Frequently Asked Questions About Mesothelioma Compensation

If you have mesothelioma, you may be concerned about how you will pay for treatment and continue providing for your family for years to come. Thankfully, compensation may be available to help mesothelioma patients and their loved ones. Below, get answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about accessing mesothelioma compensation.

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What Is Mesothelioma Compensation?

Mesothelioma compensation is money awarded to those diagnosed with this rare and deadly cancer and/or their loved ones. Mesothelioma brings pain and suffering to victims and their families, and compensation seeks to right this wrong.

Though legal compensation can never truly make up for your mesothelioma diagnosis, it can help provide for your family and provide a sense of justice, since this compensation comes from those who may have caused you to get sick.

How Can I Access Mesothelioma Compensation?

After receiving an asbestos-related illness diagnosis, you have several options that may award you with financial compensation.

Those affected by mesothelioma may be able to file:

  • A mesothelioma lawsuit
  • An asbestos trust fund claim
  • Other claims (such as for VA benefits)

Find more information about each of these options below.

What Is a Mesothelioma Lawsuit?

A mesothelioma lawsuit allows you to seek compensation through the legal justice system after a diagnosis. Mesothelioma lawsuits have helped others with this rare cancer recover millions of dollars.

Who Will I be Suing?

You will be suing the companies who made and sold the asbestos-containing products that caused your cancer. These manufacturers knew that asbestos was dangerous but lied and hid the facts so they could keep profiting.

Did You Know?

It is estimated that over 27 million workers were exposed to asbestos between 1949 and 1979, according to the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry (ATSDR).

In most cases, you will NOT sue your former employer. The manufacturers of asbestos-containing products likely hid the risks from your employer too.

Do I Need a Lawyer to File a Mesothelioma Lawsuit?

For all practical purposes, yes, you need a lawyer to file a mesothelioma lawsuit. Filing a lawsuit is extremely complicated and should be handled by a skilled and experienced lawyer.

If you have mesothelioma, you shouldn’t file a lawsuit without legal help — even a simple mistake could prevent you from receiving any compensation.

What Kind of Lawyer Should I Hire?

Ideally, you should hire a lawyer with experience in successfully handling past mesothelioma lawsuits. By working with them, you may have a better chance of receiving compensation from your case.

Mesothelioma lawyers who work at national law firms are often the best choice to handle these lawsuits since they specifically work with clients affected by this rare cancer.

Why Should I Work With a National Lawyer?

National mesothelioma lawyers typically have more resources and abilities to help your case.

National mesothelioma lawyers have:

  • Access to previous cases, including testimonials from past victims
  • Databases of information about asbestos-containing products and what companies made them
  • The ability to file a claim in the state that’s most advantageous for your case

If you work with a local lawyer, they might not understand how big of a problem asbestos exposure is, or all of the companies that may have exposed you. This means you may receive little to no compensation, even if you otherwise would actually receive a lot of money.

Can I Afford a Mesothelioma Lawyer?

Yes. Mesothelioma lawyers work on a contingency basis, meaning that you pay no upfront fees for their services. The lawyers take a portion of the winnings that they secure for you through a contingency fee.

If the case is lost, you do not have to pay the lawyers for their services.

Non-mesothelioma lawyers may also try to charge you upfront fees for their services — which you should never have to do when fighting mesothelioma.

What Is the Process for Filing an Asbestos Lawsuit?

The best way to file an asbestos lawsuit is to find an experienced lawyer to handle your case. Mesothelioma lawyers do most of the legal heavy lifting so you can focus on your health.

First, your attorney will conduct careful research and gather evidence needed to support your lawsuit.

Then, your lawyer will create and file a legal claim that outlines exactly what the defendants — the manufacturers of asbestos-containing products — did to cause harm and what damages you’re seeking in return.

Did You Know?

To file a mesothelioma legal claim, you must have received a mesothelioma diagnosis from a licensed and practicing clinician. You cannot receive compensation just for being exposed to asbestos.

