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Pennsylvania Mesothelioma Claims

What is Mesothelioma Claims in Pennsylvania

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Pennsylvania, recorded the third-highest number of mesothelioma-related deaths (1,711) in the United States between 2001 and 2010. As a result, the number of mesothelioma lawsuits filed in the state increased. This lawsuit or legal action is otherwise known as a mesothelioma claim.

Pursuant to the provisions of Pennsylvania mesothelioma and asbestos laws, mesothelioma claims allow victims of mesothelioma and their families to obtain compensation from the companies or employers who exposed them to asbestos. It takes between 20 to 50 years for mesothelioma to develop. Hence, mesothelioma claims are likely to persist in Pennsylvania and other states in the United States for many years to come.

Eligibility Requirements for Filing a Mesothelioma Claim in Pennsylvania

Persons diagnosed with mesothelioma or their families can file a lawsuit to claim financial compensation from companies or employers that exposed them to asbestos. Also, anyone who lost a family member due to mesothelioma in Pennsylvania can file a legal action to obtain compensation. However, there are specific eligibility requirements that the victims must meet when filing a mesothelioma claim in Pennsylvania. These requirements depend on the mesothelioma claim the victim seeks to file.

Mesothelioma Claim Statute of Limitation

According to Pa. Stat. § 5524(2), mesothelioma victims have two years to file a lawsuit for claims. This statute is interpreted as follows:

  • A victim of mesothelioma has two years from their diagnosis to file a mesothelioma claim.
  • A survivor of a mesothelioma victim has two years from the date of death of a loved one to file a claim.
  • A victim has two years from the time they should have known in the exercise of reasonable diligence that an injury developed due to asbestos exposure.

Therefore, the plaintiff or claimant must pay attention to this rule if they will not lose their right to file a claim in Pennsylvania.

Mesothelioma diagnosis

After a victim files a claim within the timeframe established by the statute of limitation, the individual must show medical records establishing a mesothelioma diagnosis. The evidence of a mesothelioma diagnosis endorsed by a certified physician is vital when filing a mesothelioma claim. It influences the amount the victim may eventually receive as compensation in most cases.

Evidence of asbestos exposure

A mesothelioma diagnosis alone is not enough to determine the success of a claim. The victim must provide evidence of their asbestos exposure. Also, they must establish that the asbestos exposure occurred due to the defendant's negligence or a breach of the duty of care by the defendant. A victim's exposure to asbestos can be substantiated by their work history in an organization that deals in or with asbestos or by their use of a product containing asbestos.

Types of Pennsylvania Mesothelioma Claims

Victims of mesothelioma in Pennsylvania can file three claims to obtain financial compensation. These claims are personal injury, wrongful death, and asbestos trust fund.

Mesothelioma Personal Injury Claim

A mesothelioma victim files a personal injury claim against a company or an employer that they believe is responsible for exposing them to asbestos. Also, victims who get exposed to asbestos via products containing asbestos can file a personal injury claim against the company that manufactured the product. A claimant, in this case, can base the claim on the defendant's negligence or a breach of the duty of care. The claim can also be on product or premise liability.

It is the claimant's responsibility to prove that the company or the employer owed them a duty of care and that it was "reasonably foreseeable" that the defendant's conduct would cause damage to the claimant. The victim must also prove a breach of duty of care. The victim presents the level of care required and whether the company provided that necessary level of care.

Furthermore, a victim's product liability claim can rest on the failure of the manufacturer to warn the consumers about the latent dangers of the product. Likewise, the victims exposed to asbestos can present premise liability on a defendant's premise. In Pennsylvania, landowners have a legal duty to ensure their property is free from dangerous or potentially harmful conditions.

Mesothelioma Wrongful Death Claim

A mesothelioma wrongful death claim is a lawsuit filed on behalf of someone who died of malignant mesothelioma. Any surviving family member of the deceased such as parents, spouse, and children, can file this claim. This claim is typically against one or more companies that exposed the deceased to asbestos. Filing a mesothelioma wrongful death claim allows a family financial compensation for medical, funeral, and other necessary expenses. Family members can also receive compensation for their grief and suffering and the loss of the normal life of the deceased family member.

Asbestos Trust Fund Claim

An asbestos trust fund claim is a mesothelioma claim that individuals file against a bankrupt company. Following the increase in mesothelioma and other asbestos-related lawsuits around late 1900, many companies dealing in asbestos filed for bankruptcy to avoid paying for their wrongdoings. The bankruptcy courts mandated these companies to establish asbestos trust funds to take care of the compensation of future victims of asbestos exposure. Hence, it led to the establishment of various asbestos trust funds.

Victims of mesothelioma can file their asbestos settlements to the specific trust fund established by the bankrupt companies responsible for exposing them to asbestos. Any individual willing to file an asbestos trust fund claim must be able to prove that they or their loved ones have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and that their illness is a result of exposure to an asbestos-containing product from a particular bankrupt company. Individuals can file multiple claims with different trust funds if exposed to numerous asbestos-containing products. However, each asbestos trust fund has requirements that individuals must follow when filing claims.

Claims filed with asbestos trust funds are reviewed in two ways: expedited or individual reviews. Each claim is considered independently in an individual review based on its uniqueness. Usually, an individual review takes longer and may receive a higher amount than the expedited review. Meanwhile, the expedited review entails grouping and treating claims based on a diagnosis. An expedited review is usually faster compared to an individual review.

