What Is the Average Mesothelioma Case Value?
The average mesothelioma case value is $1 million for legal settlements and $2.4 million for trial verdicts, according to recent Mealey’s® Litigation Reports. These values vary widely because there are multiple ways to receive financial compensation for mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma case values are sometimes established when a legal claim is filed, with a final value being assigned as the case concludes. Evidence presented with an asbestos claim shows why the victim deserves compensation after developing mesothelioma.
Victims can receive compensation from:
- Trial verdicts
- Asbestos trust fund payouts established by asbestos companies
- Benefit programs established by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
- Other sources (such as insurance company claims)
A mesothelioma case value can also change depending on the lawyer used to handle the legal claim. Mesothelioma affects only around 3,000 people each year, and lawyers who do not handle mesothelioma cases specifically may not be able to secure the highest value for a legal claim.
In light of this, victims should work with an experienced mesothelioma lawyer who has successfully handled cases before. These lawyers may be able to help their clients secure higher mesothelioma case values.
Types of Mesothelioma Case Values
The amount of money that a victim may receive from a mesothelioma case depends on what type of case they pursue. Not every mesothelioma case type awards the same amount of compensation.
Learn more about mesothelioma case types below.
Asbestos Trust Funds
Mesothelioma case values from asbestos trust funds average around $180,000, according to the RAND Institute for Civil Justice.
These trust funds were established by asbestos companies that filed for bankruptcy to avoid future lawsuits. By declaring bankruptcy and creating trust funds, the companies could pay current and future mesothelioma victims without ceasing operations.
That being said, payouts can vary greatly as each bankruptcy trust fund contains a different amount of money. A larger asbestos company may have over $1 billion in its trust fund while a smaller one may only have a few million dollars.
Victims may also receive different amounts of money depending on how their claim is reviewed.
There are two ways that trust fund claims are reviewed:
- Expedited review: Expedited reviews will pay a fixed amount if a claim meets pre-set criteria. Most trust funds publish these criteria in their Trust Distribution Procedures, which can be found online.
- Individual review: Individual reviews take an in-depth look at a claim to see how much it is worth, making the process longer than an expedited review. Individually reviewed claims may be assigned a higher or lower value than they would through an expedited review.
A mesothelioma attorney can help decide which type of review will work best in a victim’s specific case.
If an asbestos company did not establish a trust fund, a victim may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against them. Mesothelioma lawsuits award victims with compensation either through a settlement or a trial verdict.
Settlements occur when lawyers from an asbestos company agree to pay the victim a sum of money in order to end the lawsuit.
Mesothelioma case values from settlements amount to around $1 million, according to a recent Mealey’s Litigation Report.
Victims may receive more or less than this amount depending on the specifics of each case. For example, a man who worked as both a boilermaker and steelworker received a $6.5 million settlement after developing mesothelioma.
If a settlement cannot be reached, the case may go to trial.
Trial verdicts are decided by a judge and jury, who hear arguments from both legal teams.
The average mesothelioma trial verdict is worth $2.4 million, according to a 2016 Mealey’s Litigation Report.
While mesothelioma case values from trials may be higher than those from a settlement, there are drawbacks.
For example, there is a possibility that a victim will lose the trial. If this happens, the victim will receive no money at all. If the victim wins, the asbestos company’s legal team may try to appeal the jury verdict, potentially turning the win into a loss.
Further, trials involve a much longer process than settling out of court, meaning it may take years before a victim actually receives any money.
Since the average mesothelioma life expectancy is 12-21 months, lawyers will likely want to avoid a lengthy lawsuit so a victim can receive compensation as soon as possible.
Military and Workers’ Compensation
Some mesothelioma victims may also be able to seek compensation from the VA and workers’ compensation policies.
The military relied on asbestos from the 1930s to the early 1980s, so military veterans may qualify for compensation through the VA if they were exposed while they served.
Approximately 33% of all people diagnosed with mesothelioma are veterans.
The VA has several different programs available to veterans, and some of these programs award financial compensation. Mesothelioma case values for VA benefits depend on what programs a victim qualifies for.
Types of VA benefits include:
- Disability Compensation: The VA provides a monthly, tax-free payout to veterans who developed illnesses or injuries due to their military service. Veterans may receive $3,146.42 per month if they are unmarried with no dependents since mesothelioma is considered a complete disability by the VA.
- Pensions: Veterans may qualify for a VA pension if their net worth is $130,773 or less, and if their income is below an established amount. Once on a pension plan, veterans may be able to access other benefits, such as Aid & Attendance or housebound benefits.
- VA Health Care: The VA employs a handful of mesothelioma specialists to treat veterans affected by this rare cancer. Through VA health care, veterans may receive treatment from these doctors at reduced rates.
- Burial Benefits: If a veteran dies from mesothelioma, the VA may cover some of their burial expenses. The VA pays up to $2,000 if their death was related to military service.
A VA-accredited mesothelioma lawyer can help veterans determine which benefits they qualify for and apply for them.
Workers’ compensation is a form of insurance put in place by companies to help employees who are injured in the workplace. If a worker developed mesothelioma from their job, they may qualify for workers’ compensation.
