Many people diagnosed with mesothelioma became sick after working in unsafe conditions on the job. Workers exposed to harmful asbestos for years in construction, in the military, in shipyards, and in other industrial settings, without understanding or being aware of the risks, are now paying the price.
Many of these workers and asbestos victims are fighting today for settlements to get fair compensation. This money helps cover the high costs of living with and treating this devastating disease. The average mesothelioma settlement amount is around $1 million to $1.5 million, but the exact amount any victim can get depends on individual factors.
Asbestos and Mesothelioma Victims
Many industries used asbestos as a component in a range 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, a substance that can cause cancer. The most common type of cancer diagnosed as a result of asbestos exposure is pleural mesothelioma, although it is rare in the general population. Asbestos can also trigger lung cancer.
Mesothelioma is deadly, aggressive, and difficult to diagnose and treat. Most victims don’t know they have it until decades after exposure. Pleural mesothelioma affects tissue around the lungs and causes symptoms like difficulty breathing, coughing, and chest pains.
Many people who develop mesothelioma are victims because they were exposed to asbestos either without being aware of it or without knowing that there were risks associated with handling asbestos.
Even family members of people who worked around asbestos were put at risk of exposure. In some cases, work place use of asbestos caused exposure in nearby residents, such as those who lived close to mines.
Mesothelioma Settlements Explained
A settlement is a legal agreement that provides a monetary award to the individual who brought the lawsuit against a defendant. Hiring an experienced lawyer to begin a lawsuit against the responsible party is the first step in working toward a settlement.
Asbestos exposure lawsuits rarely go all the way to trial in court or in front of a jury. Instead they usually resolved in a settlement agreed on by both sides. The case only goes to court if the two sides cannot agree on a fair amount to be awarded to the victim.
If a case does go to trial, each side has the opportunity to argue the case in a courtroom. Either a judge or a jury can choose to award a settlement amount or to decide in favor of the defendant.
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, it is important to work with an expert mesothelioma lawyer. This professional should have proven experience working on asbestos cases and have expert knowledge of asbestos laws.
With the right lawyer or legal team on your side, you have the best chance of reaching a fair settlement with the company negligent in your asbestos exposure. Your lawyer will do most of the work, but it is your role to provide all the necessary information to build a strong case. You will need to share your medical records, work history, and any military experience.
Types of Compensation
The defendant in a mesothelioma settlement case may be forced to pay compensatory damages, punitive damages, or both. Defendants pay punitive damages as punishment for negligent actions This shows other potential offenders that putting people at risk of asbestos exposure is costly and helps to discourage further exposure and harm.
Compensatory damages depend on a victim’s actual expenses related to being sick, and may cover a variety of things: past medical bills and future expected medical bills, actual lost wages and predicted lost future wages, and both physical and emotional pain and suffering.
For the loved one of someone who passed away from mesothelioma, compensatory damages may include amounts to cover lost income for dependents, funeral expenses, emotional pain and suffering, and loss of companionship.
What Affects a Mesothelioma Settlement?
There are several factors that go into a settlement amount:
- Degree of liability of the defendant
- The severity of the plaintiff’s illness and disability
- The degree to which asbestos exposure impacted the plaintiff’s life
- The impact on the family of the plaintiff
- The exact costs the plaintiff 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 settlement claim, you will have to choose whether you want to take an amount offered during an out of court settlement agreement or to go to trial. The latter is risky because you may not win.
Your lawyer can give you expert council to help you decide, but ultimately the choice is yours. Many mesothelioma patients choose to settle out of court because trials are lengthy and time is limited with this disease. It is often better to get guaranteed compensation sooner than to risk going to trial and experiencing delays or not winning at all.
Examples of Mesothelioma Settlements
More mesothelioma and asbestos cases end in settlements than go to trial. Every case is different, and individual factors influence settlement results and amounts. Even with these differences, it can help to see what other victims have been able to win in their settlements:
- In Libby, Montana in 2011, a judge-awarded a $43 million settlement to a group of plaintiffs. The victims included thousands of miners and town residents exposed to asbestos through a nearby vermiculite mine.
- 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 in a building filled with asbestos. She died in 2010 from malignant 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. U.S. Steel, her husband’s former employer, was held responsible for his exposure. The former employee, 70-year-old Roby Whittington, was diagnosed with 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 needed compensation, as well as the satisfaction of justice against the negligent company. 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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