Many painful deaths from mesothelioma cancer result from negligent companies that manufactured or used asbestos-containing products. If your loved one dies from pleural mesothelioma, you may have the option to file a wrongful death lawsuit. This guide will help you to understand the legal processes involved. An experienced mesothelioma attorney in your state can provide you with more detailed information.

Overview of Wrongful Death with Mesothelioma

Many companies knew for decades about the dangers of asbestos but did not warn their employees of the dangers. Nor did they provide them with essential safety protections to prevent them from inhaling and ingesting potentially lethal asbestos fibers. The bottom line: These companies put their profits over workers’ lives.

The aim of a wrongful death claim in a mesothelioma case is to show companies that used or manufactured products containing asbestos engaged in negligence and were responsible for the death of your loved one. A wrongful death mesothelioma lawsuit intends to show that the family member or other party affected by the death was affected by the untimely loss of the person. This can be emotionally, financially, or both.

Filing a successful wrongful death claim for mesothelioma cancer is a complex, very time-sensitive process. Talking to an experienced mesothelioma attorney will give you the best opportunity to file your claim before the statute of limitations is over. An award from a wrongful death lawsuit may help you to offset the often tremendous financial burden from funeral costs, loss of income and medical costs. You also may receive funds for loss of companionship and consortium (intimate relationship).

Who Can File a Mesothelioma Wrongful Death Claim?

Not just anyone can file a wrongful death claim for a loved one who suffered an untimely death from mesothelioma. To be eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit, the law mandates you must show ‘standing.’ This is the ability of the filing party to show the court they have enough of a connection to the person to file. This would prevent a mere acquaintance or distant cousin from filing a wrongful death action for mesothelioma cancer for a person they hardly knew.

Some of the relationships that could be eligible to file a wrongful death action are:

  • Spouse or partner for life
  • Grandparents or parents
  • Children – can be biological, adopted or stepchildren
  • A person who was significantly financially dependant on the deceased party

The eligibility requirements for who may file a wrongful death lawsuit vary in each state. Your experienced mesothelioma attorney can help you to understand more about eligibility and potential limitations in your wrongful death claim.

Asbestos Trust Recovery

Once you have decided to file a wrongful death lawsuit using your attorney, he or she will look at the possibility of obtaining compensation from an asbestos trust fund. These special trust funds were made by companies who admitted liability for damages related to asbestos. If your legal case is a match with the exposure criteria for the trust, you may be able to obtain substantial compensation quickly.

Differences With Wrongful Death and Personal Injury

Filing a mesothelioma lawsuit changes after the person dies from asbestos cancer. It also becomes harder to build and prove a legal case compared to a personal injury claim. The wrongful death claim is harder to prove for a these reasons:

  • The person who was exposed to deadly asbestos is no longer living to give a deposition or testify.
  • Family members and loved ones might not be aware of the detailed asbestos exposure history and employment history of the person who died.
  • Finding key witnesses such as ex-co workers could be challenging.
  • Detailed questioning performed by the defendants during discovery during the lawsuit could be harder to answer because the deceased is not there. These questions could include past health problems, history of smoking and precise details of the mesothelioma diagnosis.

Also, you need to be aware that awards from wrongful death lawsuits, which can be settlements or jury verdicts, are often must less than a personal injury award. This is because a person living with mesothelioma will be assumed to have large, ongoing medical costs and other expenses related to their disease. A potential award from that part of a legal claim is cut out after the person passes away.

Understanding the Statutes of Limitations

All personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits related to mesothelioma cancer fall under what is known as statutes of limitations. These laws place a time limit on the time that you have to file a lawsuit. Statutes of limitations vary according to the type of legal claim and the state in which you file:

  • Personal injury lawsuits: The statute ‘clock’ begins to run after the loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma by a doctor.
  • Wrongful death lawsuits: The statute clock begins to run after the person dies and mesothelioma is determined the cause of death.

If you decide to file your wrongful death claim in California, there is a two year statute of limitations. It is important to not wait too long to file your claim, as it can take months for your attorneys to collect the information needed to make a successful claim.

Claim Outcome When the Original Plaintiff Dies

In some legal cases, the person who has mesothelioma will file a personal injury claim but pass away before the conclusion of the legal process or also known as filing a mesothelioma lawsuit after death. If this occurs, the claim for the person who died becomes a part of the estate. Any legal decisions on the matter fall to the representative of the state. This is most often the spouse or adult child.

The representative of the estate can be named by the person who died or may be appointed by the court. This person makes the decision on how to proceed with the wrongful death claim. Your mesothelioma attorney can explain the process of continuing with the legal claim after the injured party has passed on.


  • Claims After Death for Mesothelioma. (n.d.). Retrieved from