Mesothelioma is a form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. A lawsuit over mesothelioma and other kinds of asbestos-related illness is a complex undertaking, and it's crucial to have an asbestos lawyer on your side to identify the parties who might be liable (including asbestos manufacturers, insurance companies, or asbestos victims' trust funds) and to navigate the lawsuit or settlement process toward the best outcome.
Because asbestos cases are a specialized legal niche, it's important to understand how asbestos-mesothelioma lawyers operate and how to hire the right one.
Asbestos claimants who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma (especially those with a history of working with or around asbestos) usually have a good chance of recovering at least some measure of compensation ("damages"), either from the company that manufactured or installed the asbestos, an employer, or from an asbestos victims' trust fund. But these cases can get complex, especially from a medical standpoint, since mesothelioma often shows up 10 to 40 years after exposure to asbestos. Having an experienced attorney on your side—especially one with a record of success in asbestos lawsuits—can make all the difference.
Finding the right mesothelioma lawyer can be key to your case, but it can also take time and effort. If you're not feeling well, try to get help from a relative or friend. As discussed below, you might find you get the best results if you research a lawyer's qualifications and track record, and then interview several candidates.
Ask former colleagues. If you've been diagnosed with mesothelioma, chances are people you worked with at the time of your exposure have also been diagnosed, and they may have already hired a lawyer and filed a lawsuit. If they have achieved a good result with a lawyer they like and respect, this is one good place to start.
Using Nolo's websites. A number of attorneys featured on Nolo handle asbestos-mesothelioma cases (full disclosure: lawyers pay a fee to list with Nolo). These attorneys have filled out detailed profiles related to their schooling, expertise, and professional background, and have been vetted in terms of their professional standing. To contact a nearby asbestos-mesothelioma attorney, you can use a number of tools accessible right on this page, including the "Chat" and "Talk to an Attorney" features.
Investigate lawyers online. Because mesothelioma cases can be so profitable, many law firms spend big dollars on Internet ads and websites. Just Google mesothelioma lawyer and you'll find a long list. Click on a few ads or websites and you'll see that everyone claims to be the best of the best.
How do you cut through all this hype to focus on a short list of hopefully excellent mesothelioma lawyers? Take a look at the legal information each lawyer provides. In our experience lawyers who provide well-written, in-depth information demonstrate a superior sensitivity to client needs. By the same token, we distrust lawyers who say little more than "I can get you millions pronto—trust me."
Check a lawyer's references. A good mesothelioma lawyer should be able to provide you with the name and contact information of a few satisfied clients. Of course, the lawyer will have to get the permission of the client, but this can usually be arranged. Although you'll only be given the names of very satisfied clients, it can still be helpful to talk to someone who has worked with the lawyer you're considering.
Interview the lawyers. Once you develop a short list of candidates, contact their offices (again, get help if you need it). Request a case evaluation and, if possible, arrange a personal interview. Ask who exactly will manage your case (non-lawyer case managers are often employed in larger firms). Find out who you can call or email if you have questions, and how long it will take to get back to you. Anticipating these questions, many law firms will give you a written overview of what to expect. Especially if it's detailed and guarantees that all calls and emails will be returned in 24 hours, this is a good sign. Learn more about what to ask an asbestos-mesothelioma lawyer at your free consultation.
Ask about fees and costs. Mesothelioma lawyers charge a contingency fee for their legal representation (usually 30% to 40 percent of any recovery you receive) plus additional costs to prepare your case. But keep in mind that asbestos-mesothelioma cases can be very complex. If you find an attorney who comes well-recommended and has a lot of experience (and a record of success) representing mesothelioma clients, a few percentage points on a contingency fee probably shouldn't dictate whether or not you hire that attorney.
Find out how are costs handled. A good attorney will deduct costs (things like filing fees and expert witnesses' compensation) off the top of any asbestos settlement or award, before the money is divided and the attorney takes their agreed-upon percentage. That way you and the attorney share payment of the costs. And a good attorney will give you receipts showing that all costs incurred were specific to your case—meaning you're not being saddled with part of the bill for the firm's general operating expenses. Learn more about how asbestos lawyers are paid.