What is a Mesothelioma Settlement?
Mesothelioma settlements compensate victims to help offset financial obligations. Victims receive a settlement after they file a claim against a company or companies responsible for their mesothelioma diagnosis. Asbestos litigation is the longest-running mass tort litigation in the United States.
Exposure to asbestos is the most common cause of mesothelioma and other diseases like asbestosis. Companies throughout the United States significantly mined, produced, and imported asbestos between the 1930s and the early 2000s. The toxic mineral quickly found its way into homes, schools, work buildings, and the military.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) listed asbestos as a carcinogen in 1970, causing victims to file lawsuits against negligent companies. Since then, over 730,000 people in the United States have filed compensation claims for asbestos-related conditions.
Asbestos Trust Funds
Overwhelmed in lawsuits, many asbestos-producing companies filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy, a form of reorganization that allows companies to pay off debt while continuing operation. As a result, the companies had to establish asbestos trust funds to compensate their victims.
Personal Injury Claim
Individuals with mesothelioma can file a personal injury claim against one or multiple organizations that exposed them to asbestos. The individual diagnosed with mesothelioma is the only person who can file a personal injury claim.
Wrongful Death Claim
Additional help is available to the loved ones of mesothelioma patients who passed away. A wrongful death claim is a type of lawsuit that close family members or friends may file on behalf of the late victim. Loved ones can receive compensation to cover the costs of outstanding medical bills and loss of income.
Mesothelioma Settlements Vs. Verdicts
Most lawsuits involve either a settlement or a verdict. Mesothelioma lawsuits specifically tend to end in a settlement, or monetary award that prevents going to trial. If both parties cannot reach a settlement agreement, then they must receive a verdict in court.
A judge or jurors review the mesothelioma case and determine the best settlement amount. The judge or jurors establish a verdict based on whether the company is responsible for the patient’s exposure to asbestos.
The settlement process tends to move quicker than a mesothelioma trial. If the claim goes to trial, the defendant has the opportunity to appeal, prolonging the process.
What is the Average Settlement?
Though every case is different, the average mesothelioma lawsuit in the United States settles for between $250,000 and $2,000,000.
Each state typically has differing limits or statutes on settlement amounts. The states consider factors like prognosis, the extent of asbestos exposure, and length of employment. Other Factors that may affect the settlement include:
Age of diagnosis
Most mesothelioma patients are diagnosed at older ages, 50s or 60s. Younger patients diagnosed with mesothelioma may receive lower settlement amounts than those diagnosed at an older age, because their lifestyle may stay the same.
In cases where the company knew they exposed employees to asbestos, the award amount tends to be substantial. Negligent companies most likely went to trial with other victims and tend to settle a claim quickly to avoid going through another trial process.
Compensatory and Punitive Damages
Jurors decide the damage amount based on compensatory and punitive damages. If the verdict favors the victim, jurors consider compensatory damages, which are the actual economic losses of the victim.
The jurors also consider punitive damages, which is the punishment given to the defendant for their negligent behavior. As punishment for punitive damages, the defendant financially pays the victims.
Cost of Living and Medical Expenses
Jurors take into consideration the cost of living and medical expenses since they most likely differ for each patient.
The outcome of mesothelioma cases varies state-by-state. In some states, you may need to provide more evidence that the defendant was negligent.
Number of Companies in Lawsuit
It’s common for victims to file claims against multiple companies that produced asbestos-containing products, resulting in a quick settlement to avoid extra time and expenses in a trial.
Where the Victim Files the Claim
Since each state has its own statute of settlement amounts, each claim results in different outcomes. You may be able to file a claim in a different state to receive a better settlement.
Before starting the process of filing a mesothelioma claim, the best thing you can do is to speak with an experienced asbestos attorney. Once you hire a lawyer, they will discuss your legal plan, compensation options, and other variables of your situation.
Before filing the claim, your attorney will begin preparing your case by having you gather documentation that proves your condition and your exposure to asbestos.
Filing A Claim
Once you and your lawyer collect enough information on your asbestos exposure from liable companies, you can submit your claim. The responsible companies are the defendants in the case and usually have 30 days to respond. The companies may offer a settlement amount, but will most likely deny the claim.
Preparation for Trial
If the defendant or defendants deny the claim, your case will go to trial. To prepare for trial, lawyers on both sides will collect evidence. During this period, you should be focussed on your treatment while your lawyer builds your case. In an effort to avoid trial, the defendant or defendants may be willing to negotiate a settlement.
If the case goes to trial, the defendant may offer a last-minute settlement offer to avoid receiving a damaging verdict. Your lawyer will explain what your options are moving forward.
Other Forms of Mesothelioma Compensation
Victims who may not receive a settlement or a verdict can receive additional compensation in different forms.
Though clinical trials are not a form of compensation, eligible patients can receive free treatment options that are still in trial phases. Government agencies or private charities typically fund mesothelioma clinical trials.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers benefits to former service members who received an honorable or general discharge. From the early 1900s to the 1970s, the military used asbestos in its buildings, aircraft, and navy ships, exposing thousands of service members. VA benefits typically cover the costs for mesothelioma treatment.
Mesothelioma patients can seek additional compensation through workers’ compensation (WC), a state-mandated insurance program. Employers must offer WC to employees injured on the job. WC covers any costs related to the injury, such as mesothelioma treatment.
Where Do I Begin?
Mesothelioma lawsuits can be tricky to navigate. To start your process, talk to an experienced asbestos lawyer, and let them build your case.