Mesothelioma Settlements

A mesothelioma settlement is the resolution of a legal case between a mesothelioma victim and the company responsible for their condition without bringing the case before a judge or jury. Most mesothelioma lawsuits are resolved through settlements. By settling, victims can save money, avoid an unpredictable ruling, and receive compensation faster. Mesothelioma settlements average around $1 Million.

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What are Mesothelioma Settlements?

Mesothelioma legal settlements are financial amounts paid to victims of asbestos exposure by the companies that made or sold asbestos products.

Most mesothelioma lawsuits are resolved through a settlement.

Many victims of asbestos exposure agree to a settlement because they don’t want to risk going to trial. Trials can be very lengthy, and a jury may not side with the victim in the end.

Settling out of court also allows victims to keep the compensation they received private.

Factors considered when negotiating mesothelioma settlements include: 

  • Medical expenses
  • Whether or not you have any dependents
  • How long you were exposed to asbestos
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering

With medical costs continuing to rise — life expectancy rising thanks to better treatment options — mesothelioma settlements have increased over the years.

When a victim can easily prove where and when they worked, it’s only a matter of calculating the damages and negotiating a settlement. With a proven attorney, the settlement process moves a lot faster.

Settlements vs. Verdicts

There can be confusion about the difference between a settlement and a verdict.

If someone is injured because of someone else’s actions, intentional or unintentional, the victim can file a lawsuit against the company responsible.

The parties in a lawsuit are the:

  • Defendant (person or company that caused injury)
  • Plaintiff (person injured)

Today, there is overwhelming evidence that shows the dangers of asbestos exposure. So, what is the difference between a settlement and a verdict?

When a lawsuit is filed there will be a certain amount of work to determine the facts of the case.

These facts include: 

  • Who was injured
  • How they were injured
  • When the injury took place
  • How much the injured is asking

If the plaintiff and defendant agree on an amount before the case goes to trial, it’s considered a settlement.

If a lawsuit goes to trial, the judge or jury hears both sides of the case. They then issue a verdict that determines if the defendant is responsible and, if so, how much the defendant must pay the plaintiff.

Verdicts reached in court can be lower or higher than what the plaintiff was seeking. Because of the unpredictability of a judge or jury, most mesothelioma cases are settled outside of court.

Average Mesothelioma Settlement

A number of factors determine how much money someone will receive through a settlement.

Common factors include:

  • Where the case is filed
  • If the company has been sued before
  • The severity of the plaintiff’s diagnosis
  • Their medical expenses
  • If the patient lost income

The average mesothelioma settlement averages around $1 Million. However, mesothelioma settlements can vary depending on the size of the company responsible and whether or not the company is still in business.

The amounts listed below are a few examples of mesothelioma settlements:

  • Libby, Montana: In 2011, a $43 Million settlement was awarded to thousands of miners and residents exposed to asbestos through a vermiculite mine
  • Missouri: In 2011, an $80 Million settlement was awarded in a class-action suit for employees at a courthouse that contained asbestos
  • Illinois: In 2005, a $250 Million settlement was awarded to the wife of a former U.S. Steel employee
  • California: $13 Million settlement to a plumber and mechanic for exposure on the job
  • New York: $6.9 Million settlement to an operating engineer who served in the U.S. Navy
  • Pennsylvania: $9.3 Million settlement to an Air Force veteran
  • Texas: $5.3 Million settlement to a former power plant employee
  • Texas: $4.1 Million settlement to a former carpenter and Marine Corps veteran
  • South Carolina: $3.4 Million settlement to a Navy veteran

Mesothelioma Settlements for 2018

Mesothelioma settlements have increased over the last several decades for multiple reasons. The primary reason is the cost of medical treatment.

As prices skyrocket for treatment and medication, experienced attorneys have worked diligently to ensure victims of asbestos exposure receive the appropriate compensation.

The settlement listed below is a recent example from 2018:

  • $30.2 million settlement in the fall of 2018 to a former construction supervisor

Arriving at a Negotiated Settlement

Negotiating a settlement is a complex legal maneuver requiring a skilled legal team.

Most judges encourage lawyers to work with plaintiffs and defendants to reach a settlement that is fair for both sides. This saves expensive public court time, speeds up the legal process, and lets both sides move on with other priorities.

To understand how an asbestos case is settled, it’s necessary to look at the entire tort litigation process.

Asbestos legal cases proceed this way:

  1. Lawyers work with injured people to research and document their case history. This includes where asbestos exposure occurred, when it happened, the amount and type of exposure, the resulting injuries, the degree of manufacturer negligence, previous case precedents, and assessing the value of compensation claims.
  2. Lawsuit claims are filed in a court with the right jurisdiction for the case. This depends on the state where exposure occurred, where the claimant resides, and where the defendant’s business operated. Asbestos lawsuits can be filed by living people or their relatives in a wrongful death suit.
  3. In the pretrial stage, lawyers collect and present evidence. It’s also common for witnesses to testify. No decision on liability or compensation is made. Each party’s case strength is tested.
  4. The trial phase is where decisions get made. All evidence is placed before a jury or, in some cases, a judge acts alone in deliberating outcome.

Negotiated settlements can happen anywhere along the four-step process. However, once a trial verdict is reached, settlements are no longer possible.

It’s a risky situation for both defendants and plaintiffs to let the court process decide their fate.

Therefore, most litigations conclude with both sides reaching a settlement before a verdict. Sometimes, it’s on the courthouse steps right before starting a trial.

While a trial is usually the final say, appeals sometimes occur. If the opposing side successfully appeals the case, you could receive nothing.

How are Settlements Determined?

Negotiating a compensation settlement takes knowledge, patience, and persistence.