The defendants then have a set timeframe to respond to your lawsuit. After this, the case may end in a settlement or go to trial.

I Can’t Remember Where I Was Exposed to Asbestos — Can I Still Sue?

Yes. Anyone who developed an asbestos-related disease has a right to compensation.

Experienced lawyers at a mesothelioma law firm can help determine where your exposure took place and then file a lawsuit on your behalf.

Mesothelioma cases are almost always caused by exposure to asbestos fibers. Since it takes an average of 20-50 years for mesothelioma symptoms to show up, you may have difficulty remembering how, when, and where you were exposed.

Fortunately, mesothelioma lawyers can:

  • Access information about asbestos-containing products, such as where, when, and how they were used
  • Gather key documents from you, such as employment records and medical statements linking an illness to asbestos exposure
  • Take testimonies from former co-workers, bosses, or others that explain how asbestos was used on the job

Using this information, your lawyers can determine what products you were exposed to and which manufacturers produced them.

From there, the lawyers will help you file the lawsuit against the manufacturers that harmed you.

Will I Have to Travel to File My Lawsuit?

Mesothelioma lawyers can travel to your home or hospital room to help you fill out the paperwork for your lawsuit.

Once these documents have been signed, your mesothelioma lawyers will file the lawsuit on your behalf in a court system that best matches your case’s needs. Your attorney can help you determine the best place to file your lawsuit.

Where Should I File My Mesothelioma Lawsuit?

Some states have courts and/or judges dedicated to hearing asbestos cases. Further, some states also have rules or laws that require asbestos cases to be heard quickly.

If you have choices regarding where your case can be filed, a national asbestos lawyer can file in the court that is best for you. They will be licensed to file anywhere and will not be limited to only one location.

I’m a Proud U.S. Veteran — Will I Be Suing the Military or Government?

No — if you served the United States, you won’t sue the military or government. Instead, your lawyers will file a mesothelioma claim against the manufacturers of asbestos-containing products who sold their goods to the military and government without revealing the dangers.

Like you, the U.S. military or government did not know that asbestos exposure could be dangerous. Once the catastrophic health risks were widely known, the military and government took steps to remove asbestos from buildings, vehicles, and ships so more people wouldn’t get sick.

How Long Does a Mesothelioma Lawsuit Take?

This is one of the most common mesothelioma lawsuit questions. Generally speaking, this depends on how the lawsuit concludes. Most mesothelioma lawsuits reach out-of-court settlements that award compensation in under a year’s time.

Mesothelioma settlements allow the case to resolve without a verdict from a judge or jury, which saves both time and money. Each manufacturer named in the lawsuit can reach settlements at different times, meaning you may receive compensation at different times.

Most manufacturers will agree to settlements right before a trial is set to start. If for whatever reason a case does go to trial, it can add several weeks, months, or even years to the lawsuit process.

Can I Sue If I Filed for Other Forms of Compensation?

Yes. For example, you can usually still file a lawsuit even if you served in the military and filed for benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

To learn more about all the types of compensation available, consult with a mesothelioma lawyer who can help determine which types of compensation may be best in your case.

Can My Family File a Lawsuit If I Die Due to Mesothelioma?

Yes, your family members may be able to file an asbestos wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of someone who has died due to a related disease.

To file the wrongful death lawsuit, one of your family members will need to be appointed as the representative of your estate. From there, they should work with a mesothelioma attorney to file the lawsuit.

Non-family members can also file wrongful death lawsuits if they are named as an estate representative.

Just as with a personal injury lawsuit, evidence must be provided to support a wrongful death claim.

This information includes: 

  • Evidence — such as medical records and employment history — that you were exposed to asbestos and died due to a related illness caused by this exposure
  • Proof that defendants knew they put people at risk of asbestos exposure (such as internal company documents or statements)

From there, your family’s legal team will try to secure as much financial compensation as possible.

