Being young and healthy is one of the things in life that you do not appreciate until they are gone. There was probably a time in your life when you visited a doctor once per year, if even that often, and at the end of the visit, the doctor simply said, “see you next year,” perhaps with a warning that you should lose weight in order to reduce your risk of ill health in the future. Perhaps, when you visited your grandparents as a child, you saw the grid-shaped box of pills that they had to take at different times every day, and you wondered why anyone would need to take that much medicine. Once you get diagnosed with a chronic illness, frequent doctor visits and an array of pills become the new normal; most of us get one blood test per year, but people with diabetes perform their own blood tests multiple times per day. Managing incurable diseases like mesothelioma can be truly exhausting, especially when your doctors are in different cities, the treatments make you feel sicker than you ever have from any other illness but you know you would be even worse off without them, and you have to be hospitalized for surgery just to find out how sick you are. The last thing that anyone would want to do in that situation would be to go to a law office and talk about money.
Talking to a mesothelioma lawyer sooner rather than later is the best option for several reasons, however. For one thing, experienced mesothelioma lawyers are in contact with medical specialists and mesothelioma support groups that can make it easier for you to manage the disease. Second, although nothing happens quickly in the court system, the sooner you contact a mesothelioma lawyer, the better your chances of getting enough money to ensure your financial stability and that of your family, and the more quickly you can get this money. Working with a mesothelioma lawyer starting now will mean less stress, not more.
Beware of the Statute of Limitations
Almost all legal actions have deadlines; statute of limitations is the legal term for the deadline by which you must begin a certain type of legal action. For example, if you stop making payments on a debt, the creditor only has a certain amount of time to try to collect the payment; if the deadline has passed, then the court will not accept a lawsuit from the creditor to help them collect the debt from you. With debt repayment lawsuits, as with personal injury lawsuits, the statute of limitations varies from one state to another.
With mesothelioma lawsuits, a mesothelioma diagnosis often occurs decades after the preventable asbestos exposure that caused the patient to develop mesothelioma. Therefore, the statute of limitations often begins counting down at the time of your diagnosis. When doctors make a cancer diagnosis, they usually want you to begin treatment promptly in order to improve your prognosis. You should also contact a mesothelioma lawyer shortly after your diagnosis, or have a family member contact one on your behalf, if you are too tired, stressed, and busy to contact a lawyer.
Mesothelioma Lawsuits Take a Long Time
You have probably seen articles in the news about plaintiffs winning personal injury lawsuits, whether because of mesothelioma or some other preventable illness or injury. In most cases, the accident or medical error that caused the injury happened many years before the court awarded a judgment to the plaintiff. Because of the statute of limitations, the plaintiff would have needed to notify the defendant of their intent to file a lawsuit within a few years of the accident; the statute of limitations varies from one state to another, and it is also different for different kinds of personal injury cases. Meanwhile, the case has gone through many steps by the time the plaintiff gets the money; the time it takes for all these steps adds up to several years.
After the plaintiff files the lawsuit, the plaintiff and the defendant engage in a process called discovery. During discovery, they present the evidence to each other that they plan to present to the court if the case goes to trial. Gathering this evidence is a time-consuming process in itself. It means that your lawyer must review your medical records in detail. Your lawyer will also have to take depositions from people who know information that is relevant to the case. A deposition is an interview that is conducted under oath and recorded in writing. Your lawyer will also consult mesothelioma experts who have not personally been involved in your treatment; these are expert witnesses, and they play an important role in mesothelioma cases and other lawsuits related to occupational diseases.
Meanwhile, your lawyer and the defendant might disagree about whether certain evidence is relevant to the case and about whether it is admissible in court. Your lawyer might have to attend hearings about specific pieces of evidence that your lawyer or the defendant’s lawyer wants to present. Regarding evidence presented by medical experts, most states follow the Daubert standard, a method of evaluating medical evidence outlined in a series of U.S. Supreme Court decisions in the 1990s. It requires medical experts to present their testimony to judges before presenting it to a jury. When the experts cite published research, the Daubert standard also requires that the research state its methodology clearly, be published in a peer-reviewed journal, and be based on clinical trials with human patients, instead of on animal experiments or in vitro studies.
In other words, there are many steps between filing a lawsuit and going to trial, and each of these steps is further subdivided into smaller steps. The steps do not always follow each other in a linear fashion, and it may sometimes feel like you and the defendant are going in circles instead of getting closer to the trial. When the court does schedule a trial, there is always a chance that the judge will postpone it by request of you or the defendant or for some other reason. Meanwhile, at any time between the initial lawsuit filing and the trial, the plaintiff and defendant can reach a settlement agreement. Most lawsuits settle without going to trial. In many cases, you have a better chance of getting your money by settling than by insisting on a trial. If the money the defendant proposes to pay in a settlement offer is not enough, your lawyer can negotiate for a better settlement.
Getting Started With a Mesothelioma Lawyer Now Can Help Ease the Burden
Mesothelioma is such a rare disease that, when most mesothelioma patients get their diagnosis, they have never met anyone else who has had mesothelioma. The things you have to do just to get through a single day with mesothelioma can seem overwhelming, but the first things you should focus on are finding a doctor who specializes in mesothelioma to give you the best advice about your medical treatment and hiring a mesothelioma who can protect you from the financial fallout from your mesothelioma case. Your lawyer and your lawyer’s team at the law firm will do the research necessary to decide the best strategies to get you the money you need. You will probably meet many other mesothelioma patients and their families as you proceed with your medical treatment and your legal case, but your lawyer can do precise research about your case, so you are not alone with Google and with the experiences of other people who are living with mesothelioma to figure out how to handle the legal and financial aspects of life with mesothelioma. Living with mesothelioma is a full-time job by itself, and so is being a close family member of someone undergoing cancer treatment. A mesothelioma lawyer’s full-time job is to gather documents and ask questions that will help you get the money you need.
Managing Stress During Your Mesothelioma Case
Living with cancer and caring for a family member suffering from cancer are two of the most stressful events a person can experience. As you navigate the medical and legal labyrinths of mesothelioma treatment and mesothelioma legal claims, you deserve to have people that you can talk to about anything, including your fears and frustrations about the mesothelioma diagnosis, the circumstances that led up to it, or your family’s future. It is a blessing to have family members and friends who will listen to you and will be helpful while not making things about them. Unfortunately, some people find that in difficult situations like living with cancer, the closest people in your life will behave in thoughtless and self-centered ways that you never thought possible. If you are living with mesothelioma or helping your spouse, parent, or sibling through it, do not be afraid to set boundaries with people in your life who are making you feel worse, even if they claim that they are trying to help. Your mesothelioma lawyer and your medical team can help you find counselors and support groups to help you cope with the stress of a mesothelioma diagnosis and the time-consuming legal process of getting compensation for asbestos exposure.