New York City Personal Injury Law Blog
How to File and What to Expect in Mesothelioma and Asbestos Lawsuits
Posted on Jan 16, 2018 in Workers' Compensation
According to statistics, there are 2,000 to 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma each year in the United States. Due to the fact that men are exposed to asbestos more often, their likelihood of being diagnosed with the cancer is 4.6 times higher. 2 to 10% of people with heavy and prolonged asbestos exposure will develop the most common form of the cancer known as pleural mesothelioma.
People older than 60 years of age are 10 times more likely to develop mesothelioma than people younger than 40 years of age. In 2013, 2,497 people died of mesothelioma.
Filing a Mesothelioma Lawsuit
Have you been exposed to asbestos and diagnosed with mesothelioma? Do you want to know if you can file a lawsuit to recover money damages? In most cases, yes, you can.
People who discover that they suffer from mesothelioma as a result of working with asbestos, they – or if they are deceased, their spouse – have a great chance of obtaining substantial damages, either from the company that installed or manufactured the asbestos based products or from a victims’ trust fund or even an insurance company that assumes liability for the manufacturer.
Thanks to the formation of asbestos victims’ trust fund, you can file a mesothelioma lawsuit even if the manufacturer has shut shop, sold out or even gone bankrupt.
Types of Mesothelioma Lawsuits
Primarily, there are two types of mesothelioma claims that you can file – personal injury and wrongful death. The type of lawsuit that gets filed depends on whether the victim suffering from mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure is still alive and who is filing the lawsuit.
A personal injury lawyer with experience in handling mesothelioma cases can help you understand which type of mesothelioma or asbestos lawsuit you should file based on your individual situation.
Personal Injury Lawsuit
- Filed by a victim after being diagnosed with mesothelioma
- Filed against the company/companies responsible for the exposure to asbestos resulting in the disease
- Claims specific damages due to illness resulting from exposure to asbestos
- Allows the victim to recover money for medical expenses, loss of income, travel, pain and suffering, and related costs
Wrongful Death Lawsuits
- Filed by surviving members of a family after a person dies due to mesothelioma
- Filed against the company/companies responsible for the exposure to asbestos resulting in the disease
- Claims specific damages that are related to the individual’s death
- Allows the family to recover money related to funeral expenses, outstanding medical bills, loss of income potential, loss of consortium, and related costs
Court Rules in Favor of Asbestos Victim in a Negligence Lawsuit
Gerald L. Hickman was given a legal victory by the District Court in Delaware for having been exposed to asbestos throughout his childhood as well as adult life. The plaintiff, is said to have filed an asbestos lawsuit against Ford Motor Company as well as a number of other companies.
The lawsuit accused the companies of being instrumental and responsible for his asbestosis and asbestos-related pleural disease. Filing a motion for summary judgment, the company argued that there was no substantial proof that Hickman’s illness was indeed caused by their products. However, after the judges reviewed the case, they disagreed and denied the argument of the automotive company.
A remarkable story is told by the facts of the case, with Hickman being exposed to asbestos almost continuously over the years. His father owned and operated a service station that offered a number of services including brake repairs on Ford and other vehicles using parts contaminated with asbestos. His father would get asbestos dust on his work clothes and carry it home.
As Hickman grew older, he started working for other gas stations and auto repair shops, working on repairs himself. During his stint in the Navy, he even had a part-time job working at a service station where repairs were done. Finally, he did repair work later in his life on his first wife’s 1970 Ford Mustang. Hickman was exposed to Ford auto parts containing asbestos in each of these environments.
Although Ford’s summary judgment argument clearly suggested that there was no proof that their products caused Hickman’s illness i.e., asbestosis and asbestos-related pleural disease, the judges in the asbestos lawsuit disagreed and said that the plaintiff had provided enough evidence that the automaker supplied original brakes that contained asbestos and that he was exposed to this asbestos when he performed personal repair work on the 1970 Ford Mustang.
It was also indicated by the court that there was more than sufficient evidence that Ford knew that there was asbestos in their brakes. The evidence of Hickman’s other exposures to asbestos was not strong enough as he was unable to provide records on the specific vehicles he had serviced at the stations where he worked. As a result, Hickman was able to proceed with his negligence and failure to warn asbestos lawsuits.
The Statute of Limitations on Mesothelioma or Asbestos Lawsuits
After exposure to asbestos, mesothelioma typically takes 10 to 40 years to develop. Depending on the state, state laws, known as statute of limitations, give people 1 to 5 years from the discovery or diagnosis of mesothelioma to file a lawsuit. However, you should keep in mind that it is important to take prompt action, because the statute of limitations in a few states, including California, Louisiana and Tennessee, is only 1 year from diagnosis.
If a victim of mesothelioma has already died, in most cases, their spouse or other heirs have 1 to 3 years from the date of death to file a wrongful death lawsuit. This action can also result in the recovery of substantial damages.
Victims of mesothelioma cannot join or file in class action lawsuits as the medical history and prognosis of each person is different. As a result, mesothelioma cases must be filed individually.
How Long Do Asbestos and Mesothelioma Cases Take?
Most cases involving asbestos are settled before they ever go to trial, which means that both parties agree to out of court to the amount of damages that the victim of mesothelioma will receive.
