Why Seek Justice for Asbestos Illnesses?
Many people were exposed to asbestos without knowing about it. Companies that produced, distributed, and used asbestos have been held accountable for exposing workers without warning them of the risks.
Many of these companies have been found liable for exposing and harming workers. If you were one of these people, you can seek justice through a mesothelioma lawsuit.
What Are Asbestos and Mesothelioma?
Asbestos is a natural set of minerals and a human carcinogen. It is made up of tiny, odorless fibers that, when disturbed, can easily be inhaled or ingested. Inhaling or ingesting the fibers can lead to internal damage and illnesses.
Mesothelioma, an aggressive and deadly cancer, is an asbestos-related cancer. Asbestosis is a non-cancerous disease resulting in scarring of lung tissue caused by chronic inhalation of asbestos. These are preventable diseases, and it is important to hold accountable those companies that caused asbestos exposure.
Lawsuits Provide Compensation
Not only does filing a lawsuit lead to justice for victims, but it also can give you financial security. If you have mesothelioma, you will likely face high medical bills and possibly income loss. The right mesothelioma lawyer can help you succeed in a lawsuit to recover damages from the responsible parties.
Asbestos Lawsuits Are Not Just for Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma is most strongly associated with asbestos exposure, but this is not the only disease it causes. You may also develop deadly lung cancer and non-malignant diseases like asbestosis. All are damaging, shorten your life, and cost you in expenses. You can sue manufacturers for any illness caused by asbestos.
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Types of Asbestos or Mesothelioma Lawsuits
The type of mesothelioma lawsuit you can file depends on whether you were injured or lost a family member to the disease.
- Personal Injury Lawsuits: This lawsuit is filed against the parties responsible for causing the exposure. If found liable for your exposure you can typically expect to receive compensation from the defendants.
- Wrongful Death Lawsuits: Unfortunately, victims of asbestos exposure don’t always live long enough to see a lawsuit finish. In these cases, the surviving families may file a wrongful death asbestos lawsuit or continue with the ongoing claim.
A wrongful death suit is a claim that a loved one’s death was caused by negligence. This type of lawsuit can provide compensation to cover medical bills and funeral expenses as well as for pain and suffering and loss of companionship.
Who Gets Sued in a Mesothelioma Lawsuit?
The defendants in a mesothelioma lawsuit are the companies responsible for exposing you to asbestos. You may not be sure who this is. It could be a past employer, but in most cases, it is one or more manufacturers of asbestos products that supplied your employer.
A lawyer experienced in asbestos and mesothelioma cases will go through your job history and their databases of asbestos information to decide who bears responsibility.
What if the Companies No Longer Exist?
Many companies responsible for asbestos exposure no longer exist. Some went bankrupt and may or may not have reorganized. Those that did should have set up an asbestos trust to compensate future victims. Your lawyer can help you find the appropriate asbestos trust for filing a claim.
Some potential defendants may not exist because other companies acquired them. Those parent companies may be liable for past asbestos exposures.
Do I Qualify to Sue for Mesothelioma?
If you have received a diagnosis of mesothelioma or another illness caused by asbestos, you are most likely eligible to sue. The best way to get expert advice is to talk to a lawyer. Asbestos lawyers offer free consultations to review your information can determine if you have a strong case.
To sue successfully, you must have evidence of past asbestos exposure. You must also be able to connect that exposure to your current diagnosis.
You may not think you have evidence, but lawyers may be able to uncover proof. Don’t let this stop you from talking to an experienced firm. Asbestos firms have a lot of resources and experts on their teams that can build strong cases out of your job and medical histories.
When Should I File a Lawsuit?
If you have received a mesothelioma diagnosis, talk to a lawyer as soon as possible. A mesothelioma lawsuit is a type of personal injury case. Every state sets a time limit on these, known as the statute of limitations.
The statute of limitations is the time you have from when you received your diagnosis to file a lawsuit. For most states, the limit is between one and six years.
If you hope to file on behalf of a deceased loved one, you also face time limits. The statute of limitations on a wrongful death case may be the same as for a personal injury case. They are similar in most states.
What Are the Steps in a Mesothelioma Lawsuit?
