Hawai‘i Mesothelioma Lawsuits: What to Expect

Hiring an Experienced Mesothelioma Attorney in Hawai‘i

Hiring an attorney to file a lawsuit is usually a new experience for most people. When someone is suing because of a cancer like malignant mesothelioma, there is likely to be an added level of stress. However, hiring an attorney does not need to be a stressful process.

It is most important that clients seek out attorneys who are experienced in handling mesothelioma cases. These cases are unique, and there are very few lawyers in the country who have real experience in preparing and trying them before juries. Before you hire an attorney, be sure to ask about the number of cases they have handled, the cases they have actually tried in a courtroom, and the results they have obtained for their clients.

No Financial Obligation

Very importantly, the client should understand that they are not undertaking any financial obligation in hiring a lawyer to pursue their claim against the companies who failed to warn them of the devastating consequences of breathing asbestos. The lawyer takes all the financial risk for the lawsuit. If the lawsuit is not successful—for example, if a later biopsy were to reveal that the person had a cancer other than mesothelioma—then the client pays absolutely nothing. The law firm puts up all the costs for the lawsuit and only charges a fee if the client wins. Just as importantly, the lawyer only seeks reimbursement of his out of pocket expenses if he recovers something for the client.

The Steps in a Mesothelioma Lawsuit

The steps to proceed with a mesothelioma lawsuit are quite straightforward. First, the lawyer will interview the client to understand the client’s work history and determine where he or she was exposed to asbestos. The client will sign authorizations, so that the lawyer can obtain the records that are necessary for a successful case. This generally includes the client’s complete employment records, including Social Security Administration records, military records if applicable, and their medical records to confirm the diagnosis of malignant mesothelioma.

Because our firm has over 35 years of experience with asbestos cases, we often know exactly which defendants to sue in a lawsuit, depending on the client’s exposure history to asbestos. For example, if you were in the United States Navy on board certain classes of ships or submarines, or you worked at certain navy or private shipyards, we typically know which defendants are responsible for your exposure.

The Client’s Main Role in a Mesothelioma Lawsuit

Besides signing authorization forms, the client usually has only two major things to do. The first is to help the lawyer fill out a questionnaire regarding your work history, medical history and asbestos exposure. One part of this questionnaire will be identifying former co-workers who were at the same job-sites and who can help corroborate the client’s asbestos exposure. While it is not necessary that there be such co-workers (as many could be lost or not remembered over the years), it always helps to corroborate a person’s memory of what happened decades earlier.

The second most important thing the client does is to give a videotaped deposition. Usually, about one or two months after the lawyers file the lawsuit, the person with mesothelioma will have a chance to tell his or her own story. Your lawyer will ask you to introduce yourself and your family, explain how you were exposed to asbestos, and describe the products and equipment you remember working around. Then, you will be asked to explain when your mesothelioma symptoms first developed, how you were first diagnosed, and what treatment you have been given for the disease. Later, the lawyers for the defendants will have the opportunity to ask follow-up questions. For most cases, this proceeding usually takes about half of a day.

Settlement of a Mesothelioma Case

After the client’s videotaped deposition, the rest is in the hands of the attorney. Experienced law firms like ours have already reviewed thousands of documents from the asbestos companies, and reviewed the evidence developed at certain job-sites.

Although it varies from state to state, typically a case is assigned a trial date around a year after the date the complaint is filed. Just because a mesothelioma case is set for trial, it does not mean the case actually goes to trial. Because we have been involved in cases for so many years, firms like ours are often able to settle cases without going to trial.

Defendants usually make settlement offers prior to the trial date. The lawyers from our firm then negotiate with the defendants. When someone makes an offer that we believe to be the best offer for our client, then we will recommend that the client accept the offer. The decision to accept any offer, however, rests totally with the client.

Trial of a Mesothelioma Case

If a client is not satisfied with the offers made, our firm remains ready to try the case. We have tried over 50 cases to verdict. Our two most recent verdicts resulted in $5.3 million and $9.8 million awards for our clients. We have won before the appellate courts when our successful verdicts were appealed. While each case is unique and the results depend on the particular facts and circumstances, we work tirelessly for our clients to obtain the best result possible for them.