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Can I claim for asbestos exposure? Here’s what you need to know

Being exposed to asbestos is no small issue. It can subsequently lead to mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer. Asbestos was a material commonly used in the construction of drywall and insulation before its harms were known. Workers and anyone nearby a renovation site from before asbestos was regulated may be subject to an asbestos related disease. 

While this isn’t cause for alarm right away, exposure to asbestos over long periods of time or exposure to concentrated, airborne asbestos fibre, can lead to serious health issues. If you think you’ve been exposed to asbestos, here is what you need to do to file a legal claim.

What is a mesothelioma claim?

An asbestos or mesothelioma claim refers to making a legal claim against a party that may be responsible for a person’s asbestos poisoning. It allows victims and their families to receive compensation for the illnesses they develop due to asbestos exposure, many of which can be fatal. 

When you decide to take up legal action, you should seek advice and guidance from a mesothelioma lawyer familiar with the process. They can explain all of your options and what you’ll need to do to move forward. They’ll gather all of the information needed (medical records, past employment, etc.), and file the claim on your behalf. 

The aim of filing the claim is to settle with the defending party — the entity that first exposed you to asbestos dust — before going to trial. If the defendant decides to fight the claim, it will go to trial, where your lawyer will defend your right to compensation in front of a judge and jury. 

Typically, you will receive compensation more quickly if the case does not go to trial, because the court process is long. However, in both scenarios, you will likely, upon settling or winning your case, receive compensation within a year.

What to do before filing a mesothelioma claim?

If you think you’ve been exposed to asbestos, talk to a doctor immediately. While symptoms and negative effects may not show up until 10 to 40 years after exposure, a doctor can help you determine if you are at risk of developing something serious. 

While one-time or otherwise minimal exposure to asbestos dust should be harmless, it doesn’t hurt to get a professional opinion. If your doctor does determine you are at risk, or if you’ve noticed serious side effects from your exposure to asbestos, you should contact a lawyer immediately. 

The benefit of starting the claim process as soon as you receive a diagnosis is that your lawyer can help you gain compensation for proceeding medical services you will incur. If you can get ahead of the disease before it develops into something more serious like mesothelioma, an incurable cancer of the lungs that can spread to other parts of the body. 

Am I eligible as an asbestos victim?

Making a claim for asbestos exposure damages depends on your level of exposure. Most people who develop a disease or cancer from asbestos were exposed to the material regularly over a long period.

To be eligible as an asbestos victim, you (and your lawyer) will need to prove the connection between your symptoms and your asbestos exposure.

To make a claim, you will need proof of a disease related to asbestos exposure and proof of when the exposure occurred. If you’re not sure when or how you were exposed to asbestos, your lawyer could help with a lot of the legwork during their discovery phase. During this phase, they will research your job and living history to help narrow down where it might have happened. It’s likely that you are not the only person affected and gaining history on where you worked will expose businesses that have needed to mitigate asbestos-related lawsuits.

It’s also necessary to file within the statute of limitation, which is up to three years after diagnosis. To which, if you believe you are experiencing negative effects of asbestos exposure, you should go to a doctor right away to get an official diagnosis.

When you speak with your lawyer, you can file one of three claims based on exposure: 

  • Personal injury: A mesothelioma patient will file the claim and the juries will award them monetary damages for medical expenses, loss of consortium, loss of income and emotional distress.
  • Trust fund: A business may have set aside an asbestos trust fund to avoid liability while still acknowledging and compensating individuals or families affected by asbestos dust exposure. 
  • Wrongful death: A family member or someone close to the victim will file the claim on behalf of the victim. Juries will award compensation based on medical expenses and funeral costs to the claimant.

Because of the nature of the disease, an asbestos victim may have passed away before having the chance to file a claim (or before the case was closed). In such cases, a wrongful death claim can be made on behalf of the deceased.

After you receive a diagnosis, your lawyer can walk you through the details of the type of claim you will make and the process that will follow. 

What should I expect for my financial compensation?

