PHILADELPHIA MESOTHELIOMA ATTORNEYS
Mesothelioma is a serious and life threatening form of cancer that is generally caused by exposure to asbestos. The progressive and fatal nature of this type of cancer takes a heavy toll on victims, as well as on those who love them.
To file a successful mesothelioma lawsuit, you need to pinpoint where and when you may have been exposed to asbestos, the amount of asbestos involved, and the length of time you were exposed to it.
According to the National Cancer Institute, many of us come in contact with asbestos at some point in our lives. Widely used in construction materials since the 1940s, it is not uncommon to find it in many of Philadelphia’s older homes. Those who face a high risk of exposure to asbestos include:
- Construction and demolition workers;
- Airplane and motor vehicle mechanics;
- Shipyard workers;
- Electricians, pipe fitters, welders, and building engineers;
- HVAC installers and insulation removal workers.
Firefighters and other rescue workers also face increased risks, including those who responded to rescue efforts during 9/11. In some cases, even family members may be affected, as asbestos fibers can be brought into the worker’s home on clothes, hair, and skin.
In a mesothelioma lawsuit, our attorneys rely on our investigative skills and a qualified team of experts to identify and gather evidence as to the source of your exposure. Once we have identified the source, our knowledge of state and federal rules and regulations can help to determine individuals or companies who may be held responsible.
At Cohen, Placitella & Roth, P.C., our attorneys provide dedicated legal help to those affected by mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. We understand the impacts a diagnosis can have, both on your physical health and on your family’s financial security. We may be able to assist you in getting compensation for the losses you and your loved ones have suffered or are likely to face in the future, including medical expenses, lost earnings, pain and suffering, and funeral costs.
WHY CHOOSE C/P/R
For over four decades, the lawyers at Cohen, Placitella & Roth have brought an unwavering commitment and dedication to the legal representation of individuals and families devastated by injury or death caused by unsafe products, professional malpractice or negligent and reckless misconduct.
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.
Our Client-Centric Firm is Always Focused on Excellence
LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell® annually reports Cohen, Placitella & Roth’s peer rating-the highest AV®-—”a testament to professional excellence.” Since the inaugural U.S. News & World Report ‘Best Law Firms’ edition in 2010, Cohen, Placitella & Roth has been rated by its peers as one of the top tier class action, personal injury and mass tort law firms in the country.
“From the moment that I met Rachel she was very caring and compassionate and always took the time to take complicated issues and explain them in very understandable terms. She took a very difficult case (that a couple of other attorneys decided not to work on) and helped achieve a very equitable settlement. I would highly recommend her and her firm to my friends and colleagues.”
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A $4.2 million recovery on behalf of the daughter of a boilermaker who developed mesothelioma as a result of being exposed to the asbestos on her father’s work clothes.
Common Types of Injuries Caused by Asbestos Exposure
According to the Philadelphia Department of Health (DOH), asbestos is a mineral that was used in hundreds of building materials throughout the 20th century. It can be found in many of the older homes throughout our area, and it continues to be used by manufacturers today in the constructive, automotive, and textile industries.
The use, manufacture, and removal of asbestos is closely monitored under both state and federal guidelines and regulations, as exposure can result in a variety of potentially deadly lung diseases. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) states that asbestos exposure results as fibers escape into the air and are breathed into the lungs, and can cause any of the following conditions:
Lung cancer forms in the lung tissue and can spread rapidly to other parts of the body. Symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, and weight loss often do not appear until the disease is in advanced stages.
Pleural plaques involve hardening of the tissue around the lungs and diaphragm. While there are generally no symptoms, masses associated with the disease may show up in x-rays.
Asbestosis is a chronic condition that involves scarring and inflammation of the lung tissues. Symptoms may include chest pain, shortness of breath, loss of appetite, and deformities in the fingertips or nails.
Pleural thickening results from heavy scarring of the pleura, which are the protective membranes lining the lungs. Scarring causes the pleura to thicken, and can cause symptoms such as problems with breathing and chest pain.
Benign Pleural Effusions
Benign pleural effusions result from fluid that builds up between the lungs and the chest wall. Symptoms include coughing, chest pain, and breathing difficulties.
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If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, contact Cohen, Placitella & Roth, P.C. today. Our mesothelioma attorneys can advise you on how to get compensation for the losses you have suffered, including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. In the unfortunate event a loved one passes because of their illness, we can assist surviving family members with getting compensation for funeral expenses and future lost earnings.
FAQ's about Mesothelioma
NIH studies on asbestos in the U.S. indicate that mesothelioma kills roughly 3,000 people each year, with as many as 600 of these deaths occurring in the Pennsylvania and New Jersey areas alone.
