused.
Provide Financial Security to Loved Ones
The financial repercussions of a mesothelioma diagnosis are huge. Whether you or a loved one must take time off of work to receive treatment, or you are unable to work at all, monetary compensation can help to make up for this lost income.
Who Can be Exposed to Asbestos?
While anyone could be exposed to asbestos, a majority of those who suffer from mesothelioma were exposed to asbestos fibers while at work. Common workers impacted include:
- Asbestos miners
- Demolition workers
- Brake mechanics
- Shipyard workers
- Home remodelers
- Military personnel
The majority of Pennsylvania residents who suffer from mesothelioma were exposed to asbestos in steel mills, shipyards, refineries, power plants, and military bases. Military veterans who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma due to Pennsylvania’s shipyards or military bases may file a claim for benefits with the VA.
How Long Does a Mesothelioma Lawsuit Take?
Like any legal case, each mesothelioma lawsuit is different. However, there are still some commonalities. Most mesothelioma lawsuits follow the same process:
1. Case Evaluation
An experienced asbestos attorney will conduct a free review of your case to determine the facts surrounding your exposure to asbestos and who may be responsible.
2. Filing the Lawsuit
Your lawyer will determine the best court system in which to file your claim and will then file it.
3. The Defendant Responds
The defendant will receive notification of the lawsuit after the court has processed it. The defendant will likely have 30 days or less to agree or deny your request for compensation.
4. Discovery is Conducted
If the defendant refuses your request for compensation, the discovery process will be next. Your attorney will collect as much evidence as is needed to prove that the defendant was to blame for your asbestos exposure. Such evidence may include:
- Employment history (related documents) or military service records
- Witness statements
- Documentation of the asbestos-containing products used
- Medical records confirming your diagnosis
5. The Case is Settled or Goes to Trial
After discovery your lawyer and the defendant’s lawyer will work to come to a settlement agreement. Although settlement agreements can be reached at any part of the lawsuit, they are most commonly executed after the discovery phase. If a settlement cannot be reached, the case will go to trial. During the trial both attorneys or legal teams will present their evidence to a judge and jury that then determines a winner.
The average amount that a victim of mesothelioma receives in compensation from a lawsuit trial is $2.4 million, whereas a settlement averages $1 million to $1.4 million. Since mesothelioma trials can take a long time and can be appealed, lawyers try to settle whenever possible – even though the settlement compensation may not be as great as it would be at trial.
The greatest determinant of how long a lawsuit will take is whether the parties reach a settlement or the case goes to trial. Those mesothelioma cases in which a settlement is reached out of court are sometimes awarded to victims within less than one year.
In order for a settlement to be successful, both sides must agree to compensation outside of court. This is different from trials, for which compensation (or a verdict) is determined in court by a judge or jury.
If someone suffering from mesothelioma passes away from the disease, their estate representatives or loved ones may still file a wrongful death lawsuit on their behalf. And if they pass before their lawsuit has concluded, the estate will generally be able to continue the personal injury lawsuit.
How Can a Mesothelioma Lawyer Help?
Like all states, Pennsylvania has a set time limit, a statute of limitations for which someone may bring a lawsuit for mesothelioma. After this period of time has passed the individual is barred from bringing a claim. For personal injury cases such as mesothelioma, the statute of limitations is two years from the discovery of the cancer or at the time of death for a wrongful death suit.
Since time is of the essence, it’s extremely important that you file your mesothelioma lawsuit as soon as possible. Additionally, the sooner you file your lawsuit, the sooner you could receive compensation.
An experienced personal injury attorney who specializes in mesothelioma cases understands exactly what evidence is necessary to prove your case. They can help to demonstrate what causes mesothelioma, determine a fair settlement, and fight to get you the compensation that you deserve.
When you are already overwhelmed with your illness, the right attorney can help to lift the burden off of your shoulders. When your life has already been so greatly impacted by mesothelioma, you deserve to be compensated as much as possible.
Unfortunately, the most common reason that attorneys are unable to help individuals to recover for mesothelioma is because those suffering often wait until after the deadline to file has passed.
That’s why it’s important to contact a qualified Pennsylvania mesothelioma attorney as soon as possible.
At D’Amico Law Offices, our knowledgeable personal injury attorneys have experience working with those who are suffering from mesothelioma and the loved ones of those who have passed from this horrible disease. We’re here to help you fight for the compensation that you deserve. Contact us at (412) 652-9300 to learn more. While nothing can undo the harm that has been caused, we can help you to hold the individuals responsible accountable and receive the financial stability necessary to move forward.