What Happens If I Die Before My Lawsuit Ends?

If you die before your lawsuit ends, a representative from your estate can continue it as a wrongful death lawsuit. The representative of your estate is often a family member or spouse, but almost anyone can be legally appointed to serve in this role.

From there, the representative can work with mesothelioma lawyers to continue the lawsuit and hopefully secure compensation for your family.

How Long Do I Have to File a Mesothelioma Lawsuit?

The length of time you have to file a lawsuit after you are diagnosed is called the statute of limitations. If your case is not filed within the statute of limitations, you will never be able to file a mesothelioma claim or receive compensation through a lawsuit.

Did You Know?

Statutes of limitations vary by state and by case type. For example, a personal injury mesothelioma lawsuit may have a different statute of limitations than a wrongful death lawsuit.

Always consult with an experienced mesothelioma lawyer to learn about the statute of limitations for your case. Only a mesothelioma lawyer can determine the best time to file a mesothelioma lawsuit.

How Much Can I Receive from a Mesothelioma Lawsuit?

Average mesothelioma lawsuits award anywhere from $1 Million (through settlements) to $2.4 Million (through a trial), but the amount of money you may receive depends on the specifics of your case.

For example, a former mechanic received $34 Million from a mesothelioma lawsuit in 2019. He was exposed to asbestos-containing brakes at his job throughout the 1960s and 1970s, developing mesothelioma as a result.

Will I Receive More From a Settlement or a Trial?

Trial verdicts may theoretically award more money than settlements, settling cases may allow victims to keep more compensation.

Mesothelioma lawsuits often award victims with $1 Million to $1.4 Million, which is the combined amount of compensation from each defendant that settles.

In a trial, compensation may come from one losing defendant. Successful trial verdicts award victims $2.4 Million on average, though some award less or more than this number.

But taking a case to trial costs much more than reaching a settlement, and these extra fees ultimately come out of the money you receive. There is also no guarantee that you’ll win a trial — and if you lose, you get no money from the defendant.

Because of these risks, trial verdicts may actually award victims with less money than if they agreed to settle the case ahead of time.

How Long Does it Take to Get Compensation?

Most asbestos lawsuits are settled out of court so that neither side has to risk an unfavorable trial result. When it comes to settled cases, you may get your money within a year of filing the lawsuit.

It should be noted that cases often involve multiple defendants. Some defendants may choose to settle early, while others may wait until the eve of the trial.

Therefore, your settlement money can come at different times. You may receive some money right away, more a little later, then the bulk of it near your trial date.

Since you will likely get the majority of your compensation near your trial date, how quickly you are able to get a trial date is important.

An experienced asbestos attorney can help you get the most amount of compensation available in the shortest amount of time.

What Factors Affect How Much Compensation I Receive?

Several factors can affect the amount of mesothelioma compensation you may receive.

These factors include: 

  • Settlement vs Trial: As discussed above, taking a case to trial could mean you receive more — or less — compensation than if the case reached a settlement.
  • Type of asbestos-related disease: You may be able to file a lawsuit for a few different asbestos-related diseases, including mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer. Generally speaking, mesothelioma awards the most compensation.
  • When you file: If you don’t file your case within the statute of limitations, you can never receive any compensation.
  • Other factors: Your family members (such as dependants who rely on you to provide for them), overall health, and other factors can impact how much money you receive from a mesothelioma lawsuit.

Consult a mesothelioma lawyer to learn about all the factors that could affect how much compensation you may receive.

Can I File A Lawsuit Against a Bankrupt Company?

No, but you might be able to receive compensation from them.

Starting in the 1980s, many manufacturers of asbestos-containing products declared bankruptcy to shirk responsibility and avoid a flood of lawsuits.

Using their political clout, these manufacturers forced Congress to change the U.S. bankruptcy code so they could declare bankruptcy — and avoid mesothelioma lawsuits — but still stay in business.

