What Are Mesothelioma Settlements?
Mesothelioma settlements are one way to conclude a lawsuit. Both personal injury and wrongful death mesothelioma lawsuits can reach settlements.
Through a mesothelioma settlement, manufacturers of asbestos-containing products agree to pay a victim a certain amount of money that is determined through negotiations between the manufacturers’ lawyers and mesothelioma lawyers.
By working with an experienced mesothelioma lawyer, you may be able to receive a settlement that covers all or most of your medical expenses.
While there are no guarantees that a settlement will be reached, these lawyers have the skills, resources, and experience necessary to build strong mesothelioma cases that may result in favorable settlements.
Benefits of Mesothelioma Settlements
- They’re fast: Most people diagnosed with mesothelioma have only a few years (or months) to live. Settlements may allow patients to receive mesothelioma compensation in under a year’s time, so they can pay their medical bills and keep their families financially secure.
- They’re effective: The costs of treating mesothelioma can exceed $500,000. Average settlements may be able to cover not only these medical costs but other related expenses (such as a loss of income and emotional distress) too.
- They hold manufacturers accountable: Manufacturers of asbestos-containing products knew the material was dangerous but orchestrated an industry-wide cover-up so they could continue making money. Through a settlement, these manufacturers agree to pay for the harm they caused.
- They’re less risky than a trial: Over 95% of mesothelioma lawsuits end through out-of-court settlements or trial verdicts. Through a trial, a judge and/or jury may side with either the victim or the manufacturer being sued. If the victim loses the case, they may receive no money from that manufacturer.
Mesothelioma Settlement Amounts
Mesothelioma settlement amounts vary depending on how, when, and where a person was exposed to asbestos, along with other factors.
When a lawsuit is first filed, the victim and their lawyers will request a certain amount of money based on the victim’s expenses, pain and suffering, and other factors. Lawyers representing the manufacturers of asbestos-containing products will try to limit the amount of money the company must pay.
Though both sides must compromise, ultimately a victim should walk away with enough money to cover their medical expenses by reaching agreements with each manufacturer named in the lawsuit.
Average Mesothelioma Settlement Amount
The average mesothelioma settlement is $1 million to $1.4 million. These amounts represent the total sum of money that all the manufacturers named in the lawsuit had to pay.
Some lawsuits may award more or less than this amount depending on the specifics of each case.
Average Wrongful Death Settlements for Mesothelioma
If someone dies due to mesothelioma, their estate representatives can file a wrongful death lawsuit against the manufacturers of asbestos-containing products that may be responsible.
Wrongful death lawsuits that are settled out of court will pay a lump sum to the victim’s loved ones based on what both legal teams determine to be a fair amount.
Each wrongful death lawsuit is different, meaning settlement amounts will vary for every case.
Mesothelioma Settlements 2020
Recent mesothelioma settlements continue to award victims with millions in compensation.
In January 2020, Johnson & Johnson settled a mesothelioma lawsuit for over $2 million. The settlement came as the case was in the trial phase, according to the Claims Journal.
How Are Mesothelioma Settlements Determined?
A mesothelioma victim’s lawyers work with the lawyers representing the manufacturers of asbestos-containing products to determine a fair settlement.
As a mesothelioma lawsuit progresses, the mesothelioma victim’s lawyers will try to show how the manufacturers are responsible for causing the disease. The lawyers will look at several factors to determine how much money they will request from the manufacturers.
Factors that may affect mesothelioma settlements include:
- Claimant age: Mesothelioma is typically diagnosed in people over the age of 65, but it sometimes affects younger adults and even teenagers. In these cases, settlement amounts may be higher since younger victims will typically lose the ability to work (unlike seniors, who are more likely to have retired).
- Manufacturers involved: Many manufacturers are usually named in a mesothelioma lawsuit since most people are exposed to asbestos through numerous products. The more manufacturers named in the lawsuit, the more chances the victim has to receive compensation.
- Degree of injury: Lawyers must show how asbestos exposure caused their client to develop mesothelioma. Mesothelioma takes 20-50 years to develop, so if someone was exposed to asbestos recently and has not yet gotten sick, they usually cannot file a mesothelioma lawsuit.
- Economic loss: If they cannot work, those with mesothelioma may not be able to support their spouses or children or pay for basic living expenses.
- Medical expenses: Since mesothelioma treatments can be extremely hard to afford, it is important that a settlement covers all of a patient’s medical bills.
- Pain and suffering: A mesothelioma diagnosis puts emotional stress on an entire family. For this reason, victims may also be entitled to financial compensation for their pain and suffering.
As a victim’s lawyers consider these factors, lawyers representing the manufacturers of asbestos-containing products will build a case to show why their clients are not responsible. The legal teams then come together, present their cases, and try to work toward a settlement.
Most judges encourage lawyers to reach a settlement that is fair for both parties, according to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. This saves expensive public court time, speeds up the legal process, and allows the lawsuit to be resolved quickly.
Mesothelioma Settlement Time Frame
Most mesothelioma lawsuits that settlements typically begin to pay victims within a year’s time. The payout typically depends on the schedules of each manufacturer named in the lawsuit, and when they reach a settlement with the victim’s lawyers.
For example, a victim could receive settlement money in a matter of weeks from one defendant, while they may have to wait longer to receive compensation from the others.