At Cohen, Placitella & Roth, P.C., we make it our goal to assist those impacted by asbestos exposure in getting the compensation they are entitled to by law. The following are frequently asked questions about mesothelioma and other asbestos related cancers that we frequently hear from our clients:
Mesothelioma is a rare and very deadly cancer type. The cancer occurs in the mesothelium, which refers to the layers of tissue that cover the internal organs. When mesothelioma is in the tissues that surround the lungs, this is known as pleural mesothelioma.
This type of cancer type is most often caused by exposure to asbestos fibers, typically for many years. Asbestos is found in insulation, roofing materials, car brakes, flooring, and a number of other products, mostly within the manufacturing and building industries. Those with a history of asbestos exposure – typically through work – have an increased risk of developing mesothelioma. In the majority of cases, mesothelioma does not develop until years after exposure, even decades after exposure, making it a very hard to detect or predict early on.
Mesothelioma is a very aggressive type of cancer, and sadly has a very low survival rate. While surviving mesothelioma is possible, chances of survival are much greater when the cancer is caught early on. Types of treatment that may be used to combat the cancer or manage pain and other symptoms include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, pain medications, targeted therapy, and surgery to remove cancerous cells/tumors.
If you have been exposed to asbestos fibers, it is important to know the signs of malignant mesothelioma. Symptoms of the cancer include chest pain, trouble breathing and shortness of breath, a persistent cough, weight loss, and lumps or swelling around the chest. Pain in the abdomen may also occur.
The NIH reports that as many as 1.3 million people have been exposed to asbestos. Visit your doctor, who can recommend testing or monitoring, if you suspect you have been exposed or you experience any of the signs of asbestos related diseases, such as coughing, chest pain, and difficulty breathing.
Those at risk for asbestos exposure include construction and demolition workers, aircraft and auto mechanics, electricians and welders, shipyard workers, and HVAC installers. The NIH indicates that those involved in rescue, recovery, and cleanup workers during 9/11 should also consider themselves at risk.
If you are diagnosed with mesothelioma or an asbestos related disorder, you should contact an experienced mesothelioma attorney right away. Your attorney can help you determine when and where the exposure occurred, and advise you on whether you may be entitled to compensation through workers’ compensation, through a lawsuit against a manufacturer, or by filing a claim through asbestos trust funds set up to help employees of companies that are no longer in business.
In addition to using our legal knowledge and experience in asbestos related claims to protect your rights to compensation, we use our investigative skills and resources to gather the evidence needed to support your claim.
Compensation that may be available in your case includes medical expenses, lost wages and benefits, pain, suffering and mental anguish, and compensation to family members for future losses in earning and funeral expenses. In some cases, punitive damages may be awarded in cases where companies recklessly endangered their employees health.
The length of time it takes to settle your claim varies depending on your attorney and the factors involved such as your medical diagnosis, how and when asbestos exposure occurred, and who is ultimately responsible.
At Cohen, Placitella & Roth, P.C., we typically handle asbestos related claims on a contingency basis, meaning you owe nothing unless we get money for you. Settlement amounts often include attorney’s fees, in addition to the other types of compensation you are awarded.
You may be entitled to file a claim yourself on behalf of a family member who is too ill to do so, or for one who has previously passed.
Of all the types of diseases, malignant mesothelioma is one of the most aggressive and deadly cancer types. While the cancer is relatively rare, those who suffer from it, and their family members, know firsthand how terrible of a disease it is. The risk factors for developing mesothelioma are limited, and very specific. These include:
- Prolonged and consistent exposure to asbestos fibers. By far the greatest risk factor for developing malignant mesothelioma is prolonged and consistent exposure to asbestos fibers. Usually, this exposure is in the workplace, and often occurs decades before mesothelioma develops. However, asbestos exposure isn’t always in the workplace; the naturally occurring fibers are found in a variety of manufacturing and building materials, as well as naturally in the ground in some parts of the world. Mesothelioma developing from low-level asbestos exposure, such as that that is found in soil and air naturally, is unlikely.
- Radiation exposure. Another possible, yet even more rare, cause of malignant mesothelioma is exposure to radiation. According to Cancer.org, cited above, there have been reported cases of a patient developing mesothelioma after being treated with radiation therapy for a separate cancer type.
- Other risk factors. There are a few other risk factors, although these are uncommon. These include zeolite exposure (minerals that are related to asbestos from a chemical standpoint), infection of SM40 virus, age (above 65 years old), and gender (males are more likely to develop mesothelioma than women, although this is likely due to the rates of men in asbestos-containing workplaces compared to the rates of women in such workplaces).
