Mesothelioma is a serious type of cancer that develops years after a person is exposed to asbestos. Mesothelioma is often hard to detect because it usually has vague symptoms such as coughing and nausea. Often, the cancer is not detected until it is in advanced stages and has already spread throughout the body. Mesothelioma is typically treated with a combination of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery, but treatment options depend on the patient's particular situation.
Many mesothelioma sufferers decide to sue the manufacturers, sellers and distributors of the asbestos that caused their illness. There is often evidence that a company continued to use an asbestos product despite knowing that it was putting workers at risk.
Mesothelioma product liability lawsuits not only hold these companies accountable for distributing dangerous products, but the funds from an asbestos exposure case can help a family pay the enormous medical bills associated with mesothelioma treatment.
The key to a successful asbestos exposure case is establishing causation. The California Supreme Court outlined the two fundamental elements of a meritorious asbestos exposure case in Rutherford v. Owens-Illinois, Inc. (1997):
- The mesothelioma patient must establish that he or she was exposed to the defendant's defective asbestos-containing products.
- There must be a "reasonable medical probability" that the exposure or series of exposures was a substantial factor in bringing about the patient's mesothelioma.
Because mesothelioma can take decades to develop, a patient does not need to prove that the defendant's defective products were the ones that actually began the cancer's growth.
The patient can instead demonstrate that there is a reasonable medical probability that the defendant's asbestos products contributed to the patient's risk of developing mesothelioma.
The time gap between initial exposure and the discovery of mesothelioma presents many unique evidentiary issues for mesothelioma attorneys. An experienced mesothelioma litigation attorney will carefully research a client's particular case to clearly establish a link between the potential asbestos exposure and a particular defendant.