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Mesothelioma Legal Process

Legally Reviewed by Joseph P. Williams on May 14, 2020

Discovering you or someone you love has mesothelioma can cause stress and fear. It is normal to feel overwhelmed by a mesothelioma diagnosis. Taking legal action might be the last thing on your mind. Yet, taking swift and aggressive legal action can be the best way to find closure, justice and the compensation your family needs to move forward. Learn about the mesothelioma legal process in New York with help from a New York mesothelioma lawyer to feel more at ease with what may be to come.

Hiring an Attorney to Investigate Mesothelioma

Act quickly to contact a lawyer after receiving a mesothelioma diagnosis. You have a time limit to file under New York’s statute of limitations. In general, you will have three years from the date of your diagnosis or two years from a loved one’s death to file. A lawyer can help you meet your deadline. Hiring a lawyer will also give you an outlet for your stress. Your lawyer can help you feel more comfortable and confident with the legal process during this difficult time, removing stressors so you have the peace of mind to focus on healing.

Once you hire a mesothelioma lawyer, the law firm will thoroughly investigate the source of your disease. It will be necessary to pinpoint the source and identify the defendant to obtain compensation, in most cases. An investigation will seek to identify the original place of asbestos exposure, such as your workplace or active military duty. This will allow your lawyer to name the correct defendant(s) and seek compensation through the civil justice system on your behalf.

Filing a Mesothelioma Lawsuit

Your lawyer will help you file a lawsuit after identifying the defendant. Filing the correct claims paperwork with the courts in your county will initiate a civil action. An attorney can prepare the paperwork and submit it along with any supporting documents and evidence for you. Someone will then serve the claim on the defendant, activating a response window. The defendant will have a limited time to file a response. The response may be acceptance and a settlement offer or an attempt to dismiss the claim.

Settlement or Trial Preparation

If the defendant accepts liability for causing mesothelioma, the defendant and your lawyer can enter into settlement negotiations. This is a pre-trial process that can resolve your case with a settlement agreement – an amount of money the defendant offers in exchange for your promise not to pursue any further legal action. If the defendant denies liability or refuses to offer a reasonable mesothelioma settlement, your lawyer can prepare your case for trial. Most cases settle at this stage, however. Only about 5% of mesothelioma cases go to trial.

If your case does go to trial, preparation involves depositions and a discovery phase. Depositions are interviews with the parties involved in the lawsuit. Interrogations ask questions of both parties to learn more. Both sides of the case will then have the opportunity to review depositions and evidence by the opposing party (discovery phase). Lastly, the mesothelioma case will proceed to trial.

Mesothelioma Trial

The courts in New York will assign a trial date for your mesothelioma suit. You, your lawyer, the defendant and the defendant’s lawyer will convene before a judge and jury to resolve your case. Both sides will present their arguments and supporting evidence. Then, the jury will decide which party met its burden of proof.

The burden of proof on a plaintiff during a mesothelioma claim is to demonstrate through a preponderance of evidence that the defendant owed a duty of care, violated this duty and caused the plaintiff’s mesothelioma. If the jury believes the plaintiff’s lawyer proved this more likely to be true than not true, it will grant a verdict award. The jury will order the defendant to pay the plaintiff. Otherwise, the jury will find the defendant not liable. Contact an attorney for more information and advice about the mesothelioma legal process.

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