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Breaking Down the Steps in a Mesothelioma Case

Filing a mesothelioma lawsuit can seem daunting, but it is a common type of claim with a predictable pattern of events. Knowing what to expect can help your family prepare for the legal process ahead. Although every case is unique, all of them follow the same general steps laid out by the civil justice system. Your mesothelioma lawyer can work closely with you to successfully navigate these steps.

Introductory Meeting With an Attorney

A civil lawsuit of any kind can be complicated and difficult to win, especially if you are the injured or ill individual. You should be able to focus on your medical journey and health rather than dealing with the stress that can come with a civil lawsuit. The best way to seek justice and enjoy greater peace of mind is to hire an attorney to represent you. 

The introductory meeting with an attorney – also known as a free consultation at most personal injury law firms – can give you information and advice about the case ahead. You can get to know your lawyer, discuss your goals for the case, get an honest evaluation of your odds of winning and learn more about the process ahead. By making your first step consulting with an attorney, you can rest, relax and spend time with your family while your claim proceeds.

Investigation and a Search for Evidence

The first action that your lawyer will take is to conduct a comprehensive investigation. The investigation will aim to discover who might be legally responsible for causing your mesothelioma, such as the manufacturer of a contaminated product or the owner of a property that contained asbestos. It will look at your medical records, work history records, service-related records and other documents to pinpoint when you were most likely exposed to asbestos. Your lawyer will search for evidence and individuals who can assist in developing and supporting your lawsuit.

Claims Filing

Once your attorney has collected enough information to build the foundation of your case, the law firm will take care of the next step – submitting your claim. The statute of limitations is different in mesothelioma cases compared to other personal injury lawsuits in New York. Typically, a victim has three years from the date of mesothelioma diagnosis to file rather than three years from the date of asbestos exposure.

Submitting a claim in New York requires identifying the defendant or party liable for asbestos exposure. If your defendant is an individual who is no longer alive or a company that no longer exists, your lawyer may choose to submit your claim to an asbestos trust fund instead. Asbestos trusts have been set up in the U.S. to compensate mesothelioma patients even when the at-fault party is no longer viable.

Negotiations and Settlement

Claims submitted to asbestos trust funds are often resolved quickly if they meet all of the trust’s criteria. A claim against a defendant takes longer, as it involves settlement negotiations with the defendant’s insurance company. A lawyer can help you prove your case and fight for just financial compensation for you and your family during pretrial meetings such as mediation. Unfortunately, insurance companies don’t always play fair. If the insurer refuses to offer a reasonable settlement for your terminal illness, your case may go to trial.

Mesothelioma Trial

A mesothelioma trial begins with the discovery phase, where both sides of the case can gather evidence and information from one another. Then, a trial will take place on an arranged date. The lawyers representing the plaintiff and defendant will both start with opening statements on the first day of the trial, then present evidence and testimony and give closing arguments at the conclusion of the case. 

A jury will deliberate and decide if the plaintiff met his or her burden of proof – evidence that the defendant is more likely to be responsible for the victim’s mesothelioma than not. If the jury rules in the plaintiff’s favor, they will determine a suitable amount to award in financial compensation. A mesothelioma case can be resolved through an insurance settlement at any point before the first day of the trial.

For a more detailed breakdown of what to expect during your mesothelioma case, contact The Williams Law Firm, P.C. at (212) 668-1122 for a free review with one of our attorneys.

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