To get a better understanding of settlement compensation payout timelines, it is important to understand the legal process as a whole.
Mesothelioma Settlement Process
- Gathering evidence: Asbestos lawyers work with mesothelioma victims to build a legal case. The lawyers gather evidence that shows when, where, and how the victim was exposed to asbestos (work history), how this caused their illness (medical records), what manufacturers may be responsible, and how much money the victim should receive.
- Filing the case: The lawyers then file the lawsuit and all the manufacturers named in the lawsuit must respond.
- Discovery: Lawyers from both sides then collect and present evidence to support their claims. Lawyers representing the manufacturer will try to disprove the victim’s claims. Additional evidence, including witness testimonies, is collected during this stage.
- Settlement: The lawyers representing both sides meet and try to resolve the case through a settlement. If the lawyers cannot agree on a settlement offer, the case proceeds to a trial.
Some asbestos cases may move faster if evidence is readily available.
For example, if a mesothelioma victim worked directly with asbestos-containing products at their job for several decades, it may be easier to gather evidence for that case than for someone who did not regularly come into contact with asbestos.
An asbestos lawyer can give a better idea of how long it may take to settle a lawsuit.
Other Ways to Receive Compensation
Mesothelioma settlements are not the only legal option in which victims can receive financial compensation. Other forms of legal action may allow victims to receive more compensation than through a settlement or provide them with additional money.
Learn more about other compensation options below.
If both legal teams cannot agree on a settlement, the case will go to trial. During a mesothelioma trial, a judge and/or jury will hear both sides of the case and determine a winner.
While a successful mesothelioma verdict may award victims with more compensation than a settlement, most lawyers try to avoid them.
Negative aspects of a trial include:
- Added time: Trials can add months (or years) to an asbestos lawsuit, delaying compensation to victims who may only have a few years (or months) to live.
- Potential to lose: If a judge or jury sides with a manufacturer of asbestos-containing products, the victim won’t receive any compensation from that manufacturer unless they file an appeal.
- Cost: Trials can be more expensive than settling a case out of court. So, even if a trial awards a victim with more compensation, they might end up with less money after these extra expenses are accounted for.
- Appeals: Through an appeal, the losing side in a case requests that a higher-level court review the decision. This could turn a victim’s win into a loss or vice versa. In either case, appeals may extend the length of a trial even further.
Lawyers can recommend whether a mesothelioma settlement will be better than a trial in your specific situation. A vast majority — if not all — of the manufacturers named in a mesothelioma lawsuit will want to settle to avoid the risks.
Asbestos Trust Funds
Asbestos trust funds were established by manufacturers of asbestos-containing products to avoid the heavy influx of lawsuits that amassed after the dangers of asbestos were uncovered.
These manufacturers filed for bankruptcy and set aside large sums of money into asbestos trust funds. In exchange, bankruptcy courts prevented the manufacturers from being sued.
Asbestos trust funds currently contain over $30 billion, according to the United States Government Accountability Office.
All asbestos trust funds have established rules that allow mesothelioma victims to access compensation. If a mesothelioma claim meets these rules, the victim will receive a payout.
However, most trust funds cannot pay trust fund claims in full without dissolving, according to the RAND Institute for Civil Justice. Instead, trust funds pay percentages on the claims.
Workers’ Compensation Claims
Workers’ compensation allows employees to receive financial aid if they were injured or got sick on the job. Those who were exposed to asbestos at their job and developed mesothelioma may qualify for workers’ compensation.
Workers’ compensation claims are paid either by state funds or private insurance companies, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Mesothelioma patients should connect with an experienced lawyer before filing for workers’ compensation, since this payout may not be enough to cover all the costs of treatment. Other types of compensation may be better suited to help patients.
More than 30% of all mesothelioma victims are veterans, as all branches of the U.S. military relied on asbestos until the early 1980s. In light of this, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has established a number of programs to compensate veterans with mesothelioma.
Benefits for veterans with mesothelioma include:
- Disability Compensation: Veterans with mesothelioma usually qualify for tax-free disability payments, as the VA considers the cancer to be totally disabling. Veterans may also be able to get disability compensation if they have other asbestos-related diseases tied to active-duty, including lung cancer and asbestosis.
- VA Health Care: Through the VA Health Care System, veterans may be able to receive medical treatment from mesothelioma specialists.
- VA Pension: Veterans may qualify for a pension if they meet the income limit set by Congress.
- Other benefits: Some veterans may qualify for Aid & Attendance (A&A), burial compensation, and other care services.
Veterans can apply for these benefits with the help of a VA-accredited mesothelioma lawyer or claims agent. Applying for VA benefits can otherwise be difficult since the process is rather complicated.
Legal Support for Mesothelioma Settlements
Mesothelioma brings more than its fair share of physical and emotional stress to you and your family, and the last thing you need to be worrying about is how you will pay for medical care.
Mesothelioma settlements can allow you to receive crucial compensation to pay for medical treatments at a time when you need it most. With help from a trusted mesothelioma law firm, settlements may cover the majority of your expenses.
You can also rest a little easier knowing that the manufacturers of asbestos products had to pay for the harm and suffering they caused you. Since mesothelioma is such an aggressive form of cancer, your lawyers will work to get the most amount of compensation in the shortest amount of time.
Download our free mesothelioma guide today to learn more.