When a person is diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, they are suffering from a cancer of the mesothelium. The mesothelium is composed of a collection of cells – called mesothelial cells – that create a very thin, membrane-like layer that covers the internal organs of the body. As such, the mesothelium is found in the chest, the abdomen, and the area around the heart.
- Some of the body’s most important organs around found around the pelvis within the abdomen. The mesothelium that surrounds these organs is called the peritoneum. Not only does this mesothelial membrane help to keep the organs in place, but it also provides for smooth movement of the organs as the body moves.
- When a person develops mesothelioma in the cavities around the chest, this is called pleural mesothelioma. The pleura, or pleural membrane, is the mesothelium in the cavity surrounding the lung – the body has two of these cavities, one for each lung. The pleura help the lungs move during breathing, and protect the lungs.
Malignant mesothelioma, where the tissues described above become infected with cancerous cells, is a very aggressive and deadly cancer type. This is true regardless of whether the cancer is concentrated in the peritoneum or the pleura. Epithelioid mesothelioma, which is a subtype of the cancer, is the most common subtype of mesothelioma, and often is confused for lung cancer based on its location in the pleura and its appearance. Pleural mesothelioma accounts for more than 70 percent of all mesothelioma cases.
When it comes to cancers, mesothelioma is one of the least common cancer types. Consider the following facts about mesothelioma – data is provided by the American Cancer Society:
- There are approximately 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma that are diagnosed each year. To put this into perspective, there are about 85 times as many new cases of breast cancer every year – 255,180 in 2017. The cancer is more common in Latinos and whites than it is in African Americans or Asians. It is also more common amongst men. The cancer is also much more common in older people, with the average age of diagnosis being 69.
- The rates of mesothelioma have dipped since the 1990s; from the 1990s-1970s, there was an increase in the rates of mesothelioma. The dip is probably related to the decline in workplace exposure to asbestos fibers, which is the primary cause of malignant mesothelioma.
While mesothelioma is a very rare disease comparatively, there are still people in the United States who are being diagnosed with the disease every year. Mesothelioma is very deadly, with a low five-year survival rate. Because researchers now understand that the vast majority of mesothelioma cases are caused by asbestos exposure, it is possible that in the future, rates of mesothelioma will drop significantly – and maybe the cancer will be eradicated entirely – as more people learn about the risks of asbestos and asbestos is removed from homes, buildings, and products.
Exposure to asbestos fibers, particularly constant exposure for a significant period of time, is the biggest risk factor for developing mesothelioma. However, in addition to asbestos exposure, those who meet the following characteristics may be at an increased risk of developing the disease:
- Family history of mesothelioma. If anyone in your family has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, then you have an increased risk of developing the cancer, too.
- Those who are older have an increased risk of mesothelioma; the average age for the disease is 69. The cancer is very rare in those under the age of 45.
- Mesothelioma is much more common in men than it is in women. This is probably because men more commonly work around asbestos fibers than do women, rather than the prevalence in men being contributed to gender alone.
- Living with someone who worked with asbestos. If you lived with someone who worked with asbestos fibers, such as boiler maker, you have an increased risk of developing mesothelioma, as the person may have brought the fibers home on their work clothes.
- Radiation or zeolite exposure. Those who have been exposed to radiation or zeolites, a fiber that is chemically related to asbestos, also have an increased risk of developing mesothelioma.
- Contracting SV40 virus. During 1955 and 1963, some polio vaccines were infected with the SV40 virus (simian virus 40). There has been a link made between infection of SV40 and mesothelioma.
Just because you fall into one of the categories above does not mean you will develop mesothelioma; again, the biggest risk factor is asbestos exposure.
Malignant mesothelioma is a very rare, but very deadly, type of cancer that typically affects those who have been exposed to asbestos. One of the challenging things about the disease is that it often develops years after exposure, catching its victims off guard. If you have any of the following symptoms, it is important to meet with a doctor, especially if you have a personal history of exposure to asbestos fibers.
- Peritoneal mesothelioma. The peritoneum is the mesothelium tissue that surrounds the organs in the abdomen. If cancer develops in these tissues, the side effects include, but are not limited to:
- Pain and swelling in the abdomen;
- Lumps in the abdomen that you can feel with your hand; and
- Weight loss that is unexplained/not intentional.
- Pleural mesothelioma. The layers or tissue that surround the lungs are caused the pleura, and these too can become infected with malignant mesothelioma. Pleural mesothelioma is more common than is peritoneal mesothelioma, and symptoms include:
- Weight loss;
- Trouble/pain when breathing;
- Persistent and painful coughing;
- Lumps of tissue on the chest (visible/able to to feel with the hand); and
- Chest pain.
