We’ve all seen them. We’re nestled in our easy chair watching evening television and there they are…those mesothelioma TV commercials that ask us: “Have you or a loved one been diagnosed with mesothelioma?” Of course, those who have no idea what the disease is all about and those who have never been exposed to mesothelioma-causing asbestos dismiss the ads and go get a snack from the refrigerator.
However, if you’ve ever been exposed to asbestos or you HAVE been diagnosed with the disease or know someone else who’s been diagnosed, chances are you might just sit up straight and listen. After all, you’ve been thinking about this for a while and maybe now is the time to jump in with two feet and get the process going.
But what should you know before you pick up the phone and call the person on the other end on the line in whatever location they happen to be? Will this call be to your advantage? If not, what should you do instead?
Are they local?
Chances are that the commercials you’re seeing are coming from huge law firms with central offices not necessarily located in your area. If you read the little print at the bottom of the screen, you might see that the firm is in California and you’re in Pennsylvania. So how does that work?
Well, in most cases, the firm you call will send your contact information to a sort-of subcontractor – another law firm that works hand-in-hand with the advertiser to serve mesothelioma patients who wish to file lawsuits, albeit in a different part of the country from the firm paying for the ad.
While there’s certainly nothing illegal about doing business this way, one must wonder if It’s the best option for the mesothelioma patient. Even if the lawyer is in your state, for example, do they know the particulars of asbestos exposure in your area?
Instead, it’s a better idea to directly contact a LOCAL mesothelioma attorney in your area, one that is intimately familiar with previous asbestos cases related to the industries/corporations in your region. For example, if you live in Pittsburgh, an attorney based in that area will know the particulars of cases dealing with industries that long had a presence in the area, such as steel mills and refineries or perhaps even coal mines.
Because an experienced mesothelioma attorney in your area is indeed well-versed in the particulars of the disease, he or she can also make recommendations about hospitals, oncologists, caregiver networks, support groups, and other resources that will be needed by the patient and his family.
Do they have asbestos case experience?
The answer is generally a “yes”. However, you can better vet a potential lawyer’s credentials and experience if you do a little research on your own. And, again, you’ll want to find an attorney whose experience is in your local area.
If you’re shopping for an attorney, take time to interview at least a few and don’t hesitate to ask for references from former clients. Be direct with your questions.
- How many mesothelioma victims have you represented?
- What were the results of that representation?
- Are you familiar with the company responsible for my exposure?
Getting the answers to these and other similar questions are essential before you hire an attorney, who could be working closely with you for the next several years. That means you should choose someone who’s not only experienced but with whom you think you can have a good rapport. The best way to determine that is through a face-to-face meeting.
Do they handle asbestos trust claims?
Litigation isn’t the best choice for every individual who is considering a mesothelioma-related lawsuit. In some instances, it is best to file a claim with an asbestos trust. Most large firms that advertise on television are indeed familiar with asbestos trusts.
An asbestos trust includes funds set aside by a corporation who declared bankruptcy because they were overwhelmed by asbestos suits and felt they couldn’t handle the burden. So, during bankruptcy reorganization, many were ordered to set up this kind of fund in order to address past, present, and future asbestos claims. The trust protects them from lawsuits, so you can’t file against these particular companies.
Today, there are more than 50 asbestos trust funds in existence, holding an estimated $30 billion. Hence, if the company responsible for your exposure has set up a trust, you should be sure to hire an attorney who is well-versed in handling trust claims.
He or she can help you negotiate the paperwork as well as talk with you about other options, including litigation against other corporations that may also be responsible for your disease.
Why are they pressuring me to call now?
One of the oldest sales tactics in the world is creating urgency. “If you don’t buy it now, you’ll miss the deal,” many TV ads tell audiences. However, where mesothelioma lawsuits are concerned, “the sooner, the better” is actually wise advice.
In asbestos litigation, statutes of limitation come into play. Every state has different rules about how long after diagnosis one can file their mesothelioma suit, usually ranging from one to five years. Hence, if a victim waits too long, he may indeed lose the opportunity to file for compensation.
Another issue that comes into play is the fairly grim prognosis faced by most mesothelioma patients. Many don’t last a year after diagnosis and few make it to the five-year mark. The average life expectancy is currently about 20 months though some patients have indeed lived longer.
Nevertheless, it’s a wise idea to file while the patient is still alive though the suit can indeed be filed by the victim’s survivors. (If the plaintiff passes away before the case is settled, it will still continue.)
Why are there so many mesothelioma TV commercials?
If you have no connection with anyone who has mesothelioma, you may find those many attorney-related commercials annoying. It’s important to note, however, that the commercials are helping to draw attention to the plight of those who were negligently exposed to asbestos.
In the United States, about 2,500 new cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed each year. Most are of the pleural variety (attacking the lining of the lungs), but cases of even more difficult-to-treat peritoneal and pericardial mesothelioma are also present.
While it’s true that the number of mesothelioma cases in the U.S. peaked about twenty years ago, particularly in cases among men, researchers don’t expect the disease to disappear altogether, even though asbestos use in the United States was essentially halted in the late 1970s.
That’s largely due to the fact that there’s still plenty of asbestos in buildings, factories, plants, schools, and in other places throughout the country. Hence, the possibility for exposure is still very real. As a matter of fact, an American Cancer Institute Study hypothesized that some 85,000 cases would likely be diagnosed in the U.S. between 2008 and 2054.
Another reason mesothelioma is diagnosed so long after exposure, of course, is because the disease has a long latency period. That means someone who was exposed to asbestos during this current decade may not know they have the disease until the 2040s or 2050s. That’s why continuing education about mesothelioma is so important and why the commercials will likely continue for years to come.
Why you need an attorney?
Though those seemingly-pesky commercials do indeed draw attention to the plight of mesothelioma sufferers, they don’t give you the in-depth facts about the disease and what you can do to hold responsible those who caused the asbestos exposure. For that, you need an attorney. So, as the commercial says, don’t hesitate.
Contact your LOCAL mesothelioma lawsuit expert for thorough and accurate information.