Since the dangers of asbestos came to light in the 1970s, several law firms have decided to specialize in asbestos litigation. For these cases, the lawyers have been able to prove that employers and the government were aware of the dangers of asbestos but did not act quickly enough to ban it or inform employees of the potential dangers to their health. Therefore, employers can be held liable for damages due to asbestos exposure.
Asbestos litigation is complicated as the party to be sued may be located in another jurisdiction than the plaintiff or there are laws regarding the statute of limitations for this case. There is a limited amount of time to file suit after discovering an asbestos-related illness.
If you are part of a group of injured persons, then you may currently or have been part of a class action lawsuit that sought redress collectively. If there was been an award or settlement, you may not bring an individual suit against the other party. If you have waived you right to participate in the class action suit, then an individual lawsuit may proceed as normal. Failure to waive the right to participate in the class action suit makes you part of the suit by default.
What to tell your attorney
If you have developed an illness such as asbestosis or mesothelioma, you will likely have some awareness of when and how you were exposed to asbestos. Even if you do not know, the law firm can usually help you figure it out. In order to file suit for asbestos related damages, one must have an illness caused by asbestos exposure. Without an actual illness due to exposure, the case may not proceed.
How do I prepare for my appointment?
You must gather all documents related to your exposure. For instance, if you were exposed to asbestos while working in construction, bring any and all proof you have of your employment including pay records and contracts.
If you accrued medical expenses as a result of asbestos exposure, you should bring documents related to your hospitalization, especially the medical bills as this can help the asbestos lawyer determine the amount of the award or settlement.
Family members may file suit for individuals that are deceased. Ensure to gather the relevant documentation. The lawyer will be able to determine if the case is within the statute of limitations.
Where to look for an attorney
Advertising for asbestos lawyers is very common as specialized firms tend to serve the entire country. They will generally travel to meet you, file the civil suit in the appropriate jurisdiction (which may not be the one you live in) and attempt to make the process as simple as possible. These lawyers are typically found in public directories and television/radio advertisements.
There are drawbacks to using big and prominent asbestos law firms. For one, you may not be able to meet your legal representation face-to-face, which will diminish your ability to ask questions and have your concerns addressed. They may also try to expedite a settlement without going to trial to complete your case as they will have many clients. This may deny you of your right to seek redress in court and receive the maximum possible settlement.
You may use this website to find an attorney. To do so, use the search box on top of all pages. You may also compare attorneys and ask free questions by clicking Find Attorneys on top of the page.
Do I need a specialist?
Due to the unique circumstances, laws and statutes governing asbestos, it is highly recommended to seek or obtain a referral for a lawyer that specializes in asbestos litigation.
Evaluating Experience & Education
As asbestos litigation is complicated and very specialized, one should look for a lawyer with a proven record of winning damages for mesothelioma and other asbestos related illnesses. Check the lawyer’s credentials to make sure they come from an accredited law school and that the lawyer is a member of the state bar association.
Remember that advertising and name recognition are not always hallmarks of good lawyers and should never be used when evaluating an attorney.
Personality and Values
Communication is also key to maintaining a solid client-retainer relationship especially in cases where the firm is far away and/or working in another jurisdiction. You may have to travel to testify even if the firm is willing to travel to meet with you. Especially when dealing with a large law firm, if an attorney makes it difficult to talk or meet with him, you may want to reconsider your decision as a lack of communication may jeopardize your settlement or award.
Be aware of unreasonable fees, illegal activity or coercion on the part of the attorney or firm. Bar associations maintain dispute resolution and grievance services for clients that have issues with their attorney.
Rates, Fees & Retainers
There are various fees that are accrued when consulting and retaining a lawyer. It is important to be aware of these fees. Hourly rates are rare in asbestos litigation, but still possible. You should be able to get all fees in writing from a reputable attorney. Some fees may not be applicable in class action lawsuits.
A contingency fee is a percentage of the award that the asbestos lawyer is entitled to claim if they win the case and this is agreed upon by the lawyer and client. Nearly all asbestos lawyers accept cases on this basis and the fee can range from 25-50% of the award with adjustments for settling out of court. Other factors may include the costs of expert witnesses and services rendered. These fees are generally non-negotiable with the lawyer unless regulated by law or accompanying a case with the possibility of a substantial award.
A retainer fee is a non-refundable advance payment by the client that covers the cost of services provided by the lawyer.
A referral fee can be charged by some attorneys that do not take asbestos cases but do know another attorney at another firm with that specialty. This does not increase the fees that the client must pay, but is merely an agreement between two attorneys to share the award. The State Bar usually requires the approval and disclosure of this agreement to the client. An attorney that has been referred has the best incentive to win the case and indeed some of the best lawyers only accept referrals.
If you cannot afford a lawyer, you may be able to find a firm that will work pro bono or on a payment plan. Most asbestos lawyers work by contingency.
Interviewing your attorney
The following questions are important when interviewing your attorney:
What fees do I pay for retaining your services?
Can I have that in writing?
Will I have to testify or travel?
Has there been a class action suit related to my circumstances?
What percentage of the award will you collect?
Can I contact you directly if there is a problem?
Will you allow me to examine your credentials?
What is your experience with asbestos litigation?
If you cannot handle my case, can you refer me to a lawyer that can?
Asbestos was used for many years in a variety of products. A great many people were exposed to asbestos, and they have become very sick. There are even certain kinds of cancer that are now called asbestos cancer. Lawyers specialize in bringing these kinds of cases to court. You need to get a good asbestos lawyer to help you deal with the legal ramifications of asbestos exposure. Groups of asbestos lawyers are ready to help you with bills and the other problems that grow out of the positive diagnosis for cancer.
An asbestos lawyer can take some of the burden that comes from being sick. Let your asbestos lawyers do most of the heavy lifting. Companies and organizations that knowingly expose people to asbestos are liable for damages, but you will need a good asbestos lawyer to get everything you deserve. Asbestos lawyers can help you when you are sick or even help a family after someone has passed away.
If you are part of a family who has a loved one who perished from asbestos cancer, Lawyers are the best way you can have a successful wrongful death suit is by retaining an asbestos lawyer, or a group of asbestos lawyers. They may be able to negotiate a settlement in your favor without having to go to court, which may be simpler for you in the long run. An asbestos lawyer understands that the most important thing is to get you the help that you have to have.