The process of filing and winning a mesothelioma lawsuit can be complicated and time-consuming for those unfamiliar with the process. Rely on an experienced mesothelioma lawyer to take most of these steps for you and to help you make the right decisions along the way.
Find an Asbestos or Mesothelioma Lawyer
For the best chance of winning your case, you need a reliable mesothelioma lawyer or law firm with relevant experience and asbestos knowledge. The laws governing asbestos and personal injury are different in each state. Your legal team should understand the laws and have access to information about companies that used asbestos.
Prepare and File the Lawsuit
Once a law firm takes your case, they will begin gathering information. They’ll begin an investigation to determine what company caused the exposure that triggered your illness. They will also need your input. Be prepared to provide medical records and other types of information.
With all the information in place and preparatory work done, your legal team will be ready to file a complaint against one or more defendants.
Wait for a Response
The defendant will have a chance to respond to your claims once the lawsuit has been filed. Defendants get a certain amount of time to respond, typically thirty days from when they learn of the lawsuit. They may deny liability and may even allege that you were to blame.
For example, previous defendants in mesothelioma lawsuits claimed smoking caused the plaintiffs’ illness even though smoking has not been proven to cause mesothelioma. They may deny that your illness is related to asbestos. Your lawyer will know how to handle these allegations.
If the defendant does not respond, you win your case by default. In most cases, the defendant will respond and trigger the discovery period. During this period, both sides continue gathering information.
Negotiate a Settlement
Most mesothelioma and asbestos cases never go to trial. Lawyers on each side are usually able to reach a settlement agreement. It takes eighteen months on average to settle, with both sides agreeing on a fair amount of compensation for the victim.
Go to Trial
Trials usually take longer than out-of-court settlements. It’s impossible to predict the jury’s decision, but there are some benefits of trials. One is that the company or companies that caused your illness can be exposed publicly, and if successful, the award amount is usually higher.
Asbestos trials can take several years. If you’re extremely ill, a judge may choose to accelerate the process. Most mesothelioma victims try to avoid a trial because it is in their best interest to get a resolution quickly.
Both sides have the right to appeal after a trial. This can delay your access to compensation, but an experienced asbestos attorney understands the process and will work for the best outcome.
How Long Does a Mesothelioma Lawsuit Take?
Every case is different, but if you go to trial, it could be a year or two before your case gets to that point. The vast majority of mesothelioma lawsuits end in settlements that take much less time to resolve. This is only a rough timeline that varies depending on individual factors:
- Filing the Lawsuit. Your legal team will need some time to consult with you, investigate, and gather information before filing. This could take a couple of months.
- Waiting for a Response. Once filed, it’s up to the defendants to respond. There is a time limit for this, typically 30 days.
- Discovery period. This is the step with the most variation. It can take six months to a year for both sides to put together their cases. The more complicated the case, the longer it takes.
- Negotiating. Your lawyer will try to avoid a trial by getting you a fair settlement. The negotiations can take anywhere from days to months.
- Getting a Verdict. If your case does to to trial and is straightforward, it could be over in days. The most complicated cases take several months or up to a year.
- Appealing. There is a time limit on appealing, which varies by state and court, typically between one and six months.
What Compensation Can Be Claimed in a Lawsuit?
Getting justice and acknowledgment from the person or company that made you sick is important, but the financial costs of this disease are big. Winning compensation means money doesn’t have to be a worry and that you can focus on treatment. You may be entitled to recover damages for:
- Medical bills
- Future medical expenses
- Travel costs for treatment
- Lost wages and inability to work
- Emotional suffering
- Physical pain
How Much Do Mesothelioma Victims Get in Lawsuits?
Compensation amounts from lawsuits vary significantly depending on several factors: the severity of the illness, the medical and related expenses, whether you have dependents, and emotional suffering.
The average amount for a settlement in a mesothelioma case is $1 million to $1.4 million. The average verdict amount is $2.4 million.
Examples of Successful Mesothelioma Lawsuits
The average mesothelioma lawsuit settles for about $1 million; however, there have been many examples of lawsuits reaching much higher numbers:
- $17 million was awarded by a jury to the family of a retired civilian worker in the U.S. Navy. He developed mesothelioma and died after working at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard.
