What Legal Options Exist for Mesothelioma Victims?
As of 2020, mesothelioma cancer victims have two primary legal options they can access to receive financial compensation.
Victims often seek out mesothelioma legal help from experienced lawyers and law firms. With their help, victims can file lawsuits or asbestos trust fund claims and possibly receive financial compensation.
Mesothelioma lawyers and law firms can also help victims learn about other ways to receive compensation as well.
Other ways to receive compensation include:
- Medicare and Medicaid
- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
- VA benefits
Since victims may be able to access more than one type of compensation, it is very important for them to seek mesothelioma legal help. Experienced lawyers and law firms will do their best to get patients the highest amount of financial compensation possible.
Mesothelioma Legal Help Quick Facts
- Receiving money from an asbestos trust fund is the most common type of mesothelioma legal help. Asbestos trust funds award an average of $180,000 to mesothelioma victims, though this number varies by trust, according to the United States Department of Justice (DOJ).
- Mesothelioma lawsuits typically reach out-of-court settlements with an average value of $1 Million, according to recent reports.
- Approximately 5% of mesothelioma lawsuits go to trial, where a judge and/or jury decide the value of the case, according to the DOJ. Trials are usually avoided since they add time, expenses, and extra risk to a mesothelioma lawsuit.
- Help with the mesothelioma legal process allows veterans to file for mesothelioma-related VA benefits no matter when they served, as long as their mesothelioma stems from asbestos exposure while they served.
Why Seek Mesothelioma Legal Help?
With mesothelioma legal help, victims may be able to afford necessary — yet highly expensive — medical bills. Since mesothelioma is so rare, its treatments are extremely specific and hard to afford without mesothelioma compensation.
On average, mesothelioma treatments for one person can cost over $500,000 a year.
Financial compensation can help pay for:
- Medical treatments (including surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation)
- Lost wages if the affected person can no longer work
- Travel costs if the victim needs to travel to seek treatment
- Other expenses (including therapy and funeral costs)
While the amount of money can vary with each case, some have earned millions of dollars in compensation.
Negligent Manufacturers of Asbestos-Containing Products
Mesothelioma legal help can also hold the manufacturers of asbestos-containing products accountable for their actions. Virtually the entire asbestos industry knew the risks of asbestos but did nothing about it. Innocent people now pay with their lives for the greed of these companies.
According to the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health, approximately 3,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma every year, and most die within five years after diagnosis.
A lawsuit or legal claim sends a message: these manufacturers cannot get away with the harm they caused.
For all of these reasons, it is crucial to seek mesothelioma legal help shortly after a diagnosis, as taking legal action sooner rather than later may reduce the amount of time someone has to wait to receive compensation.
Asbestos Trust Fund Compensation
A common form of mesothelioma legal help is an asbestos trust fund.
Major companies established asbestos trust funds as part of bankruptcy deals after they faced an unprecedented amount of lawsuits. After these trust funds were established, victims could no longer file lawsuits against these companies.
According to a report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), over $30 Billion has been set aside in asbestos bankruptcy trusts to pay victims of asbestos exposure.
Asbestos trust funds operate in this manner:
- Mesothelioma patients work with a lawyer to file a claim with the trust fund. This claim outlines how, when, and where the victim was exposed to asbestos and how this caused them to develop mesothelioma.
- The victim’s lawyer sends the claim to the board of trustees (those operating the trust fund).
- The board of trustees review the claim and decide whether or not it is valid.
Provided that the claim is not rejected by the board, victims can expect to be financially compensated. That being said, trust funds cannot always pay the amount of money they owe to victims in full.
Trust funds are designed to pay people who currently suffer from mesothelioma, as well as those who may develop it in the future. As a result, trusts may only pay out a percentage of what is actually owed so they can pay other victims later on.
As of 2020, over 60 companies have active asbestos trust funds.
Lawsuits for Mesothelioma and Asbestos-Related Diseases
Lawsuits are another common type of mesothelioma legal help. Through an asbestos lawsuit, victims determine how a manufacturer may be responsible for their illness with the help of a lawyer. Learn more about mesothelioma lawsuit options below.
