New York Mesothelioma Claims
What is Mesothelioma Claims in New York
A New York mesothelioma claim is a legal procedure that people suffering from mesothelioma (or their loved ones) can initiate to access monetary compensation from liable companies. Provisions for mesothelioma claims are outlined in New York mesothelioma and asbestos laws.
Mesothelioma is a malignant tumor affecting the mesothelium, a membrane or lining covering internal organs. Most commonly, it forms in the tissue surrounding the lungs, but in some instances, the abdomen, heart, and testicles. Mesothelioma is both rare and fatal, and its definitive cause is asbestos, a group of naturally occurring minerals used extensively in the United States in the 20th century.
Asbestos was integral to many commercial and industrial processes because of its versatile qualities, including resistance to heat, chemicals, fire, and electricity. Indeed, various U.S. companies mined, manufactured, and sold materials and products containing asbestos to the public. However, the liability of asbestos companies does not originate from the use of asbestos or the sale of asbestos-containing products but from their deliberate failure to warn employees and members of the public of the health risks.
Notwithstanding that there are different mesothelioma claims a person can file in New York to collect damages, everyone who wishes to claim must satisfy certain requirements.
Eligibility Requirements for Filing a Mesothelioma Claim in New York
By filing a mesothelioma claim in New York, a mesothelioma victim seeks financial recompense for their injury or loss. Substantial compensation allows a claimant to settle the expenses arising from a mesothelioma diagnosis. For example, medical bills. It also lets them attain justice against the entities responsible for their disability.
Nevertheless, the right to claim depends on specific eligibility criteria, and these criteria differ based on the claim a person wishes to pursue. The more typical ones are explained below.
One common requirement for filing a mesothelioma claim is that the injured party must do so within the permitted statutory limits. New York has a fixed timeframe within which mesothelioma victims can bring a lawsuit or claim for damages. This designated period is referred to as the statute of limitations.
According to N.Y. CPLR § 214-C, a living mesothelioma patient has three years to commence litigation, whereas the loved one of a deceased mesothelioma patient has two years (N.Y. EPTL § 5-4.1). This time typically begins to count when the victim, by reasonable diligence, discovered the disease or from the date of a patient's death. Should the deadline pass, an individual may lose the right to claim in New York. However, a court may exempt a claimant from the deadline under certain circumstances.
Another standard criterion determining a person's eligibility to file a mesothelioma claim in New York is a mesothelioma diagnosis. The claimant must have medical documents proving that a certified medical professional diagnosed them or their loved one with mesothelioma.
Furthermore, a mesothelioma claimant must be able to establish a connection between themselves and the sued party, notably one that led them or their loved one to develop the cancer. For instance, a claimant could possess work history records proving that they worked for the defendant during a certain period and were exposed to asbestos, or they could have proof that they bought and used certain asbestos-containing products.
Ultimately, speaking with a seasoned mesothelioma lawyer is the best and fastest way to discover if one qualifies to claim in New York.
Types of Mesothelioma Claims
Several legal claims remain available to mesothelioma victims ("plaintiffs" or "claimants") as a means of receiving monetary aid from the entities ("defendants") responsible for their disease. These claims are filed under civil law because the objective is to compel the negligent companies or employers to adequately compensate victims, something that criminal law does not do. The following are examples of mesothelioma claims filed in New York:
- Personal injury claims
- Wrongful death claims
- Asbestos trust fund claims
- Veterans disability claims
- Workers' compensation claims
Personal Injury Claims: Any person diagnosed with mesothelioma can file a personal injury claim with a New York court to recover economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages reimburse travel costs for health care appointments, healthcare costs, loss of earnings, and other verifiable losses. Meanwhile, non-economic damages cover all non-tangible losses that a mesothelioma patient incurred because of their illness. For example, loss of consortium, pain and suffering, loss of a normal life, etc.
To collect damages, a claimant must establish that the defendant owed them a duty of care, and the defendant's breach of that duty led to their asbestos exposure and, eventually, mesothelioma diagnosis.
Notably, punitive damages may be added to the settlement if a jury deems a defendant's actions incredibly negligent or reckless.