In some cases, mesothelioma can also develop in other areas of the body, such as in the tissues that surround the testicles or the heart. When the cancer is around the heart, one of the most common symptoms is chest pain. When the cancer is around the testicles, swelling of the testicles may occur. In all cases, it is best to meet with a doctor if an unusual symptom develops.
Because mesothelioma does not usually develop until many years, sometimes even decades, after a person has been exposed to asbestos fibers, it can be a challenging disease to diagnose. In fact, in some cases, mesothelium in the pleural tissues is often mistaken for lung cancer. If you have any of the symptoms of mesothelioma, it is important to visit your doctor immediately, who will conduct tests and examinations to diagnose the disease.
The first step in the diagnosis process is typically a scan of the abdomen or chest via computerized tomography (CT) scan. This helps the doctor locate the mesothelioma tumor or any abnormalities.
If an abnormality is detected, the next step in the diagnosis process will likely be a biopsy of the tumor. During a biopsy, a small piece of the tumor is removed and tested. If the biopsy tests positive for mesothelioma, then your doctor will begin to explore different treatment options. The treatment option that is best for you will depend on the stage of your cancer. To determine the stage of your cancer, you will need to undergo additional scans (typically CT or MRI scans) to see where the cancer is located and how much it has spread. When the cancer is just in one part of the body, such as one area of tissue in the abdomen or chest, it is characterized as Stage I localized cancer, and is the easiest to treat. When the cancer has spread to lymph nodes or other organs, such as the liver or brain, it is called Stage IV advanced mesothelioma, and is very difficult to treat.
The specific treatment plan that your doctor prescribes for you after you are diagnosed with mesothelioma will depend on a number of factors, including the stage of your cancer, your health history, and your personal preferences. While some people want to take aggressive measures to fight the mesothelioma, others prefer to continue living their life as normal to avoid the harsh side effects of treatment. Some of the most common treatment options for mesothelioma include:
- Your doctor may suggest surgical intervention to remove cancer tissues from the mesothelium. This approach is generally taken when the cancer is localized and has not spread to other parts of the body.
- Chemotherapy is one of the most common methods of treating cancer, and involves the use of chemicals to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy may be used in conjunction with surgery, or on its own to combat mesothelioma.
- Radiation treatment. While chemotherapy uses chemicals to kill cancer cells from the inside, radiation treatment uses x-rays and concentrated energy to target specific spots of cancer in the body. The Mayo Clinic explains that radiation therapy may be used after surgery to kill any cancer cells that may remain in the body.
The three types of treatment above are the most common. There are also some other treatment options that are currently being explored, including biological therapy, which uses the body’s own immune system to target and kill cancer cells. In addition to the above, there are a number of drugs and methods that can be used to control pain and help a person cope with cancer and cancer treatment.
If you were exposed to asbestos, especially for a prolonged period of time, you are at an increased risk of developing mesothelioma. If you do develop mesothelioma, you may be able to pursue a lawsuit against the party responsible for your exposure. In order to file a lawsuit, you will need to know where you were exposed and who was to blame for the exposure.
One of the difficulties with pursuing a lawsuit, however, is tracking down the at-fault party and determining precisely where exposure occurred. While some people know that asbestos exposure was likely at their place of work or other locations, others have no idea where they were exposed. Even if you cannot remember where you were exposed to asbestos, you can still file a lawsuit.
At the law firm of Cohen, Placitella & Roth, P.C. our attorneys and team of investigative professionals will immediately begin investigating potential locations of asbestos exposure specific to your case. Not only will we review your employment and residence history, but we will also conduct research to determine whether others in your former place of employment, neighborhood, etc. have developed mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases. Once we pinpoint the exact place where asbestos exposure occurred, we will then begin investigating potential negligent parties.
Do not make the mistake of hesitating to meet with an attorney because you aren’t sure where your exposure to asbestos occurred. We will do everything we can to determine the site of exposure and the liable party.
Being diagnosed with mesothelioma is a terrible thing, and will likely raise questions about your life and future, as well as the future of your family and how you will provide for them. There is no doubt that being diagnosed with mesothelioma, or any cancer type, is tragic; while nothing can change this, filing a lawsuit for compensation can help you to recover the financial assistance you need to provide for your medical bills and costs of living.
If you want to sue for compensation if you have mesothelioma, you should contact a mesothelioma attorney, especially if you are not sure where you were exposed to asbestos. Your attorney will open an investigation into the cause of your mesothelioma, as well as potentially liable parties. From there, your attorney can build a case that demonstrates that the defendant acted negligently by failing to warn of the risks of asbestos, failing to take precautions to protect you (and others from asbestos exposure), or for even using/manufacturing asbestos-containing products in the first place.
