What Is the Timeline for a Mesothelioma Lawsuit?

Mesothelioma - Diagnosis printed on white paper with medication, injection, syringe and pills

The timeline for many mesothelioma cases is between three months and one year. Some mesothelioma cases may, however, linger for several years. Most mesothelioma cases settle outside the courtroom. This happens when the defendant enters an acceptable settlement agreement with the plaintiff to prevent the lawsuit from proceeding to trial. Multiple factors affect the timeline for a mesothelioma lawsuit. These factors include the length of the injury lawsuit process, your health as the plaintiff, state jurisdictions, available evidence, the number of defendants, and the statute of limitations. 

What Is the Average Mesothelioma Settlement Timeline?

Each mesothelioma case is unique. As such, the timeline for mesothelioma settlement varies from case to case. Cases that move to trial generally take a year or less to resolve. You and the defendant can reach a settlement agreement at any point in the claim process. 

You can start receiving your settlement amount within 90 days of settling. You can receive compensation in a one-time payout or monthly installments. The terms of your settlement agreement will determine how you will receive your compensation. 

Some cases require several series of settlement talks to settle. Such cases have longer settlement timelines, but higher settlement amounts. A knowledgeable mesothelioma lawyer can examine your case details and accurately predict the settlement timeline for your case.

Factors That Can Impact the Timeline for a Mesothelioma Lawsuit

The Length of the Injury Lawsuit Process

The lawsuit process has several stages. The length of each stage depends on the court and the unique details of your case. The following is a timeline of a typical mesothelioma lawsuit: 

  • Initiating the Lawsuit: Your lawyer will initiate a lawsuit after consulting with you, opening an investigation, identifying all the potentially liable parties, and compiling evidence. The lawyer might need several weeks to do this. 
  • Receiving a Response: Defendants have an opportunity to file a response within 30 days after the lawsuit is initiated. 
  • Discovery Process: Both sides compile information and documents to bolster their claims during this stage. The discovery process may take up to six months or even a year in some cases, as it may take quite a while for both sides to locate, compile, and exchange information. Your lawyer will take the time to compile evidence that links your condition to the defendant’s asbestos removal safety violations
  • Settlement or Trial: Your lawyer will initiate settlement talks with each defendant in the lawsuit. You might receive compensation within a few weeks, depending on the strength of your case and the willingness of the defendant to settle. You might also wait for up to a year to receive any settlement, as some defendants may agree to settle just before the trial date.

If your case proceeds to trial and liability on the part of the defendant is obvious, a verdict could be reached within days. The case could drag on for several months if the case is complex and liability is unclear. 

Your Health as the Plaintiff

You might have the option to shorten your mesothelioma lawsuit timeline if you are a senior (above 70 years) or terminally ill with mesothelioma. You can do this by filing a motion for preference in a trial setting with the help of your lawyer. You will need to submit supporting medical documentation if you request a motion for preference on the grounds of a terminal illness. 

After it is granted, a motion for preference reduces the timelines for other litigation procedures. The outcome is that your case takes a significantly shorter duration to sail through the court system.

Jurisdictions 

The length of time your case takes to sail through the court system depends on the type of court handling it. Some courts resolve asbestos cases more quickly, as they have dedicated asbestos departments for hearing huge numbers of asbestos cases filed each year. Other courts hear asbestos cases together with all other cases, resulting in delays. 

Available Evidence 

The amount and strength of available evidence may affect how quickly your mesothelioma case will move through the court system. Evidence of asbestos exposure can include your statement, witness statements, supporting medical documents, documents from the defendants, and expert witness testimony. Your lawyer and defense lawyer may take quite a long time to build their cases if significant evidence is involved. 

Number of Defendants 

Mesothelioma lawsuits with many potentially liable parties have a longer timeline than those with a few potentially at-fault parties. A construction worker with decades of asbestos exposure at multiple construction sites has more potential at-fault parties than a healthcare practitioner whose only asbestos exposure happened during a couple of months of repair work in a medical facility. The time frame for the construction worker’s case might be longer than that of the healthcare practitioner because of the many liable parties and witnesses involved.

Statute of Limitations 

The statute of limitations is a law that specifies the filing deadline for both civil and criminal cases. Statutes of limitations vary from state to state and from case to case. Non-asbestos personal injury lawsuits, such as car accidents, usually have a filing deadline of between one and four years. The clock for this deadline starts ticking from the date of the accident. The same does not apply to asbestos-related mesothelioma lawsuits.

Mesothelioma can develop after several decades of asbestos exposure. It’s hard to link an asbestos-related illness to a specific point in time. Instead, these illnesses develop after prolonged exposure to asbestos. That’s why many states, including Illinois, have a discovery rule. 

The discovery rule pauses the clock for the filing deadline until you recognize or should have recognized that you have asbestos-related mesothelioma stemming from exposure to asbestos or asbestos-based products. The deadline for initiating a lawsuit in Illinois is two years after this discovery. You cannot file a mesothelioma lawsuit upon the expiry of this deadline, unless specific exceptions apply in your case. 

Is My Mesothelioma Claim Within the Statute of Limitations?

The most reliable way to determine if your mesothelioma claim is within the statute of limitations is to involve an asbestos lawyer. A lawyer with an impeccable record of resolving asbestos-related cases will know the applicable filing deadline for your mesothelioma case. The lawyer will examine your work history, determine where you got asbestos exposure, and discuss all your legal avenues for compensation. 

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