Wrongful Death Claims: The surviving family member of a deceased mesothelioma patient or the personal representative of the decedent's estate can bring this claim. In mesothelioma litigation, a wrongful death claim is a type of civil claim that allows a surviving family member to obtain compensation for a death that would not have happened if not for an asbestos company's negligence. The claim can be filed if one's loved one died without filing a mesothelioma lawsuit, or it can emerge from a personal injury claim (i.e., if the decedent filed a lawsuit but died before the case could be determined).
Generally, to bring a wrongful death claim in New York, a family member must be able to prove that:
- The death occurred due to mesothelioma.
- The case could have been subject to litigation if the decedent were still alive, and
- They suffered significant damages because of the death.
Family members eligible to pursue legal action in New York include the decedent's spouse, children, and parents. Such parties can be reimbursed for an array of damages, including:
- Pre-death medical bills
- Family living expenses
- Burial and funeral expenses
- Lost earnings and benefits
- Emotional and psychological trauma
- Loss of companionship or consortium
Asbestos Trust Fund Claims: An asbestos trust fund is a large sum of money set aside to compensate present and future victims of asbestos-related diseases like mesothelioma. These funds were collated by negligent asbestos companies that declared bankruptcy. The purpose being to provide financial help to persons harmed by a bankrupt company's actions, as such persons cannot sue bankrupt companies within the court system.
Like other types of claims, specific criteria are used to determine a person's eligibility to file with an asbestos trust and the payout they can receive. Consulting an attorney is a crucial step to uncovering these prerequisites. However, a trust will usually demand proof of asbestos exposure and the disability that resulted from such exposure. Also, only specific individuals may be able to claim, such as the victim, an immediate family member, or their attorney.
Veterans Claims: Contrary to the claims mentioned above, a veterans claim is not a lawsuit and is specific to former members of the U.S. military. Because the military used asbestos extensively, roughly one-third of mesothelioma victims are ex-service members, particularly men and women of the Navy who served aboard U.S. vessels. (Asbestos was used for many shipbuilding and ship repair operations.) For this reason, veterans, while still able to sue asbestos companies, qualify for additional compensation from the government via the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
Markedly, there are several benefits a veteran or their family can receive from the VA, such as healthcare and compensation (monthly tax-exempt payments). Interested parties can read more on the VA's website.
Workers' Compensation Claims: Most mesothelioma cases originate from occupational asbestos exposure. Hence, mesothelioma patients whose previous jobs led them to be exposed to asbestos can access compensation from liable employers through a workers' compensation claim. However, while persons who file can receive a payout from employers — which may cover health care, lost wages, funeral/memorial expenses, and treatment-related travel expenses — it bars them from pursuing litigation unless they wish to sue a third party. For instance, an asbestos manufacturer or distributor.
Only persons employed directly by an asbestos company or the surviving loved ones of those employees can file a workers' compensation claim. However, satisfying this condition does not automatically make one eligible to claim. New York has detailed procedures (including a two-year deadline) for filing such a claim, the entirety of which can be found on the websites of the Workers' Compensation Board and the state government.
Why File a Mesothelioma Claim
The better question is, why not? Mesothelioma has serious health implications. As a result, most patients will not only have to suffer pain and discomfort, which vary in intensity according to the type, location, and stage of the disease, but they may have to endure invasive medical procedures to prolong or sustain their life.
Mesothelioma is also deadly. While symptoms rarely appear until at least 20 years after a person's first asbestos exposure, the cancer progresses at an alarming rate, making it resistant to medicines and treatments. For this reason, many patients never recover from the illness and become deceased in a short while. (An average of 15 months, according to research published by the National Library of Medicine.)
Essentially, people do not develop mesothelioma because of their actions, negligence toward their health, or a genetic predisposition (in most cases). Rather, they do so because of the actions of others. As mesothelioma stems from widespread corporate negligence, it follows that the companies and employers whose profit mongering led to a person's suffering be held accountable.
Every victim of mesothelioma is well within their rights to demand settlement from at-fault entities in New York. Receiving compensation from a mesothelioma claim can help mitigate the financial effects of the illness. Ordinarily, the costs associated with healthcare (not including other necessary living expenses like housing, food, and transportation) may be enough to cripple a mesothelioma patient and their family financially since they may be unable to source funds with their ability.