- A jury awarded the wife of a race car driver $75 million after she developed mesothelioma from being around the dust in his engine gaskets.
- A construction worker’s family received $48 million after he died from exposure to asbestos in building materials.
- $250 million was awarded to a steelworker who was exposed to asbestos in insulation products.
How to Find a Local Mesothelioma Lawyer
Filing a lawsuit can help you bring closure to a terrible situation and provide the financial support you need. The best way to get a good outcome is to work with the right lawyer.
Look for a lawyer in your state that specializes in or has extensive experience with mesothelioma and asbestos cases. This experience is necessary, as asbestos cases are unique and complicated.
Check with anyone you know or worked with who also has an asbestos disease. They may be able to recommend a lawyer. Check advertisements and directories for local lawyers who take asbestos cases. Your state bar association and advocacy groups for asbestos illness may also be able to point you in the right direction.
Before hiring any lawyer, no matter how you found them, take advantage of the free consultation. Ask all your questions and request references from past asbestos clients. Don’t settle for a firm with no asbestos experience.
By filing an asbestos lawsuit, you are holding companies accountable for harming their workers. A lawsuit is also important for collecting the damages you deserve. Be sure that you start your lawsuit with an expert by your side. Remember, statutes of limitations vary by state but all limit the time you have to make your case.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Can you sue for mesothelioma?
Yes, you can sue for mesothelioma if it resulted from negligent exposure to asbestos. Asbestos exposure most often occurs in the workplace. A lawyer can help you determine how you were exposed and who is responsible and can be sued.
What is the average settlement for mesothelioma?
On average, victims of asbestos exposure who develop malignant mesothelioma recover between $1 million and $1.4 million.
What is the statute of limitations on filing for mesothelioma?
The statute of limitations, the time you have to file a lawsuit, varies by state. For personal injury, the statutes of limitations range from one year to six years from when the illness was diagnosed or should have been reasonably discovered. For a wrongful death lawsuit, in the event someone dies from asbestos exposure, the limit ranges from one to three years.
Is a mesothelioma settlement taxable?
Tax laws can be confusing, so let an expert guide you. In general, damages recovered for mesothelioma that are related to actual medical expenses are not taxable. You may, however, be expected to pay taxes on damages recovered for things like emotional suffering or lost wages.
How much money is left in the asbestos trust fund?
There are multiple asbestos trust funds, each associated with a particular company that needs to compensate victims of exposure. The amount of money varies by trust, but overall, there is about $30 billion still left in these trusts. The trusts operate in such a way that there will be money left for future victims as they receive diagnoses of asbestos-related diseases.
How can I get mesothelioma compensation?
There are several ways to seek compensation for being a victim of asbestos exposure and mesothelioma. One is to file a lawsuit against those responsible for your exposure, such as a former employer or manufacturer of asbestos-containing materials. A lawsuit may end in a trial and jury verdict award or it may be settled out of court. You can also file a claim with an asbestos trust fund for any responsible company that went bankrupt and set up a trust to compensate victims. If you are a veteran and you were exposed during service, you can file claims for various types of compensation through the U.S Veterans Administration.
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Page Written by Rod De Llano, Esquire
Rod De Llano was born and raised in Laredo, Texas. He graduated from Princeton University with a B.A. in Economics, and earned a law degree from the University of Texas. After working for an international law firm for several years, Rod formed a law firm dedicated to representing persons injured by exposure to asbestos products. For over 20 years, Rod has fought for persons diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis. His clients have recovered over $1 billion over the years.
Connect with Mesothelioma Compensation ExpertRod De Llano
- Cornell Law School. Legal Information Institute. (n.d.). Negligence.
Retrieved from: https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/negligence
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- National Cancer Institute. (2017, June 7). Asbestos Exposure and Cancer Risk.
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- American Bar Association. (2013, March 18). Personal Injury.
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- Justia. (2018, April). Wrongful Death.
Retrieved from: https://www.justia.com/injury/wrongful-death/
- American Bar Association. (2019, September 9). How Courts Work. Steps in a Trial.
