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All you Need to Know About Filing a Lawsuit for Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos exposure can cause different diseases and conditions like mesothelioma and lung cancer. The exposure can happen on the job or in your private life.

It can also occur in areas not necessarily linked to work, like at home or in an apartment building where asbestos was used as insulation. If you have been exposed to asbestos and are worried about its effects on your health, it's important to understand how asbestos litigation works. This will help you determine whether you should file a lawsuit yourself or work with an experienced attorney.

You may feel overwhelmed by the process of filing an asbestos lawsuit, but you shouldn’t be. Asbestos lawsuits are easy to navigate if you understand essential things about the claim filing process. This article will walk you through crucial things you need to know about filing a lawsuit for asbestos exposure. From the potential consequences of filing this type of case, who is responsible, how long the lawsuit will take, the possible amount of compensation awarded if you win your claim, and others.

What is Asbestos Lawsuit?

An asbestos lawsuit is your right if you’ve been diagnosed with an illness caused by exposure to asbestos. People exposed to asbestos and have developed conditions can file lawsuits against products manufacturers, companies, or government services like the military. When you file an asbestos lawsuit, you’ll be taking legal action against the liable party under negligence. This means you must prove that something was wrong with how their product was made or distributed.

You should become familiar with what an asbestos lawsuit is. In these cases, you can be compensated for both medical and non-medical expenses by filing a personal injury or wrongful death claim against an employer or another party responsible for causing harm from exposure to harmful asbestos products or materials. Before filing your claim, it’s essential to consider all your legal options. You may also want to work with an experienced asbestos and mesothelioma claim expert to help you answer questions related to starting your case.

Asbestos, also known as friable asbestos, was a popular insulation material in homes and businesses in both Canada and America. It’s made from naturally occurring fiber from mineral deposits of rocks, including serpentine, soapstone, and talc. The main concern with asbestos is when particles are released into the air – particularly during home renovations or construction projects – because you can inhale or ingest it. The substance can cause illnesses such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis, etc.

If any of your family members worked at shipyards, in a power plant, or on trains, there’s a good chance they inhaled or ingested some form of asbestos. If your loved one passed away from mesothelioma or another ailment that could be linked back to their exposure to asbestos, you might want to consider filing an asbestosis lawsuit.

The Two Types of Asbestos Cases

Personal injury claims arise when the plaintiff has been injured due to someone else's negligence, and wrongful death claims are based on someone's untimely death caused by exposure to a toxic substance. Wrongful death can be caused by someone else's imprudence or negligence that could have been avoided through safety precautions.

Both cases are devastating in their own right, but they come with different statutes of limitations, different legal requirements, and amounts of compensation. These cases often overlap, so it’s crucial to understand the difference between personal injury and wrongful death to find the best lawyer to work on your case.

Personal Injury

The most common type of asbestos case is based on the health consequences of asbestos exposure which fall under the personal injury category. If you develop an illness or cancer after asbestos exposure, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against those responsible. It's crucial to note that the first signs of asbestos exposure are typically not immediate but develop over time. Most victims don't even know they have been exposed to it until it's too late.

These cases mean you were exposed to asbestos at a previous job and developed an illness such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, or asbestosis. The case focuses on obtaining compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and loss of work and wages. However, it’s important to remember that there’s no guarantee you will get any award. It all depends on what your particular case looks like and the proof of your injuries.

Wrongful Death

A wrongful death lawsuit is a legal claim made by a surviving family member. These cases result from a personal injury, but they seek to recover money for emotional distress suffered by surviving family members. Wrongful death cases also seek compensation for expenses and punitive damages. In these cases, it’s common for multiple family members to be named in court as potential beneficiaries of any verdict or settlement. This can include not only spouses and children but also parents and siblings.

However, wrongful death suits face an uphill battle where plaintiffs must prove that their loved one’s illness was caused by another party while also convincing juries that they deserve compensation. So it’s essential to have a reliable lawyer to gather enough evidence to prove that the death was truly caused by asbestos exposure.