Filing a claim can also allow a wronged party to obtain justice for their suffering: A New York court may impose punitive damages to punish a defendant because of the severity of their negligence in preventing or limiting a person's risk of contracting mesothelioma.
Finally, settlement can provide long-term financial security for a mesothelioma patient's family if they expire from the disease.
How to File a Mesothelioma Suit in New York: The Process
An individual can file two main types of mesothelioma lawsuits within the New York court system: a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. The process for filing a suit often depends on the type of claim a victim decides to pursue, but it generally involves the following steps:
Contacting an experienced mesothelioma attorney
Winning a mesothelioma claim is one part proof (i.e., providing proof of diagnosis or asbestos exposure) and one part working with a competent attorney who can fight on one's behalf.
While a mesothelioma claim cannot return a person to a state where they did not have the disease, it can provide financial aid to cover treatment costs for a start. As such, securing maximum compensation is key, and if a person proceeds without a lawyer, it could result in a less-than-ideal settlement award.
An attorney skilled in handling mesothelioma cases in New York can determine where to file a suit and who to sue. The legal professional can also conduct investigations, gather documents and evidence to prove a claim, file the claim within the allowed timeframe, and represent the victim in court proceedings and during settlement negotiations.
Building the case
A considerable portion of the mesothelioma litigation process is dedicated to researching facts and coming up with a solid case. This includes preparing evidence that can be used to support one's claim, identifying asbestos exposure sites, and reviewing other pertinent areas of a case (for instance, if the victim qualifies for other kinds of compensation).
Because a mesothelioma diagnosis is made decades later, obtaining evidence is often the most challenging part of filing a claim. Nevertheless, it will usually comprise:
- Proof of a mesothelioma diagnosis from a licensed medical professional.
- Proof that one was exposed to asbestos through a defendant's actions. For example, a claimant could obtain work history records.
- Proof that the diagnosis created a financial burden on the claimant or their family member.
Filing the lawsuit
Here, the attorney will file the mesothelioma claim in the appropriate state. Generally, if the plaintiff lives or was exposed to asbestos in New York, the attorney will probably file the claim in the state. However, if another state is more favorable, given the case details, the attorney may file in that state.
After the case is filed, the defendant(s) will be notified, and the case will proceed to the next phase: Discovery. During the discovery stage, the attorney will collect more information and conduct interviews to build a strong case and prepare for trial.
It is worth noting that many mesothelioma cases end with a settlement and never advance to trial. As such, a defendant may approach the injured party with an out-of-court compensation. If such an event occurs, it is advised to have one's attorney manage the negotiation process to ensure a significant sum is obtained.
How Long Does Filing a Mesothelioma Claim Take in New York
Mostly, it hinges on the complexity of the mesothelioma case. If not many facts need to be researched and an attorney can quickly gather evidence, filing the claim could take a shorter time. However, it is important to remember that New York has a deadline for filing a mesothelioma claim, which varies based on the claim a person files. This timeframe is either two or three years after the date of a mesothelioma diagnosis or death. Hence, when preparing and filing a claim, it is prudent to do so within the deadline, as exceeding it can void one's right to file a mesothelioma claim in New York.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Mesothelioma Settlement in New York
Settlements are often the preferred method to resolve mesothelioma claims. This is because the alternative, a jury trial, is not only a complex legal process but a lengthy one as well. On the whole, it may take some years to obtain a jury verdict (though mesothelioma cases are usually fast-tracked) and even more time to collect damages from the liable entity. Given the aggressiveness of mesothelioma, a victim may not have that much time. Also, a defendant may prefer to appropriate the time and money spent on a trial on other exploits. (Simply put, it may be cheaper and quicker for them to settle.)
Overall, there is no set period for defendants to settle claimants in New York. Settlements, while being faster than jury verdicts, depend on the speed of the negotiating parties. If a defendant unreasonably drags out negotiations or fails to pay the settlement as agreed, the plaintiff can resume proceedings in court.