A diagnosis of mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease is a difficult one for both patients and their families to manage. However, if you or a loved one have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, there are legal options. Because asbestos manufacturers have been found liable for knowingly exposing people to a harmful substance, they are responsible for compensation.
Patients, or their family members, can file claims against negligent companies to help recover medical costs, lost income and other damages.
The following are some of the possible legal options available to asbestos victims to receive compensation:
Over 100 American companies have filed for bankruptcy protection because of the asbestos-related liability claims. The bankruptcy courts have set up personal injury trust funds to compensate victims.
There is more than $30 billion in bankruptcy trust funds. Some of the largest funds are paid into by:
- Owens Corning
- US Gypsum Company
- Babcock and Wilcox Company
- Armstrong World Industries
To access asbestos funds, you will have to present evidence of your medical condition and documentation of your work history. Unfortunately, to ensure funding for those diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases in the future, the funds are not able to pay out victims the full amount of their claim. The median payout is around $180,000.
Suing a manufacturer of an asbestos product can produce the highest compensation payments. Most of the time, lawsuits settle out of court for less money than initially solicited.
Around 95% of asbestos-related lawsuits are resolved with a negotiated settlement.
There are 2 primary types of lawsuits:
1. Personal Injury
Personal Injury lawsuits are filed by the victim against negligent companies who have not declared bankruptcy and set up bankruptcy trust funds. Many of these lawsuits result in settlements of $1 million or more.
If your family member has passed away because of the negligence of an asbestos company, you can work with a lawyer and build a case using your loved one’s work history and medical records.
Both types of lawsuits have statutes of limitations associated with them, and these vary by state.
Settlements vs. Trial Verdict
If a lawsuit cannot reach a negotiated settlement, then the case will go to trial. During a trial, a case is decided either by a jury or a judge (in a bench trial). Both sides present evidence which is then cross-examined. A trial verdict then determines whether or not the company is at fault.
Either party can appeal the verdict if there is a reason to believe that the court did not follow the law. While cases that go to trial and win have the highest payouts, there is no guarantee of success.
Veterans make up over 30% of mesothelioma cases in America. Service members of the Air Force, Army, Marines, Navy and Coast Guard all qualify for Veterans Affairs benefits. To receive the benefits, you need to show proof of exposure during active service. You also must be honorably discharged.
The VA benefits include compensation for medical expenses, support services, income assistance and financial aid.
Dependency and Indemnity Compensation is available to surviving spouses and dependents of veterans who died as a result of asbestos exposure.
Pursuing Legal Action
If you decide to take action, choosing an experienced and specialized mesothelioma lawyer will make the process much less stressful. Lawyers will help you choose the best legal recourse option based on your unique work experience history, your amount and level of asbestos exposure as well as your specific diagnosis. All of these factor into how a case can be built against negligent parties.
By pursuing legal action, you are making sure these companies are answering for the damage they have caused. Your support of justice will also help safeguard the rights of people who may suffer exposure to asbestos or other similarly toxic substances in the future.