Although most mesothelioma victims and their immediate families rarely file class action lawsuits (they prefer to hire individual attorneys), a few have benefited from the fact that such lawsuits increase their chances of receiving maximum compensation due to asbestos exposure.
Class action lawsuits are filed by a single or multiple claimants representing a much larger group of people alleging the same complaint.
A class action lawsuit is a civil lawsuit or a joint claim in which a number of plaintiffs with similar claims are represented by a single member of the class. The lawsuit rose to prominence in the 1960s after the public learned of the many dangers of asbestos exposure. Halliburton, an oil field services company (which later purchased a road paving company) was held responsible for causing asbestos exposure after burning waste materials including asbestos nearby a military base. A number of class action lawsuits were filed against the company and as a result, $4.2 billion dollars were paid by the company to compensate about 374,000 claims.
Various procedural rules governing mesothelioma class action lawsuits have been put in place by state and federal courts. As a general rule, the plaintiffs must share the same injuries caused by like circumstances that happened to raise the same legal issues in order to maintain a class action lawsuit. If the court comes to a conclusion that there are sufficient similarities and that separate class action lawsuits would be unreasonable or burdensome, then it will certify the group of plaintiffs as a class and allow them to take their case to a court of law collectively.
Should You Participate in a Class Action Lawsuit?
Well, it solely depends on your decision. You can choose not to be part of a class action lawsuit and file an individual lawsuit with the assistance of an experienced lawyer. You also have the option to engage in an “out-of-court settlement.”
Being involved in a class lawsuit means you can’t individually file a claim against the same company at a later date.
An out-of-court settlement is where the settlement is divided amongst a large group of claimants. One advantage with this kind of settlement is that it’s best for mesothelioma patients/victims who would wish to avoid a trial or the hassle of hiring an individual lawyer. On the flip side, getting a large number of plaintiffs and defendants to agree on pressing legal issues can prove to be a daunting task.
If you have no idea what a mesothelioma class action lawsuit entails, then it’s highly advisable to seek advice from an experienced lawyer who is qualified in handling such cases. He/she will advise you on the best course of action to take.
Why are Class Action Lawsuits for Mesothelioma Rare?
Many mesothelioma patients opt out of class action lawsuits because of various reasons. For example, because each victim’s case is unique and therefore tying a number of cases to a single company can be a difficult task. Also, the amount of settlement in class action lawsuits is not as considerable as filing separately. The length of the trial may also impact the case where the process can become lengthy since a large group of people is involved.
Class action members generally have less control over their cases than claimants who file separate lawsuits.
Before deciding whether to join a mesothelioma class action lawsuit, its best to find a lawyer who specializes in mesothelioma cases as he/she will advise you on your available legal options and individual circumstances.
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