The majority of mesothelioma compensation comes from settlements instead of trials, which helps plaintiffs receive their money as early as possible. This usually happens because a diagnosis of mesothelioma cancer or other asbestos-related diseases typically shows that there is enough substantial evidence that supports the plaintiff’s lawsuit. Since there is no guarantee that the defendant will be victorious during a trial, especially with cases involving diseases associated with workplace exposure, settlements are normally the end result of mesothelioma lawsuits, and compensation therefore follows.
If you or a loved one were diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, or asbestosis, you may be entitled to substantial compensation. Use our free Asbestos Attorney Locator Tool to find a top mesothelioma attorney in your area. With over $30 billion currently in asbestos trust funds, now is the right time to take the first step in determining what you may qualify for.
The biggest question most mesothelioma victims ask when it comes to settlements is the compensation amount. Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut answer to this question as settlement amounts differ according to the details of each case. Some settlements can be small to moderate while other settlements can reach millions of dollars.
When determining a settlement amount, a variety of factors are considered. First, medical costs and expenses are factored in. Typically, the longer and more extensive the treatment, the more compensation you’ll receive. For example, a victim who has lived through long-term symptoms of mesothelioma and endured a series of mesothelioma treatments is more likely to be awarded a higher settlement amount than someone who was exposed to asbestos but has yet to have symptoms or be diagnosed. Again, this is not a set rule, and each case is different.
Common medical expenses include:
- Physical therapy
- Alternative treatments
In addition, the loss of wages and time spent traveling to treatment centers are factored in, from time lost for travel, gas mileage, hotel fees, and food prices. It’s a good idea to always keep receipts and documentation of all monies spent that’s related to the treatment of your disease.
The company you were employed by when you were exposed to asbestos also plays a big part in the settlement amount. Some companies willingly allowed employees to continue to be exposed to asbestos even after the mandatory laws prevented any use of asbestos in the workplace. In instances such as these, compensation may be much higher for those victims as opposed to those who were exposed before laws prevented asbestos use on jobsite. This is not to say, however, that you don’t have a viable case or that your settlement amount will be low if your exposure happened prior to the ban of asbestos on job sites..
Family members may also be represented into the settlement amount. For example, if your disease has rendered you unable to work and your family is suffering and will continue to suffer from an economic loss, your loved ones may be able to be compensated. Emotional trauma and the loss of companionship could be factored into your settlement as well. In the event of the death of a loved one from an asbestos-related disease, family members and/or dependants have the legal right to file a wrongful death lawsuit, which may bring about a substantial settlement amount.
How Mesothelioma Settlements Work
A mesothelioma lawyer will usually provide a compensation amount to the defendant and/or the defendant’s attorney. In many instances, the defendant’s attorney will try to negotiate a lower dollar amount on behalf of their client. Yet, an experienced asbestos attorney knows and understands that this will happen, and will not immediately settle for a lower amount.
Unfortunately, victims without legal representation are sometimes relieved to be offered any amount of money at all to help with their overwhelming expenses, and therefore will settle for an amount a lot less than they are entitled to. This is why it’s crucial to have an experienced mesothelioma law firm on your side when seeking damages in a mesothelioma claim. Defense attorneys can and will try to negotiate a much lower settlement amount than you deserve.
Moreover, the defendant’s attorney may continue to offer this lower settlement right up until time for the case to go to a trial. This is typical, and in most cases, if you hold on to your amount, the case will be settled in your favor before having to go through the trial process. Even if the case does happens to go to trial, the defendant can still offer to settle at any time and agree to your proposed settlement. If the evidence against the defendant is overwhelming, the defendant’s attorney will almost always rather settle out of court. As previously mentioned, the majority of cases will settle, even if during trial, because:
The defendant’s attorney realizes there is no way to win; the plaintiff’s discovery package is too damning and the evidence against the defendant is too strong.
The fees continue to add up as the trial proceeds and continues.
The defendant doesn’t have enough time to research everything thoroughly before and/or during trial.
