For decades, the use of products containing asbestos was widespread across numerous industries in the United States. Between the 1930s and the 1970s — when the use of asbestos was restricted in the U.S. — hundreds of thousands of workers and ordinary citizens were exposed to asbestos, putting them at risk of developing mesothelioma cancer, asbestosis, lung cancer, or other diseases linked to asbestos.

Victims of asbestos exposure and their families may incur significant medical costs as a result of their diagnosis. Many asbestos victims may consider taking legal action in order to help pay these medical expenses.

Broadly speaking, legal claims involving asbestos diseases can be divided into two categories: lawsuits and asbestos trust claims. So what is the difference between these two types of claims?

What are Mesothelioma and Asbestos Lawsuits?

Lawsuits filed by victims of mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases involve taking legal action against the manufacturers of asbestos-containing products or other companies that may have been responsible for the asbestos exposure that caused the disease.

These asbestos lawsuits can be divided into two types: personal injury claims and wrongful death lawsuits.

Personal injury lawsuits involve a legal action that is filed by or on behalf of a victims of asbestos exposure who is still living. The statutes of limitations for asbestos and mesothelioma personal injury claims vary by state, but generally involve a time limit for filing a lawsuit from between two to four years after the date on which the plaintiffs is diagnosed with an asbestos disease.

Wrongful death lawsuits are legal claims that are filed on behalf of an asbestos disease victims who is already deceased, usually by a member of their family. Like personal injury claims, the statute of limitations for filing an asbestos or mesothelioma wrongful death lawsuit vary by state, but generally involve a limitation of two to four years after the death of the affected individual.

Whether the claim is a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit, the process of taking legal action usually involves several steps. During the preparation stage, attorneys representing the victim conduct research on the individual’s history to determine which companies may have been responsible for their asbestos exposure. After a lawsuit has been filed, attorneys on both sides of the lawsuit conduct discovery to evaluate all of the evidence involved in the claim. Some asbestos lawsuits are settled before they go to court in order to avoid the expenses of a trial; other claims proceed to a trial at which the evidence is presented, a verdict is declared, and damages (if any) are awarded.

What are Asbestos Trust Fund Claims?

However, many asbestos and mesothelioma claims are not lawsuits, but claims filed with an asbestos trust fund.

Asbestos trust fund claims involve companies that were involved in the manufacture, sale, or use of asbestos products that have gone bankrupt. As part of their bankruptcy process, these companies were required to create asbestos trust funds in order to compensate victims of asbestos exposure or their families.

In general, the claims paid by asbestos trust funds are lower than the verdicts or settlements. However, asbestos victims and their families may be able to receive compensation from these trust funds much faster than with a lawsuit, enabling them to pay medical bills or household expenses that may have piled up after their diagnosis. Sometimes, claims can be filed with multiple asbestos trusts, entitling mesothelioma and asbestos victims to receive addition compensation.

Asbestos Victims May Qualify to File a Lawsuit or Trust Fund Claim

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit or a claim with an asbestos trust fund. The first step in taking legal action on behalf of yourself or a loved one is to speak with an experienced asbestos attorney to learn more about your legal rights.

The lawyers at Hissey, Mulderig & Friend have filed lawsuits on behalf of thousands of victims of mesothelioma and other diseases caused by asbestos exposure. Our attorneys believe that all victims of asbestos should have the right to experienced, professional legal counsel to ensure that their legal rights are protected.

For more information about filing a lawsuit or asbestos trust claim, contact the lawyers at Hissey, Mulderig & Friend for a free legal consultation. You can reach us by calling toll-free at 1-866-806-8117, or by completing the free case evaluation form located on the right side of this page.