How much is paid depends on where you live in Australia. For example, according to the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act, there is a cap of $110,000 in payout for non-economic loss, such as emotional distress, in the Commonwealth District. However, in New South Wales, the payout can be as high as $250,000. Payouts throughout the country for mesothelioma are, on average, $300,000. When you speak with your lawyer they can give you an estimate. 

While you don’t have to work with a law office to help with your lawsuit, it will certainly increase the likelihood of proving your case more effectively and earning a greater payout. However, depending on how the firm collects, compensation could vary. If you’re hoping to save more money, it’s be helpful to know what types of fees to expect. 

How much a lawyer charges will depend on if the case went to trial or not. Typically, fees for lawsuits that go to trial will range between 33% to 40% of the total compensation awarded. Trust fund settlement fees are usually around 25% of the payout. 

A portion of your compensation will likely be taxed as well.

When you hire a lawyer, they will ask to be paid for their work in one of three ways. Most lawyers will work off of contingency fees, while others prefer to work on an hourly rate or a flat rate:

  • Contingency fee: The contingency fee will be paid based on if your case was successful. Your lawyer will net a percentage of the payout you receive. How much the lawyer will be paid will also depend on at what point the case settles, whether before discovery, entry to final judgment or trial. If you do not win, it’s likely you won’t have to pay anything. 
  • Hourly fee: Some lawyers will charge an hourly fee for the time they spend working on your case. This amount will range depending on the going market rates. 
  • Flat fee: A flat rate lawyer will be paid a flat rate no matter if the case was successful or not.

Some law firms will also add in client costs outside of their typical fee that includes:

  • Photocopies
  • Court filings
  • Deposition transcripts
  • Trial exhibits
  • Postage

While most firms will cover these costs, it’s important to be aware of them and to ask for clarity. 

Is it worth the cost?

Despite the potential costs of hiring an asbestos exposure lawyer, the benefits almost always outweigh the costs. Even though some of your payouts will go to your lawyer, you will still have some relief from the expenses of caring for a patient with an asbestos-related disease and the potential life-changing emotions that come along with it. It’s up to you to decide the value of making a claim but the right lawyer can often all but guarantee a larger payout.

How can a compensation lawyer help?

No one should have to deal with an asbestos dust exposure claim alone. From the diagnosis to the final verdict, a lawyer will care for your needs and do everything in their power to help you get the compensation you deserve.

When you choose an asbestos lawyer you trust, the process and hard work they put in to help your case succeed will likely help you win more than if you tried to take on the case yourself. They will go through the investigation by hiring professional witnesses and investigators, conducting depositions and gathering evidence. A great lawyer will speak more about your case specifically, know the ins and outs of your experience with asbestos exposure and thus argue why you deserve compensation.

A qualified lawyer knows that your case is time-sensitive and can handle it with care. These cases are unique because most of the plaintiffs are not well enough to represent themselves, attend hearings or motions or get involved with other case-related events. 

If you find yourself unwell enough to appear in any necessary events, your lawyer will travel to you and explain every step of the process and any progress towards winning you may be making. Your lawyer could even carry on your case in the event of your death on behalf of your estate. 

Gerard Malouf & Partners is a leading “No Win, No Fee” law firm, offering no-obligation legal advice on your case. If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease and are looking for help, you can rely on Gerard Malouf & Partners. Contact us today to get started and find out more.

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Gerard Malouf & Partners have provided friendly, experienced legal advice to communities across Australia for over 35 years. Our Personal Injury Lawyers have taken on ten’s of thousands of cases and we are proud to have won billions of dollars for our clients.
Meet the diverse and dynamic team of compensation lawyers and supporting staff that have made this all happen below. Our multi-lingual team can discuss your claims in Arabic, Assyrian, Turkish, Greek, Italian, French, Serbian, Croatian, Armenian, Mandarin, Hindi, Punjabi or Malayalam.
Meet the diverse and dynamic team of compensation lawyers and supporting staff that have made this all happen below. Our multi-lingual team can discuss your claims in Arabic, Assyrian, Turkish, Greek, Italian, French, Serbian, Croatian, Armenian, Mandarin, Hindi, Punjabi or Malayalam.

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