Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that occurs after asbestos exposure. Unfortunately, there’s no cure for the disease. Treatment for mesothelioma involves surgery, chemotherapy, radiation or a combination of these methods. The mesothelioma life expectancy is traditionally about a year, although doctors are having some success with treatments that can prolong a patient’s life for years.

A mesothelioma diagnosis brings on a deluge of worries: How did I get it? How long will I live? What happens to my family after I’m gone? During this scary time, a mesothelioma lawyer who specializes in helping families affected by the disease is an important ally. Once you’re diagnosed, it’s important to act quickly because most lawsuits have to be filed within a year or two after you learn about the condition. The following are three ways a mesothelioma attorney can help you:

1. Determine how you were exposed to asbestos. Somewhere along the line, you had to have been exposed to asbestos, which causes cancer to develop in the lining around internal organs-most often the lungs. Many people who are diagnosed with mesothelioma have had jobs in refineries or shipyards, worked as pipe fitters or insulation installers or were employed in other careers where they breathed in asbestos fibers and dust. But if you don’t know where or how you were exposed, a mesothelioma lawyer may hire a private detective to uncover the truth. This is typically done at the firm’s expense since most mesothelioma attorneys receive compensation according to the settlement they win for you. Uncovering how and where you were exposed to asbestos is crucial to the next step, which is filing suit against the company or organization behind your exposure.

2. File a lawsuit to help with medical expenses. Undergoing treatments for mesothelioma can be costly. Not only are out-of-pocket expenses high, but most patients aren’t able to work while receiving these energy-draining procedures. Most companies who knowingly exposed workers to asbestos aren’t going to volunteer to cover your medical expenses, which is why your attorney must file suit and fight to make them take responsibility.

3. Help secure your family’s financial future. Lawsuits usually have two goals: securing money for medical care and compensating for emotional pain and financial losses. Mesothelioma attorneys usually attempt to settle out of court first, both to bring about a speedy conclusion and to prevent their clients from having to endure a trial. But the truth is that some mesothelioma cases last longer than the patient lives. In that case, the attorney fights for the family’s future, which they must build without their loved one. And though financial settlements can never truly compensate for a family member’s loss, they can make up for lost wages and prevent spouses and children from having to worry about money during their time of grief.

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