What Does a Mesothelioma Law Firm Do?

Law firms specializing in mesothelioma are different from any other type of law firm. Whereas other firms may specialize in areas like car accidents or nursing home abuse, mesothelioma law firms focus primarily on mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. It’s not recommended to retain legal representation from a general practice law firm or even a personal injury firm that specializes in a wide array of injury cases. You’ll need an attorney who specifically specializes in mesothelioma cases, as these types of lawsuits are extremely intricate and require vast, in-depth understanding of asbestos exposure and diseases.

Attorneys at these law firms have knowledge and experience regarding federal and state laws concerning asbestos use and its history in the workforce. They also have sharp investigative skills and are able to dig deep to uncover when and where companies and/or other entities exposed workers to asbestos. Additionally, these law firms are comprised of educated attorneys who understand the legal process involving courts, trials, settlements, and appeals.

Moreover, an experienced firm understands that the victim is already suffering enough because of the medical and financial problems associated with asbestos-related diseases. As a result, the firm will handle most everything regarding the lawsuit, including fighting for the legal rights of the client, interviewing witnesses, obtaining medical history, litigations, and more.

An experienced law firm also understands the severe emotional impact that living with mesothelioma brings, not only to victims, but to family members and loved ones as well. An good firm takes this into account and helps ease the minds of victims and their loved ones throughout this enduring process.

Companies Involved in the Lawsuit

Another area that may factor the settlement amount is the number of companies that are involved in the lawsuit. For example, it’s common for people to work at a job that used different products from various manufacturers that supplied asbestos to a business.

Each of these manufacturers may be responsible for contributing to the defendant’s asbestos-related illness. In turn, each of these companies may be liable for damages, meaning the settlement will more than likely be higher when compared to a case in which only one company is responsible.

As mentioned earlier, former NFL football player Merlin Olsen’s case involved at least 10 different companies. Another example includes plaintiffs Elmer L. and Martha Jo Cathey. In 1987, the coupled filed a lawsuit in Tennessee against 23 companies, including Johns Manville, Owens Corning Fiberglass, GAF Corportation, Celotex Corporation, and more.

Although they didn’t win against all of the companies named in their lawsuit, they were compensated for Johns Manville’s part in the contribution of Elmer Cathey developing mesothelioma. In some cases, such as this, not all companies named in a lawsuit will be found responsible. In others instances, they will, and in turn the compensation is generally much higher.

History of Mesothelioma and Asbestos Trusts

In 1971, the Johns-Manville Sales Corporation was sued for product liability by the widow of Louisiana man who developed cancer from one of the company’s products. Federal court upheld the lawsuit, and the plaintiff won. Shortly after, courts across the nation were flooded with asbestos-related lawsuits.

Subsequently, many of the companies and manufacturers that were sued began to file for bankruptcy under Chapter 11. However, as a condition for filing, these companies were required to set up trusts that would compensate victims of asbestos-related illnesses. In the 1980s, John-Mansville set up the first trust, followed by several other companies.

What To Look for in a Mesothelioma Lawyer

Mesothelioma lawsuits are some of the most intricate, difficult cases to handle. Therefore, it’s imperative to retain legal representation from a law firm that specifically specializes in asbestos-related cases. Not only should a law firm specializes in these types of cases, but they should also have a proven track record that indicates past success.

Keep in mind that just like physicians, there are different areas of expertise in law. For example, one physician may specialize in neurology while another may specialize in pediatrics. Lawyers are no different. There are a vast array of different law specialties, such as car accident, criminal, medical malpractice, general practice, and more.

Mesothelioma attorneys have in-depth knowledge regarding asbestos-related diseases, state statute of limitations, how to find the culpable parties, sharp investigative skills, and vast knowledge regarding asbestos trust funds.

Common Mesothelioma Lawsuit Myths

There’s a myth that compensation in tort lawsuits take quite a bit of time. Yet, most mesothelioma lawsuits end in settlements, which means that you may receive your money faster than you think. Additionally, with the addition of trust funds from numerous different companies, you may qualify for an expedited review so that you can get your compensation as soon as possible.

Another common myth is that if an employer or an asbestos manufacturer went out business, there is no party left to sue. Even if the responsible party sold the company, there are normally stipulations in which the new company must take over pending or future lawsuits. If the party went bankrupt, there is a good chance they may have set up an asbestos trust fund to compensate people who file against them.

Yet another common myth is that employers can’t be sued at all, since it’s generally manufacturers that supply asbestos products to companies, and not employers themselves. This is true, but at the same time, employers are expected to follow federal, local, and state government asbestos laws. Claiming ignorance to these laws is not an excuse, and if you think an employer violated your rights and broke laws, you most certainly have the right to sue.

