Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, a naturally-occurring toxic mineral that has been used for decades in a number of industries such as shipping, mining, construction, and automobile manufacturing. Asbestos, a known cancer-causing agent, enters the body through inhalation of its fine particles, but can also be transferred to family members through contact before showering or changing clothes. Asbestos exposure is a primary cause of mesothelioma, asbestosis and pleural disorders.
Reports state that, as early as the 1920s, medical evidence linked asbestos exposure to mesothelioma. However, many manufacturers and employers disregarded this information and continued to manufacture and use asbestos. Companies were able to hide the deadly side effects of asbestos because mesothelioma patients typically experience a latency period of 25 to 50 years after their initial exposure to asbestos. It was not until the government placed restrictions and bans on the use of asbestos that workers became protected. Legal recourse may be available for someone who developed a serious illness from asbestos exposure.
Types of Mesothelioma Lawsuits
There are two types of mesothelioma lawsuits: personal injury and wrongful death cases. Generally, the victim’s former employer or the company that manufactured and sold the asbestos product will be named as the defendant, regardless of the type of claim.
A personal injury case is brought by the mesothelioma victim. These cases can allege:
• Primary Asbestos Exposure: Mesothelioma resulting from direct contact with asbestos
• Secondary Asbestos Exposure: Mesothelioma resulting from contact with an individual who came into contact with asbestos
A wrongful death case is filed by a family member of the deceased victim. There is a limited window of time in which a suit may be filed after a loved one’s death, so it is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible.
What to Expect When Filing a Mesothelioma Lawsuit
In a mesothelioma lawsuit, the plaintiff must prove that they suffered an injury, that the injury resulted from the defendant’s negligence, and that losses were incurred as a result of the injury.
Because asbestos is the only known cause of mesothelioma, the plaintiff and their attorney must establish proof of exposure, which may have occurred many years before the diagnosis.
Evidence that may assist plaintiff in substantiating the claim includes:
• Records of all medical and financial expenses relating to the illness;
• Reports of other employees in similar positions around the same time who contracted an asbestos-related illness;
• An estimate on the length of time the plaintiff was exposed to the asbestos;
• Proof of the employer’s knowledge of the danger of the product and employing its use, regardless; and/or
• Proof that the employer should have known the dangerous nature of the product.
Usually, the defendant will deny any guilt or wrongdoing when presented with the plaintiff’s allegations. The defendant will try to prove that the victim contracted the disease elsewhere. In these cases, the defendant may respond with claims that:
• Smoking and drug use caused the alleged health problems;
• Family history shows a history a health problems;
• The plaintiff worked with asbestos in other, worse conditions;
• There has not been a formal diagnosis of mesothelioma by a physician;
• Exposure to the asbestos also occurred at home, not just at work;
• The medical condition is not related to asbestos exposure; or
• The family does not have the authority to bring a claim on the deceased’s behalf.
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, please contact the CQH Firm for a free legal consultation.