Mesothelioma Lawsuit After Death: What You Need to Know

Mesothelioma Lawsuit After Death: What You Need to Know

If your loved one passed away after developing mesothelioma, a form of cancer caused by asbestos exposure, you may qualify to pursue compensation through a wrongful death claim or lawsuit. An attorney can build a case to show how your loved one’s death by mesothelioma entitles their surviving family, including you, to compensation for damages. 

Can You Claim for Asbestosis After Death?

Yes. If your loved one passed away from mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos, you or another qualifying family member (e.g., a spouse, child, or parent in many cases) can file a wrongful death claim to pursue compensation for damages.

You can work with a mesothelioma lawsuit attorney to identify the liable party in your case. For example, in cases where individuals were exposed to asbestos in their work environment, the individual’s employer may be held liable for their wrongful death. Alternatively, Johnson & Johnson, a pharmaceutical company, is currently facing thousands of lawsuits for its talc-based products containing asbestos. These products were recalled in 2019, according to The New York Times.

What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

A wrongful death lawsuit is a type of civil action filed by surviving family members or an estate representative of a deceased party. Plaintiffs file these cases on behalf of the deceased party, who passed away as a result of an accident or other negligent actions of the liable party.

What Kind of Damages Can a Plaintiff Pursue in a Wrongful Death Case?

Plaintiffs pursue compensation on behalf of the deceased individual—arguing that the victim would have pursued these awards had they survived—and compensation for other losses that the surviving family suffered. These damages may include:

  • Funeral expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of financial support
  • Loss of consortium
  • Medical debts
  • Loss of parental guidance, love, and affection

Your case may involve pursuing compensation for several other damages, which your attorney can discuss with you in a future consultation.

Wrongful Death Settlements for Mesothelioma

Some recent settlements and verdicts for mesothelioma-related wrongful death cases include:

  • $5.6 million verdict in Eileen Riebel et. al. v. BP Amoco and United States Steel et al.: In December 2021, Eileen Riebel and the surviving family of Fred Riebel won a $5.6 million verdict in compensatory damages. Riebel passed away after working as an insulating contractor in Chicago and other orthern Illinois cities, which led to his exposure to asbestos and subsequent mesothelioma.
  • $81.5 million verdict in Gerri Coogan et al. V. Genuine Parts Co. et al.: The Coogan family was awarded $81.5 million for compensatory damages after appealing their case in July 2021. They filed on behalf of Jerry “Doy” Coogan, who developed mesothelioma after working with asbestos-containing brake pads and other vehicle parts while employed by Genuine Parts Company.
  • $14 million verdict in Paula Font, et al. v. Union Carbide Corp.: In May 2021, Paula Font was awarded $14 million in compensatory damages for the death of her father, Luis Torres, who was exposed to asbestos supplied by Union Carbide for a Georgia-Pacific LLC joint compound product.

File a Mesothelioma Claim

If you would like to file a mesothelioma claim, you can work with a wrongful death lawyer, who can:

  • Investigate how your loved one may have been exposed to asbestos in their work environment or through defective product use
  • Collect evidence to support your claims on how the decedent was exposed to asbestos and how that exposure led to their mesothelioma diagnosis
  • Negotiate with the defendant to reach a settlement deal based on your current and future damages
  • Make statements on your behalf whenever inquiring parties reach out to you
  • Appear in legal meetings or court hearings to present your case
  • Provide legal counsel whenever you have difficulty making legal decisions

Our team can direct you to an attorney in your state after going over your case details in a free consultation.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

In most states, the following parties may file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the deceased individual:

  • The surviving spouse
  • The surviving parent
  • The surviving child
  • A personal representative of the deceased individual or their estate

In some states, other qualifying individuals may include surviving siblings, aunts or uncles, grandparents, and different forms of legal guardians (e.g., adoptive parents). You can consult with an attorney in your state to see if you qualify to bring a wrongful death action for a mesothelioma lawsuit after death.

Why File a Wrongful Death Claim for Mesothelioma?

If you and your family are struggling to cope with the financial aftermath of your loved one’s death, you may be able to file a wrongful death claim to recover compensation and bring some financial relief.

While these claims cannot bring back missed loved ones, they serve a practical purpose in helping surviving families meet the immediate monetary demands of arranging a funeral service, paying off medical debts, and covering immediate bills while grieving. Still, if you decide to work with a mesothelioma lawsuit lawyer in your state, they can handle your case while you grieve with family members privately.

Learn About Your Mesothelioma Compensation Options

If you would like to pursue compensation after losing your loved one to mesothelioma, you may have the following options:

  • File an insurance claim: Some plaintiffs choose to file a claim with their deceased loved one’s employer’s insurance. This can apply to workers’ compensation cases, as surviving family members can pursue workers’ compensation benefits to recover lost wages if their loved one passed away from work-related mesothelioma.
  • File a wrongful death lawsuit: However, if a party unrelated to your loved one’s employer caused their death, you may be able to hold them accountable for negligence in a wrongful death lawsuit. This process involves going to trial and presenting your case in front of a judge and jury to receive a verdict. In some cases, an attorney may still be able to negotiate an out-of-court settlement and avoid trial.