Mesothelioma case values for workers’ compensation can vary, and there are limitations to consider before filing.
Workers’ compensation limits include:
- Who can file: A worker may only be able to file a claim if they were a full-time employee with the company. They may still be able to file a claim even if they no longer work for the company since mesothelioma takes 20-50 years to develop.
- Who is responsible: A worker will only receive compensation from their employer, even though multiple companies may have made and distributed the asbestos products that caused their illness.
- Future legal action: If a worker decides to file for workers’ compensation, they will not be able to file a mesothelioma lawsuit against their employer. The worker may be able to take legal action against other companies that manufactured or sold asbestos products, however.
Since workers’ compensation may not be enough to cover all mesothelioma-related expenses, workers should explore other options with an experienced lawyer.
What Factors Affect Mesothelioma Case Values
Different factors may greatly impact mesothelioma case values. Learn about the most important factors below.
While anyone exposed to asbestos can develop malignant mesothelioma, some people may receive more money if they came into contact with it regularly.
For example, if someone worked at one company for 30 years and handled asbestos products throughout that time, there is little doubt about how, when, and where they were exposed.
On the other hand, it may be harder to prove how someone developed mesothelioma if they do not remember coming into contact with any asbestos-based products.
A mesothelioma lawyer can help determine how, when, and where someone was exposed to asbestos.
Case values vary by diagnosis because asbestos exposure can cause multiple different health problems. Victims can still file a claim if they developed another asbestos-related disease, though.
Other types of asbestos-related diseases include:
- Lung cancer: While mesothelioma develops in the linings of organs, lung cancer affects the lung(s) directly. The average 5-year survival rate for lung cancer is about 19%, according to the American Lung Association. This is the second-most valuable type of asbestos case, according to the RAND Institute for Civil Justice.
- Asbestosis: This non-cancerous disease damages the lungs over time, making breathing difficult. Asbestosis is ranked below asbestos-caused cancers in terms of value.
- Other cancers: In some cases, asbestos exposure can lead to ovarian cancer. If someone develops this cancers, they may receive less money than those with mesothelioma or lung cancer but more than those with non-cancerous asbestos diseases.
- Other non-cancerous diseases: Asbestos exposure can lead to pleural effusions (buildup of fluid between the lungs and chest wall), pleural plaques (buildup of collagen between the lungs and chest wall), or other conditions. These conditions are typically not life-threatening and may award little to no compensation.
Mesothelioma is the most dangerous asbestos-related disease. For example, 90% of pleural mesothelioma patients will die within 5 years after being diagnosed, according to the American Cancer Society.
Because of this, mesothelioma claims typically pay more than other asbestos-related disease claims.
Since mesothelioma treatments are typically very expensive, medical costs greatly impact case values.
Mesothelioma medical bills can cost $400,000 or more on average since the cancer is so hard to diagnose and treat.
Medical procedures associated with mesothelioma include:
- Computed tomography (CT) scans: $3,000
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans: $5,000
- Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scans: $5,000
- Lung removal surgery and hospitalization: $250,000
Without legal help, these crushing medical expenses may drive a family into debt or even bankruptcy. In fact, cancer patients are 2.5 times more likely to declare bankruptcy than healthy people, according to a 2013 study from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
Before a claim is filed, lawyers will estimate the total cost of your medical expenses (including future costs of care) and factor them into a mesothelioma case value.
Not only are mesothelioma treatments expensive, but they also require lengthy recovery periods. If someone is diagnosed with mesothelioma while they are still working, they will probably need to quit their job to focus on medical treatment. Their spouse or children may also have to stop working so they can help care for the victim.
Mesothelioma lawyers can account for economic losses if victims and their families can no longer work. Mesothelioma case values can be adjusted to fit their basic living expenses, including grocery bills, mortgages, and car payments.
Other Factors That Affect Mesothelioma Case Values
Many smaller factors may also have a big impact on mesothelioma case values.
These factors include:
- Age: Those diagnosed with mesothelioma under the age of 65 may receive a larger payout since they will likely have more long-term expenses and family members to support.
- Companies: More than one company may be responsible for a victim’s illness. With help from a mesothelioma lawyer, victims can identify all of the companies that played a role in exposing them to asbestos and take legal action. If more companies are found responsible, the victim may be entitled to more compensation.
- Family members: If a victim has dependents (non-working spouses or young/disabled children), they may receive more money from their case to support them.
- Funeral expenses: In 2017, the median cost of a funeral with a burial and viewing was over $7,300. If a family member files a lawsuit on behalf of a deceased loved one, these expenses may be factored in.
- Pain and suffering: A mesothelioma diagnosis brings a great amount of emotional distress along with it. Mesothelioma lawsuits may award extra money to compensate a victim and their family for their suffering.
By including these other factors, victims and their lawyers can get a better idea of how much money will be needed to cover expenses moving forward.
How To Determine Mesothelioma Case Values
Mesothelioma case values can vary greatly depending on the type of legal action you take and specific factors in your situation.
Because of this, it is important to work with a mesothelioma attorney who can guide you through the process and help ensure you file within the statute of limitations. With help from an experienced law firm, you may be able to get the greatest value out of your claim.