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Mesothelioma Lawsuit Process

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It is thought that around eight million people in the United States have been exposed to asbestos over the past half a century, and many more cases - are expected to be reported in the next 25 years.

  • The lawsuit begins when the plaintiff files a complaint through the court. The complaint will identify all the defendants involved, and contain statements of their wrongdoing as well as the plaintiff's accusations.
  • Copies of the complaint are served to each defendant notifying them that they are being sued. Each defendant usually has approximately 30 days from date of notification to file a response. The response will include statements that either admit or deny the plaintiff's allegations.
  • Once the complaint and the response have been filed, both parties can engage in an exchange of discovery and pleading. In this process, each side learns facts available to the other side, and the plaintiff and defendants ask each other questions related to the case.
  • Once the discovery and pleading process is complete, the case is ready for a trial which is scheduled by the court. Generally, cases are tried in the chronological order that they are filed, but many court systems have an expedited trial calendar for living persons with malignancies.
  • Most cases are settled before hearing trial testimony in court. However, if there is no settlement, jury selection will begin so that in-court testimony can be heard.
  • If awarded a settlement, the plaintiff does not receive compensation until several months following the end of trial. Out of the gross amount of each settlement, the plaintiff's attorneys will deduct their fee, which is usually between 33% and 40% of the total amount awarded.
  • A trial is necessary only in those cases where there remain defendant manufacturers of asbestos products who have not yet settled the lawsuit.

There are two phases to the trial; a damages phase and a negligence phase.

The Damages Phase

The damages phase of the trial is one where a dollar amount is set by the jury for your pain and suffering. And, in the event that the person is deceased, a dollar amount is set for wrongful death. Multi-million dollar damages awards in Mesothelioma cases are not uncommon. In Mesothelioma cases, unlike other personal injury cases, damages may be tried first. The idea being that if an amount of money is arrived at by a jury, then those remaining defendant manufacturers will be more likely to settle before the negligence aspect of the trial.

The Negligence Phase

The negligence aspect of the trial is that portion of the trial where blame is placed on various asbestos manufacturers. In this phase of the trial, those allegations in the complaint as well as narrowing in on the particular defendant manufacturer of an asbestos product. This is done through testimony of witnesses, both lay witnesses (yourself, depositions of co-workers who have brought lawsuits against the asbestos manufacturers, and surviving co-workers), and expert witnesses, known as state-of-the-art witnesses, who establish that the asbestos manufacturers knew of the dangers of asbestos products at the time they manufactured and distributed them. In the event that there remains defendants after the negligence portion of the trial, the case is then turned over to the jury who assess what percentage of the damages each remaining defendant manufacturer is responsible for.

The Verdict Phase

The verdict, or judgment, is then filed with the court. Interest accumulates on the judgment daily; thus there is a tremendous amount of incentive for the defendant manufacturers to pay quickly. Most judgments are paid within days of filing.

Appeal

If either you or any defendant wishes to appeal the judgment, they must do so within thirty days in most states. An appeals court determines if a verdict was fair. This court can approve, increase or reduce the verdict, as well as order a new trial or dismiss the case altogether. Most cases are not appealed and most appeals are unsuccessful

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