Legal Aspects of Mesothelioma Diagnosis

Legal Aspects of Mesothelioma Diagnosis

Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that is deadly in every form. It is a disease caused by exposure to asbestos. Asbestos was used in the past for insulating and protecting a wide variety of materials that add strength and durability. This includes cement products, ceiling and floor tile, pipe covering, fireproofing materials, etc. People working in the production factories of these items were exposed to this cancerous material without knowing the risks.

It takes almost decades before a person starts showing the symptoms, and once it’s diagnosed, the prognosis is extremely poor. There isn’t any cure to the disease, but the survival rate can increase with the right treatment administered timely. Unfortunately, in most cases, the disease is caught quite late and most treatment plans do not succeed.

Scientists and researchers have been active since the 1980s and raising awareness of the havoc asbestos can cause. Their tireless efforts have borne fruit and mesothelioma victims can now demand justice legally. Let’s discuss the legal aspects of mesothelioma diagnosis and see how the state protects the victims.

Legal claims

The “right to sue” exists because the state has a vital interest in protecting the life and health of its citizens. The law has granted mesothelioma victims the right to sue companies and manufacturers that weren’t able to protect their workers against the harm of asbestos exposure. If you or your loved one got diagnosed with mesothelioma, you should look into the following types of legal claims

1.    Asbestos Trust Funds

Companies that have declared bankruptcy are required by the state to set up asbestos trust funds to pay compensation to victims of asbestos exposure. The trust fund is funded through insurance companies or through contributions from other companies that use asbestos products in their products or building materials. These funds are administered by state agencies and are available even if you were not employed at the source company but were exposed to an environment where someone else’s products contained asbestos fibers.

Trust fund claims are processed quickly as compared to lawsuits because these cases don’t see the courtroom. People receive their compensation within a few months.

2.    Mesothelioma Lawsuits

A mesothelioma lawsuit is a civil case. Plaintiffs can demand compensation for the losses caused by their exposure to asbestos without their knowledge. This compensation can include money for medical bills, lost wages, pain, and suffering. The victim can either directly sue their employer or sue the manufacturer of the product they used that has caused their asbestos exposure.

There are two kinds of mesothelioma lawsuits:

  • Personal injury claims – are filed by the victims themselves.
  • Wrongful death claims – are filed by the victim’s loved ones.

These lawsuits can be very tricky and hiring an experienced mesothelioma attorney can guide you through each step and process. The key issue here is proving how much exposure you had to asbestos while working for the company in question. You may need to show that you regularly worked with raw asbestos fibers or that there was dust from asbestos products in the air where you worked.

In some cases, it may be possible for your lawyer to use expert witnesses and documents from companies’ records to prove that workers were exposed to dangerous levels of asbestos dust.

3.    Settlements

Companies, in most cases, offer to pay compensation to the victims without proceeding with the lawsuit. This may be done because the demanded amount is small, the injured party is unlikely to go to trial, or the company may want to avoid a lawsuit to protect its reputation. Lawyers on both sides meet up and negotiate the terms and the value of the compensation. They also decide how the payment will be transferred to the victim, i.e., structured payments or a lump-sum payment.

The Legal Process

After you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you need to know what your next steps should be. Unfortunately, there isn’t a simple answer to this question because every state has different laws regarding workers’ compensation claims.

So let’s look at a few things you may need to do.

1.    Hire an experienced attorney

The best way to determine how your case will proceed is by speaking with an experienced attorney who can explain the legal process in your state. It is advised to hire someone who has a good track record of working with mesothelioma patients and succeeding. Your lawyer will go through all your medical records to establish that your case is strong enough to proceed. This will also help them to determine the value of your compensation and hold the negligent company liable.

2.    Discovery Phase

You will then enter the discovery phase. During the discovery period, you and the other party will gather evidence that will help determine your asbestos exposure. This can involve reviewing records, talking to experts, and visiting sites where asbestos was used or allegedly used. This is the most important step in the settlement process, as it allows both sides to decide on a course of action.

3.    Weigh your options

As mentioned above, there are different types of legal claims. After gathering all the evidence, your attorney will guide you better about which legal option you should choose and proceed with. In this phase, the negligent company may offer you a settlement. You would then have the choice to accept or reject this. If you accept it, the payment will be made. If you decide to go ahead with the lawsuit, your lawyer will try to set a date for the courtroom trial.

The future

The future requires lawmakers, on a global scale, to effectively work and draft policies that completely ban asbestos. In addition, several organizations need to be set up to raise awareness about what asbestos does and how it should be handled to prevent any further harm from occurring. It’s important to recognize that even though asbestos has been banned in many countries around the world, it’s still legal in some countries like India, which makes up 20% of all asbestos used globally today.

Conclusion

Even in the current world of advanced medical science and technology, mesothelioma diagnosing is not a straightforward procedure, as many factors need to be considered. That is why victims of mesothelioma or their families should seek legal assistance from a competent attorney who is well versed with the laws governing this issue and who will use all his knowledge to fight for their rights in court. If the patient can prove that they were exposed, they can get financial compensation. This money can help the patient pay for medical expenses and other bills like a mortgage. It can also help them take care of family members who are dependent on them, even after the patient is gone.

John Norwood
John Norwood is best known as a technology journalist, currently at Ziddu where he focuses on tech startups, companies, and products.