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How long do mesothelioma claims take?

Mesothelioma is a disease found almost exclusively in individuals exposed to asbestos. In Australia, almost anyone diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease qualifies for compensation. Navigating a mesothelioma claim is typically a process that needs to be done quickly, as mesothelioma is a fatal form of cancer, and you will want to provide for your loved ones in the event of your death.

What is mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a cancer that affects your mesothelial cells. These cells cover most internal organs. There are two main types of mesothelioma:

Pleural mesothelioma

Pleural mesothelioma is the most common type of mesothelioma. It is a type of cancer that develops in the membrane that covers the lungs, spreading throughout the chest and lung lining. Although this is a cancer which involves the lungs, it is not a “lung cancer” and is treated differently. Pleural mesothelioma accounts for about 90% of all mesotheliomas.

Peritoneal mesothelioma

Most of the remaining 10% of mesothelioma cases are accounted for by peritoneal mesothelioma, which develops in the lining of the abdomen.

Other forms of mesothelioma

Very rarely, a person may develop mesothelioma growths in the membrane around the heart or the reproductive organs. The growths enlarge and then start to spread to surrounding areas. Even more rarely, a person may experience mesothelioma development in more than one place in their body.

Causes of mesothelioma

There is only one known common risk factor for mesothelioma: exposure to asbestos. In rare cases, mesothelioma has been linked to previous radiotherapy to the chest. It can take between 20 and 60 years after initial exposure to asbestos for mesothelioma to develop.

The most common groups of people likely to be affected by mesothelioma are those who were exposed to asbestos fibres at work, including asbestos miners, automotive industry workers, builders, electricians, plumbers, textile workers and welders.

Others who may be exposed to asbestos fibre include people working or living in buildings where asbestos exposure occurred during a remodel.

Mesothelioma symptoms

Pleural mesothelioma symptoms are similar to lung cancer or respiratory disease symptoms and include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Pain in the shoulder and upper arm
  • A persistent cough or a change in a usual cough
  • Loss of appetite (may be accompanied by weight loss)
  • Loss of energy
  • Excessive sweating or night sweats
  • Sensitive skin

 

Since the signs of pleural mesothelioma are similar to other conditions and diseases, it is important for you to talk to your doctor if you know of any asbestos exposure.

Peritoneal mesothelioma symptoms include:

  • Swollen or painful abdomen
  • Bowel or urinary problems
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Fever
  • Night sweats

Again, these symptoms can mimic symptoms of other abdominal conditions, so make sure your doctor is aware of any history you have with exposure to asbestos fibers.

Stages of mesothelioma

The stages of mesothelioma are:

  • Early tumor growth occurring along the mesothelial lining of a membrane
  • Cancer spread to nearby lymph nodes
  • Tumors invasion into distant lymph nodes and deeper tissues in nearby organs
  • Metastasis of the cancer to distant sites in the body

Mesothelioma fatalities

Between 700 and 800 persons are diagnosed every year in Australia with mesothelioma, and roughly the same amount die form the disease. The five-year survival rate of mesothelioma is only around 6%, and most deaths from mesothelioma occur less than a year after diagnosis.

What kinds of compensation are available for victims?

The Commonwealth and each state and territory have varying legislation and compensation systems for mesothelioma compensation. You will need a litigator specializing in these types of claims to assist you in pursuing your mesothelioma settlement.

If you have an asbestos-related disease, you can often make an asbestos claim even if:

  • You are no longer employed where the asbestos exposure occurred
  • The employer has long since gone out of business
  • You worked for many different employers where exposure may have occurred
  • You were a contractor or self-employed
  • Your exposure occurred interstate or overseas
  • You don’t know where or how your asbestos exposure occurred
  • You were exposed many years or decades ago
    You are or were a heavy smoker

Your mesothelioma lawyer can help you determine if you have a valid compensation claim.

There are two types of mesothelioma claims. You may be able to make one type of claim, or the other, or both. When filing a mesothelioma case, you’ll be making your claim under either Common Law or a Statutory Scheme.

