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Choosing a Lawyer


Are The Law Offices of Shepard A. Hoffman Right For Me?

The primary job of your lawyer is to provide financial peace of mind. Thus, choosing a lawyer should be done with care.

For over 20 years, the Law Offices of Shepard A. Hoffman has represented persons injured or killed by the dangerous products or negligent conduct of others. During that time, the Law Offices of Shepard A. Hoffman has distinguished itself in the representation of persons suffering from mesothelioma and other asbestos diseases.

The office maintains an extensive data base of medical information (over 1,000 articles in the medical and scientific literature), a library of over 5,000 transcripts of depositions about asbestos cases and a collection of over 1 million pages of corporate documents disclosing company knowledge about the dangers and health hazards of asbestos dating back to the 1930s.

The Law Offices of Shepard A. Hoffman is governed by a simple philosophy: Serve The Client! It is the job of a lawyer to give the client as much information as possible about their situation and legal rights. Only by getting complete and comprehensive explanations of all aspects of your case can you be in the position to make informed decisions about how to proceed.

For over 50 years, the asbestos industry worked to hide and conceal what it knew about the dangers and health hazards of asbestos. In contrast, the Law Offices of Shepard A. Hoffman is committed to providing its clients with complete and clear explanations of their legal rights. Whether and where to file a lawsuit, possible out of court settlements, bankruptcy and trust fund payments, class actions and consolidation of cases for trial are just some of the issues which we will go over with you.

There is no shame in asking questions, the shame is in NOT asking. Your lawyer works for YOU. We always remember that.


Choosing a Lawyer

All cases of asbestos disease were preventable. Many of the companies that manufactured and distributed asbestos containing products learned over 50 years ago that asbestos products could result in cases of deadly asbestos disease. The asbestos companies actively worked to conceal and hide what they knew about the dangers and health hazards from the public, their customers, the medical and scientific community, and the government. Because of this, every person who suffers from an asbestos related disease should seriously consider filing a lawsuit against the asbestos manufacturers and distributors who are responsible for each particular person's injuries or death.

Selecting a lawyer to represent you is like selecting a surgeon for an operation; it is a serious matter. Asbestos litigation has become a specialized area of the law. Never hesitate to get a second opinion. Remember that a lawyer works for you and not the other way around. The single most important thing that a lawyer can do for an asbestos disease victim is to try and provide some FINANCIAL PEACE OF MIND. Serious asbestos disease, of which mesothelioma is the worst, can result in enormous medical bills, disability from work, and other losses which can cause considerable stress, anxiety and worry for persons who already have enough of that to deal with by virtue of having been diagnosed with mesothelioma.


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Some Questions to Ask a Lawyer

  1. When will my lawsuit be filed?
  2. Against what companies will the lawsuit be filed?
  3. Where will the lawsuit be filed?
  4. What lawyer will actually be responsible for the day-to-day work on the case?
  5. What lawyer will be responsible for trying the case in court?
  6. How long will it take to get the case into court for a trial?
  7. Can any settlements with any of the asbestos companies which are sued be expected before the case gets to trial?
  8. If some settlements can be expected before the case gets to trial, how much in the way of settlements can be expected and how long will it take to get that money?
  9. Will the case be pursued on its own or will it be combined with other cases?
  10. If settlement discussions take place concerning the case, will the case be discussed on its own or will it be discussed as a part of a group of cases?
  11. If settlement of the case is done as part of a group of other asbestos cases, who will be responsible for determining how much money I get out of any particular settlement fund, the lawyer, the lawyers for the asbestos companies, the court or someone else?
  12. How many mesothelioma cases has the lawyer personally tried to verdict?
  13. Please give me a list of cases showing the name of the case, the jurisdiction where the case was filed, the case number, the date of the verdict in the case and the amount of the verdict.
  14. How many asbestos cases is the lawyer handling?
  15. How many attorneys and staff people does the lawyer have to handle those cases?
  16. How many mesothelioma cases have you personally taken to verdict in front of a jury? Where? When? What were the results?

