If you have just been diagnosed with mesothelioma, chances are that you are frightened and unsure of your next move. Your first obligation is to seek out the best medical treatment possible for your condition. While all oncologists treat cancer, you need to find one who specifically treats patients suffering from mesothelioma in order to have the best possible prognosis.
Once you have found the best doctor for your condition, you should next seek legal assistance for filing a mesothelioma lawsuit. Below are some considerations to be aware of during the process.
- Just as when you were choosing the most experienced oncologist to help you battle this insidious form of cancer, so should you select an attorney who thoroughly understands the ins and outs of asbestos exposure and the legal ramifications for those who had workplace exposures. There are many successful personal injury firms out there who have little or no experience trying mesothelioma cases; you want to make sure that the firm you choose has both skilled and experienced mesothelioma attorneys.
The best attorneys often have superior ratings from agencies unaffiliated with any law firms that independently assess and evaluate the firms’ performance in certain legal categories. Make sure that the firm you choose gets high marks for their handling of mesothelioma litigation. If they are highly rated, but the ratings are for their trial performance with offshore oil industry injuries or car accidents, that won’t be very helpful in your circumstances.
- Another potential indication that you have found a competent firm to handle your asbestos exposure lawsuit is that the firm has received multiple accolades and honors from consumer groups and legal associations. Both good and bad reputations spread like wildfire in legal communities, which are small circles traveled by the same players. The movers and shakers in legal communities reward those firms that are staffed by ethical and successful litigators.
- The firm should have sufficient resources to successfully litigate your mesothelioma lawsuit. Small firms can employ great attorneys but might lack the cash reserves necessary to afford vital expert testimonies or other important components of a winning case. While a firm doesn’t have to be huge to have the resources necessary for litigating complex cases, it can’t be operating on a shoestring budget, either.
- While it is true that the majority of lawsuits that are filed get settled between the parties well before they are ever set for trial, you definitely want the attorney handling your mesothelioma case to have a successful trial record. There are many different types of attorneys, and some never set foot in a courtroom. Of those who do, many don’t have winning records. Your mesothelioma attorney should excel at litigating cases, as not every case will settle in the defendant’s favor and must be tried on its merits.
- Asbestos litigation is different from other types of torts because it can involve arbitration with those in charge of overseeing the trust funds that have been set up for the victims of asbestos exposures. This can be a complicated process, and not every attorney will have had prior experience navigating these legal shoals. Do you really want your case to be his or her first foray into trust negotiations?
Choosing the right jurisdiction for filing your mesothelioma lawsuit
This is another way in which asbestos litigation cases can be more complex than many other types of personal injury lawsuits. Determining the appropriate venue can be a complicated process.
Jurisdictional requirements with most personal injury cases are pretty plain. But as with most aspects of asbestos litigation, this point of law can be trickier. Usually, jurisdiction is determined by a few key aspects:
- How much financial compensation is being sought in the suit. Some jurisdictions are limited in the amounts that can be pursued.
- There has to be personal jurisdiction over the defendants. In other words, if you now live here in Texas but all of your asbestos exposures occurred in the state of Connecticut, you might not be able to file here in Texas. However, there could be some legal loopholes that allow you to do so, e.g., the company did business in Texas at one time although they no longer do.
Filing your mesothelioma lawsuit in the correct jurisdiction and venue is important because lawsuits are expensive. Having to re-file in a second jurisdiction because your attorney chose the wrong venue initially takes potential settlement or award dollars out of your pocket and wastes a great deal of time. Time, for many mesothelioma patients, is not on their side, so acting decisively and correctly filing the petition for damages is essential for a successful outcome.
Reaching out for help is the first step
If all of this seems like it is over your already-swimming head, take heart. You are not expected to know all of these legal distinctions. It’s okay to admit that you need some help sorting all of this out. Mesothelioma sufferers often are stoic in nature, believing that they have to “tough it out” and show a stiff upper lip about their medical misfortunes.