Legal Rights and Limitations of Families with Mesothelioma Victim

Legal Rights and Limitations of Families with Mesothelioma Victim
Legal Rights and Limitations of Families with Mesothelioma Victim
October 14, 2016

The financial burden of treatment of mesothelioma victims will ultimately fall back on the family of the victim. If the loved one dies in the process of treatment, more financial debt, loss of income and funeral expenses will arise. Mesothelioma is associated with asbestos exposure but what legal rights do the other members of the family have who have not been exposed?

Claims on asbestos are not limited to the exposed

Those who have lost their loved ones or a family member to mesothelioma or asbestos-related conditions can stand in as plaintiffs if their loved ones filed a lawsuit and the case was unresolved before their death. On the other hand, families can file a separate lawsuit on wrongful death and hope to get some monetary claims for their emotional torture.

Read also: Breaking Bad News to Mesothelioma Victims and Families

McCarthy and Koczur families are examples of successful resolution of mesothelioma

Eugene McCarthy worked as a steamfitter and Walter Koczur as a mechanic and they were both exposed to asbestos as a result of asbestos-laced gasket manufactured by Goodyear Tire and Rubber and Goodyear Canada. They died of asbestos-linked cancer in 1997 and 1998. Their families filed a lawsuit shortly after. A court in New York City awarded $22 million in combination to both families because at a point similar cases were merged together irrespective of the fact that they were filled differently.

The success of the cases was due to the findings of the jury

Personal injury cases are hard to come to a conclusion unless substantial evidence showing neglect is presented. In the case of the McCarthy and Koczur families, both men were smokers (we all know that smoking is also linked to lung cancer) and they died of lung cancer. However, the jury was able to discover that exposure to asbestos was the partial cause of cancer that led to their death.

Read also: The Need for Mesothelioma Patients to Plan Realistic New Year Resolution

There are other families that were not so lucky

Mr. Clineff complained of chest cold before he died. An autopsy revealed that he died from cancer. The children assumed it must have been related to his history of smoking. His death certificate further elaborated the reason for his death as metastatic malignant mesothelioma. Mr. Clineff’s son learned from his father’s co-worker nine years later that several people who worked at the same place with his dad developed asbestos related diseases. The family filed a lawsuit in 2008 but it was too late.

Mr. Clineff’s children were restricted by the statute of limitation

According to the court in Delaware that heard the lawsuit, the statute of limitation had already begun to count as of 1997 when the family saw the death certificate. The family was not aware that asbestos could cause cancer and the court admonished that they should have made attempts to know the cause of their father’s death rather than assuming it was smoking. Like it is said in the court of law, ignorance is no defense.

Read also: Different Questions You are Expected to Ask Your Mesothelioma Oncologist

Statute of limitation is a timeframe for a lawsuit to be filed

The statute of limitation under the personal injury legal sphere is that period within which an injured can file a lawsuit to address the situation. The statute of limitation varies among cases and states. It is important for the victim to file the case with the advice of the lawyer who can suggest the appropriate time that suits the case.

It is important to seek legal advice in the case of injury or death

Mr. Clineff’s case is an eye opener of how important it is to seek legal advice if the cause of the death of a loved one is not clear. McCarthy and Koczur families acted early and got the case resolved in their favor. Acting early is the key to beating the statute of limitation.

Read also: How Mesothelioma Caregivers can Cope with the Stress

Article highlights

  • Financial burden of mesothelioma victims will mostly fall back on their families.
  • Mesothelioma is associated with prolonged exposure to asbestos.
  • Family member of the deceased can stand in if they have filed a lawsuit before their death.
  • Mesothelioma cases are often merged in law court.
  • You need to act fast in filing a lawsuit.
  • Statute of limitation can prevent you from filing a lawsuit.
  • The attorney needs to show some act of neglect.
  • It is good to find out the actual cause of one’s death.
  • Statute of limitation will begin to count from the day of issue of death certificate.
  • Statute of limitation varies among cases and cities.

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