Civil litigation is a transparent process that exposes all the relevant facts. That’s fundamental to the justice system and vital to reaching a fair settlement.

Some factors disclosed in the settlement process include:

  • Degree of Personal Injury: It must be shown that asbestos exposure caused serious harm. Exposure without injury is a thin reason to seek compensation. On the other hand, severe, life-threatening impairments like mesothelioma or lung cancer can result in large settlements.
  • Total Economic Loss: Medical expenses, lost income, spouse and child dependency, pain, suffering, and legal costs are calculated and become part of a final settlement amount.
  • Claimant Age: The claimant’s reasonable remaining life expectancy is an important factor. Settlement amounts are less when the disease is advanced, as opposed to claimants who could be earning an income.
  • Medical Causation: Personal lifestyle issues contribute to settlements. Smoking is a big factor, as are pre-existing diseases that exacerbate asbestos-related illnesses.
  • Jurisdiction: Settlements vary according to legal jurisdictions. Some states lean towards higher compensation awards than others. They also have different criteria and encouragement for parties to settle.
  • Corporate Negligence: In many cases, the manufacturers of asbestos-based products knew their products could cause serious harm to users. In cases such as this, the company responsible may have a huge financial liability. Negligent companies may ask to settle a claim quickly instead of going to trial to avoid losing the case.

Other Ways to Receive Compensation

Asbestos-related cases have different compensation courses. Each is a legal or paralegal process in place to pay people exposed to asbestos hazards in workplaces.

It also includes those who experienced secondary asbestos exposure in their homes or other locations.

Courses for asbestos-related health injury compensation include:

Workers’ Compensation Claims

State-run workers’ compensation boards and insurance programs are not legal litigations. Rather, they’re administrative processes designed to assist with compensation payments and related costs including retraining the person to work.

No parties are held liable or responsible for insurance-type claims.

Military Compensation

VA looks after American veterans who claim compensation for asbestos exposure injuries while serving in the military. Payments aren’t litigated in VA compensation claims and no one is held accountable.

Court precedents prevent plaintiffs from suing the American government.

Bankruptcy Trust Funds

Many negligent asbestos-producing companies filed for bankruptcy protection after asbestos injury lawsuits started filling the courts in the latter part of the 20th century.

Some restructured by establishing bankruptcy trust funds to compensate present and future claimants who developed diseases related to their asbestos products.

Filing a bankruptcy trust claim is a legal action. Compensation is often decided on fixed schedules rather than individual case facts.

Access Asbestos Trust Funds

Compensation for treatment, loss of income, and other damages is available through asbestos trust funds.

Find Out If You Qualify

Jury Trials and Verdicts

Taking an asbestos-related injury lawsuit through a jury trial and asking the jurors to decide liability is a long and expensive process. It’s also a risky venture for both parties, as there is no guaranteed outcome.

If a jury finds the defendant not liable, the case is dismissed leaving the plaintiff with no compensation. On the other hand, juries for the plaintiff often award the largest amounts of compensation, including punitive awards.

Common Questions About Mesothelioma Settlements

Legal processes can sometimes be hard to understand, and settlements are no different. If you’re considering a settlement or any legal action, you probably want to know everything you can ahead of time.

Because of this, we’ve compiled some common questions — and their answers — below.

What Is the Average Mesothelioma Settlement Timeframe?

Reaching a settlement is the end of the legal process. Because of this, it may take several months — or more — to reach a point where both sides can come to an agreement.

That being said, there is no average timeframe for mesothelioma settlements. It depends on the circumstances of your individual case.

However, by working with a mesothelioma lawyer, you have a better chance of receiving compensation in a timely manner.

These lawyers know that mesothelioma is very aggressive, and will do their best to get the most compensation available in the shortest amount of time.

Should I Agree to a Settlement or Take My Case to Trial?

That depends entirely on what you are comfortable with. However, when you work with a mesothelioma lawyer, they will often recommend that you settle your case.

A settlement guarantees that you will receive a payout. It also allows you to receive compensation faster because you skip the entire trial phase.

Trials can possibly add several months — or even years — to your case, and during that time you won’t receive any compensation. In addition, if you lose the trial, you will not receive anything.

However, if you are successful at a trial, you may receive more than if you settled your case.

Is a Mesothelioma Settlement Taxable?

Mesothelioma settlements may or may not be taxable. It depends on how the award is paid out.

If the settlement is awarded as part of a personal injury lawsuit, then it is not taxable. However, compensation from punitive damages (the defendant’s punishment) is taxable.

To make sure you receive the highest amount of compensation possible, you should work with an experienced mesothelioma lawyer.

Who Receives Compensation in a Wrongful Death Settlement?

In the case of a wrongful death settlement, the family members and/or estate of the victim will receive compensation.

Which family/estate members receive compensation will vary depending on the circumstances of each case.

Legal Support for Mesothelioma Settlements

Negotiating an asbestos case settlement requires experienced legal representation.

A knowledgeable attorney familiar with evidence and precedents in their jurisdiction will negotiate the best possible settlement for their clients.

Plaintiffs claiming asbestos-related disease compensation must be represented by competent counsel from a law firm specializing in asbestos exposure litigation.

Our legal partners have vast experience handling mesothelioma cases — get a free case review today to learn how we can help you.

Author:Stephanie Kidd

Editor-in-Chief of the Mesothelioma Justice Network

Stephanie Kidd

Stephanie Kidd works tirelessly as a dedicated advocate for the vulnerable and underrepresented. Stephanie worked as a copywriter for an agency whose focus was communicating safety procedures on construction work sites. With her extensive background in victim advocacy and a dedication to seeing justice done, Stephanie works hard to ensure that all online content is reliable, truthful and helpful.

Last modified: August 5, 2019

View 7 Sources
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