How do I find the best mesothelioma attorney?
We see their ads on TV all the time. The mesothelioma attorney commercials tell us that if you or a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma then we should call a 800 number to find out about your legal rights. Other ads discuss millions or billions of dollars available to asbestos victims. Is this hype or is there some truth to any of this?
Like most things in life, the truth lies in the details. But to understand what actually may be available to any one mesothelioma victim, a little background is needed.
Why do I need an attorney for mesothelioma?
Asbestos is Dangerous
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that was used widely by industry because of four main properties: 1) it is resistant to heat; 2) it is resistant to corrosion; 3) it is a fiber so it can be woven into other materials; 4) it is relatively cheap. By the early part of the 20th century, asbestos was used in thousands of different products from automobile brake pads to linoleum floors to roof shingles to oven mitts. However, there was just one problem – workers who manufactured asbestos containing products were getting sick with various lung ailments. By the 1930’s companies knew they had a problem and they hired scientists to investigate. The answer came back and it resounded in the board rooms of these asbestos companies – asbestos was a toxin. Further investigation would determine that asbestos could cause lung scarring, asbestosis, and even cancer.
Asbestos Industry Hides the Truth
And this critical point in time, these companies had a decision to make – did they protect their workers and customers and phase out asbestos or do they try to keep this knowledge a secret. Unfortunately, as court documents demonstrated years later, they chose the latter. And they were, unfortunately, successful. Throughout the decades of the 1930’s, 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s they kept on using asbestos. During this time, thousands of people got sick and died from asbestos related diseases, but the companies continued to make profits. Then things changed with the involvement of Dr. Irving Selikoff and others. Dr. Selikoff was an epidemiologist (a researcher who studies the causes of disease). He determined what asbestos company scientists had discovered years before – asbestos is both toxic and carcinogenic to the human body and could cause chronic and incurable diseases. The asbestos industry was sued and fought by stating that they had no idea that asbestos could be dangerous. This argument, however, proved unsuccessful. A trail of documents demonstrated that certain companies knew much about the dangers of asbestos and did what they could to keep that information a secret.
For example, one company that produced asbestos containing products, Raybestos-Manhattan or “Raymark” had to produce correspondence retained by Sumner Simpson who was president of the company in the 1930’s and 40’s. A judge who reviewed the “Sumner Simpson Papers” which are sometimes called the “Pentagon Papers of the Asbestos Industry” described them as:
“The correspondence very arguably shows a pattern of denial and disease and attempts at suppression of information…a conscious effort by the industry in the 1930’s to downplay, or arguably suppress, the dissemination of information to employees and the public for fear of the promotion of lawsuits.”
Trust Funds are Set-Up
Once the truth came out that the major asbestos companies either knew or should have known that asbestos could hurt or kill people then they were sued thousands of times by asbestos victims and their families who were represented by the earliest mesothelioma attorneys. After a time, many of these companies sought bankruptcy protection. However, before they could file Chapter 11, most were required to establish trust funds so there would be compensation available to future victims.
Today, over 60 such trust funds have been set-up and asbestos litigation has become the longest and most expensive mass tort in the history of America involving nearly 9,000 defendants and over 700,000 claimants. Since the 1970’s it is estimated that over $50 billion have been paid out to asbestos victims such as those diagnosed with mesothelioma.
No Upfront Cost to You
A mesothelioma attorney typically takes a contingency fee or percentage of what they collect for their clients.
How a Mesothelioma Attorney Can Help
Therefore, returning to the question – is there really money available to asbestos victims? The answer is – it depends. It depends on when and how the person was exposed to asbestos. It also depends on whether the victim acts promptly because there are statutes of limitations that applies. However, in principle there is money that may be potentially available from both bankrupt and non-bankrupt companies.
To find out what may be available to you, please fill-out the information below and you will be contacted by an experienced mesothelioma attorney who will do their best to help you.