Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer caused by asbestos exposure. Unfortunately, many companies continue using asbestos materials despite knowing the dangers. As a result, thousands of individuals working in construction and other industries are negligently exposed.
The diagnosis of mesothelioma can be devastating news for patients and their loved ones. Along with the emotional toll, the financial burden of treatments, care, and lost income can seem overwhelming.
However, legal options are available to help patients and families obtain much-needed compensation. No amount of money can make up for the suffering caused by irresponsible corporations. However, legal compensation helps provide a sense of justice and improve the quality of life.
Continue reading to learn how patients can pursue financial assistance after a mesothelioma diagnosis.
1) File a Personal Injury Lawsuit:
One of the main options for mesothelioma patients is filing a personal injury lawsuit against liable companies. These cases allow patients to hold employers legally accountable if their negligence led to asbestos exposure and subsequent illness. Lawsuits become an option after patients receive a mesothelioma diagnosis to establish where and when asbestos exposure occurred and determine who was responsible. With an experienced lawyer like those at Simmons Law Firm, many patients get substantial compensation through this process.
Lawsuits are typically filed against a former employer, asbestos product manufacturer, contractors, or premise owner of an exposed site. Your attorney must prove the defendant’s negligence directly caused harm. Key evidence includes work history records, product invoices, medical reports, expert testimonies, and more.
Most mesothelioma lawsuits never reach trial. Defendants often settle out of court to avoid negative publicity and potentially larger courtroom losses. However, your law firm must be ready to take your case to trial if fair compensation is not offered through negotiation and mediation.
2)File an Asbestos Trust Fund Claim:
Asbestos trust funds provide another avenue for patients to receive payouts. These trusts were set up as part of bankruptcy proceedings by companies that frequently used asbestos. Funds are required to compensate asbestos victims as a condition of emerging from bankruptcy protected from further lawsuits.
Patients can file claims directly against these established trusts. You simply need evidence of exposure to the company’s products and the resulting mesothelioma diagnosis. The process is faster and easier than lawsuits.
It is common and recommended to utilize both trust funds and lawsuits for compensation. Trust claims provide an initial payout to cover expenses following diagnosis. Lawsuits then pursue larger compensation from companies that remained solvent. This dual approach maximizes the total financial recovery for patients. Trust funds also pay settlements faster than lawsuits, getting funds to patients sooner when they need it most.
3)Seek Coverage Under Asbestos Liability Insurance Policies:
Companies frequently purchased liability insurance policies to cover future asbestos injury claims. Experienced lawyers can research policies taken out by a patient’s employer or asbestos product manufacturer that may provide coverage for losses based on where and when exposure occurred.
Even insurance policies that expired long ago may have clauses extending coverage for injuries like mesothelioma diagnosed years or decades later. Insurance companies defend aggressively, so skilled legal representation is key to securing payouts.
Claimants must demonstrate the applicability of the policy to their specific case details and asbestos exposure history. Lawyers work to prove losses fall under the policy’s liability coverage terms. This often involves locating decades-old policies, interpreting complex language, establishing employment timelines, and providing medical evidence.
If coverage is confirmed, demand letters and litigation may compel the insurer to settle claims they would otherwise deny. Payouts help recover damages without caps like trusts. While challenging, tapping into these expired asbestos liability policies can provide patients with another potential source of fair compensation.
4)Seek VA Disability Benefits:
Veterans make up approximately one-third of mesothelioma cases due to asbestos exposure in the military before 1980. All veterans who develop mesothelioma due to service-related asbestos contact can file a claim through their local Veterans Affairs (VA) regional office for monthly disability compensation.
To receive benefits, veterans should file a VA disability claim as soon as possible after diagnosis. This involves submitting service records, medical documents, and other evidence to determine eligibility and compensation rates. Claims should note all instances of possible asbestos contact during service, such as in naval shipyards, barracks, vehicles, or bases.
Most veterans retain a VA-accredited veteran disability lawyer to handle the claim efficiently and ensure accurate ratings. The law firm assists in gathering records, presenting evidence, and appealing any denials. Legal guidance maximizes approval chances and award amounts. Rates are often increased through appeals.
Seeking VA benefits provides crucial income and healthcare for veterans navigating a challenging diagnosis. Even if also pursuing lawsuits and trust funds, filing for VA compensation should remain a priority.
5)Claim Benefits Through State Asbestos Victim Funds:
Some states have created special funds to provide financial assistance to asbestos victims who meet eligibility criteria. These programs offer a potential avenue for supplemental compensation, especially if other legal options are exhausted.
For example, Ohio has an Asbestos Victims Compensation Fund offering benefits to eligible patients diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease. The state of Texas also has an Asbestos-Related Injury Fund with similar compensation programs.
Each state fund has specific requirements around residency, exposure details, and demonstrating financial hardship. Local experienced asbestos attorneys can research applicable programs in your state and advise if you may qualify for benefits as an additional resource.
While payouts are generally modest, these funds can provide some relief for lost wages, medical costs, and other needs. Fund administrators also may connect victims with healthcare assistance and services. State asbestos funds offer one more potential avenue for patients, though requirements limit eligibility.
6)Explore Social Security Disability
Those forced to stop working due to mesothelioma may also qualify for Social Security disability benefits. Both SSDI and SSI provide monthly income and medical coverage to those meeting medical and work requirements. Benefits continue until the patient becomes able to work again or passes away.
To receive SSDI, you must have paid into Social Security through past employment and meet disability qualifications. SSI has no work requirement but is based on financial need.
Each program has its own application process requiring detailed medical and financial documentation. Hiring a disability lawyer helps navigate the intricate process.
Monthly payment amounts vary based on your prior earnings and Social Security contributions. Social Security also provides crucial medical coverage through Medicare and Medicaid.
A mesothelioma diagnosis prompts difficult but necessary discussions regarding legal compensation. With proper legal guidance and a spirit of embracing life’s beauty, patients can discover hope after diagnosis. Though challenging, pursuing compensation through experienced lawyers provides crucial resources for treatment costs, living expenses, and recovery of damages. Financial settlements also bring a sense of justice and closure.