Mesothelioma lawsuits are divided into two categories:
- The person suffering from mesothelioma is living and is bringing the lawsuit as a plaintiff in his or her own individual capacity. This is called a personal injury lawsuit or a living case.
- The victim of mesothelioma has died, and the plaintiff is a spouse, relative and/or representative of the deceased person's estate. This is called a wrongful death lawsuit or death case.
In the case of the living plaintiff, the most important factor is time. The mesothelioma attorney will come to the plaintiff's home and gather the information necessary to file the lawsuit and answer the interrogatories. This will probably take several sessions. Then, in most cases, there will be one or two depositions of the plaintiff, depending on what the local procedures are.
In the case where the person who would normally be the plaintiff is deceased, a court-appointed individual (usually the spouse or a close relative) stands in as the plaintiff, and the injuries claimed include the loss of life itself. The most important part of a death case is finding persons who remember working with the plaintiff, to provide the work history and product exposure testimony that the deceased individual (called the decedent) would have provided were he or she still living. The interrogatory answers are done and signed by the plaintiff, and that person may or may not have to give a deposition. Sometimes the co-workers must give depositions as well. As in the living case, at that point the lawyer takes over and prepares the case for trial.