By filing a lawsuit for compensation, you may be able to recover the full value of your losses, including compensation for pain and suffering, lost wages, medical expenses, and future costs. It is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible, as there is a time limit on the amount of time you have to bring forth a legal action (this time limit varies depending upon the state that you live in, but is commonly two years from the date of diagnosis).
If you are living with mesothelioma, or have recently lost a loved one to mesothelioma, you may be thinking about filing a lawsuit against the responsible party. As such, you may also be wondering whether or not you need a lawyer, and if so, what you should look for in an attorney.
Hiring a lawyer to represent you during a mesothelioma claim is highly recommended. Not only does hiring a lawyer improve your chances of a successful claim, but an attorney also provides a great deal of support throughout the process. An attorney will know how to conduct an investigation, which experts to hire, how to file a claim, how to prove negligence and liability, and how to represent you in court if necessary.
When looking for a lawyer, you want to consider experience, likeability, and case history. Ask the attorney what their experience is specifically as it pertains to asbestos and mesothelioma cases, and how many cases they have won vs. how many have been unsuccessful. You should also ask the attorney how many times they have gone to trial, as you want to work with a lawyer with courtroom experienced.
Pay attention to how an attorney charges, too. An attorney that demands upfront or hourly payments may be trying to take advantage of you. Instead, you should work with an attorney who charges on a contingency fee basis. Finally, make sure you like the attorney — you will be working with them intimately for an indefinite amount of time, so it is important that you trust them.
While mesothelioma is one of the rarest type of cancers, it is also one of the most serious. In many cases, the chances of surviving more than five years after diagnosis are slim, in part because the disease often advanced rapidly and is diagnosed at a late stage.
Chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery are three of the most traditional forms of mesothelioma treatment. While these treatment can, and sometimes are, enough to combat the disease, too many lives are lost to mesothelioma despite these treatment options every year.
There are some new treatments for mesothelioma that are being studied and explored. These include:
- Photodynamic therapy. Photodynamic therapy is used to specifically target cancer cells. Here’s how it works: A drug is injected into a vein, which then collects in cancerous cells after a few day’s time. The drug is light-activated, and after a few days, the patient has a tube with a special light placed in their chest. The light not only illuminates the cancerous cells thanks to the drug, but also causes a chemical reaction in the drug which kills the cells.
- Immunotherapy is an exciting new treatment option for mesothelioma and other cancer types. Essentially, this treatment option is focused on getting the body’s own immune system to attack and kill cancerous cells. The method is currently being studied more in depth in clinical trials.
A few other new forms of treatment are gene therapy, which adds new genes to cancer cells; virus therapy, in which a patient is inoculated with a virus that is targeted to kill cancerous cells; and targeted drugs, which are similar to chemotherapy drugs, yet more effective.
Many U.S. veterans were exposed to asbestos fibers during their military service, and some of them have developed mesothelioma or asbestosis as a result. If you were exposed to asbestos in the military, here is what you should know about your legal options:
Generally, veterans are prohibited from suing the government for harm that was incurred during active service. However, there are still ways to recover compensation for harm caused by asbestos exposure:
- Compensation through the VA. The Department of Veterans Affairs provides compensation to veterans who were exposed to asbestos during military service, have developed an asbestos-related disease, and were not dishonorably discharged.
- Lawsuit against asbestos company. Another option for recover compensation if you are a veteran who was exposed to asbestos during your time with the armed forces is filing a claim against the company responsible for manufacturing the asbestos-containing products.
- Claim Under the Federal Tort Claims Act. In some cases, you may be able to file a claim against the military under the Federal Tort Claims Act. In order for this to be possible, you must have been exposed to the asbestos/harmed while doing something not related to your active service.
The laws for filing a claim against the military are confusing. If you are a veteran who was exposed to asbestos, you should contact our law firm today for a free consultation to learn more about how to get the compensation you deserve.
Mesothelioma is an aggressive and deadly form of cancer that can be treated, but for which there is currently no cure. The symptoms of mesothelioma differ from case to case depending on where in the body to cancer occurs, however, almost all individuals who suffer from mesothelioma contracted the disease due to asbestos exposure of some kind. Therefore, speaking from a legal perspective, every mesothelioma case is different because each plaintiff (i.e. the person who contracted mesothelioma and is now suing for compensation) experiences the disease in a slightly different way and each plaintiff was exposed to asbestos under unique circumstances. These differences are important because they help determine how much compensation an individual mesothelioma plaintiff is legally entitled to.
Some important factors that help determine compensation in mesothelioma cases include:
- Where the asbestos exposure took place: In many mesothelioma cases the plaintiff’s asbestos exposure can be traced back to a particular job in which he or she was repeatedly exposed to asbestos over the years. Several occupations, such as construction workers, firefighters, industrial workers, and shipyard workers, are/were at high risk for asbestos exposure. A plaintiff who can show that they were exposed to asbestos during the course of their work will likely have a good case against their former employer.
