How are Mesothelioma Settlements Determined?
Mesothelioma settlements usually result from negotiation between two sides. The plaintiff is a person diagnosed with mesothelioma or a surviving family member. The defendant is the company responsible for the asbestos exposure that caused the cancer.
Settlement negotiations may begin as soon as the plaintiff files a lawsuit and continue even after a formal trial has ended.
At any time during the legal process, the plaintiff and defendant can agree to a certain amount of compensation as an out-of-court settlement. Otherwise, a mesothelioma settlement may be awarded by a judge or jury at the end of a trial.
Another type of mesothelioma payout comes from asbestos personal injury trusts. These special trust funds follow a standardized process for determining the compensation a claimant receives.
In some cases, compensation for mesothelioma is available from a workers’ compensation system or the Department of Veterans Affairs. But filing a mesothelioma lawsuit often gives a family the best chance of paying for expensive cancer treatments and ensuring their financial security.
How Much Is a Mesothelioma Claim Worth?
The average mesothelioma settlement ranges from $1 million to $1.4 million. The average trial award is about $2.4 million. But every case is unique, and there are many factors that affect the potential value of a mesothelioma claim.
An experienced mesothelioma attorney can evaluate the strength of your case. They can explain all your legal options and estimate how much compensation you may receive. But a reputable mesothelioma lawyer will never guarantee an outcome.
Tracking Mesothelioma Expenses
After a cancer diagnosis — especially a rare, aggressive one such as mesothelioma — bills tend to pile up. First and foremost, a lawsuit must document the financial toll the cancer has taken on a family. This includes medical expenses, lost income, travel expenses, caregiving costs and any other indirect costs.
Your attorney can help you track these expenses. Organizing your medical and financial records is an important part of building your case.
If compensation comes from a jury award, these expenses will be covered by compensatory damages.
Assessing the Level of Company Negligence
When people first started filing mesothelioma lawsuits, asbestos-industry companies claimed they did not know the risks associated with asbestos. This lie has been thoroughly disproven.
In fact, many companies actively participated in covering up the dangers of asbestos.
Generally, companies are considered more liable for asbestos exposure if they specifically took steps to hide the health risks from workers and consumers. Mesothelioma lawyers search for evidence of this during the legal discovery process.
Juries may add punitive damages to a compensation award to punish companies for such wrongdoing.
When Multiple Companies Are Liable
In many cases, more than one company is at fault for asbestos exposure. A mesothelioma claim may include manufacturers of various asbestos products as well as employers who did not give workers protective equipment.
In a lawsuit against multiple defendants, it is common for some of them to settle out-of-court while others fight the lawsuit in a trial. When multiple defendants have to pay damages, the jury must decide the percentage of liability for each defendant.
Differences Between Jurisdictions
State regulations play a major role in asbestos lawsuits.
State laws vary in terms of:
- How much proof is required to hold a company liable for causing an asbestos-related disease.
- How long a plaintiff can wait before filing a lawsuit.
- Whether there are limits to the amount of compensatory damages or punitive damages a jury can award.
A national law firm that specializes in asbestos cases can advise you on which jurisdiction to file a claim.
Mesothelioma Settlement Negotiations
Out-of-court settlements help plaintiffs get compensation faster. They also help defendants avoid legal fees and bad publicity. But early settlement offers from defendants are often unreasonably low.
The more evidence you have in your favor, the easier it will be to negotiate a fair settlement.
Defendants that have lost mesothelioma cases in the past may be more willing to negotiate. But defendants who have had verdicts overturned on appeal may be more confident in taking the case to court.
Ultimately, most successful mesothelioma lawsuits end with an out-of-court settlement. Usually it is not a question of whether to go to trial, but of how long to let the litigation go.
Many plaintiffs need their compensation as soon as possible. Likewise, many defendants need to keep legal fees to a minimum.