What Kinds of Mesothelioma Claims Are Available?
As a victim of asbestos exposure, you have several options when claiming compensation. An experienced lawyer can give you more information and help you decide how and where to claim.
Mesothelioma Settlement and Lawsuit Claims
If you lost a loved one to asbestos illnesses, you might choose to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Either lawsuit could end in compensation for you in one of two ways:
- A settlement agreement is the most common outcome of these types of lawsuits. Your lawyer will negotiate an amount of compensation for you to be paid by the defendants.
- A trial verdict will likely happen if an agreement cannot be reached. Your lawyer will argue your case in front of a judge and jury. The jury will ultimately deliberate and decide the verdict.
Asbestos Trust Funds
If the company responsible for your exposure went through bankruptcy or no longer exists, a lawsuit may not be an option. In these cases, you may be able to seek compensation by claiming with the appropriate asbestos trust fund.
Companies that went bankrupt over asbestos and mesothelioma lawsuits were required first to set up trust funds to compensate victims. You can file a claim and get compensation from one of these asbestos trust funds if you qualify.
Asbestos trust funds are designed to provide compensation for both current and future claimants. It can take a long time, often decades, for mesothelioma and other asbestos illnesses to develop and be diagnosed. The establishment of trust funds included estimates for adequate compensation for all potential future claimants.
Veterans of the U.S. military can seek compensation through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Many members of the military, especially those who worked on ships and in shipyards, experienced asbestos exposure during their time on active duty.
After veterans receive a mesothelioma diagnosis, they might become eligible to seek compensation through the VA. This can include special compensation, monthly compensation, and free health care.
You may be eligible for one or more types of insurance benefits. For instance, if you have health insurance from your employer, you may need help from a lawyer to ensure you get full benefits.
You may also have access to workers’ compensation or life insurance benefits if you lost a loved one to asbestos disease. Social security disability may also be an option.
Am I Eligible for Mesothelioma Compensation?
This is an important question to ask before starting the process of filing a compensation claim. Every case is different, but in general, if you were exposed to asbestos and then received a related diagnosis, you have a right to claim for compensation.
Compensation for Asbestos Exposure Victims
If you are the victim of asbestos exposure, you should be eligible for the two primary sources of compensation: asbestos trusts and lawsuits.
Your eligibility for VA compensation is more complicated. You should be eligible if you served in the military and can connect your exposure and illness to that service.
Compensation for Family and Dependents
The families of victims suffer too, and many individuals are eligible for compensation as a result. If you lost a family member to mesothelioma, you can file a wrongful death lawsuit. You may also qualify for a trust fund claim or a VA claim if your loved one served in the military.
Can a Lawyer Help Me with a Claim?
The best person to answer all your questions and ensure you get the compensation you deserve is a mesothelioma or asbestos lawyer. An experienced lawyer knows how to navigate the system and can do several things to help you:
- Explain your options. You may have more than one option for getting compensation. A lawyer can identify those for which you are eligible, explain your choices, and help you decide which to pursue.
- Research your asbestos exposure. To get compensation from any of these options, you must connect your illness to exposure. This isn’t always easy to do. An asbestos lawyer has access to resources you don’t have. They can determine which companies and products caused your exposure to ensure you havee a valid claim or lawsuit.
- Gather evidence. A law firm specializing in asbestos cases has the necessary resources to determine the source of your exposure but also to collect the evidence needed to prove it. They will track down old products, employment records, and witnesses from your workplace.
- Lend expertise. Above all, what a firm or lawyer can do for you is provide experience and expertise. They have helped victims before, understand the process, have the resources, and know how to get the most compensation possible.
How to File a Claim
Filing a claim of any type for mesothelioma and asbestos compensation can be complicated and confusing. A small mistake may mean missing out on benefits and compensation. Follow these steps for the best chance of getting what you deserve:
1. Find an experienced legal team. You need a lawyer or legal team with expertise in personal injury and asbestos laws and cases. The right lawyer will help you decide which kinds of claims to make and guide you through the process to have the best chance of success.
2. Determine how you were exposed. Proving asbestos exposure can be difficult and requires the expertise of an experienced lawyer. For most people, exposure happened at a past or current workplace. Even if you didn’t handle the asbestos, you might have incidentally inhaled or ingested its fibers. Your lawyer should have access to databases about companies that used asbestos and exposed workers to aid your investigation. If the exposure occurred during military service, you might need to file through the VA.
3. Gather medical documentation. In addition to exposure information, you will need your medical records to make a claim. Provide your lawyer with all the relevant documents that prove you have an asbestos-related illness.
4. Let your lawyer file the claim. Whichever type of claim, or claims, you choose to file, your lawyer can do the leg work. Make sure they keep you updated on progress and answer any questions you have.
How Much Compensation Can I Get from a Claim?
Several individual factors help determine the amount of compensation you can expect for your asbestos exposure. No lawyer can guarantee that you will receive a specific amount.
The average compensation asbestos victims receive ranges from $1 million to more than $2 million. In addition to independent factors, these amounts depend on the type of claim. For instance, lawsuits usually end in higher amounts than trust fund claims.
A good lawyer will be able to provide a reasonable estimate, though. Factors affecting compensation include:
- The duration and extent of your asbestos exposure
- How much of the risk was intentionally hidden from you
- The amount left in a trust fund
- And the stage and severity of your cancer or other illness
When deciding how much compensation to seek, your lawyer will evaluate all the relevant facts and evidence. You can include medical expenses, lost wages, future medical costs, the cost of traveling to get treatment, palliative, and hospice care.
You can also seek compensation (depending on the state you live in) for intangible costs such as pain, suffering, emotional trauma, and loss of companionship for someone filing on behalf of a deceased family member.
How Long Will it Take to Get Compensation?
The time it takes to get compensation varies and mostly depends on the type of claim. A lawsuit that goes to trial can take years to complete. A lawsuit ending in a settlement may resolve within a few months. An asbestos trust claim can usually be resolved within a few months.
Because of the serious nature of mesothelioma, how long it takes to receive compensation is an important deciding factor in the type of claim you make. For quicker compensation, a trust fund may be a better option than a lawsuit.
Is it Worth Seeking Compensation?
Seeking compensation for mesothelioma and asbestos exposure can be overwhelming. It seems like a difficult, complicated process, and you may be questioning whether the hassle is worth the outcome.
This is a personal decision, but keep in mind that if you suffered negligent exposure, someone can be held accountable. Consider your costs, including medical expenses, lost income, and the intangible costs of lost years, quality of life, and loved ones.
Companies who negligently harmed workers owe the victims and their families. The compensation you can receive will make it easier to fight this difficult disease. If you feel overwhelmed by the process, talk to an experienced lawyer. They can answer your questions and help you make the choice of whether or not to pursue a claim.
Compensation is also about justice. It allows you to hold the responsible parties accountable for what they did. Let an experienced lawyer help you get the money you deserve.
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.