Many people diagnosed with mesothelioma got sick from working under unsafe conditions on the job, conditions they weren’t even aware of. Workers exposed to harmful asbestos for years in construction, in the military, in shipyards, and in other industrial settings are now paying the price.
These asbestos victims today have chosen to fight for justice and for settlements to provide fair compensation for their illnesses. The money helps to cover the high costs of treatment, not to mention loss of wages. The average settlement for a mesothelioma case is $1 million to $1.5 million. The exact amount you can expect to receive depends on individual factors.
Asbestos and Mesothelioma Victims
Many industries used asbestos in all kinds of materials for several decades. Until the mid-1970s, when the government limited its use and required safer work environments, construction, shipbuilding, manufacturing, and other industries used asbestos heavily. Most workers never realized they were exposed.
Asbestos is a human carcinogen, which is a substance that is known to contribute to, cause, or increase the risk for cancer. The most common type of cancer related to asbestos is pleural mesothelioma, although it is rare in the general population. Asbestos can also trigger lung cancer.
Most people victimized by asbestos exposure do not receive a diagnosis of mesothelioma until decades after workplace exposure. This is an aggressive, deadly cancer that is difficult to diagnose and challenging to treat. Although rare, the most common type affects the pleural tissue around the lungs.
Many people who develop mesothelioma are victims because they were exposed to asbestos without being aware that it was there or that it posed risks. Even family members of people who worked around asbestos were put at risk of exposure.
Mesothelioma Settlements Explained
A settlement is a legal agreement that provides monetary damages to the plaintiff in a lawsuit. Hiring an experienced lawyer to begin a lawsuit against the responsible party in asbestos exposure is the first step in working toward a settlement.
Few asbestos lawsuits go to trial or in front of a jury. It is much more common for these cases to be resolved in a settlement agreement. The only reason it would go to trial is if the two sides, defendants and plaintiff, cannot agree on a settlement amount for the victim.
When these cases do go to trial, both sides can argue their cases in a courtroom. A judge or jury will make the final decision about a settlement.
Working with a Mesothelioma Lawyer
If you or someone in your family needs financial assistance to cover the costs associated with mesothelioma or other asbestos-related illnesses, work with an expert mesothelioma lawyer. This professional should have proven experience working on asbestos cases and helping other victims.
With the right lawyer on your side, you have the best chance of reaching a fair settlement with the negligent company. Your lawyer will do most of the work, but it is your role to provide personal information that will help build a strong case. You will need to share your medical records, work history, and any military experience.
Types of Compensation
The defendant, which is the company responsible for exposure, in a mesothelioma settlement case may be forced to pay compensatory damages, punitive damages, or both. Defendants pay punitive damages as a form of punishment for negligent actions. This shows other companies that putting people at risk of asbestos exposure is costly and discourages further exposure and harm.
Seeking compensatory damages means that you are looking for payment for the expenses associated with living with mesothelioma. Examples are costs for treatment and travel to treatment. These damages can also cover future expected expenses and intangible costs like emotional pain and physical suffering.
The loved one or dependents of a victim of mesothelioma who has already passed away may also receive compensatory damages. These may include the costs of funeral expenses, lost income that dependents relied on, loss of companionship, and emotional suffering.
What Affects a Mesothelioma Settlement?
There are several factors that go into agreeing on a settlement amount:
- The degree to which the defendant is liable
- The severity of the plaintiff’s illness and disabilities
- The degree to which asbestos exposure impacted the plaintiff’s life
- The impact on the family of the plaintiff
- The financial costs incurred as a result of being sick
- Emotional suffering of the plaintiff or family
- Whether or not the plaintiff smoked
- Individual state laws
- Loss of companionship and monetary support in wrongful death cases
Settling out of Court versus Going to Trial
If you are filing a mesothelioma claim, you will have the opportunity to choose whether you want to take an amount offered during an out of court settlement agreement or whether you would rather take a chance in a trial. The latter is risky because you may not win and may miss the chance to recover damages.
The choice is ultimately yours, but your lawyer will be there to give you expert advice. Most patients choose to settle out of court because it is easier and less stressful and because trials take longer. A trial also poses the risk that you will get no compensation at all.
Examples of Mesothelioma Settlements
Most cases involving mesothelioma and asbestos end in settlement agreements. The amount that is awarded to the victim in these cases depends on many different individual factors. Some notable settlements include fairly large amounts:
- In Libby, Montana in 2011, a judge-awarded a $43 million settlement to a large group of plaintiffs. The victims included thousands of miners and residents exposed to asbestos through a vermiculite mine near their homes.
- In another 2011 case, a jury awarded victim Nancy Lopez a $10 million settlement in a Missouri circuit court. She worked at the Jackson County courthouse, which contained asbestos. She died in 2010 from mesothelioma. Lopez was part of a class action mesothelioma lawsuit brought about by numerous Jackson courthouse employees. The total mesothelioma settlement for the class action suit was $80 million.
- The wife of a former steel worker in Illinois received a $250 million settlement in 2005. Her husband’s former employer, U.S. Steel, was found responsible for his exposure. The former employee, 70-year-old Roby Whittington, received a diagnosis of pleural mesothelioma in 2001, after decades of asbestos exposure on the job. It’s one of the largest mesothelioma settlement awards given out for a single plaintiff.
A legal settlement is an important way that victims of asbestos exposure get much-needed compensation. They also get the satisfaction of justice for the harm caused to them. Most people who develop mesothelioma were exposed to asbestos without being warned of the risks. If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, find the right lawyer who can help you win a settlement to help cover your costs and compensate you for being ill.
Page Written by Rod De Llano, Esquire
Page edited by Dave Foster
- Bates, C.E. & Mullin, C.H. (2007). Show Me the Money. Mealey's Litigation Report: Asbestos, 22(21).
Retrieved from: https://www.bateswhite.com/media/pnc/5/media.285.pdf
- St. Amand, A. (2011, November 20). Western Mo. Asbestos Case Settled for $10 Million.
Retrieved from: https://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/western-mo-asbestos-case-settled-for-million/article_31f329f4-1380-11e1-beda-001a4bcf6878.html
- Brown, M. (2011, September 16). Libby Asbestos Victims Win $43M Settlement from State.
Retrieved from: https://missoulian.com/news/state-and-regional/libby-asbestos-victims-win-m-settlement-from-state/article_b2eac84e-e08d-11e0-ae31-001cc4c03286.html
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