Retrieved from: https://www.americanbar.org/groups/public_education/resources/law_related_education_network/how_courts_work/cases_settling/
- Mealey’s Litigation Report. (2016, May 31). Asbestos Verdicts & Settlements: January 2015 – December 2015.
Retrieved from: https://www.lexislegalnews.com/articles/8734/asbestos-verdicts-settlements-january-2015-december-2015
- $17M Award in Asbestos Death of Navy Civilian Employee in Arizona. (2016, April 22). Insurance Journal.
Retrieved from: https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/west/2016/04/22/406255.htm
- Dana Cos. Set to Appeal $75 Million Asbestos Verdict in New York Court. (2017, March 13). SE Texas Record.
Retrieved from: https://setexasrecord.com/stories/511088757-dana-cos-set-to-appeal-75-million-asbestos-verdict-in-new-york-court
- Calif. Jury Awards $48 Million in Union Carbide Asbestos Case. (2012, June 21). Law 360.
Retrieved from: https://www.law360.com/articles/352759/calif-jury-awards-48m-in-union-carbide-asbestos-case
- Zolkos. R. (2003, March 31). U.S. Steel Settles $250 Million Asbestos Award.
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What Is the Average Mesothelioma Settlement Time Frame? Although each case is different, many mesothelioma lawsuits start to award compensation in 90 days or less. Further, the entire mesothelioma lawsuit timeline may take under a year in some cases.
Mesothelioma Award Statistics
The average mesothelioma settlement amount is between $1 million and $1.4 million, according to recent reports. The average mesothelioma trial verdict award is around $2.4 million. The largest mesothelioma verdict amount recorded was for $250 million.
The average settlement ranges from $1 million to $1.4 million. If a mesothelioma claim goes to trial, a settlement could be reached or a jury could determine the amount of compensation, if the defendant is found guilty of the asbestos exposure. Most cases settle before trial.
Level 4 – for Severe Asbestosis - $42,000. Level 3 – for Asbestosis/Pleural Disease with significantly restricted function - $19,000. Level 2 – for Asbestosis/Pleural Disease without significantly restricted function - $8,000.
Once your claim has been settled, your compensation will normally be paid to you quite quickly - usually within 2 weeks to a month. If your case is settled in court, the judge will give a deadline for you to receive your compensation by.
Are Mesothelioma Settlements Taxable? In general, compensation received through a mesothelioma settlement is not taxable. According to section 104 of the IRS tax code, compensation awarded in direct connection to personal injuries or sickness is not taxed.
Technically, the case against big tobacco was the biggest personal injury settlement in U.S. history although it wasn't a single person or family suing the companies. Forty-six states worked together to sue tobacco manufacturers, and they came away with a $246 billion settlement.
The average mesothelioma case value is between $1 million and $1.4 million for legal settlements and between $5 million and $11.4 million for trial verdicts, according to recent Mealey's® Litigation Reports. These values vary widely because there are multiple ways to receive financial compensation for mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma Survival Rate – The mesothelioma survival rates is typically 4–18 months after diagnosis, but there have been patients diagnosed with mesothelioma who have lived longer than 10 years. The current five-year survival rate for the disease is just 10 percent.
Mesothelioma settlements occur when lawyers who represent asbestos companies agree to compensate a victim who was exposed to the company's asbestos products. On average, mesothelioma settlements award between $1 million and $1.4 million. Our team can help you and your family access financial compensation.
Can Stage 3 Mesothelioma Be Cured? There is currently no cure for mesothelioma cancer. Mesothelioma patients diagnosed at stage 3 typically have a less favorable prognosis than those diagnosed at earlier stages. However, doctors are evaluating new and existing treatments to extend patient life expectancy.
The median survival rate for stage 4 mesothelioma is approximately 12 months with treatment. The stage 4 survival rate for pleural mesothelioma patients is approximately 14.9 months. At stage 4 the cancer is likely to spread, leading to respiratory failure.
It is thought that disturbed asbestos can stay airborne for as long as 48 to 72 hours before settling.