Other mesothelioma lawsuits start piling up against the defendant, which makes it more likely that you’ll get a favorable verdict.
Once a settlement amount is agreed upon, your claim against the defendant will be dropped and the payment will be set up. Keep in mind that attorney fees are usually the first thing taken out before you receive your money. The amount will depend upon the agreement you made with your attorney before the case was taken on. If you are awarded a large settlements, there is a good chance that you’ll be paid in monthly installments as opposed to the entire sum at once. Then again, this entirely depends upon the defendant’s financial situation.
Many companies have faced and anticipate facing additional asbestos-related lawsuits, and therefore have already set up a trust fund for the sole purpose of paying off settlements. As previously mentioned, a large amount of compensation, over $30 billion, is already waiting for future plaintiffs via company trust funds.
Examples of How Compensation Varies
As previously mentioned state you live in, how long you’ve had an asbestos-related illness, and other mitigating factors contribute to the amount of money you may receive. The following are a few examples of how settlements vary.
One of the biggest mesothelioma settlements occurred in 2011 when a Missouri circuit court judge approved a $43 million settlement for over 1,300 miner workers in Libby Montana. The settlement amounts varied significantly, with the compensation anywhere between $500 to $61,000 per person.
In the state of New Jersey, a construction worker’s family received a settlement amount of $2.1 million after he passed way, whereas a New Jersey Navy veteran received $460,000 after he developed asbestos-related lung cancer.
In California, a former plastic molder received $18.5 million in 2006, after developing mesothelioma. In 2012, a former Los Angeles contractor’s family received $48 million after the victim developed an asbestos-related disease via routine home inspections.
In New York, a boilermaker received $3.7 million after develop asbestos-related lung cancer, but a maintenance worker in New York received $2 million after a mesothelioma diagnosis.
Other Types of Asbestos Compensation
There are a few options that mesothelioma victims and their loved ones may qualify for, including:
Bankruptcy Trust Funds
Many businesses file for bankruptcy after major lawsuits are brought against them by mesothelioma victims. Yet, this doesn’t mean the company is actually bankrupt. In many cases, it means that the courts have mandated that these companies set up a trust fund specifically for future mesothelioma victims. Trust funds are set up primarily for the following reasons:
Companies and businesses responsible for exposing their employees to asbestos will have a way to keep up with future payments for more victims.
Trust funds can be funded by mandatory contributions from all entities who built their own fortunes via asbestos use and/or production.
Companies who have filed Chapter 11 because of asbestos litigations may be summoned to open a trust fund account in which half of their equity will go in.
If you served in the military and were injured by asbestos, your compensation may come from the Veteran’s Administration (VA), but not in the form of a lawsuit settlement. The VA provides disability compensation if it’s proven that your injuries happened during your time in service. These disability payments are generally for life. For additional assistance, contact your local VA and/or discuss your options with your attorney.
However, you still may qualify for compensation if you developed an asbestos illness while serving, but the money will not come from the government. Instead, it will come from the parties who supplied asbestos products to the military. For example, if someone works at a Naval Base as a ship builder and worked around asbestos-containing materials (ACMs), the manufacturers and companies that supplied the ACMs to the Naval Base would generally be the culpable party.
As previously stated, most mesothelioma and other asbestos-related cases do not go to trial. However, in the event that your case does go to trial, your compensation amount will depend on the trial verdict. A jury will be responsible for determining the outcome.
As with settlements, there is no way to predict what amount of money you’ll receive if your case goes to trial. Trials are also generally longer than settlements, and there are no guarantees of what the verdict will be. If you do win your trial, defendants who lose their case in a trial have the legal option to appeal the decision. This is not meant to sway your from seeking a trial if a settlement cannot be met, but to give a general idea of what may happen.
For more information on the differences between trials and settlements, refer to our article Mesothelioma Lawsuit.
Getting Your Compensation
Keep in mind that if you or a loved one have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, or asbestosis, you may be eligible for financial compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, emotional trauma, and much more. Remember to use our free Asbestos Attorney Locator Tool to find a leading mesothelioma attorney in your area.