Common law claims

A ‘Common Law‘ (or ‘civil’) claim is a mesothelioma lawsuit brought against a private or public listed entity for damages. Asbestos compensation can be claimed against:

  • Manufacturers of asbestos containing materials and products
  • Employers believed responsible for your exposure to asbestos products
  • Insurance companies (common when a defendant no longer exists)

In most cases, compensation is a lump sum monetary payout worked out to compensate the victim and their family for:

  • Potential shortening of life
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of income or earning potential
  • Past and future medical and care costs
  • Provision for the future welfare of dependent spouses and children

Statutory scheme claims

A ‘Statutory Scheme‘ claim is a claim made against a ‘Commonwealth‘ Government or a ‘State‘ or ‘Territory‘ Government Statutory Authority.

These are funded compensation schemes which typically are considered no-fault schemes. You’ll only have to show proof of diagnosis and proof of employment while exposed to asbestos in the scheme’s jurisdiction.

Lump-sum payouts are often offered to either the sufferer, carer and/or bereaved dependent(s).

Statutory Scheme‘ compensation can include any or all of the following as well as other related expenses:

  • Payment of medical expenses
  • Hospital and hospice care
  • Rehabilitation expenses
  • Counseling
  • Home nursing
  • Occupational therapy
  • Beds, recliners, wheely walkers, wheelchairs, and other mobility aids
  • Travel and/or travel expenses assistance
  • In-home assistance
  • Handrails, ramps, and other home structural aids
  • Funeral expenses.
  • Pensions

Your asbestos lawyer may recommend you begin your mesothelioma compensation claims with workers’ compensation if your employer is still in business.

You can gather a lot of evidence and pursue a statutory claim as well. If you were exposed whilst not employed, you may only be able to pursue a common law claim.

Filing claims immediately upon diagnosis is recommended. Mesothelioma moves fast once it is far enough along to be diagnosed, and progresses through the four stages of the disease extremely rapidly.

Compensation can help alleviate the financial burden of fighting your disease and allow you to make provisions for your dependents after you are gone.

The average compensation for mesothelioma claims covers a wide range, but overall the payout comes in at around a million dollars when medical costs, emotional suffering, and shortening of life and income potential are considered. The main goal of mesothelioma payouts is to provide relief for asbestos victims and their surviving loved ones.

How long does the mesothelioma claims process take?

The compensation timeline for a mesothelioma lawsuit is considerably shorter than for other types of workers’ compensation or personal injury claims. That is because mesothelioma moves so quickly.

You can file a mesothelioma claim decades after your asbestos exposure. It doesn’t matter how long it was since the exposure, although some jurisdictions for statutory claims require that you file within six months to several years from the date of your diagnosis.

All states and territories mandate that claims must be lodged within your lifetime. If you are already in late stages of the disease, don’t delay in engaging a mesothelioma lawyer. Originating your mesothelioma case before you succumb to the disease protects your entitlement to compensation. Even if you pass away the next week, your estate will be able to continue with your claim and your loved ones can receive compensation.

Most mesothelioma claims are settled within six months, with many settled in just 3-4 months. Most entities prefer to settle before a victim’s death. However, it’s important to have a qualified asbestos lawyer on your side to negotiate the settlement, and ensure you receive all the compensation you and your family are entitled to for your asbestos-related illness.

Speeding up your claim

The best way to speed up your claim is by engaging a law firm with years of experience with asbestos claims, especially if you are going up against a large employer or an insurance company.

Gerard Malouf & Partners is one of the largest, most highly specialised personal injury law firms in Australia winning close to $4 billion in compensation for our successful clients. There would be less than a few law firms in Australia with this enviable record and as a direct consequence, insurance companies take our demands most seriously.

We are fully capable of taking your mesothelioma case to trial if necessary, but we work hard to speed your claim by reaching a satisfactory settlement. This allows you to see your family settled and secure. One of the main benefits of a mesothelioma claim is the ability to make provisions not only for your care but for the future of your dependents.

If you have received a diagnosis of mesothelioma, you have a right to make an asbestos claim and receive compensation. Contact us for no-obligation legal advice about your claim.

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