In What Court Should a Mesothelioma Case be Filed?

When it comes time to file a lawsuit for injuries or death caused by exposure to asbestos, lawyers can file the case in either a Federal Court or a State Court. Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES should a mesothelioma case ever be filed in Federal Court unless the lawyer has very special and extraordinary reasons for doing so.

Asbestos cases which are filed in Federal Court are all transferred to one judge in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This federal judge in Philadelphia (Judge Myron Weiner) has approximately 50,000 cases assigned to him. This is because all asbestos cases in the Federal Courts throughout the nation are transferred to Judge Weiner's court almost immediately after they are filed.

Judge Weiner's Federal Court is like a deep, deep hole into which the federal judges have thrown the victims of asbestos disease without any intention of ever letting them out. If your case is filed in Federal Court (or removed to Federal Court from State Court), chances are that you will not receive anything meaningful for the foreseeable future.

Do not let your lawyer file your case in Federal Court without knowing why.


How Quickly Can Compensation Be Recovered?

How quickly a lawyer is able to recover compensation and the amount of that compensation depend on many things. Factors such as the state and county where the case is filed, as well as the judge assigned to the case, can have a very large impact on how quickly your case is set for trial and, therefore, how soon you will be able to receive any payments. Many lawyers who handle asbestos cases have "standing arrangements" with a number of asbestos companies which allow the lawyer to settle a given person's case with that asbestos company very soon after the case comes into the lawyer's office. Be on your guard if your lawyer suggests that this be done for you. Sometimes settlements from "standing arrangements" can be very favorable for the asbestos disease victim. Other times, the lawyer may not know whether the "standing arrangement" settlement is a good offer because the lawyer may not know enough about your case early on to make an intelligent decision about whether you should accept the "standing arrangement" settlement offer. Finally, in some cases, the pre-agreed "standing arrangement" settlement offer will not be enough for you, based upon the particularities of your case. Remember that the lawyer works for you and you should always ask about the details of a settlement. In particular, you should find out from the lawyer what effect, if any, accepting the settlement money will have on the rest of your lawsuit. How many more defendants will you have left in your case? If you get a verdict in the case from the jury, how will accepting this money affect the verdict, or in other words, will accepting this settlement money bring about a reduction in your verdict and, if so, how much will the reduction be?


How Long Will My Case Take?

Ask the lawyer if you can speak with one of his mesothelioma clients, so that you can get some information that way. Even though the lawyer will only give you the name of a mesothelioma client who he expects will give complimentary information, it is still a valuable way of checking on the lawyer.

The length of time it will take your case to get to court depends on the state and county where the case is filed. In some states (California, for instance) a person with mesothelioma can usually have their case brought to trial within 6-9 months of the date it is filed. This is because the rules of court in California give a preferential trial setting to persons who are very seriously ill. In other states, the courts are so backed up that it can take between 3 and 5 years or even longer before a case goes to trial.

A person with asbestos disease can usually have their lawsuit filed in any state where they had asbestos exposure. Therefore, if you worked with or around asbestos products or were exposed to asbestos in more than one state, make sure that your attorney looks into the differences between filing your lawsuit in all of the states where you had any asbestos exposure.


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How Much Can I Expect?

Just as the length of time to trial very much depends on the state and county where a lawsuit is filed, so too does the amount of compensation which a person receives. Do not be afraid to ask your lawyer for an estimate of the value of your case. Lawyers experienced in handling asbestos cases will be able to give you an idea of what kind of compensation you will receive and how long it will take. No lawyer can ever tell you exactly how much your case is worth. However, the lawyer ought to be able to give you a broad range of value for your claim, depending on the facts and circumstances of the case, and the jurisdiction in which it is filed. Also, no lawyer can guarantee the results in any particular case. However, lawyers who are experienced in handling asbestos cases can give their best opinions and conclusions about your likelihood of success.

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