No attorney can predict the result of a mesothelioma lawsuit. Factors that influence the case include the strength of the evidence, the defendant’s willingness to settle, the jury’s understanding of the facts, and the lawyer’s delivery and expertise.
Here’s what you can expect when you file a mesothelioma lawsuit.
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Preparation and Documentation
The first step, even before the initial consultation, is to gather evidence. If you can pinpoint your exposure to asbestos, the lawyer you consult is much more likely to take the case. It will be helpful to list past employers, places you’ve lived, and even where your parents, siblings, or spouse worked. Armed with this information, set up a consultation with the attorney of your choice.
During the initial free consultation, the attorney will ask questions and determine whether you have a viable case. Some cases may be beyond the statute of limitations or may be too difficult to pin down a cause or prove a case. Most mesothelioma lawsuits are related to long-term employment, so who to sue is clear. If the lawyer agrees to take your case, you will be asked to sign a binding contract. There may be other documents to sign as well.
Once the contract is in place and information has been gathered, the lawyer files a document that informs the defendant of your intent to sue for a specific amount of compensation. The defendant may respond by denying responsibility or file a motion to dismiss the claim. In cases that involve a terminally ill patient, the defendant will often use every legal tactic in the book to stall. It is more difficult to collect if the plaintiff dies before the case is resolved. This is why it is necessary to try and file the lawsuit immediately after a mesothelioma diagnosis.
If the defendant’s motions to dismiss the case are denied, the next step is discovery. Your lawyer is responsible for providing the defense team with the evidence in the case. The defendant will submit a list of questions that you are required to answer truthfully under oath. You will also be required to turn over comprehensive medical records.
It is the job of the defense attorneys working for the other side to discredit your claim. They will look for some other cause of your disease or attempt to invoke the statute of limitations. Any of these tactics could be successful, but a good asbestos plaintiff’s attorney will be ready for these defense tactics.
Some companies prefer to keep a low profile and will offer to settle. It is up to you and your attorney to decide whether or not to accept the offer. Before you decide, consider the attorney’s fee percentage, the cost of your care, taxes, and your family’s financial situation when you’re gone.
Going to trial can be stressful. Your attorney will anticipate what the defense lawyers will ask and help you prepare to provide truthful answers for when you take the stand. Juries can be unpredictable, but an overwhelming percentage of mesothelioma lawsuits are prosecuted successfully. Juries are more willing to favorably award cases where the plaintiff is alive and in need of expensive medical care.
Even if you win, the case probably will be appealed. The defendant will try to mitigate the amount or have the decision reversed. This can be a long process, but your legal team will handle the details. The important thing to know is that you may not receive a jury award immediately and you or your family may have to continue to fight for it. This can be very bad press for a company, however, and many companies will settle to avoid the bad publicity and a long battle.
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