The risk for asbestos-related illnesses is highest for people who worked with the raw mineral or with asbestos-containing products daily. Workers who manufactured or used asbestos products were exposed to asbestos on the job. Research shows approximately 8% to 13% of asbestos workers eventually develop mesothelioma.
As with most personal injury claims, you have three years from the date you were diagnosed with an asbestos related condition to claim compensation. With asbestos diseases it can sometimes be quite difficult to assess when the time limit begins to run from.
Generally, when a settlement agreement is reached, the responsible party pays an amount to compensate for the “damages,” or losses, their negligence caused the victim.
Once the insurance company sends an adjuster and evaluates the damage to your home, they'll pay a settlement amount in either replacement cost or actual cash value. Replacement cost gives you funds to cover the costs to rebuild your home or repair damages using similar materials.
However, the reasonable band of timescales for provision of a report after a medical examination probably ranges from about 6 to 10 weeks. You would expect that, once the insurers receive any medical report, they should be in a position to make a settlement offer to you within four weeks or so.
The easiest way to protect settlement money is to simply pay off your debt. Of course, that's not as easy as it sounds! Your household's bills, groceries, and other needs come first.
The general rule regarding taxability of amounts received from settlement of lawsuits and other legal remedies is Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 61. This section states all income is taxable from whatever source derived, unless exempted by another section of the code.
Spread payments over time to avoid higher taxes: Receiving a large taxable settlement can bump your income into higher tax brackets. By spreading your settlement payments over multiple years, you can reduce the income that is subject to the highest tax rates.
Large settlement can be defined as loss of ground in the downward direction due to over-excavation as a result of trenchless pipeline installation methods such as horizontal directional drilling (HDD). This can lead to the formation of voids or sinkholes above the borehole leading to borehole collapse.
A good settlement offer should not only be able to cover your hospital bills and legal fees, but it should also be equivalent to close to a years' worth of your current wages, especially in cases where your injuries may be permanent or cause some kind of disability.
Settlement amounts are typically calculated by considering various economic damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, and out of pocket expenses from the injury. However non-economic factors should also play a significant role. Non-economic factors might include pain and suffering and loss of quality of life.
Today, more than 100 companies have established their own asbestos bankruptcy trusts. It's estimated that more than $30 billion collectively has been set aside in these trusts to help victims of asbestos exposure and their families.
Survival by location, stage and cell subtype of mesothelioma.
|1||21 to 51 months|
|2||19 to 26 months|
|3||15 to 16 months|
|4||8 to 12 months|
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) may provide compensation benefits, such as monthly income, to eligible mesothelioma patients under age 65 who are unable to work because of their condition and have paid a sufficient amount of Social Security taxes, among other requirements.
Experts do not currently recommend lung transplantation for mesothelioma patients. They reserve donor organs for benign conditions such as severe COPD, cystic fibrosis, pulmonary fibrosis, pulmonary hypertension, or interstitial lung disease.
In rare cases, mesothelioma cancer may metastasize (spread) to the patient's brain. Mesothelioma often begins in the lungs, abdomen or heart after exposure to asbestos. Mesothelioma is a rare disease, accounting for only 0.19% of new cancer diagnoses from 2013 to 2017. Mesothelioma metastasis to the brain is unlikely.
In the case of lung cancer or pleural mesothelioma, it is hoped that performing a pneumonectomy will prevent the spread of malignant cells to other sites in the body and hopefully cure or, at least locally, control the disease. Watch: Karen Selby, RN describes the extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) procedure.
A mesothelioma lawyer specializes in winning compensation for asbestos-related diseases. The best mesothelioma lawyers are experienced in winning asbestos lawsuits and claims. Top attorneys can help victims and loved ones receive compensation through settlements and verdicts.
If mesothelioma can be treated with surgery, chemo may be given first (before surgery) to try to shrink the cancer and lower the risk that it will spread. This is called neoadjuvant therapy. Chemo can also be given after surgery to try to kill any cancer cells that were left behind.
Mesothelioma is a fatal disease. Even if caught early, mesothelioma is currently not curable. In very rare cases, mesothelioma can go into remission partially, meaning the cancer is still present but not active. Treatment options are available to extend a patient's life and make side effects more manageable.
