Saturday, February 28, 2015

Mesothelioma Lawsuits

It wasn’t until the late 20th century that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officially concluded that exposure to asbestos caused certain serious diseases, including mesothelioma. As a result of this, along with the potentially long period before symptoms appear, many new cases of asbestos-related disease arise every year. At the Throneberry Law Group, we work diligently for you to obtain the resources you need in order to receive the best medical treatment available.

Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations describes the amount of time an individual has to file a lawsuit. Each state has different laws regarding the statute of limitations as it relates to asbestos-related claims. Generally speaking, the person making the claim (the plaintiff) must file a lawsuit within two years of the diagnosis. If the person exposed to asbestos has died, a wrongful death lawsuit may be initiated by that person’s survivors. In this case, the wrongful death lawsuit must be made within two years of the victim’s date of death.  Again, each state has different statute of limitations so speaking with an attorney is necessary to determine if you are within the statute of limitations to file a lawsuit.

Information Required

In order to prove a mesothelioma case, there are several items that must be documented, including, but not limited, to:
  1.  The victim’s past employment history;
  2. The victim’s medical history and reports;
  3. The medical expenses related to the illness;
  4.  The asbestos in the workplace;
  5.  A list of activities the victim can no longer do as a result of the illness; and
  6.  Disabilities the victim now has due to the illness.

It is important to locate and provide as much of this information as possible. The more thorough the documentation, the better chance of success you will have.

Litigation Process

Prior to going to court, it is common for both sides to attempt to settle the case. If this is accomplished, the defendant will pay the plaintiff, and the two sides go on their way. If a settlement is not reached at this point, the plaintiff will file a complaint, which officially begins the lawsuit. Keep in mind, however, that a settlement may occur at any point during the lawsuit.

Next, both sides will complete discovery. This process involves both sides attempting to gather information from each other that will strengthen their respective case. For a plaintiff, it is important to be prepared to have numerous questions asked about your personal and professional life. The defendant will be searching for anything in your past that may have had an impact on the development of your illness. The questions may feel invasive, but keep in mind they are not personal and we will be there with you to protect your rights.

After discovery has ended, the next major step is the actual trial. At the trial, both sides will present evidence and examine witnesses in an attempt to convince the jury of the merits of their case. The jury will then decide whether they believe the defendant was liable, and, if so, the amount of compensation the defendant should have to pay.

We Can Help

At the Throneberry Law Group, we have the experience necessary to aggressively fight for your rights and the compassion required to understand the difficult illness you face. We want to help you secure the compensation you deserve.

Call us today at 888-506-1131 or email us online for a free, no-cost case evaluation.

Friday, February 27, 2015

What happens if the Victim in an Asbestos-related Case has died?

Asbestos can remain in the body, seemingly dormant, for a long period of time. As a result, it may be very near the end of the victim’s life before it is clear that exposure to asbestos caused a life-threatening disease. This raises an important question for victims and the families of victims: if the victim predeceases a lawsuit for being exposed to asbestos, what recourse does the victim’s family have?

Wrongful Death Claim

A claim of wrongful death alleges that the death would not have occurred were it not for the negligent actions of the defendant. In mesothelioma or asbestos-related claims, the defendant is often the company the victim worked for. It is important to note that it is irrelevant that the exposure may have been unintentional. Another consideration, particularly because of the long period in which asbestos-related injury may not appear, is the statute of limitations. It is critical to determine if the statute starts from the time of the misconduct or from the date of the discovery of the disease. The statute of limitations varies from state to state.

In a wrongful death claim, a representative will file suit on behalf of the victim’s survivors, who are called the “real parties in interest.” The representative is typically the executor of the estate. In all states, immediate family members, such as spouses and children, are considered the real parties in interest. Other individuals, such as more distant relatives or domestic partners, may also be considered the real parties in interest, but this varies by state.

Types of Damages

There are generally three types of damages that may be recovered in wrongful death cases: economic, non-economic, and punitive. Economic damages can be thought of as the tangible or actual financial costs suffered by a victim and his or her survivors. These may include such items as the victim’s lost expected future earnings or the medical and funeral expenses. 

Non-economic damages can be more difficult to determine, but may have higher value than economic damages. These often include the mental anguish or pain and suffering of survivors. Punitive damages exist as a way to punish the defendant for bad conduct. However, in many states punitive damages are not available in wrongful death claims.

The process for determining the damage amount can be very complex. It is common for expert witnesses with backgrounds in economics, finance, or actuarial science to be used. These experts will testify as to what they believe the value of the damages should be.

Mesothelioma and Asbestos Attorneys

If you believe a loved one died as a result of exposure to asbestos, it may still be possible for you to be compensated for your loss. However, it is important for you to speak to an attorney as soon as possible. The attorneys at the Throneberry Law Group have the experience and compassion necessary to help you through this difficult time. Contact us today with any questions you may have regarding any asbestos-related injuries.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Bankruptcy in Mesothelioma Claims

The potential awards or settlements in asbestos-related injury claims can be substantial But what happens if the defendant has filed for bankruptcy? Does that mean recovery is impossible? Fortunately, the answer is no, there is still a way for people hurt by exposure to asbestos to receive compensation from liable companies that have since gone into bankruptcy.

Bankruptcy Protection and Trust Funds

Defendants in asbestos-related injury claims may have (or will) file for bankruptcy through Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code (hereinafter, the “Code”). Under this form of bankruptcy, the company or individual reorganizes and develops a plan to remain in business. Under §524 of the Code, if the bankruptcy plan is approved, the company is protected from lawsuit.

However, pursuant to §524(g), in order to receive this injunction from litigation, the following conditions must be met:

1.     There is a trust for present and future claimants.
2.     The trust is funded by securities of at least one of the debtors.
3.     The trust owns a majority of the voting shares of each debtor, of the parent corporation of the debtor, or of a subsidiary of the debtor.
4.      The trust will use its assets and income to pay claims.
5.     The trust will value and pay similar claims in substantially the same manner.
6.     The trust is approved by 75% of current claimants.

Operation of Trust Funds

After funding the trust, the company has little involvement. Trustees manage the trust for the benefit of the claimants and follow preset distribution procedures. Making a claim for trust funds is similar to filing a lawsuit against the company to recover damages, though the process is simpler and usually faster. However, many of the same items must be proven, such as exposure to asbestos and the development of a disease as a result of that exposure. Additionally, as with filing a lawsuit, there are many state-specific laws that apply, so speaking to an attorney is important.

Claims are usually reviewed using either the expedited review or the individual review. Under an expedited review, the value of different diseases is set and published for claimants to view. If a claimant meets the predetermined criteria, he or she will be entitled to payment. Under an individual review, there are no set values associated with a disease. Instead, the focus is on the individual circumstances and claim amounts will vary. 

If the claim is approved, it will then be liquidated. This simply means the claim will be assigned a monetary value. The actual payment amount that a claimant receives is usually a percentage of the liquidated amount. Claims are paid as a percentage of the liquidated amount in order to ensure that the trust will have enough funds to pay all future claimants.

Mesothelioma and Asbestos Attorneys

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, we can help. At the Throneberry Law Group, we travel nationwide to provide experienced representation to those in need. Please contact us today.