Under certain circumstances, people exposed to asbestos are entitled to compensation from the company or the government that allowed for the exposure to mesothelioma. Some people receive only a few thousand dollars, while others will be awarded millions of dollars in settlements.
Settlements usually occurs when a patient had a high earning potential, or when the company was found to be particularly negligent.
Compensation for mesothelioma depends on how sick the person is, which company is involved, the location of the claim and the patient’s past medical history.
Most mesothelioma settlements are handled outside of court without having to go to a jury trial. A few cases go on to a jury trial where a jury of one’s peers can award the victim with money that goes toward living expenses, medical expenses, future lost wages and punitive damages. Patients can get compensation for their emotional distress stemming from having mesothelioma.
The amount of money the individual receives depends on what their future earning potential would have been — had they not developed mesothelioma, as well as what their medical costs are expected to be and how negligent the company was in allowing the worker to be exposed to asbestos. It is up to the victim’s attorney to show that the person become sick because of their exposure to asbestos. The compensation amount varies from case to case.
Examples of Settlements
Most of the time, the exact amount of the settlement is kept private and the public never becomes aware of how much the individual received. In a few situations, the settlement amount is leaked to the press so that people can see the monetary costs of exposing an employee to asbestos.
Some examples of mesothelioma settlements are:
- A judge in Missouri awarded a woman $10 million USD after she inhaled asbestos during a renovation project at her workplace.
- A particular mesothelial settlement occurred in Montana when 1,300 miners and their families were awarded $43 million USD in a settlement where many people were exposed to asbestos by virtue of living near an asbestos mine.
- Another family was given $2.1 million USD after the head of the household died from mesothelioma at his construction job site. Many settlements come from military personnel who were exposed to asbestos while serving in the Armed Forces.
- In New York, a boilermaker was given $3.7 million USD after coming down with lung cancer related to his asbestos exposure. In the same state, a maintenance worker was awarded $2 million USD from the company he worked for after he developed mesothelioma from asbestos exposure.
On average, mesothelioma sufferers receive about $2.4 million USD when the case goes to trial. and about $1 million USD when the individual agrees to a settlement without the benefit of a trial. Individuals can be awarded more financial compensation if it is believed that the company knowingly and negligently allowed their employees to be exposed to asbestos at their worksite.
Settling a Case
A settlement begins when an employee becomes sick from an asbestos-related illness and contacts an attorney because it is believed that the company the person worked for was allowing for asbestos exposure to its employees. The attorney will be prepared to take the case to a jury trial in which the case is presented before a judge.
Because jurors often award more money to the victim than is awarded in a settlement, the defendant (the company) often offers to settle the case out of court by offering a sum of money to the victim without having to have a trial. Very few cases actually go to trial and settlements are the norm in most asbestos-related cases.
If the company has already lost asbestos cases in the past, they are more likely to request a settlement because they don’t want to undertake another trial defense. Settlement money tends to come to the victim faster than it would in a jury trial, but they are likely to get less money than they would have gotten in a jury trial. If the company offers too little money, the attorney for the victim may make a counter offer or they can also go ahead and set up a jury trial. A settlement can happen anytime between the time of the claim and the time just before the case goes to trial.
There can be class action lawsuits in which there is more than one person affected by asbestos who are suing the same company. At any point, one or more of the victims may decide to settle out of court and will not go ahead with the others in a jury trial. Sometimes the company doesn’t believe they are liable and will refuse to settle, preferring to see what happens in a jury trial.
The company may decide to settle if they don’t have the time to prepare for a trial, they believe they will lose a jury trial, there are steep legal fees in going ahead with a jury trial, or if important witnesses for the defense cannot be found in time to appear at the trial.
The money given out in a settlement can come from the company funds or from insurance the company has that covers for these types of lawsuits. Ultimately, if an insurance company is involved, the insurance company will determine how much they are willing to pay the victim in an out of court settlement. Every case is different, so the amount of money awarded in each settlement will differ from case to case.
Determining Settlement Amounts
The amount of money the victim gets varies from case to case. If the company being sued is highly liable for the illness the victim has as a result of asbestos exposure, the company will be more likely to pay more money in a settlement and won’t risk losing in a jury trial.
If there are a lot of medical expenses or the victim had a high wage potential, the amount of the settlement will be higher. If the victim is financially strapped, they may not wish to wait for a jury trial and will settle on a lower amount that will come faster than the money they would have gotten in a jury trial.
If the company was highly negligent and risks a large amount of punitive damages if the case went to a jury trial, they are more likely to try and settle out of court in the hopes of settling with the victim using a lower offer.
Sometimes, more than one company is responsible for the individual’s asbestos-related injury. Many asbestos claims involve upwards of 30 separate companies believed to be negligent in causing the victim’s illness. The companies may decide to band together and create a settlement amount that everyone can agree on. The companies all contribute to the monies given to the victim as part of the settlement. If you’re interested in learning more abut these types of funds, we can help you start the process now.