A mesothelioma diagnosis can be hard to deal with; however, as you start treatment, you can look at various legal options. One of these options is litigation against the asbestos companies – providing that this takes place within the legal time frame, after which a law called “statute of limitations” prevents the case from proceeding. This lawsuit could either be for damages or compensation for medical bills and other expenses. Both types of suits require the assistance of an experienced attorney.
If your mesothelioma case has made it to trial and you’re seeking compensation from a third party, you want to be represented by a lawyer who knows the ins and outs of handling mesothelioma litigation cases. Perhaps you are wondering what you should be asking your lawyer if your mesothelioma case goes to trial. We may have some of the answers here.
1. What type of trial will you face?
If you are fighting a mesothelioma lawsuit and your case moves to trial, it is important to consider what type of trial will be best for your needs. There are three main types of trials:
- A bench trial
- A jury trial
- An arbitration hearing
Not everyone understands the legal jargon so it is always best to hire a professional attorney. If you’re a resident of Texas, you should consider looking for a Texas mesothelioma lawyer to handle your case and guide you throughout the process well. Your lawyer will help you decide which type of trial is best for your case and how to prepare.
If you are suing an insurance company, for instance, they will likely want a bench trial rather than a jury trial because they know they will get less negative publicity from a judge than they would from 12 jurors hearing all the details of what happened on their watch.
2. How to set the trial date
Mesothelioma lawsuits can take years before they reach a settlement or a verdict. There is no fixed timeline for these cases as each varies in nature and the location of where you are filing your case. It is natural to worry about the length of this process as, unfortunately, the 5-year survival rate of mesothelioma patients is just 10%.
Your hired attorney will file several motions before your case reaches its trial stage. Both parties cannot settle; they’ll work with the court to decide a trial date. Many factors affect the setting of the date, which include:
- Previous cases in the court
- The Discovery phase can further prolong the time
- Nature of the case – numbers of parties involved, witnesses, etc.
- Schedule of your lawyer – your lawyer may be handling more than just one case.
- Health experts may be busy – mesothelioma lawsuits require a lot of research and fact-checking with healthcare professionals and others. Their availability can change your trial date.
- The law requires courts to handle criminal cases and give a speedy trial. Civil cases sometimes get delayed.
3. Can a settlement be reached after a trial date is set?
If you’re facing a trial for your mesothelioma lawsuit, your attorney may try to negotiate with the other side (the defendant) or even reach an agreement before going into court at all. However, if you’ve already tried negotiating without success, it’s unlikely that anything will change between now and when the case goes to the courtroom.
The important thing is to know how much compensation you can get before you opt for or are coerced into a settlement. Don’t feel pressured into settling for less with the fear of handling the complexities of the lawsuit or lengthy trials.
4. Is it important to be present at every hearing?
Some judges will allow defendants (the people or companies accused of causing your mesothelioma) or their lawyers to appear by phone when they do not have an objection to one side being absent from court. This can save you time and money if there is not much going on at court hearings. However, there are times when being present at court hearings is necessary – if the other side presents a settlement offer or if something unexpected happens during the trial that could impact how the judge rules on certain issues.
But, in mesothelioma lawsuits, it is understandable that the patient may have difficulty reaching the courts due to illness, treatment, or even their demise. In such a case, your lawyer will try to arrange for someone else (a family member or friend) to testify on behalf of their client.
5. What happens after the verdict? What are appeals?
This depends on whether or not you win or lose your case. If you win and receive an award, then whatever damages were awarded will be paid out by the defendant company within 30 days of the judgment being entered on behalf of your client(s). The defendant company may go into appeal if they feel the verdict was against them and they do not wish to pay you. This is very rare in mesothelioma lawsuits. In terms of the law, an appeal simply cannot be filed by the losing party because they are unhappy with the verdict. They must present sound evidence to prove that an error was made which led to the court taking an incorrect ruling.
Unfortunately, if you lose, you will have to pay all court costs incurred by both parties involved in the case.
Mesothelioma is a devastating disease, and the thought of taking on a corporation or individual with little or no experience in court can be nerve-wracking. At the end of the day, securing that compensation can take guts and determination, and getting legal advice is just as important as submitting a great mesothelioma lawsuit. So make sure to speak with an experienced attorney about your case, who will be able to guide you through this process and help you get the most compensation possible, no matter what the outcome of your case turns out to be.
In the end, the ultimate goal of your lawyer should be to obtain a fair settlement offer or to win your case at trial. Asking key questions can help you assess your case and how likely it is that you’ll obtain the results that you want. It also helps ensure that your lawyer will provide you with high-quality representation to get what you rightly deserve.