Mesothelioma Personal Injury Lawsuits
Personal injury lawsuits are filed directly with the manufacturers of asbestos-containing products that exposed a mesothelioma victim to asbestos, either through on-the-job exposure or by making the products that the victim used.
The personal injury lawsuit process consists of:
- Gathering research to see how the victim developed mesothelioma
- Determining which manufactures may be responsible
- Filing the lawsuit with the company
- Strengthening the case with additional evidence
- Meeting with the company’s lawyers to come to a solution that everyone agrees on
The lawsuit process should ultimately award the victim with enough money to cover their medical expenses, as long as their case proves that the manufacturers of asbestos-containing products are responsible for the illness.
Mesothelioma Wrongful Death Lawsuits
When a person dies due to their mesothelioma diagnosis, any unpaid medical expenses will fall to their family. If this happens, the family or the victim’s estate may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
This type of mesothelioma legal help allows families to cover lingering expenses associated with a loved one’s care and also pay for funeral expenses and emotional suffering.
Wrongful death lawsuits are similar to personal injury lawsuits. The victim’s family or estate representative must bring evidence that shows how their loved one’s deadly illness was caused by the manufacturers of asbestos-containing products.
From there, both legal teams will work towards an agreement that satisfies everyone.
Mesothelioma Class-Action Lawsuits
In the 1990s, one of the most popular mesothelioma legal help options was a class-action lawsuit. These lawsuits allowed groups of victims to file one collective lawsuit against a company. In return, each victim received the same amount of money.
However, victims often did not receive a fair amount of money back from class-action lawsuits. Further, it was later ruled that mesothelioma lawsuits could not be heard as class-actions by the Supreme Court in 1997 because these lawsuits did not fit the class-action criteria.
Under a class-action lawsuit, every victim needs to be suffering from the same issue. But asbestos exposure can cause a number of different diseases, some of which are not as dangerous as mesothelioma. And, since asbestos was used in so many products, each person may have been exposed in a different way.
Today, victims may file personal injury lawsuits or asbestos trust fund claims with mesothelioma legal help to seek financial compensation.
Mesothelioma Case Values
Each lawsuit has a case value, or how much money the victim can expect to receive. The average mesothelioma case value varies on whether or not the case is settled out of court or goes to trial with a judge and a jury.
Most lawyers will try to settle a lawsuit before it goes to court. On average, an out-of-court mesothelioma settlement is valued at around $1 Million.
This number represents the combined total from all the settlements with the manufacturers named in the lawsuit.
Depending on your case, dozens of manufacturers could be sued, and each will reach a settlement agreement unless they are either found not to be responsible for your illness or want to take the case to trial.Here are some recent mesothelioma settlement awards:
$10.5 Million to a former pipefitter and maintenance worker
$6.5 Million to a man who worked in different asbestos jobs, such as boilermaking
$4.1 Million to a Marine Corps veteran and former carpenter
Mesothelioma settlements typically award less than a trial verdict. That being said, settlements allow victims to skip the trial phase, which can add months or years to a lawsuit.
When a mesothelioma case goes to trial, a judge and jury ultimately decide how much money (if any) will be awarded. Both legal teams present their cases, and the judge and jury issue a mesothelioma verdict.
Unlike a settlement, trial verdicts may force one manufacturer (or a small number of manufacturers) to award a victim with millions.Recent trial verdicts have included:
$250 Million to a former steelworker from Indiana
$30 Million to a former construction supervisor from California
$7 Million to a welder from Pennsylvania
Though verdicts may award victims with more money, the trial process takes longer than a normal settlement. For example, even if the judge and/or jury side with the victim, the manufacturer may try to appeal the verdict.
Through an appeal, the case must be heard by another court at a higher level, starting the trial process over again.
In addition, there is no guarantee that victims will win a trial, and if they lose the case, they receive no compensation from the manufacturer.
An important link between all types of mesothelioma legal help is an experienced asbestos attorney that can provide legal advice and handle all cases effectively.
