Compensation Settlements for Mesothelioma

A Common Way to Receive Compensation

Litigation linked to asbestos exposure is the longest running tort in the American legal system, and there’s no end in sight. A tort is the legal process of seeking compensation for damage caused by wrongful acts. Thousands of new asbestos exposure damage claims are filed yearly. That includes lawsuits against negligent manufacturers and suppliers of products with asbestos-containing materials, as well as compensation claims with bankruptcy trust funds.

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Asbestos case legal actions have a common goal: to obtain fair and adequate compensation for innocent victims of asbestos-related illness. Successful claims properly compensate sick people for medical expenses and lost income, as well as personal injury damages and punitive awards.

Some compensation claims are decided by trial verdicts or by fixed schedules administered by trustees. Others rely on compensation set out by government agencies like the Department of Veterans Affairs for military veterans (VA) or workers compensation boards for civilians. However, many times the best outcome for asbestos injury claimants is reaching a legally negotiated settlement.

Legal Litigation and Compensation Settlements

The key element in proving asbestos exposure claims is that the plaintiff suffered health risks after unknowingly inhaling or ingesting asbestos fibers. To support these claims, evidence must show that the defendant acted in an irresponsible, neglectful or intentionally culpable way.

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 in 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 later 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.
  • 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.
  • Negotiated Settlements: The most common asbestos-case litigation outcome is through a settlement negotiated between lawyers for the plaintiff and defendant. Compensation amounts are usually smaller than jury awards, but the settlement approach is safer for both parties. The plaintiff is assured a reasonable amount of money to cover medical and legal expenses while the defendant is protected against excessive payouts determined by a jury. Negotiated settlements rarely require a defendant to admit liability, which shields them during other litigations.

Arriving at a Negotiated Settlement

Negotiating a settlement is a complex legal maneuver requiring a skilled legal team. Most judges encourage lawyers for plaintiffs and defendants to cooperate and 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 settlement works, it’s necessary to look at the entire tort litigation process. Each step requires diligence and documented evidence.

Asbestos-case lawsuit litigations proceed this way:

  • Step 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.
  • Step 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 filed by living people or their relatives in a wrongful death suit.
  • Step 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.
  • Step 4: The trial phase is where decisions get made. All evidence is placed before a jury or, in some cases called a bench trial, 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 your case, you could receive nothing.

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.

Legal Representation for Compensation 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.

Contact us today at (855) 213-7244 for more information on mesothelioma settlements or to get connected to specialized lawyer.

Author:Stephanie Kidd
Stephanie Kidd

Stephanie Kidd is the Editor-in-Chief of the Mesothelioma Justice Network and 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: June 17, 2019

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