- Whether the asbestos exposure was done knowingly: Mesothelioma plaintiffs who can show that their former employer, or another defendant, knowingly created a hazardous work environment by exposing them to asbestos will likely be entitled to increased compensation.
- The toll mesothelioma took on your life: Successful mesothelioma plaintiffs who received years of medical treatment are often able to recover compensation for their medical bills, as well as compensation for any other types of loss that they may have suffered (for example, lost wages).
- Whether the plaintiff suffered: Plaintiffs who suffered extensively can often receive increased compensation for pain and suffering.
- Whether the plaintiff left behind dependents: If a mesothelioma patient passes away their family members may be able file a mesothelioma case via a wrongful death lawsuit. In these cases a successful plaintiff will likely be able to recover additional compensation for funeral expenses and lost wages.
Determining where a case can legally be filed is actually quite complicated sometimes. In mesothelioma cases the most important factors in this determination are where you were exposed to the asbestos, where you live, and the identity and location of the defendant(s). In some instances a mesothelioma plaintiff will have the option of filing their case in more than one state and will have to pick one.
As each state has different laws, mesothelioma plaintiffs who have the option of filing their case in more than one state should be sure to discuss the potential pros and cons of filing in a particular state with their mesothelioma attorney. When deciding which state would be most beneficial for your case, an experienced mesothelioma lawyer will likely take the following considerations into account:
- Statutes of limitation: Each state imposes limits on the timeframe within which a personal injury claim can be filed. These time limits are known as statutes of limitation, and if the statute of limitation that governs your mesothelioma case in a particular state has already run then you will likely be barred from recovering any compensation.
- Severity requirements: Some states require mesothelioma plaintiffs to have reached a certain stage of their illness before they are entitled to file a personal injury claim. An experienced mesothelioma attorney will be able to discuss your legal options vis a vis whether it is in your best interest to wait until you meet a particular state’s severity requirement or to file right away in a different state.
- Damage caps: Some states cap, or limit, the amount of compensation that mesothelioma plaintiffs can recover. Many states have caped compensatory damages and some have even capped punitive damages. Because of these caps, the same mesothelioma case may be worth way more in one state versus another.
Many mesothelioma plaintiffs are elderly, all are sick, and many fear that if they file their mesothelioma case out of state they will be required to travel. Fortunately this is not the case. Regardless or where you live, or which state your mesothelioma case is filed in, you will not be required to travel in order to pursue the compensation that you are legally entitled to.
More than likely, your attorney will come to you in order to discuss your case and to take your deposition. Then your lawyer and his or her staff will take care of much of the pre-trial legwork without you. They will gather medical records, investigate the source of your asbestos exposure, contact potential witnesses, etc. Once your case is built, your attorney will likely engage in settlement negotiations with the defendant(s). Most mesothelioma cases are settled at this point without ever actually going to court. However, even if your case does end up going to court your lawyer will be able to represent your interests while you stay at home.
If you are concerned about how much time and effort it will take to pursue your mesothelioma case, be sure to discuss these concerns with your lawyer. An experienced mesothelioma lawyer will be able to describe the entire legal process to you in detail and explain what level of involvement they will need from you.
Yes. Every state limits the timeframe within which a mesothelioma plaintiff can file their lawsuit. These time limits are referred to as statutes of limitation and must be abided by or else a plaintiff runs the risk that their case will be dismissed. In Pennsylvania, the statute of limitation that applies to mesothelioma cases states that plaintiffs must file their lawsuit within two years of the date on which they are diagnosed. Many other states also grant mesothelioma plaintiffs two years, however, some states give plaintiffs as little as one year while other states give their plaintiffs up to six years within which to file their claims.
Additionally, different deadlines sometimes apply when a mesothelioma patient passes away and their family consequently files a wrongful death lawsuit. Again, these deadlines differ on a state-by-state basis. Here in Pennsylvania family members have two years from the date on which their loved one died within which they are allowed to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Wrongful death statutes of limitation timeframes in other states generally range from one to three years.
Do not jeopardize your personal injury lawsuit or wrongful death claim by waiting too long to file your case! However, even if you suspect that the statute of limitation applicable in your case has already run be sure to double check with a local mesothelioma lawyer as some states do allow limited exceptions to the rules.
As noted above, each mesothelioma case is different. Therefore, it is impossible to say how long an asbestos case will likely last. Often the duration of the case depends on several factors, including the factors listed below:
- The strength of the case: Mesothelioma cases in which liability is clearly established can often be resolved much more quickly than other cases. On the flip side, cases in which it is unclear when and where the plaintiff was exposed to asbestos can take much longer to resolve.
