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What is A Mesothelioma Wrongful Death Claim?

Mesothelioma is an aggressive and deadly form of cancer that has no cure. Generally understood to be caused by long-term asbestos exposure, victims of mesothelioma have several ways to recover compensation from those who caused their asbestos exposure. However, there are times when victims die due to mesothelioma and their families are left wondering what options they have to recover compensation.

At The Williams Law Firm, P.C., our qualified and experienced mesothelioma attorneys in New York have recovered millions of dollars in compensation for family members of those killed due to mesothelioma. If you lost a loved one to mesothelioma, you and your family may be entitled to financial compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit. If someone should have prevented your loved one’s asbestos exposure, that person or entity may be financially responsible for the death in question. The more you know about wrongful death mesothelioma lawsuits, the easier the legal process will be for you and your family.

Understanding a Wrongful Death Claim

A wrongful death claim is a civil claim that surviving family members can take after they have lost a loved one due to mesothelioma. The phrase “wrongful death” is a legal term used to describe a death that would not have occurred if not for the negligence or carelessness of someone else. For mesothelioma cases, we know that these victims would not have died due to this illness if not for their long-term exposure to asbestos. Usually, this exposure happened at someone’s place of business.

Surviving family members are usually able to pursue legal action against the responsible parties. This can include:

  • the manufacturer of the asbestos material
  • manufacturers that incorporated asbestos materials in their finished products
  • a distributor of the asbestos material
  • contractors that worked with asbestos
  • owners of buildings where asbestos was present

Your mesothelioma attorney at The Williams Law Firm, P.C. will investigate all aspects of your case to determine where you were exposed to mesothelioma and who is liable for your loved one’s death. Your attorney will help you gather all of the records necessary to prove liability in the case, including medical records, employment records, home exposure records, and more.

There Are Different Types of Wrongful Death Cases: Product Liability vs. Workers’ Compensation

First, your family will need to verify that you have grounds to file a wrongful death claim. The exact definition of wrongful death will depend on the law in your state. New York law defines wrongful death as a death caused by someone else’s wrongful act, neglect or default, of a type that the decedent could have filed a personal injury lawsuit had he or she been alive.

The identity of the party responsible for exposing the victim to asbestos will determine the type of lawsuit, in most cases. Your family may have a product liability claim, for instance, if your loved one was exposed to asbestos from a product. If your loved one was diagnosed with mesothelioma related to his or her job, on the other hand, you would have a workers’ compensation claim or lawsuit against the employer.

Your type of case can determine what you must prove to win your mesothelioma wrongful death lawsuit. If you have a strict product liability claim, for example, you generally will not have to prove that the manufacturing company did something wrong. Instead, it will be enough to demonstrate that the item in question contained a defect and caused your loved one’s mesothelioma. You may need a mesothelioma lawyer’s assistance to determine what must be proven in your case.

Only Certain People Can File a Wrongful Death Claim

Unlike many states, New York does not allow family members to file wrongful death claims. In New York, only the personal representative of the estate has the right to file. Even if you were close to the person who passed away, you will not have the legal right to file a wrongful death lawsuit for financial compensation unless you are the personal representative. This individual may be named in the decedent’s will or assigned by the courts. The personal representative can pursue compensation on behalf of close surviving relatives, such as a spouse, children or parents, as well as the decedent’s estate.

There Is a Deadline to File: Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death

The personal representative has a limited amount of time in which to file a wrongful death claim for mesothelioma. This deadline varies from state to state. In New York, the deadline – known as the statute of limitations – is two years from the date of death. In general, if the representative does not file within this two-year window, he or she will lose all right to recover financial compensation for surviving family members or the estate.

What Types of Compensation Are Available for a Wrongful Death Claim?

Losing a loved one due to an aggressive form of cancer will leave family members grieving. This is not how anyone wants to lose their loved one. However, surviving family members are usually left with significant expenses in the aftermath of a death. Wrongful death claims are designed to help family members recover compensation for various damages, such as:

  • Any pre-death medical expenses caused by mesothelioma
  • Home care costs incurred before the death of your loved one
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Emotional and psychological distress
  • Lost wages and benefits the family member would have provided
  • Loss companionship and consortium

Wrongful Death Compensation Is Also Available Through Asbestos Funds

If the party at fault for your loved one’s terminal illness is bankrupt, deceased or no longer exists, you may still be able to recover compensation through a national asbestos trust fund. These trust funds were created due to the frequency of defendants being unavailable or bankrupt by the time a victim was diagnosed with mesothelioma, as this can take decades after the date of asbestos exposure.

What Steps Need to Be Taken?

At The Williams Law Firm, P.C., a lawyer with extensive experience will discuss your options with you. There are various routes you and your attorney can explore to recover the compensation you are entitled to. This could include:

  • Filing a wrongful death lawsuit against those responsible
  • Working through an established bankruptcy (mesothelioma) trust
  • Seeking veterans benefits

You may not want to think about filing a wrongful death claim in the immediate aftermath of a loved one’s death. However, please understand that each state puts a time frame on filing these cases. Consult with an attorney as soon as possible to ensure you do not file a claim too late. When you need a mesothelioma wrongful death attorney, The Williams Law Firm, P.C. is ready to step in and help. You can contact us for a free consultation of your case by calling (855) 575-6376.