Losing a loved one is one of the most devastating things any of us can ever experience or imagine. It’s even more devastating when the loss was completely avoidable. In the case of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses, these deaths were entirely avoidable. Unfortunately, asbestos manufacturers chose their own greed and profit over the health and safety of their workers and others who became exposed to asbestos as a direct result of their selfish and negligent decisions.
If you’ve lost a loved one as a result of asbestos exposure, you may be entitled to compensation and should contact an attorney right away. At Morgan & Morgan, we want to make sure you get the justice you deserve. We will do everything in our power to hold these companies accountable and get you assistance to move forward. Contact Morgan & Morgan for a free case evaluation today.
What Is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a group of naturally occurring minerals that are made up of thin, microscopic fibers. There are six different types of asbestos. Asbestos became popular in building and construction materials because it offers heat and chemical resistance, fireproofing, and strength. It was often used because it acted as a good insulator as well. Essentially, asbestos can be added to materials such as cloth, paper, cement, plastic, and other materials to reinforce them and make them stronger and better.
What Is Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that affects the lining of the lungs. Less often, it can also affect the linings of the abdomen, heart, and testes. For most people, mesothelioma is aggressive and deadly, without any type of cure. One of the most tragic aspects of mesothelioma is that it’s entirely preventable. Many people were tragically diagnosed with mesothelioma because asbestos manufacturers knowingly kept exposing people to their products without warning workers of the danger.
Who Can File a Lawsuit?
Filing a wrongful death lawsuit as a result of a loved one passing away due to mesothelioma can be a complex process, and it’s always a good idea to discuss this with an attorney. When someone dies from mesothelioma as a result of asbestos exposure, there are several parties who might be able to file a lawsuit as a result. Once a person passes away, the general rule is that their surviving children and spouse can file a wrongful death claim. The rules often change depending on which state you’re in, so it’s important to contact a wrongful death attorney right away to determine if you have a valid claim. For example, some states allow a decedent’s parents to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Additionally, some states allow non-family members who suffer financially because of the person’s death to file a wrongful death claim.
Statute of Limitations
If you decide to file a lawsuit on behalf of a loved one who passed away as a result of asbestos exposure, you need to make sure you file it on time or you could miss out on recovering the compensation you deserve. This deadline to file a lawsuit is called a statute of limitations. The statute of limitations on these types of cases varies depending on which state you reside in. For wrongful death claims, the statute of limitations will usually be anywhere from one to four years after the asbestos-related disease was determined to be the cause of death. It’s always a good idea to contact a lawyer right away to make sure you file your claim on time.
How to File a Lawsuit
If you have a loved one who passed away from an asbestos-related disease like mesothelioma, you should contact an attorney right away. They can walk you through the steps needed to file a lawsuit. You should set up a free consultation with a lawyer so you can explain your case and they can determine if you have a viable lawsuit. If they believe you have a claim, they will usually take the following steps:
- Case Review & Research. Once your attorney determines that you have a lawsuit, they will begin reviewing your case in detail and start doing research. They will ask you many questions about your loved one’s death and what they experienced while they were alive. They will undoubtedly need to obtain your loved one’s medical results. Additionally, they will want information on their work history and how they became exposed to asbestos.
- File. Once they’ve done some more research and obtained some critical documentation, they will file your lawsuit.
- Responses and Discovery. Once the lawsuit is filed, the defendant(s) will receive a copy of the complaint your attorney filed, and they will have an opportunity to respond. After this, both lawyers will start to gather discovery. They will request documents, interview/depose witnesses, and probably interview you as well. Your lawyer will help you manage all of these procedures, and they will make sure you don’t say or do anything that might be detrimental to the case.
- Negotiate. Many wrongful death suits settle before they get to trial. Your attorney will have an opportunity to speak with the defendant’s lawyer and try to come to a settlement without going to court. If they are able to settle for an amount that is acceptable to you, then this would essentially be the end of the case, and you would not have to go to trial.
- Trial. If a settlement cannot be negotiated, the case will go to court. Trials can be time-consuming and expensive, but an experienced lawyer will know exactly what to do to give you the best chance of recovering the compensation you deserve.
What You Have to Prove in a Wrongful Death Suit
Proving wrongful death suits in regards to asbestos exposure can be somewhat complicated. However, an experienced attorney will be able to guide you through all of it. The main things your lawyer will have to prove if your case goes to trial include:
1. Exposure & Cause Of Death.
In order to be successful in a lawsuit, your attorney must prove to the court that the deceased was actually exposed to asbestos. This should include how they were exposed, when they were exposed, how often they were exposed, and where they were exposed. Additionally, your lawyer needs to present evidence showing that your loved one passed away as a result of that exposure. This will include an autopsy report, medical records, and statements from their doctors.
Your lawyer must also show that the defendant was negligent. To prove negligence, your attorney will need to present evidence that the defendant must have known or ought to have known that their workplace or product had clear health dangers relating to asbestos exposure. Without this, you cannot be successful in a wrongful death claim for asbestos exposure. One way that negligence is shown is by presenting evidence that the defendant had a history of exposing other people to asbestos.
To show negligence, you must prove the following:
- The defendant owed a legal duty to the complainant;
- The defendant’s conduct violated that duty;
- The defendant’s negligence caused an injury to the plaintiff; and
- The injury resulted in actual damage to the plaintiff.
Lastly, your lawyer needs to prove that the survivors of the decedent suffered a clear loss from the death. Since the decedent cannot be compensated for their loss or suffering, it only makes sense to compensate their family members. If the family members can show that they’ve suffered as a result of lost companionship, lost wages, or anything else, they may be compensated.
What Kind of Compensation Can You Receive?
When your loved one passes away from asbestos exposure, you are likely entitled to quite a bit of compensation. Some of the most common types of compensation you are entitled to receive include the following:
- Funeral expenses
- Unpaid medical expenses
- Lost wages of your loved one (past and future)
- Family living expenses
- Punitive damages