Mesothelioma is a unique disease because it takes 20-50 years for someone to develop symptoms. By that time, victims may not remember exactly how, when, and where they were exposed to asbestos, making cases harder to prove without mesothelioma legal help.
Fortunately, skilled mesothelioma lawyers have decades handling claims and know how to build strong cases on behalf of their clients.
The best mesothelioma lawyers:
- Investigate their clients’ work history to determine where and how they were exposed to asbestos
- Have access to databases of information about the asbestos industry
- Have a proven track record of success in handling asbestos cases
- Understand limits on filing cases throughout the country
While general lawyers can also handle mesothelioma claims, they may not understand how to get the most value from them. Mesothelioma attorneys specifically handle these types of claims, meaning their clients’ cases are in the best hands possible.
Mesothelioma Law Firms
Top mesothelioma lawyers work at nationally renowned law firms throughout the country. These mesothelioma law firms often have decades of experience helping families affected by asbestos exposure receive compensation.
The best mesothelioma law firms have:
- A national reach: Large mesothelioma law firms may be able to file a claim in any state. These law firms can also send their lawyers to travel to clients anywhere in the country to discuss the case.
- Experience: When selecting a law firm, it is important to work with one that has handled other cases successfully. The law firm should be able to show how much compensation it has earned for other people with similar cases.
- Resources: National mesothelioma law firms have archives of information related to the asbestos industry and previous cases they handled. Their lawyers can streamline and strengthen current cases using this information.
When choosing a law firm, make sure it meets these requirements. While fully qualified to handle cases, local or general law firms may not be able to help clients get the most compensation possible.
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- Washington DC
- West Virginia
Common Questions About Mesothelioma Legal Help
Finding mesothelioma legal help can be confusing or frustrating at first. Below, get answers to common questions.
Can you sue for mesothelioma?
Yes. Mesothelioma has only one known cause: asbestos exposure. Major manufacturers knew asbestos could lead to long-term health issues as early as the 1930s but hid the truth, according to the investigative news organization Reuters.
By the time the general public realized the dangers, asbestos manufacturing and distribution was a multi-billion-dollar industry.
Even if you did not work in the asbestos industry, a lawyer can provide mesothelioma legal help by pinpointing how you were exposed to asbestos and what manufacturers may be responsible.
Will I have to go to court?
You may have to go to court if you file a mesothelioma lawsuit, but this only happens in rare cases.
Over 95% of mesothelioma cases reach an out-of-court settlement and never go to trial, according to the DOJ.
As previously mentioned, most lawyers want to avoid going to trial since they take longer, and their clients could lose out on receiving the highest amount of compensation available.
As the case moves forward, your lawyer will recommend the best course of action to receive the most amount of money in the shortest amount of time.
How long does a mesothelioma lawsuit last?
Mesothelioma lawsuits can last several months to a few years. The exact amount of time depends on the factors in each case.
For example, if your lawyer can easily prove which manufacturers caused you to develop mesothelioma — and these manufacturers have dealt with many asbestos lawsuits before — they may settle the case. Settlements can start awarding mesothelioma victims in less than a year’s time.
With mesothelioma legal help, you can have a better idea of how much time a lawsuit will take as the case progresses.
How long do I have to file a lawsuit?
You typically need to file a lawsuit within 2-3 years after being diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, or you may not be able to file one at all.
Each state has different laws, known as statutes of limitations, that restrict the time you have to file a lawsuit. If you try to file a lawsuit after the statute of limitations passes, you will no longer be able to do so.
Since statutes of limitations vary by state and case type, you need work access mesothelioma legal help to determine the best time to file a lawsuit. Asbestos lawyers can help you understand the statutes of limitations depending on where you live.
How can I get more information?
Contact Mesothelioma Hope for further information on our mesothelioma resources.
Next Steps to Access Mesothelioma Legal Help
Mesothelioma legal help is crucial for those diagnosed with this rare and deadly cancer. Without it, patients and their family members may have to spend half a million dollars — or more — to afford the high costs of treatment. However, the time to take legal action can be limited.
To learn more about mesothelioma legal help, get a free legal case review today. Our team can help you determine what legal options may be available to you.