Yet the U.S. government did not let the manufacturers off completely. Instead, bankrupt manufacturers that wanted to stay in business had to make asbestos trust funds to pay their victims.

What Is An Asbestos Trust Fund?

An asbestos trust fund describes money set aside by manufacturers of asbestos-containing products who declared bankruptcy but wanted to stay in business. A board of trustees manages the money in an asbestos trust fund and makes sure that it is distributed to victims who qualify.

These special trusts operate on an established set of criteria, which includes rules on who can get paid and how much each person receives.

How Do I Access an Asbestos Trust Fund?

To access an asbestos trust fund, work with a mesothelioma lawyer who can help you determine which manufacturers of asbestos-containing products caused you to get sick and if these companies have trust funds established or not.

If the manufacturers responsible do have an asbestos trust fund, your lawyer can help you file a claim so you can receive money.

This claim outlines: 

  • What asbestos-containing products you were exposed to (and when)
  • That this exposure caused you to develop mesothelioma
  • That the manufacturers in question made the products that harmed you

Currently, more than 50 companies have over $30 Billion available for current and future victims to claim. You may be able to seek compensation from multiple trust funds.

What Is a Payment Percentage?

A payment percentage is how much money you will actually receive from an asbestos trust fund claim.

Did You Know?

Asbestos trust funds must last not only for current victims of exposure but for future victims as well. If asbestos trust funds paid out every claim’s value in full, there would likely be no money left over to compensate future victims.

Because of this, the trust funds are allowed to pay victims a percentage of the actual value of their claim.

A mesothelioma lawyer can help you determine how much money you may receive from an asbestos trust fund claim after the payment percentage has been applied.

When Can I Expect Payment from an Asbestos Trust Fund?

Much like filing a mesothelioma lawsuit, you will likely receive compensation from asbestos trust funds within a year’s time.

Your lawyers may file a claim with more than one asbestos trust fund depending on which asbestos-containing products you were exposed to. Each trust fund may process the claim at different times, so you could receive compensation at various points.

Is Asbestos Still Legal?

Sadly, yes — currently, asbestos is still legal, although there are laws to restrict its use. Most uses of asbestos were banned by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the late 1980s, but a 1991 court appeal overturned this decision.

Some individual asbestos products remain banned, including:

  • Flooring and roofing felt
  • Pipe insulation
  • Paper

The EPA passed a new rule on asbestos use in 2019, which banned new uses of asbestos and prevented some older asbestos-containing products from reentering the market without the agency’s approval.

Yet in order to prevent more people from developing mesothelioma, there needs to be a complete ban on asbestos. Otherwise, anyone who comes in contact with asbestos-containing products could still be at risk.

How Can I Get In Touch With a Mesothelioma Lawyer?

Reach out to the Patient Advocacy team at the Mesothelioma Cancer Network to get in contact with a mesothelioma lawyer. We work with lawyers who have helped thousands of mesothelioma victims like you receive compensation.

To learn more about our services — and to get answers to other frequently asked questions about mesothelioma compensation — get a free legal case review today.

Mesothelioma Support Team
Stephanie KiddWritten by:


Stephanie Kidd grew up in a family of civil servants, blue-collar workers, and medical caregivers. Upon graduating Summa Cum Laude from Stetson University, she began her career specializing in worker safety regulations and communications. Now, a proud member of the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA) and Editor-in-Chief of the Mesothelioma Cancer Network, Stephanie serves as a voice for mesothelioma victims and their families.

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  2. Bates, C. E., & Mullin, C. H. (2007, December 3). Asbestos: Show Me The Money. Retrieved March 26, 2020, from
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  5. Rand Institute for Civil Justice. (2010, July 26). Asbestos Bankruptcy Trusts: An Overview of Trust Structure and Activity with Detailed Reports on the Largest Trusts. Retrieved March 26, 2020, from
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