Frequently Asked Questions about Asbestos Litigation

This page contains answers to common questions asked about asbestos personal injury litigation. Detailed information about other aspects of asbestos injury may be found on other pages of this website.

Does a lawsuit have to be filed for a victim to be compensated for asbestos disease?

Ordinarily Yes. Although the companies that sold asbestos products are clearly responsible for the diseases caused in those who used the products, nearly all the companies continue to deny any responsibility when presented with a claim. As a result, it is highly unlikely that any individual can expect to be compensated without some form of legal action. In some states, and in some situations, workers compensation coverage may provide nominal relief to a disabled victim. However, generally, workers compensation benefits do not provide meaningful relief.

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What is involved in an asbestos lawsuit?

Not every asbestos lawsuit is the same. However, generally in preparation of an asbestos lawsuit, the following activities will take place:

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How are attorney fees handled in asbestos litigation?

Getting a lawsuit to trial may take several months or two or more years depending on the court. Preparation for the trial will require the hiring of expert witnesses to educate the jury about medical and other issues in the case. The cost of travel and depositions may run into several thousand dollars. Ordinarily, the lawyer representing the plaintiff advances all initial costs associated with suit preparation and trial. Some expenses may be recovered if there are early settlements with some defendants. Attorney fees are usually based on contingency fee contracts where the lawyers receive some percentage of what is recovered for the victim. In this scenario, if there is no recovery, there is no fee.

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Should an asbestos case be filed in state or federal court?

If possible, asbestos personal injury cases are usually filed in state court. Due to a quirk in federal court practice, all asbestos cases in federal court that have been filed since 1990 have been assigned to one judge in Philadelphia. That judge has never allowed a case to be tried in federal court for punitive damages, thus protecting the defendants from exposure to the full extent of damages permitted under state law. Because of this, since the defendants recognize the federal court will protect them, they generally try to do everything they can to get the case into federal court while the victims do everything they can to stay out of federal court.

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How do I find a lawyer to handle my case?

Asbestos litigation is an area in which a select number of firms have a good deal of experience and knowledge. Due to the availability of lawyers to broadcast advertising over the internet, there is a wide degree of knowledge and ability among the lawyers who hold themselves out as "experts" on the internet. Neither nor asbestos victims information provide legal services or advice. However, the best advice we can give anyone seeking legal services is not to rely solely on the fact that a lawyer has a website as a gauge of his ability.

If you are a victim and a union member, you might be well-advised to contact you union national headquarters and ask them to recommend a lawyer they believe experienced in your area. If you are relying on a website advertisement, the phone directory, or any published solicitation for your business, and you are a victim with a serious injury, do not be shy about asking the lawyer for his qualifications before you hire him. The time you spend hiring the correct lawyer for your problem is well-spent.

Ask the lawyer: (1) How many cases he has actually tried; (2) where, and (3) what the results were? Ask the lawyer how many cases his firm has handled and what types of diseases were involved. Ask the lawyer if he intends to actually handle your case personally, or whether his intentions are solely to refer your case to another law firm in exchange for a portion of the fee. If a lawyer cannot honestly tell you he has tried several cases, that he will be involved in handling your case, and that his firm has the experience you need, you might want to consider a different lawyer.

Even if you are not a union member, you might want to call up the local union for one of the building, insulation or construction trades to get their opinion on who might be best to handle your case. In short, take time to select the right lawyer for you.

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