What are My Legal Rights?
If you were diagnosed with mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos, you may have significant legal rights. At Stern Law, PLLC, we understand how difficult a mesothelioma diagnosis can be, and as such, we want to provide you with the full scope of your legal rights so that you receive the compensation you need. You didn’t deserve to get mesothelioma, but you do deserve to receive monetary damages to cover the costs of your medical treatment, living expenses, and to safeguard your family’s financial future. Contact Stern Law, PLLC now at (844) 808-7529 to schedule your free consultation with one of our seasoned and compassionate mesothelioma attorneys. There are a variety of legal options, and we will help you to make informed decisions as to which path is the best for you in light of your individual set of circumstances. Don’t wait – call us right now to review your case and learn more about your legal rights and options.
Mesothelioma Victims Have Legal Rights
When you are diagnosed with mesothelioma, you need to work with your doctor to develop a treatment plan and start care immediately to increase your chances of survival. Once you have taken these critical steps, you should then speak with an experienced asbestos exposure attorney. At Stern Law, PLLC, one of our skilled asbestos exposure attorneys will review your case, determine your sources of exposure, and if you have a viable case, provide you with a list of legal rights and options, which may include, for example, the following:
Filing a Lawsuit
If filing a lawsuit is the right option for you (or if qualifying surviving family members feel that a wrongful death suit is warranted), your attorney will assist you throughout each part of the litigation process. While every case is different and there is no guarantee as to their outcome, there are a number of steps involved in pursuing litigation, which means that the process may take a longer time than simply settling or filing a trust fund claim. Moreover, litigation involves a certain amount of risk, as the outcome of the case depends upon a judge and jury, which could be swayed at any time. For the most part, mesothelioma litigation involves the following:
- Preparation – your attorney will compile important information related to your sources of asbestos exposure and illness, and determine who is responsible for having caused your condition. This may mean that you file a number of different claims against a number of responsible parties.
- Filing – once your case is prepared, your attorney will file a written complaint with the court of your jurisdiction. Keep in mind that each state has certain requirements about the timing of filing a lawsuit (known as the statute of limitations), and this is something your attorney will explain to you when you meet in your initial consultation. Moreover, it may take some time to determine all of the responsible parties involved in your case before a complaint can be filed.
- Responses – each defendant in your case will receive a copy of your complaint and have a chance to file a response. Be prepared for each defendant to deny responsibility for causing your condition and to vigorously defend themselves. Don’t worry, as this is normal and a common practice. Your attorney will handle this fully by responding to each defendant in a calculated and strategic manner.
- Discovery – during this time, attorneys on both sides of the case will gather additional information about your claim. This may include drafting and responding to depositions, interrogatories (written questions) and requesting/producing certain documents. Your attorney will be by your side guiding and advising you during this process.
- Settlement – as described more fully below, a settlement may be offered by the defendant(s) to resolve the case without having to go to trial. If you decline the settlement about offered as being too low or inappropriate, it is quite possible that the defendant(s) will offer you a settlement amount again during the trial phase of your case. Your attorney will be well positioned to negotiate a proper settlement amount on your behalf.
- Trial – this process depends upon where you choose to file your case. Oftentimes, it is not necessary for you to have to appear in court. If you prevail and the defendant(s) does/do not appeal, you will likely start receiving payments within a few months following the trial.
- Appeal – If you win your trial but the defendant(s) appeal(s), there is a limited window of time with which to file same, usually between 30 and 180 days. This will delay your right to receive payments. If the appeal is granted and the defendant(s) prevail(s), you will likely receive little to no money.
Settling Your Case
As noted above, you have to file a claim against a responsible party or multiple responsible parties before you can reach a settlement. Some defendants wishing to avoid litigation altogether choose to offer a settlement at the beginning of one’s case, which means that you will not have to go to court. If the amount is sufficient in light of your individual set of circumstances, accepting the offer may save time and money, especially for those who have a life expectancy of two years or less as a result of their asbestos-related illness. An experienced attorney will review with you the strengths of your case and help you to determine whether settling your case, filing a trust fund claim, or seeking a verdict is more appropriate.
Filing a Claim for Trust Funds
Over seventy former asbestos companies have filed for bankruptcy in order to avoid further lawsuits. However, the U.S. governing required these corporations to create trust funds with a sufficient amount of money to pay out current and future legal claims to those injured by asbestos. Filing a trust fund claim may be the quickest way to receive money, which is especially helpful to those who are at an advanced stage of illness however, it may be less money than if you file a lawsuit or seek a legal settlement. Your attorney can review with you whether filing a trust fund claim is right for you.
Filing for Veterans Administration (VA) Benefits
While veterans cannot sue the military/U.S. government for having been exposed to asbestos and becoming ill as a result, they can pursue a claim against asbestos and product manufacturers by choosing any one of the above options. Additionally, military veterans can apply for benefits with the VA such as health care and disability. Surviving spouses and children of deceased veterans who died as a result of an asbestos-exposure related illness can also apply for a Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) benefit, which is paid out on a monthly basis.
Stern Law, PLLC – Our Lawyers are Compassionate, Dedicated & Skilled Advocates
At Stern Law, PLLC, we know how a mesothelioma diagnosis can uproot your life, and as such, we want to help you secure you and your family’s current and financial future. When you meet with one of our seasoned asbestos exposure lawyers, we take the time you deserve to review your case, determine the sources of your exposure, and develop a plan of legal action to fight for the compensation you need. Contact Stern Law, PLLC today at (844) 808-7529 to schedule your free consultation. We are available now to review your case.