The National Institute of Health has estimated that 11 million people were exposed to asbestos between the years 1940 and 1978. With the latency period for mesothelioma (the time between exposure to asbestos and onset of the disease) typically between 25 to 50 years, it is projected that asbestos related cases will peak around the year 2020. This suggests that many individuals, for whom mesothelioma currently has little meaning, will yet have to seek medical care and legal assistance to cover health-related and other expenses. In considering this, it is important that the individual fully understand why contracting with a law firm can be critical.
Much of the reason for this has to do with the aforementioned latency period. The length of time between exposure and symptom onset/diagnosis often makes identification of where the exposure occurred (and thus who is responsible) difficult. Asbestos attorneys have resources for helping plaintiffs recall such occurrences including product identification books, employee records, contact information on former co-workers, etc. Such attorneys should also have a thorough understanding of case valuation as based upon several critical factors including the type of mesothelioma and its stage at diagnosis; the plaintiff’s age, gender, and work history; the plaintiff’s level of pain, suffering, loss of income and ability to keep working; and the exposure/diagnosis time lapse.
Perhaps more obvious, but equally important, the attorney experienced with injury cases brings an understanding of which jurisdictions tend to be more plaintiff-friendly, the ability to compare individual’s case with others he/she has handled, and a knowledge as to the reputation of the defendant(s) for going to trial versus settling.
Some might think that the possibility of success in mesothelioma cases is not very good, with bankruptcies of some major asbestos manufacturers. That is absolutely not true. Funds are available from some of these bankruptcy proceedings to help compensate persons with mesothelioma. Many defendants other than asbestos manufacturers, such as property owners, product manufacturers who included asbestos in their products, and businesses that operated on a site known to have asbestos, all may have legal responsibility for the contraction of mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure. Identification of these numerous defendants is a key element toward successful resolution of a mesothelioma case.
While no one can determine the outcome of an asbestos-related case or the amount of compensation the plaintiff may be awarded, attorney experience in this very specific area of personal injury law should prove advantageous.