- Whether or not your case goes to trial: Most mesothelioma cases are settled during pre-trial and never actually see the inside of a courtroom. However, if your case does end up going to trial then it will likely take much longer to resolve than a case that was settled outside of court.
- If your case is expedited: Even cases that do go to trial do not all take the same amount of time to resolve because in some instances the court will expedite a particular case. Your attorney may be able to expedite your case if your mesothelioma is at an advanced stage and you are seriously ill. However, it is important to keep in mind that even expedited cases may still not see the inside of a courtroom for a year or so if the court system is crowded.
Although it is impossible to say how long a “typical” mesothelioma case will take, some plaintiffs see their cases settled within a year while others have to wait three years or longer.
While most mesothelioma cases are ultimately settled outside of court there is always the possibility that your case will go to trial. Mesothelioma defendants are often more willing to settle if one or more of the following factors are present in a particular case:
- The plaintiff has a strong case and the available evidence suggests that if the case were to go to trial the plaintiff would receive a favorable verdict,
- One or more compelling depositions that favor the plaintiff have been taken,
- Based on the trial date the defendant feels that they do not have enough time to thoroughly research the case,
- If a key witness or expert who was expected to support the defendant’s case is no longer available,
- The defendant has mounting legal fees,
- The defendant has lost or settled similar mesothelioma cases in the past,
- The plaintiff seems willing to accept a somewhat low settlement offer, and/or
- The defendant is receiving negative publicity as a result of the case.
You may have noted that most of the factors listed above largely have to do with the strength and quality of the case, however, the experience and strategy of the plaintiff’s attorney can also greatly influence whether or not a case will settle outside of court. Retaining a particular attorney can by no means guarantee a favorable settlement, however, having a well respected mesothelioma attorney at your side may help deter a defendant from going to trial and encourage them to settle instead.
The unfortunate truth is that mesothelioma is a particularly aggressive form of cancer that almost always proves to be terminal. Therefore, mesothelioma plaintiffs often wonder what will happen if they pass away before their case is resolved. The good news is that if a mesothelioma plaintiff dies while their lawsuit is still pending their estate will have the legal option of seeing the case through on their behalf. If this occurs and the case is ultimately successful, any compensation that the estate receives as a result will be passed on to the deceased plaintiff’s heirs. Generally speaking the person who is named in the deceased plaintiff’s will as the executor of the estate will serve as the estate’s representative throughout the remainder of the case and the will’s named beneficiaries will inherit any compensation recovered from the lawsuit.
Additionally, after a mesothelioma patient passes away their family members have the option of filing a separate lawsuit against the defendant(s) called a wrongful death lawsuit in order to recover a variety of different damages including compensatory damages, funeral expenses, financial support, etc.
Some successful mesothelioma plaintiffs do receive massive multimillion-dollar awards, but some successful mesothelioma plaintiffs receive far less. The amount of compensation that a successful plaintiff will recover is largely determined by the amount that their medical expenses totaled, the level of physical and mental distress that the disease caused, whether the disease caused the plaintiff to lose wages (and how much those wages likely were), the strength of the case, the plaintiff’s specific diagnosis, whether the defendant knowingly exposed the plaintiff to the hazardous environment in which the plaintiff was exposed to asbestos, and whether or not the state in which the case was filed imposes damage caps (and in what amount).
Clearly, the value of your case depends on a great many factors, however, if you are curious about the average values of mesothelioma jury awards and settlements you may want to read a recent Mealey’s Litigation Report. These reports will give you a good idea of how much successful mesothelioma plaintiffs in your state tend to recover. For example, a recent Mealey’s Litigation Report indicated that the average mesothelioma award given at trial is approximately $2.4 million while the average settlement amount is typically somewhere between $1 million and $1.4 million. However, it is very important to remember that each mesothelioma case is unique and that that prior awards and settlements are not necessarily indicative of what mesothelioma plaintiffs in the future can expect to recover. To get a sense of what your particular case may be worth consult with a local mesothelioma attorney.
Individuals who are diagnosed with mesothelioma are often eligible to receive Social Security disability benefits. Social Security Disability Insurance is a federal program designed to provide financial assistance to people who are disabled. While there are a variety of different diagnoses that can make an individual eligible to receive social security disability benefits and a mesothelioma diagnosis is one of them. However, there are also additional requirements and restrictions and you should consult with an attorney in order to determine if you are eligible to receive social security disability benefits.