Awards for Wrongful Death Claims

If you decide to pursue a mesothelioma lawsuit after your loved one’s death, you may be able to recover the following damages:

  • Medical expenses: You can demand compensation for medical debts your loved one left behind, such as for treatment they received up until their moment of death.
  • Income loss: If your loved one contributed to the financial support for the family unit, you may have grounds to recover lost wages as well as future income loss now that your loved one is no longer around to work.
  • Pain and suffering: If your loved one received treatment until their death, your attorney can calculate pain and suffering damages to reflect the distress your loved one and family went through.
  • Funeral expenses: You may also be able to recover compensation to cover the costs of arranging your loved one’s funeral service, as well as costs to bury or cremate their remains.
  • Emotional losses: Losing someone in the family can be traumatic and overwhelming. Your attorney can establish how much compensation fairly reflects the emotional distress you and the surviving family have experienced since losing your loved one. This may include depression, anxiety, grief, and even psychological trauma.

Wrongful death awards are unique to each plaintiff, so you may qualify for other damages not listed here, such as any domestic expenses you had to pay for to accommodate your loved one while they were getting treated (e.g., childcare or homecare services).

Challenges of Filing a Mesothelioma Wrongful Death Claim

You may face the following challenges when filing your mesothelioma wrongful death lawsuit:

Statutes of Limitation

Plaintiffs must file their wrongful death lawsuits within their state’s statute of limitations. This law dictates how much time a plaintiff has to submit their lawsuit with their state’s court to pursue compensation. Failure to comply with this deadline can bar the plaintiff from being able to pursue compensation from the defendant, who would be absolved from liability.

The statute of limitations is not a national law, so you must check your state’s legislature to determine how much time you have left to submit your case. For example, in Louisiana, CC Art. 2315.1 gives plaintiffs only one year from the victim’s death to file a wrongful death claim on their behalf. However, in South Carolina, S.C. Ann. § 15-3-530, allows a three-year period for plaintiffs to file.

Proving Work and Asbestos-Exposure History

If you are filing a wrongful death claim because your loved one was exposed to asbestos in their working environment and developed mesothelioma as a result, you will have to collect evidence that proves your loved one was exposed to asbestos at work. This can be a major obstacle if your loved one held several jobs or there is little evidence of where they could have been exposed to asbestos.

If possible, try to record your loved one’s entire work history so that your attorney may investigate these environments or consult former employers about potential conditions. Also, keep in mind that secondhand exposure to asbestos can affect individuals. So, if you had asbestos exposure in your work history, you should also mention this to your attorney.

Witness Testimony

In your efforts to prove how asbestos exposure might have occurred in the work environment, you may have to reach out to former coworkers to provide testimony about these conditions. However, in work environments where employees worked on temporary contracts (e.g., construction work) or might have changed their contact information after several years passed, it may be difficult to collect these testimonies.

If you know anyone who may be able to testify how you or your loved one was in contact with asbestos, relay this information to your lawyer.

Can Personal Injury Claims Become Wrongful Death Claims?

Personal injury claims and wrongful death claims are separate legal actions. Personal injury claims are filed by plaintiffs who suffered injuries and damages in an accident or some other harmful event (e.g., using a defective product that causes illness). However, wrongful death claims and related survival actions are filed by the victim’s surviving family or estate representative.

In this sense, a personal injury claim cannot “become” a wrongful death claim, as these actions involve separate types of plaintiffs. Still, the surviving family may file a survival action on behalf of the deceased party to seek damages that they would have pursued had they survived their injuries or illness.

Many Personal Injury Attorneys Also Handle Wrongful Death Cases

Does this mean that if your loved one passes away before settling their personal injury case, all the work for their claim becomes moot? No. In many cases, a personal injury attorney can work with the surviving family to determine:

  • Who qualifies to file a wrongful death action on behalf of the decedent (the deceased individual)
  • Whether the new plaintiff qualifies to claim survival losses, such as loss of financial support from the decedent and medical expenses up until the moment of death
  • How much time the state allows the surviving plaintiff to file their claim

The attorney will then use all evidence found during the discovery period to support the wrongful death claim. This evidence can still support how the victim developed mesothelioma, whether their diagnosis correlates with talcum-powder product use or their work environment, and who is liable for the victim’s and surviving family’s damages.

Consult a Law Firm About a Mesothelioma Lawsuit Today

If you or your loved one developed mesothelioma after using a Johnson & Johnson talcum powder product or being exposed to asbestos at work, you may qualify to file a lawsuit. Surviving families of those who passed away from mesothelioma may also qualify to file a wrongful death lawsuit to pursue compensation for their loved one’s damages.

We can direct you to a mass tort lawyer in our network who can represent you in your state. Fill out our online contact form to receive a free consultation, and we’ll have a law firm reach out to explain your next steps. Many law firms work on a contingency-fee basis, so do not hesitate to call today.