If you worked around asbestos or were in contact with it at any point, there is a possibility that you have been diagnosed with Mesothelioma. If so, you could be entitled to compensation for your pain and suffering as a result of your illness.
What is Mesothelioma?
The mesothelium is a protective lining that overlays many of the internal organs of the body. Mesothelioma is a rare cancer that generates from the mesothelium cells, and is usually caused by exposure to asbestos. The outer lining of the lungs is usually where mesothelioma develops. The most common symptoms of mesothelioma, include:
- Fluid around the lungs
- Wheezing or coughing
- Coughing up blood
- Pain and discomfort of the chest wall
- Shortness of breath
In more severe cases of mesothelioma, tumors can develop in the abdominal cavity. If this occurs, symptoms could include:
- A mass in the abdomen
- Abdominal pain
- Weight loss
- Issues with bowel function
- Abnormal production and storage of abdominal fluid
When mesothelioma develops even more severely, these symptoms below may be present:
- Jaundice – the yellowing of the skin and eyes
- Disseminated intravascular coagulation – severe bleeding within internal organs
- Blood clots in the veins
- Blood clots in the arteries of the lungs
- Severe buildup of fluid in the abdomen
- Low blood sugar
Though asbestos is the major cause of mesothelioma, there are other ways in which a person can develop the cancer. Exposure to other fibrous minerals, such as erionite, has been shown in laboratory studies to form mesothelioma. Erionite is a naturally occurring fibrous material, developing into wool-like masses, having similar properties to asbestos. However, erionite is not currently regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
How Long Do I Have to File a Mesothelioma Lawsuit?
In most states, an individual has one to five years from diagnosis to file a personal injury claim. After the asbestos exposure, it typically takes 10-40 years for a person to develop mesothelioma. Be sure to know what your state’s statute of limitation laws are, as some states like Louisiana, California, and Tennessee have a one year limitation law for filing a personal injury claim.
Typically if you have all of your employment history, medical records, and an efficient lawyer, your mesothelioma case will move quickly. In most cases, mesothelioma lawsuits are settled outside of court in less than a year.
Depending on your individual case, compensation will come from one of these sources:
1. The company that manufactured the asbestos
2. An insurance company
3. An asbestos victims’ trust fund.
Also be aware that mesothelioma case must be filed individually, as each victim’s medical history and prognosis are different. Because of this, victims cannot join or file a class action lawsuit involving mesothelioma.
How Much Will My Compensation Be?
Because many companies that were involved in asbestos exposure have since closed down or have gone bankrupt, it is difficult to say how much money is available for mesothelioma victims. The basis of each settlement looks at each individual’s mesothelioma illness and prognosis, and how the illness affected their life. In general, however, these are the main considerations involving compensation amounts in mesothelioma cases:
1. Lost wages due to having mesothelioma
2. Medical costs
3. The extent of the victim’s personal pain and suffering (this is usually the most important element)
The final factor in determining how much money a mesothelioma victim will receive is the amount of time it takes to settle. If a case is settled out of court quickly, the amount will be relatively lower than if the case were to go to a jury verdict. However, the attorney fees associated with taking a case to jury can be substantial and may decrease your settlement significantly. However, in general most mesothelioma cases result in settlements ranging from $1 million to $5 million. But after attorney fees and other legal costs, the victims may receive about two-thirds of the original settlement amount.
The key to a successful mesothelioma lawsuit is to make sure all employment and medical records are in order, and hiring an efficient personal injury attorney. Be sure to document all lost wages and other losses that were the direct result of your mesothelioma illness. In most cases, mesothelioma victims will be approved for Social Security Disability.
Get Legal Help
If you have mesothelioma because of asbestos exposure, contact a knowledgeable personal injury attorney to review and organize your case. Having legal counsel will ensure that your legal rights are respected and that your case will be handled diligently.