Additionally, individuals who contracted mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure in the workplace are often eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits as workers’ compensation is designed to benefit employees who suffer a work-related injury or illness. Each state has their own workers’ compensation system, so the eligibility requirements and the benefits available differ slightly from state-to-state. In Pennsylvania, employees who contract an occupational disease are generally entitled to receive worker’s compensation benefits as long as the disease manifests within 300 weeks of the employee’s last day of employment. However, this rule gives the disease less than six years to manifest and mesothelioma cases often take decades to manifest. Therefore, out of fairness, there are exceptions to the standard rule for workers who develop latent occupational diseases, such as mesothelioma. However, if you suspect that you may be entitled to workers’ compensation you should still consult with an attorney as soon as possible in order to best avoid having your claim barred by a statute of limitation.
Mesothelioma patients are often nervous about filing for workers’ compensation or Social Security benefits because they fear that doing so will jeopardize their ability to file a mesothelioma personal injury lawsuit in the future. Generally speaking, you will still be able to sue even after filing another type of claim. In other words, individuals who file another type of claim based on their mesothelioma diagnosis are often not precluded from then turning around and filing a personal injury lawsuit later on. However, complications do sometimes arise if an employee was exposed to asbestos in the course of their employment, as a result developed mesothelioma years later, and then tries to name their employer in a personal injury lawsuit while also attempting to file a workers’ compensation claim. In situations like this it is very important that you consult with an experienced mesothelioma lawyer before filing either claim in order to best protect your legal rights.
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and are interested in filing a personal injury claim you are likely facing mounting medical bills and are unsure whether or not you will be able to afford a mesothelioma lawyer. Don’t worry, many mesothelioma lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. This means that the lawyer will take your case in exchange for the promise that he or she will be paid a certain percentage of the total amount won. Consequently, you will not be asked to pay for any upfront costs and your lawyer will pay out-of-pocket for any expenses that are incurred in connection with your litigation. In fact, you will only be required to reimburse your lawyer if your case is successful. This means that if you do not receive compensation in connection with your case (either via a jury award or an out of court settlement) then you do not owe your lawyer anything. When interviewing prospective mesothelioma lawyers be sure to ask whether they are willing to take your case on a contingency fee basis, and if so, what percentage of your compensation they will charge for their services.
Mesothelioma cases are notoriously complicated and it is very important that you retain a lawyer who will fight for your best interests. Legal fees can be expensive, especially if your case is complicated and ends up going to trial, but luckily the contingency fee payment structure makes it possible for anyone with a viable mesothelioma case to retain a competent lawyer.
Being diagnosed with mesothelioma can be extremely traumatic. Adjusting to your diagnosis and the implications of that diagnosis can take time and is often very challenging. Luckily, there are many organization out there that are dedicated to providing resources for mesothelioma patients and explaining what the next 12-18 months will likely look like from a health and wellness perspective.
From a legal perspective, the 12-18 months following your diagnosis are extremely important because the statute of limitations clock (discussed above) generally starts ticking as soon as you are diagnosed. You’ll remember that in Pennsylvania mesothelioma plaintiffs only have two years from the date of their diagnosis within which to file their personal injury lawsuit. This means that you need to get the ball rolling as soon as possible because investigating your mesothelioma case will require an immense amount of work on your lawyer’s part. Your lawyer will need time to gather evidence indicating that you have mesothelioma and that you were exposed to asbestos at a particular time and place. Additionally, your lawyer will need to determine who may be liable in your case and start to compile evidence against them. These, and a myriad of other legal tasks, all take time and will need to be completed within the first 12-18 months after your diagnosis.
The good news is that your mesothelioma lawyer will take care of almost all of this, you just have to hire them. Therefore, if you are interested in filing a mesothelioma personal injury lawsuit it is imperative that you start interviewing and select a lawyer to represent you as soon as possible after you are diagnosed.
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Mesothelioma Fact Sheet: Undiagnosed Danger
The American Cancer Society, a U.S. voluntary health organization committed to fighting cancer by raising awareness, provides information about various forms of cancer, including mesothelioma. Consider the following:
- Mesothelioma is a form of cancer affecting the linings of certain internal body organs of a patient, such as the lungs, heart and chest cavity, and has been linked to asbestos exposure earlier in the life of the patient.
- Mesothelioma can take a long time to show signs and symptoms in patients, with an average of about 20-30 years after exposure to asbestos for symptoms to develop.
- There are about 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma diagnosed in the United States each year, which is a fairly low number in comparison to the general population.
- There is no widely recommended screening for mesothelioma in people that are considered to be low risk, and for those with known exposure to asbestos, scans and periodic evaluation for signs and symptoms is recommended.
Philadelphia has a lot of buildings and old homes that were built a long time ago, and many of these buildings still contain asbestos. Philadelphia was also home to a number of asbestos manufacturers. Exposure to asbestos, and the unfortunate consequences, can happen to anyone anywhere.
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