Wednesday, November 4, 2009
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Mesothelioma Lawyers - Important Information for Patients
By Michael Horwin, MA, JD*
Deciding to pursue legal recourse and selecting an attorney to represent you in a mesothelioma or asbestos lawsuit are important decisions that should be made carefully. I have seen some families receive $500,000 and others be awarded nearly $30 million. I have seen some lawyers reject a case only to have another firm accept it and make a big success of it. And I have seen some families wait nearly three years to receive their first check while others received large checks within three months of filing a claim. The main reasons for these differences are the facts of the patient's situation and the law firm chosen.
The Facts of Your Situation
Some mesothelioma patients know they worked around asbestos, but many do not know how they were exposed or how often. In fact, many people are not sure if they were ever near this carcinogen. Unfortunately, there have been thousands of products that contained asbestos - cigarette filters, hair dryers, brakes, basement and roof materials, pipes, boilers, insulation, and many other products found throughout the home and at work. If you were diagnosed with mesothelioma it is more than likely that you were exposed to asbestos multiple times in your life and that this happened decades before your diagnosis.
In general, the value of your case depends on how many asbestos containing products you were exposed to, the number of identifiable defendants that still exist (many have declared bankruptcy), your age and earning capacity. And the speed of your case can depend on a number of variables including the state where you worked and lived when you were exposed to asbestos.
The Law Firm You Choose
When you have been given the news about this terrible disease, you may not feel that you have the time to deal with the legal questions - Should I talk to a lawyer? Should I file a claim? However, you should not wait too long to learn about your legal rights for at least three reasons:
A. Statutes of Limitations - There are statute of limitations which means you only have a limited time to file your case after diagnosis. The statute of limitations time period is set by individual states and varies. The clock usually starts ticking on the day of diagnosis.
B. Financial Pressure - A mesothelioma diagnosis can bring financial stress, less income, more expenses, and treatments that are not covered by insurance. Knowing that money may be on the way from filing a claim can bring financial relief.
C. Lawyers Can be Excellent Resources - The more experienced mesothelioma lawyers and law firms can often be excellent sources of information about various doctors and treatment options available for this disease.
But, picking a lawyer is serious business and you should not use TV ads as the reason to hire an attorney. Actual credentials are what counts. For example, what type of accomplishments has the law firm achieved? How committed are they to mesothelioma/asbestos cases? Are these cases a substantial part of their practice or just a small piece? How many other cases like yours have they handled?
Also, make sure you understand the fees being charges. Contingency is the term that means that the lawyer gets paid only after they collect money for you. The amount of the contingency fee that your lawyer can charge varies and is usually between 33% and 40%. It is important to discuss fees openly, ask what services they cover, how they are calculated, and whether there will be any extra charges.
Finally, for something as important as a mesothelioma lawsuit, your attorney should not only be experienced, skilled, and dedicated, but also a trusted partner who understands that your health needs always take precedence. The best lawyers are those that are not only expert at what they do, but are also caring, supportive, thoughtful and compassionate.
Below are two mesothelioma law firms that have impressed us with their accomplishments, successes and testimonials. If you are in another state, call us at 1-619-599-3112 and we can share with you the names of reputable mesothelioma law firms in your region.