Do You Qualify to File an Asbestos Lawsuit?

The short answer is yes. However, it depends on whether your health has been affected and what that means for your legal situation. If you believe you or someone close to you was exposed to asbestos and developed one of these illnesses, you can file an asbestos lawsuit against the responsible party. You can file an asbestos claim after an injury or death caused by mesothelioma, lung cancer, laryngeal cancer, or asbestosis.

Every state in America has passed laws that make it possible for people suffering from asbestos-related diseases to file lawsuits. So, if you have a life-threatening illness that doctors say was caused by years of being exposed to high levels of airborne asbestos dust or products. It’s worth your time and effort to talk with an experienced personal injury attorney to understand your legal options.

Lawyer pointing at paper for client to sign contract

When Can I File an Asbestos Lawsuit?

If your injury lawyer finds that you have mesothelioma or other lung cancer caused by prolonged exposure to asbestos, they’ll likely encourage you to file a lawsuit. This could be against one or more companies that manufactured, distributed, installed, or employed you to work with the toxic products.

The Fairness in Asbestos Injury Resolution Act (FAAA) allows victims with asbestosis and mesothelioma to file a claim after one year from when they are diagnosed. You can file other types of cancer such as lung, ovarian, stomach, and pancreatic within ten years of diagnosis.

How Long Will Your Case Take to Resolve?

The time required to resolve a case depends on several factors, including whether it’s filed in state or federal court and whether there are multiple defendants. Some issues can be resolved quickly; others may take years. More aspects may accelerate or delay your case. For example, how complex is your situation? Time spent finding an easy way to settle out of court before your claims reach trial. Is it negligence or wrongful death case? If you want to protect your rights, file as soon as possible.

If there are multiple defendants and millions of dollars at stake, the case could take years before it’s resolved. For example, if you have health problems such as cancer and mesothelioma, your lawyer may want to file additional lawsuits against those responsible and get reasonable compensation. This would add time to your case while addressing all potential issues related to your illness. Generally, this process can drag out litigation, so expect a few months to more than a year before your case is settled in or outside the court.

Factors that Affect the Amount of an Asbestos Settlement

Many factors affect how much you’ll receive from an asbestos settlement, which can be rather confusing when you’re just trying to figure out how much you should ask for in the first place. Since the amount of money you receive is one of the main reasons most people file an asbestos lawsuit, it’s important to understand all the circumstances that could affect your payout. Here are five factors that could impact your asbestos settlement amount.

Medical Expenses and Lost Wages

Because of health care requirements as an asbestos victim, you'll often spend substantial amounts of money on medical expenses and lose wages. These damages account for up to 60 percent of a typical asbestos settlement. If you’ve had significant medical bills or time off work, don’t assume it won’t be part of your settlement.

It’s also worth looking into your income if you’ve been unable to work and factor in missed vacation time, sick days, etc., for considerable compensation. The potentially liable party may be held accountable for any unreimbursed medical expenses and lost wages related to asbestosis, mesothelioma, or other asbestos-related diseases caused by their products.

Compensatory and Punitive Damages

There are two types of damages awarded in personal injury lawsuits: compensatory and punitive damages. Compensatory damages, also known as economic damages, reimburse your out-of-pocket expenses resulting from a defendant’s negligence. This might include daily life expenditures and caregiving expenses if your illness resulted in a partial or total disability. On the other hand, punitive damages award plaintiffs based on a defendant’s egregious actions or conduct.

Company Negligence

If your employer was responsible for your asbestos exposure, you might be entitled to additional compensation. Courts will consider various factors when determining how much companies should pay out in asbestos settlement amounts. One of the main factors is the company’s negligence. If a company knew asbestos was present in their products and didn't warn anyone about it, they might be liable for your injuries.