Can Mesothelioma Go Into Remission? Yes. Although it is rare, many malignant mesothelioma patients have achieved long-term remission despite being given a poor health outlook (prognosis) at first. Remission is a term doctors use to describe how much a patient's cancer symptoms have decreased or disappeared.
Most patients die from mesothelioma in stage 4, when the cancer has spread to other parts of the body and caused extensive damage. Late-stage cancer causes organs to fail, impairs the immune system, causes malnutrition and wasting, and can even result in a coma.
- Abdominal pain.
- Chest pain.
- Difficulty breathing (dyspnea)
- Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
- Night sweats.
- Peritoneal effusion (fluid buildup)
- Pleural effusion (fluid buildup)
With mesothelioma, people die a terrible death in agony.
What is the longest someone has lived with mesothelioma? Diagnosed in 1997 at age 52, Paul Kraus is currently the longest-living mesothelioma survivor in the world. He believes he experienced asbestos exposure working in a factory as a student in Australia.
Mesothelioma tends to spread (metastasize) fairly quickly. Because of this, many experts consider mesothelioma to be an aggressive form of cancer. Numerous factors can affect how quickly mesothelioma progresses and the areas of the body to which it spreads.
Washing clothes in a washing machine should remove asbestos dust off your clothes.
One-time exposure to asbestos can cause diseases, including mesothelioma cancer. Researchers have found repeated exposure to asbestos increases the risk of developing asbestos-related cancers. The risk to individuals who have a one-time exposure to asbestos is generally lower compared to long-term or repeated exposure.
A: An N95 mask is a disposable filtering facepiece respirator with two straps. When worn properly (with the mask making a tight seal with the user's face), it can protect against hazardous airborne particles. N95 masks do not protect against gases, vapors and cannot be used for asbestos, and they do not provide oxygen.
Most lawsuits are resolved with a mesothelioma settlement since they are less time-consuming and risky than a trial. If the court finds the defendant not guilty, you will not win any compensation at all. Your asbestos attorney will try to negotiate settlements with each manufacturer named in the lawsuit.
Compensation from employers
Anyone diagnosed with mesothelioma who has worked somewhere where they were exposed to asbestos in the past may be able to claim compensation from their employer. This includes people working in the armed forces who have been exposed to asbestos after 1987.
Conditions that are eligible include:
- Asbestos related lung cancer.
- Pleural thickening.
A compensation claim for an asbestos related disease can take on average up to 18 months to complete, but more complex claims that need more evidence could take as long as 3 years. Some cases involving terminal illnesses, like Mesothelioma, where someone has limited time left can be settled in only a few months.
Latency period is how long a disease takes to develop. Mesothelioma has a lengthy latency period, of at least 20 years and sometimes as much as 50 years. The long amount of time between exposure and development is why mesothelioma is hard to detect.
After your claim has settled you should receive your compensation between 14 – 21 days. This depends on if your claim was settled in or out of court.
(Workers' Compensation) Act 1979 provides lump sum payments to workers with certain dust related diseases (including Mesothelioma), whose employer or insurer cannot be traced. On average these payments are £18k for Mesothelioma claims.
Number 1: The 1998 Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement
The 1998 Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement is also the biggest civil litigation settlement in US history. At USD246 billion, it is unlikely to be beaten any time soon. The case was brought against all the major tobacco companies by more than 40 US states.
Stage 4 mesothelioma is a rare, malignant cancer in an advanced stage. Stage 4 cancer cells have metastasized, spreading to distant areas in the body. Stage 4 is the final stage of mesothelioma and considered terminal. The average life expectancy for stage 4 mesothelioma is less than 12 months.
There is currently no cure for mesothelioma cancer. However, patients may achieve long-term remission and increased life expectancy with treatment. Researchers continue to study conventional and new treatments to improve survival for patients.
Some sufferers of mesothelioma report having impaired cognitive functioning, described as similar to “dementia.” This cognitive impairment manifests itself in symptoms like brain fog, short-term memory loss, sudden fatigue, an inability to concentrate, difficulty multitasking, and other, similar experiences.