One of the problems with mesothelioma is that it often is diagnosed as a different form of cancer once it is discovered. If that happens, the treatments given are usually not geared towards the specific disease. This can lead to much poorer treatment results and a lower survivability rate.

The difficulty with diagnosing mesothelioma properly can extend after death as well during the completion of the death certificate. A study was performed in 2009 in England titled ‘Certified causes of death in patients with mesothelioma in South East England.’ It examined mesothelioma registrations in southern England from 2000 to 2004 from the Thames Cancer Registry database. The team analyzed the records of 2200 patients who died at the time of the analysis, after concluding that seven cases where the cause of death was unknown to the cancer registry. (

The 2,200 deaths were classified to determined mesothelioma deaths; deaths certified as lung cancer deaths; deaths from unspecified forms of cancer; and deaths for other reasons.


The study found that 87% of patients with mesothelioma had it written on the death certificate. Six percent had no mention of the disease but had ‘lung cancer’ as cause of death. Another 6% did not mention mesothelioma or lung cancer at all, but wrote ‘unspecified’ cancer as the cause of death. Also, 2% had no cause of death written on the death certificate.

The analysis concluded that official mortality data often underestimates the actual occurrence of mesothelioma by up to 10%.

The Importance of the Mesothelioma Death Certificate

Having your loved one’s cause of death accurately reported on the death certificate is of great significance. If you wish to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the party or parties responsible for your loved one’s asbestos exposure, this is a vital piece of evidence that will make the lawsuit tend to me much more successful. If you have a death certificate that lists ‘lung cancer’ as cause of death, it is highly probable the defense will argue that your loved one’s cause of death was not from asbestos exposure.

Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit for Mesothelioma

Several criteria need to be met for a successful mesothelioma wrongful death lawsuit to be filed. First, ‘mesothelioma’ should be listed as the cause of death on the death certificate. Also, the death itself must be the result of a wrongful act or negligence on the part of a company or entity that exposed your loved one to asbestos.

In a legal sense, you need to have ‘standing’ to file your mesothelioma wrongful death lawsuit. Some of the relationships that may allow you to file suit are:

  • Husbands, wives and children, mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers
  • Grandparents can also file in most states
  • People who had a high degree of financial dependence on the deceased.

If the wrongful death lawsuit is filed according to procedure and negligence can be established, the action often can be successful. Most companies that made asbestos-containing products knew decades ago that the toxic substance could lead to sickness and death. If it can be proven that the company in question exposed employees or customers to asbestos, this is legally defined as negligence and a wrongful act.

If you are an immediate member of the family or were financially dependent on the person who passed away from mesothelioma, you would be advised to speak to an experienced mesothelioma attorney to explore your legal options.

What is the Wrongful Death Lawsuit Process?

In all asbestos-related deaths, a good attorney will do a heavy amount of research. This will often be initiated with the plaintiff, if he or she is still alive. Most good mesothelioma attorneys have an extensive investigative team who are experienced in asbestos research and litigation and have access to large employer databases. A good mesothelioma-focused law firm will be well aware of almost all companies that have used asbestos. This allows the research to be done rapidly. Only after this intense research is completed will the attorney recommend whether or not to pursue a mesothelioma wrongful death lawsuit.

File or Not to File?

If the attorney decides with your input that a lawsuit should be filed, the wrongful death lawsuit will be submitted to the appropriate court. Usually, the mesothelioma wrongful death claim is filed where the deceased lived, or was exposed to the deadly substance. If there is another venue or state where the case could achieve a superior result, that may be considered by your mesothelioma attorney.


The next part of the mesothelioma wrongful death legal process is discovery. This is the part where your attorney will work to build your case to be as robust as possible. Your attorney will collect documents from the other side, and they from your side, and also gather information about the deceased’s work history, as well as medical and personal history. It is very helpful for your side if ‘mesothelioma’ is listed on the death certificate. If not, the defense may argue that the deceased had another form of cancer that was not caused by asbestos exposure.

The defense will almost always make an effort to have the case dismissed prior to trial. They also may offer you a cheap settlement to make you go away. Having a strong, tough mesothelioma attorney working in your corner for negotiations will ensure that you get fair compensation. Know that 95% of these cases result in a settlement. The money you get will probably be the most you ever see in your lifetime, so it is extremely important to hire the right mesothelioma attorney for the task.