Even if you don’t have a valid reason to sue, you can go to court for contributory negligence or comparative negligence, which means you weren’t 100% responsible for your injury. The company may be held accountable and share some responsibility by offering monetary compensation.

Number of Defendants in a Lawsuit

It'll affect how much you get if you're a plaintiff in a lawsuit with multiple defendants, whether several people or corporations. The more defendants you have in a personal injury lawsuit, the more money you can get in your settlement. Some industries, like the military, are examples of defendants with deep pockets that can greatly affect how much you receive from a lawsuit.


An important thing you need to decide when calculating asbestos settlement amounts is where your case will be heard. The location of your trial makes a big difference, so it’s vital to determine which court system is right for you. The asbestos settlement amount can vary by state; some states have strict limits on what you can claim, and others are more lenient.

Understanding Asbestos Settlement and Typical Scenarios

The asbestos settlement process can be difficult and confusing, especially if you don’t know what you’re doing or where to turn to. The first step should be contacting an experienced attorney that specializes in asbestos litigation and mesothelioma cases. Once you have your attorney’s advice, you will have the information needed to proceed with filing your claim. The attorney will prepare your case and present it to the judge and jury. Below are the common scenarios involved in the entire asbestos case:

Filing Lawsuits and Receiving Responses

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis, or other asbestos-related illness, your lawyer will help you identify the liable parties, file the complaint form, and submit a compensation claim. Note that filing a claim does not mean you'll receive money immediately. A legal timeline begins as soon as a lawsuit is filed, imposing strict deadlines on all parties. Within several months of your filing, you should receive notice from either your lawyer or trustee concerning whether or not your case will proceed.

The defendant has thirty days from their service receipt to file an answer with the court (the clerk). An answer is a pleading filed by a defendant responding to, denying, or admitting each of your factual allegations. The response will not delay discovery, but in most civil lawsuits, if someone fails to respond to a summon, a default judgment will be entered against them. In other words, if a defendant doesn’t reply within 30 days, they may lose by default.

Are you looking to purchase a home? Learn about the importance of home inspections and how it can save you from potential asbestos exposure by clicking here!

Trial Discovery and Preparation

The step leading to the trial date is called discovery, a period when each side of a case (the plaintiff and defendant) tries to gather as much information as possible about both sides’ interests. This is done by submitting written requests for evidence and depositions. During depositions, lawyers for both sides can question persons of interest under oath to answer key questions related to your case.

Your attorney will want additional information from you and other sources to supplement what's already in their possession. This could be as simple as having a conversation with them about your testimony and how it'll play out at trial. It could also mean sending over documents, such as work logs, emails, and photos.

Trial and Appeal

Your case will most likely have a trial and an appeal. The trial is where evidence from both sides is presented, and a judge or jury weighs in on who should win. If a prosecution starts going against the defendant, they may be roused to recompense to avoid an unfavorable ruling. The second option is arbitration, which is essentially like taking a case before a jury but at a much earlier stage in litigation.

If you win a jury trial, either side may appeal. The defendant who loses generally has 45 days from when judgment is entered to file a notice of appeal. If they don't file a notice of appeal within that time frame, or if they do but lose their appeal, they are generally bound by the original decision. Remember, the defendant's appeal can extend the legal process. So it's in your best interest to accept a settlement to let the defendants waive their right to file an appeal. Whether or not to get a proposed asbestos settlement should be joint between you and your attorney.

Bottom Line

Asbestos exposure in the workplace can lead to serious health problems like mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis, resulting in job loss, disability, or worse. You're probably aware of how dangerous asbestos can be, but if you or someone you love has been injured by asbestos exposure, you might not know how to file a lawsuit or what compensation you should expect in court. Whether the illness was diagnosed recently or years ago, the right legal help could make all the difference when filing an asbestos-related lawsuit for compensation.

Interested in reading more about Mesothelioma? Read our latest article here.

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