If you have been able to gather all of the facts and details about your employment history and medical condition, your legal counselor is doing their job and know this legal arena, and there is a payment source that can be identified easily – such as an asbestos victims’ trust fund or an insurance company – you may receive your compensation in less twelve months from the day that you initially file your lawsuit.
However, in other situations, where the amount of damages you will receive depends on going to court, your case can take 2 years or more. Fortunately, in many states, the court rules recognize that the life expectancy of mesothelioma victims and as a result, their lawsuits are fast tracked.
How Much Can a Mesothelioma Victim Recover in Damages?
It is difficult to estimate the exact dollar amount you are likely to receive as compensation for developing mesothelioma. In some cases, jury awards or settlements are in the millions while in other similar cases, victims may need to settle for comparatively less. The reason for this is that many companies that manufactured or installed asbestos have either gone bankrupt or closed down.
This in turn resulted in requiring large funds to be set aside by the courts to compensate victims in the future. Some of these funds are still large enough to pay out all mesothelioma or asbestos claims at full value. However, other funds have been depleted to the point that there is far less available, resulting in the rationing of settlement funds.
In addition to the size of the compensation fund available for paying asbestos victims, the particular mesothelioma illness and its effect on each victim is important to arriving at a jury verdict or cash settlement. The cost of medical expenses, the dollar amount of lost wages as a result of the illness and in many cases, most importantly, the degree of the pain and suffering of the victim are all key factors in putting a dollar value on a particular mesothelioma or asbestos case.
Time is the third factor in estimating the amount of money damages you will recover. When a settlement is reached relatively quickly, the recovered amount tends to be significantly lesser than if your attorney waits to present your case to a jury in court.
However, it may take several years to prepare and conduct a jury trial, whereas arrangements for settlements can be made in a year or less. For this reason, many plaintiffs who are seriously ill prefer a relatively quick settlement. This is especially true when plaintiffs learn that some attorneys charge quite a lot more when a case goes to trial.
All this being said, awards or settlements in a large number of mesothelioma cases are in the range of $1 to $5 million, or more. However, when medical expenses, attorney fees, and court costs are subtracted, plaintiffs in the cases often end up with approximately two-thirds of these amounts.
Plaintiff Gets Asbestos Mesothelioma Verdict Worth $22.17 Million
An asbestos lawsuit that was brought by the family of a man who died from the asbestos cancer, mesothelioma concluded on December 11th, 2017 with a decision that was worth a combined $22.17 million in favor of the plaintiff. The award that the plaintiff received included $4.6 million in punitive damages against the co-defendants in the case, Vanderbilt Minerals, LLC. and Imerys Talc America Inc.
The lucrative award was received by the estate of a man who was exposed to talc containing asbestos that was used in the manufacturing of paint, expanding the liability of those who supplied the toxic ingredient.
Richard Booker, the plaintiff, who worked with paints all through his life, died as a result of mesothelioma in the year 2016. According to the lawsuit, he was in close proximity and exposed to the dangerous asbestos while he was employed at a fantastic paint making company – Dexter Midland Chemical Co. and Walter N. Boysen Paint Co., before he succumbed to his illness.
The award, apart from the punitive damages, included the initial judgment of $17.57 million in lieu of both the company’s role in his death. The jury ruled that both companies were equally responsible for marketing, selling, and distributing the talc product.
Composed of hydrated magnesium silicate, talc is a clay mineral that is used in paints as it is able to resist heat as well as deter absorption of grease and oil. It is also commonly used as an ingredient in insecticides, rubber, roofing materials, talcum powder, and ceramics as well as in the pulp and paper industry.
The whopping $22 million verdict comes in the wake of a number of lawsuits that were filed against the talcum powder, Cashmere Bouquet manufactured by Colgate Palmolive. In 2017, the company resolved 43 cases that involved talc contaminated by asbestos. There are hundreds more that need to be settled.
5 Facts about Asbestos Lawsuits
Here are 5 poignant facts that you should know about mesothelioma and asbestos lawsuits:
- Personal injury lawsuits that involve asbestos are the longest-running mass tort litigation in the history of the United States.
- A large percentage of mesothelioma lawsuits are settled out of court without ever making it to court.
- Non-traditional companies and products containing asbestos, like cosmetic talc, are at the center of lawsuits at an increasing rate.
- The number of mesothelioma lawsuits, and other claims related to asbestos has continued to increase at a rapid rate in recent years. Though some of these lawsuits are fraudulent. Some people are trying to game the system.
- More than $30 billion in assets are contained in mesothelioma trust funds to cover settlement and verdict payouts from disputes involving mesothelioma.
The Finest Law Firm in the Nation’s Largest City is RMFW Law
If you or a loved one has developed mesothelioma as a result of exposure to asbestos, you should immediately seek the help of a reliable and tremendous personal injury attorney experienced in handling mesothelioma and asbestos lawsuits. This type of case can be complex and take many years to resolve.
Due to this, you need to make sure that you have a lawyer who knows the steps to take so you can quickly recover damages from the negligent party. Protect your rights and ensure that you receive fair compensation that you are legally entitled to. Contact Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff, & Wolff, of RMFW Law at 212 697 9280 to find a winning and formidable attorney to handle your case.
RMFW Law knows how to win these types of cases. We have a long list of winning clients and the total monetary amount is into the millions and millions of dollars for all these cases. You too can be on this outstanding list if you give us all call.
We only win if you win. We charge you nothing up front. You have nothing to lose if you call RMFW Law. Call us today!