Other available compensation sources for mesothelioma victims are workers' compensation and veteran disability claims. Workers Compensation Act empowers an asbestos worker in Pennsylvania to file a worker's compensation claim. The act defines the liability of an employer to pay damages for injuries that an employee sustained in the course of employment. Workers in Pennsylvania who get exposed to asbestos in the line of duty can file this claim.

Specifically, a worker in Pennsylvania has 120 days to report an injury to their employer to be qualified to receive compensation. If the victim reports the injury within 21 days, they may receive their benefits from the date of the injury. If the victim reports the injury after 21 days, the benefits will start from the date such victim reports the injury. Furthermore, a victim must seek medical attention immediately for proper documentation. Medical records are an essential part of the evidence that the victim will present during the claim process in Pennsylvania.

Additionally, the worker can file their claim with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry. The statute of limitation for occupational disease under the act specifies that workers cannot claim benefits if the injury or illness does not manifest within 300 weeks. However, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling that a mesothelioma victim can file a claim for injuries against their employers once mesothelioma is diagnosed overrules this limitation. The workers' compensation is not a lawsuit. However, any worker who files for a workers' compensation claim can no longer sue their employers for damages.

Veteran disability claim provides compensation for veterans with mesothelioma. Veterans may receive 100 percent disability compensation and other assistance like special monthly compensation and VA health care from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. Surviving spouse of a veteran who died due to a service-connected disability is also eligible for dependency indemnity compensation (DIC).

Why File a Mesothelioma Claim

Mesothelioma or malignant mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive cancer of the mesothelial tissue. This cancer is predominantly caused by exposure to asbestos. Although cancer takes time to develop, there is currently no known cure available for the damages caused by mesothelioma. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention puts the minimum survival after malignant mesothelioma diagnosis at approximately one year.

Besides, the financial and psychological burden of mesothelioma is enormous. The financial burden is predicated on the high cost of treatments, including chemotherapy, surgery, and other recommended therapies. On the other hand, the psychological burdens include stress and trauma for the victims and their family members. These enormous financial and psychological burdens prompt a mesothelioma victim or family member to seek damages from organizations or employees believed to have exposed them to asbestos. The damages sought (financial compensation) cover medical expenses, living expenses, lost income, and burial expenses.

How to File a Mesothelioma Suit in Pennsylvania

Filing a mesothelioma suit in Pennsylvania is a serious issue because of the various considerations attached to each type of claim. Often, the concerns surrounding a mesothelioma case are beyond the understanding of the victim or their family member. It is, therefore, imperative to seek the counsel and services of an experienced mesothelioma attorney in Pennsylvania. The attorney will be able to guide the victim or their family through the legal procedures involved in filing any of the mesothelioma claims relevant to the victim's situation.

One of the first things that the attorney will look into is the specific case of the victim, considering all the available documents, such as medical records, employment histories, diagnosis, other professional views, and witnesses. This phase of building the plaintiffs' complaint is critical to the success or failure of the suit. Hence, the attorney will carefully help the victim to do the following:

  • Establish the eligibility of the victim to file a claim
  • Conclude on the type of claim to file based on the specifics of the victims' case.
  • Investigate the victims' asbestos exposure histories by looking into the victim's lived experiences.
  • Conclude on who is the liable entity. Depending on the victim's work history and available evidence, the liable entity may be the employer, a manufacturer of a particular asbestos-containing product, and a landowner. However, it is possible to have more than one responsible entity for a mesothelioma claim.
  • Determine the right time (considering the statute of limitations) and place (regarding jurisdiction) to file a claim
  • Prepare the complaint document and file the suit accordingly. After paying the filing cost, the defendant will receive notification, and they must respond within 30 days to the complaint.
  • Negotiate an acceptable settlement for the victim

In case the plaintiff and the defendant cannot settle, the attorney will follow up the case to trial.

How Long Does Filing a Mesothelioma Claim Take in Pennsylvania

There is no established timeline for filing a mesothelioma case in Pennsylvania. Depending on the situations surrounding a victim and the peculiarity of their case, a mesothelioma case can be filed when the attorney representing the claimant opines that a victim meets the eligibility criteria for filing a case. However, the victim must be wary of the statute of limitation law regarding mesothelioma in Pennsylvania and ensure they act within the boundary of this law.

In Pennsylvania, anyone considering a mesothelioma claim has two years to file a personal injury claim when a licensed physician diagnoses the person with mesothelioma. Also, the survivors of anyone who died of mesothelioma have two years to file a wrongful death claim. Therefore, the statute of limitation presents the timeframe that anyone must file a mesothelioma claim in Pennsylvania, irrespective of the various activities.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Mesothelioma Settlement in Pennsylvania?

A mesothelioma settlement happens when a company agrees to compensate a victim exposed to asbestos through their product or when working for them. Settlement is one of the ways of resolving mesothelioma claims in Pennsylvania. However, if the company refuses to compensate the victim, the case proceeds to trial. Most times, the plaintiffs and defendants resolve mesothelioma cases before trial. Despite this, fixing a particular time for mesothelioma settlement in Pennsylvania is still complicated. It depends on how soon the attorneys representing the plaintiff and the defendant can agree on an acceptable compensation for the victim.