Mesothelioma Lawsuits - Frequently Asked Questions
A diagnosis of mesothelioma as a result of industrial asbestos exposure can be daunting, both emotionally and logistically. A myriad of questions appear that can seem at first difficult to find answers for. This article serves as a guide to those most-often asked questions concerning mesothelioma and filing a lawsuit dealing with mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma can be intimidating and frightening diagnosis to receive, especially if the mesothelioma is connected with occupational asbestos exposure. This can be particularly confusing and frightening because mesothelioma may not even appear in an individual until many years or even decades after the initial asbestos exposure. In order to properly deal with this condition, it is important to address the medical treatment of the mesothelioma first. Once a treatment course has been determined and initiated, the next best step may be to inquire with a qualified mesothelioma lawyer about the possibility of mesothelioma litigation. The prospect of a mesothelioma lawsuit can seem intimidating in and of itself, therefore this article is intended to assuage any fears about mesothelioma litigation by provide answers to questions commonly asked about mesothelioma lawsuits.
What does the term "occupational exposure" mean in the context of a mesothelioma lawsuit?
"Occupational exposure" means that you were exposed to the agent that caused your mesothelioma - usually the toxic mineral asbestos in its insulation and fireproofing forms - in the usual course of business. If you worked with asbestos and then contracted mesothelioma, even if it was years after the exposure, you experienced occupational exposure.
What can a mesothelioma law suit entail for the patient and their family?
Litigation is a long and often confusing process. When you contact a lawyer about a potential mesothelioma claim, you will typically present your medical records and diagnosis for his assessment before he can tell you if you have a chance in court. If the lawyer determines that your case is sound and will probably recover some monetary compensation and damages, he will take on your case, usually with a retainer or fee agreement. The lawyer will then file a complaint and summons suing the appropriate parties for the exposure leading up to mesothelioma.
The court will set a series of dates for discovery and trial and, if the case does not settle, both parties will begin to work towards building a case. Since mesothelioma is a disease, an Independent Medical Examiner (IME) will probably be involved in your case. An IME conducts an unbiased medical investigation into your mesothelioma and examines your medical records. The other side will probably request your medical records, as well, in order to determine if you had a pre-existing condition or other medical problems that may relieve them of responsibility for your occupational mesothelioma. Be prepared to sign waivers releasing this medical information to the requesting parties. Your attorney will advise you which documents to sign and which releases to give. During the discovery process, your attorney may also consult with medical and other experts, who perform a variety of services such as document review and reports, medical examinations and detailed expert testimony on issues related to asbestos exposure, mesothelioma and employment.
If your case goes to trial, expect your lawyer to consult with other experts such as trial preparation specialists, who conduct mock trials and coordinate convincing exhibits, multimedia experts who can help present the evidence at trial in the most convincing manner, and witnesses who can bolster your own testimony in your mesothelioma trial. In an effort to avoid the cost and expense of a lengthy jury trial, many states require a mandatory settlement conference (MSC) or arbitration at which both parties sit down for a last-ditch attempt to resolve your complaints. This may or may not result in a monetary settlement. If a jury finds in your favor, you may be eligible for damages above and beyond just your medical treatment; pain and suffering, loss of employment, and other damages may apply.
Do patients usually win mesothelioma lawsuits?
It may seem like a daunting process, but patients do effectively fight and win against employers who have caused them to be exposed to toxic asbestos and its devastating health effects. Often, employers knew of the health dangers of asbestos but did not warn their workers or enable them to work in safe conditions. The fact that negligence occurred, whether willful or accidental, means that employers have responsibility for damage to the health of their employees that occurred as a result of asbestos exposure during the normal course of work. Patients can and do win mesothelioma law suits, and many multi-million dollar payouts have been recorded for the victims of mesothelioma and their families. If you have mesothelioma, it is vital to contact an experienced and competent mesothelioma lawyer in order to recover your rightful compensation.
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