For those recently diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness, it can be a confusing, difficult time. Understanding where the exposure took place, dealing with doctors’ appointments and medical bills, and coming to terms with the flood of emotions can send you into a whirlwind of chaos.
Filing a lawsuit for your asbestos-caused illness can seem like a daunting task, but there are experienced lawyers across the country that deal specifically with these types of cases. Asbestos and mesothelioma lawyers not only have the medical documents, research, and contacts to expedite these cases, but also years of experience in dealing with patients suffering from illnesses caused by asbestos exposure. In addition, they are familiar with the eligibility requirements that may differ from state to state. If you or a family member have recently been diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness, it is imperative that a lawyer specializing in asbestos-related cases be contacted immediately.
Two types of claims
Before determining eligibility, it is important to know that there are two types of claims that can be filed against an entity responsible for the asbestos exposure—personal injury claims and wrongful death claims.
- Personal injury claims – A lawsuit filed by an individual diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness, such as mesothelioma.
- Wrongful death claim – A lawsuit filed by a family member or loved one on behalf of the patient that has passed as a result of an asbestos-related illness. To file a mesothelioma lawsuit on behalf of the deceased, the claimant must be able to prove significant impact and loss due to the death of their loved one.
In order to file an asbestos claim, there are two important factors that determine your eligibility—the diagnosis and the statute of limitations. The latter can be determined with the help of an experienced asbestos attorney.
- Diagnosis of an asbestos-related disease – In order to begin filing a claim, a diagnosis related to asbestos exposure must be established. Simply having been exposed at one time to asbestos does not make one eligible for filing a claim. Medical documentation will need to be provided to lawyers reviewing the case.
- Statute of Limitations – This refers to the amount of time a claimant has to file a lawsuit or claim. Due to the long latency periods of asbestos-related diseases, those afflicted may not experience symptoms for 20-50 years after exposure, or the illness may not have been discovered until the cause of death was determined. Since the statutes of limitations vary by state, an experienced lawyer can help to determine your state’s statutes. When filing a wrongful death claim, time is of the essence. Typically, you have one to three years from the time of death to file an asbestos claim, depending on the state.
For those filing a wrongful death claim, there are additional eligibility requirements, such as relationship to the deceased. The claimant must be close to the deceased, not estranged. Depending on the state, some examples of relationships that may pursue a wrongful death suit include:
- Spouse or life partners
- Children, including adopted children or stepchildren
- Parents or grandparents
- Someone financially dependent on the deceased
Pursuing legal action against a company, employer, or other entity that has exposed you or a loved one to asbestos can seem like an intimidating and overwhelming quest, but it should not be dismissed. Companies have a legal, moral, and social responsibility to protect those they employ and to ensure that their employees are made aware of any unsafe or hazardous conditions.
For years, companies were negligent regarding their employees’ safety with asbestos. Experienced asbestos and mesothelioma lawyers will be able to guide patients or their loved ones in not only determining eligibility to file a claim, but identifying all companies responsible for the asbestos exposure. These specialized lawyers have the experience and years of researched cases to help those impacted by the deadly substance.