What Is a Mesothelioma Settlement?
A settlement is a legal agreement that provides monetary damages to a plaintiff who filed a lawsuit. It is an alternative to ending a lawsuit with a trial.
Most personal injury lawsuits, including mesothelioma and asbestos lawsuits, end in settlements and never go to trial. Representatives for the plaintiffs and defendants negotiate the amount of the settlement.
Hiring an experienced lawyer to begin a lawsuit against the responsible party in asbestos exposure is the first step toward a settlement.
How Is an Asbestos Settlement Different from a Trial Verdict?
There are several important differences between a settlement and a verdict in a mesothelioma lawsuit:
- Settlements are reached without going to trial in a courtroom.
- Settlements are agreed upon between defendants and the legal team for the asbestos victim.
- Juries in the court system give the verdict.
- Either side, the defendants or plaintiffs, can appeal a verdict.
- Compensation amounts are typically higher in a verdict.
- The victim usually gets compensation from a settlement sooner than from a verdict.
- A trial with a verdict is necessary if both sides fail to reach a settlement agreement.
What Is the Typical Amount of a Mesothelioma Settlement?
Many companies and asbestos trusts are prepared to reach a settlement to avoid a costly and lengthy trial. The average settlement for a mesothelioma case is between $1 million and $1.4 million. The exact amount you can expect to receive depends on individual factors.
Amounts awarded in trials are usually higher, yet trials take more time, cost more, and are not guaranteed to end in a win for the victim.
How Much Will I Get for a Mesothelioma Settlement?
The average is a useful starting point, but mesothelioma settlement amounts vary significantly depending on a case’s unique factors. No one can guarantee you a certain amount. An experienced lawyer can give you a good estimate of what to expect based on past cases and the details of your own case.
How Do I Know if I’m Eligible for a Settlement?
If you have received a diagnosis of mesothelioma or another asbestos illness, you likely qualify to seek a settlement. Many companies exposed workers to asbestos in the past and are now liable for the resulting damages.
An experienced mesothelioma lawyer can give you the best advice on settlements. They can look into your situation and determine if you have a strong case to get compensation.
Can I Get a Settlement if My Loved One Died from Mesothelioma?
You may also be eligible for a settlement if you lost a family member to an asbestos-related disease. Loved ones of those who died can file a wrongful death lawsuit to seek a verdict or settlement. This compensates you for past medical costs, funeral costs, lost future wages, and emotional losses.
Do I Need a Mesothelioma Lawyer to Get a Settlement?
A lawyer is not technically required to seek a settlement but is highly recommended for the best chances of success. Work with an expert mesothelioma lawyer for a positive outcome. The right lawyer should have proven experience working on asbestos cases and helping other victims.
With a reliable mesothelioma lawyer on your side, you have a strong chance of reaching a fair settlement with the negligent parties. 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 relevant military experience.
How Do I Get a Mesothelioma Settlement?
The process of getting a settlement begins with a professional mesothelioma attorney, as mentioned earlier. Your lawyer will go through a multi-step process, hopefully ending in a monetary award without the need to go to trial:
- Gathering information and filing a claim: Your lawyer will investigate your exposure to asbestos, the companies involved, and your illness and then file a claim against all appropriate defendants.
- Defendant response: The defendants have a chance to respond to your claim. They will most likely deny any liability.
- Discovery: With the response received, each side in the lawsuit can begin the discovery phase. Both investigate your claim and gather more information to build a case.
- Settlement negotiations: When each side has all the needed information, they can begin negotiating for a settlement.
If the defendants refuse to offer a settlement, or both sides cannot agree on a fair amount, the lawsuit will go to trial in court.
What Kinds of Compensation Can I Get?
The defendant in a mesothelioma settlement case may be forced to pay one or more types of damages if it goes to trial:
- Punitive damages are paid 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.
- Compensatory damages are 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.
When negotiating a settlement, both sides take these into consideration. They can’t know with certainty what a jury would award in a trial, but they can make an estimate. This helps inform a fair amount when agreeing on a settlement amount.
Economic vs. Non-economic Damages
Among compensatory damages, the courts consider damages based on actual expenses, economic damages. They also consider non-economic damages. These are the costs for emotional losses and include pain, suffering, and loss of companionship.
Compensation for Family
The loved one or dependents of a victim of mesothelioma who 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 Factors Affect a Mesothelioma Settlement?
When your lawyer negotiates with the defendants’ lawyers, they will consider several factors:
- The degree to which the defendant is liable or negligent
- The severity of the plaintiff’s illness and disabilities and the cost of medical care
- 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
Another important factor is what both sides think might happen in a trial. The defendants must decide if their case is strong enough to risk a trial. Your lawyer also considers the possible outcome. If they believe you would win a trial, they can use that to negotiate a higher settlement amount.
Should I Settle or Seek a Verdict?
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.
Most patients choose to settle because it is easier and less stressful. It takes less time too, getting you needed compensation sooner. A trial also poses the risk that you will get no compensation at all. The choice is ultimately yours, but your lawyer will be there to give you expert advice.
When Will I Get My Settlement Money?
It can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months to get the agreed-upon amount from a settlement. Your lawyer will try to speed the process as much as possible. Payment from a settlement is almost always faster than getting a trial verdict.
Is My Settlement Taxable?
This depends on the specifics of your case, but in general, the amount awarded for lost wages is taxable. The amount you receive for medical expenses is not likely to be taxed. Your lawyer can provide more details relevant to your case.
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 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.
- 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.
- The wife of a former steelworker 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, seventy-year-old Roby Whittington, received a diagnosis of pleural mesothelioma in 2001, after decades of asbestos exposure on the job.
- In 2016 a California jury awarded the victim of mesothelioma and asbestos exposure $18.07 million. Philip Depoian’s illness was found to be related to being in his father’s barbershop as a child. Talc supplier Whittaker Clark & Daniels was found liable.
- The Jackson County Courthouse in Kansas City settled a class-action suit for $80 million in 2016. The victims were courthouse employees exposed to asbestos during renovations to the building in the 1980s.
- In 2018 Johnson & Johnson and Imerys Talc America were ordered to pay $117 million to asbestos victim and New Jersey resident Stephen Lanzo. Lanzo developed mesothelioma after decades of using talcum powder.
A legal settlement is an important way that asbestos victims get much-needed compensation. They also get the satisfaction of justice for the harm caused to them. 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
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.