Hiring the Best Mesothelioma Attorney

If this is the first time that you have needed to hire an attorney, you need to know that asbestos and mesothelioma cases should not be handled by just anyone with a law practice. Like car accident or nursing home abuse lawyers, asbestos and mesothelioma attorneys specialize in a narrow niche of personal injury law, with a unique focus on asbestos-related lawsuits.

This field is extremely complex and requires knowledge about the asbestos industry, knowledge of mesothelioma treatments, exposure to asbestos, and investigative methods to determine who is at fault. The average personal injury lawyer might have a general idea about cases related to asbestos, but may not have the experience or skill sets to handle your case in a way that an accomplished mesothelioma lawyer can. A mesothelioma attorney has the right tools and experience to help you deal with the complexities of your case and to help you win fair compensation for your asbestos-related illness.

Keep in mind that there is no one-size-fits-all mold which produces mesothelioma and asbestos lawyers. Every individual lawyer has a unique method of handling cases, and each law firm has its own set of legal strategies in dealing with asbestos law. Some lawyers have dealt with cases such as yours for years and understand first-hand about the disease, including the harsh symptoms of mesothelioma and what victims have to live with on a daily basis.

On the other hand, other attorneys are newcomers to the world of mesothelioma law, and although they may have asbestos-related training, they lack the experience of actual cases. Choosing the right lawyer to handle your case can be a challenge, especially if you’re stressing over your illness, your bills, and how this is affecting your loved ones. However, as previously mentioned, if you arm yourself with knowledge and options, finding a good lawyer doesn’t have to be difficult.

Mesothelioma Treatments

Chemotherapy, radiation, or a combination of both are the most effective forms of mesothelioma treatments currently available. However, if the disease is detected in Stages Ia or Ib, surgery is almost always recommended in order to remove the tumor. The caveat, of course, is that the patient must meet certain health and age requirements. Older patients and/or patients with less-than-ideal health conditions may not be able to withstand the physical demands of a surgical procedure.

If the cancer has reached its late stages, especially Stage IV, multimodal treatment options are used. Multimodal treatment is a combination of two different types of treatments, typically chemotherapy and radiation. Surgery is not a widely-used option for patients with Stages III and IV mesothelioma, since the poor state of health of the patient, as well as the possible metastasis of the tumor makes surgery extremely risky.

In addition to standard treatments, many mesothelioma patients have chosen a wide variety of complementary or alternative treatments. Herbal therapies which involve the use of herbs and vitamins, acupuncture, holistic healing, meditation, and yoga are a fraction of the alternative treatments that can be employed against mesothelioma. Although many alternative treatments are not recognized in traditional medical practices, many doctors and healthcare practitioners are more accepting and open minded of how effective these non-traditional treatments can be. As a result of their willingness to embrace new ideas, some of these enterprising doctors have opened up their own alternative medicine practice.

The Four Stages of Mesothelioma

There are four stages of mesothelioma. The first stage is the earliest of the disease where the  mesothelioma tumor is not fully formed. Patients with stage Ia and Ib mesothelioma have the best chances of getting the cancerous cells removed. As the mesothelioma tumors grow and affect more healthy tissue, the stage number rises, with Stage IV being the final stage. Stage II of mesothelioma still renders hope for the patient since the tumor, although it has increased in size, still has not spread to the point in which surgery is not an option.

How Doctors Diagnose Mesothelioma

Once a doctor begins the process of obtaining a diagnosis, several blood tests, CT scans, chest X-rays and a biopsy are usually performed. A biopsy allows the doctor to remove bits of lung tissue in order to search for asbestos fibers or indications of lesions or tumors. If a patient is diagnosed with mesothelioma, his or her physician will be also be able to assess what stage of the disease has reached.

Unfortunately, as previously stated, it takes sometimes up to 50 years  in order for doctors  to diagnose mesothelioma since the symptoms tend to show up slowly. Even then, the symptoms manifest themselves so subtly that unless a physician has a patient’s complete medical and work history, including the fact that he or she was exposed to asbestos, diagnosis may be delayed.

How Does Mesothelioma Develop?

The development of mesothelioma is a drawn-out process, which makes it hard to diagnose and treat. On average, it takes decades for the symptoms of mesotheliomato surface. Mesothelioma can mask its presence because its symptoms resemble those of more common respiratory illnesses. By the time a doctor orders a battery of tests to look for mesothelioma, it is usually too late to treat the cancer effectively. Symptoms include shortness of breath, chest pains, or a combination of both. As mesothelioma advances to its final stage, symptoms can become more severe and typically include severe chest and lung pain, bloating, coughing up blood, difficulty in swallowing, or buildup of fluid in the chest cavity. Extreme tiredness, lack of appetite, and subsequent weight loss, skin rashes, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, night sweats, and fever.

Between 2,000 to 3,000 new  cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed in the U.S. every year.