Mesothelioma Settlement Process
There are a variety of routes a patient may take to get compensation after a mesothelioma diagnosis. In many cases, they pursue recovery from asbestos trust funds. However, not all asbestos companies and product manufacturers have trusts set up, in which case patients often pursue a mesothelioma lawsuit.
After filing a lawsuit, patients and asbestos companies often reach a settlement before the case goes to trial. In some instances, a settlement will be reached during the trial itself. Ultimately, it’s up to you whether or not to accept a settlement. An experienced mesothelioma lawyer can discuss the pros and cons for your individual case.
Step 1: Research
After deciding to pursue legal action, your mesothelioma law firm will work to organize as much information as possible to build your case, including:
- Medical records, including a diagnosis of mesothelioma
- Employment history, including union membership and military service records
- Receipts and bills for expenses related to your illness, including travel to see specialists and obtain treatment
Step 2: File a Lawsuit
Once your asbestos attorney has gathered all of the necessary information to build a successful mesothelioma claim, they will then prepare to file a lawsuit against the company or companies responsible for your asbestos exposure. There are many details that your lawyer will work out, including:
- Venue: Determines which state to file in, which can be where you lived, worked or served (for veterans).
- Type of claim: The two primary mesothelioma claim types include personal injury and wrongful death. Personal injury pertains to patients filing on their own behalf, while wrongful death pertains to loved ones filing on behalf of a family member that has died.
- Defendant: One or multiple defendants can be named in a mesothelioma lawsuit, which is the asbestos company or companies responsible for your exposure.
Step 3: Pretrial Activities
Once the lawsuit has been filed, the discovery phase begins. During this time, both parties will file various motions and present information regarding their side of the case.
At any time after the lawsuit is filed, the defendant’s lawyer can present a settlement offer to the plaintiff’s attorney. Your mesothelioma attorney will inform you of the offer and provide advice regarding the advantages and disadvantages of settling. You may then accept or reject the offer. If you accept, you typically sign a printed agreement and the case is settled. If a settlement is offered, you might consider the following:
- It’s common for the first settlement offer to be much lower than what the client is entitled to, so in many cases, the first settlement is rejected.
- If there are multiple defendants, some may settle while others are willing to take the case to trial. Each defendant represents a separate entity, so each settlement offer should be considered individually, rather than as a group.
- Asbestos companies may have faced mesothelioma lawsuits in the past, and if they have lost previously, they may be more willing to quickly settle, rather than risk losing again.
- Choosing a law firm with experienced mesothelioma attorneys is the best way to ensure your settlement is as large as it can be, based on their knowledge and previous cases.
If you choose to reject the settlement, the case will be taken to court where the jury will decide upon a verdict. Another option is to counteroffer through your attorney, who will negotiate settlement terms with the defendant’s lawyer.
Step 4: Trial
In the case of a rejected settlement offer, the trial will proceed before the court. The defendant is still able to offer a settlement at any time during trial, and in some cases, a settlement is reached after the verdict. One of the largest verdicts ever for a mesothelioma case was $250 million, but the patient ended up settling for less than $50 million afterward.
If the verdict favors the plaintiff (mesothelioma patient or family member), the judge or jury will award compensation. The amount can vary greatly from case to case, but takes various details into account, including expenses, lost income and pain and suffering.
Resources for Mesothelioma Patients
Mesothelioma Settlement vs. Verdict
As outlined in the mesothelioma settlement process, a settlement is typically reached prior to trial. A private agreement is made between two parties, in which one party provides compensation to another to no longer be liable. In most cases, asbestos companies present a low settlement offer at the start of the lawsuit. It’s up to the patient or surviving family member to reject, accept or counteroffer. Once the settlement is accepted, they are legally binding and must be paid.
A mesothelioma verdict occurs when the case is taken to court and a jury or judge determines whether or not the asbestos company is responsible for the patient’s asbestos exposure. Their decision is legally binding, and if found responsible, a separate verdict will determine the compensation amount. Verdicts usually result in higher compensation amounts than settlements, but it’s possible that the defendant will be found not liable, in which case no compensation will be granted.
Mesothelioma Average Settlement Amount
There is no way to accurately predict how much compensation a patient or family member will receive from a mesothelioma settlement. However, reports have shown that compensation amounts have been steadily increasing over the last several decades. In 2000, RAND Corporation estimated the average mesothelioma settlement to be around $900,000. The most recent reports by Mealey’s Litigation Report note an average mesothelioma settlement amount of $1 million – $1.4 million.
One reason that’s it difficult to calculate the average mesothelioma settlement amount is that it can vary depending on the venue, or where the claim was filed. A 2015 report studied how consolidating multiple asbestos lawsuits in a single court can increase the compensation award. Specifically, the report reviewed the effect of the New York City Asbestos Litigation (NYCAL) court, finding that significantly higher verdict awards were given to consolidated cases than had been previously given to individual cases.
For all these reasons, there is no standard method by which to calculate a trustworthy average amount for mesothelioma cases. When receiving advice that gives you an average amount, or when conducting your own research, the information is typically from recent data and reports.
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Examples of Mesothelioma Settlements
Examples of mesothelioma settlements provide insight into how award amounts can vary from case to case. Some examples include:
- A 50-year-old plumber and mechanic in California received $13 million in compensation after filing a claim for asbestos exposure while on the job.
- An Illinois pipefitter received more than $11 million in compensation to help pay for medical expenses, as well as lost wages and potential future income, for being exposed to asbestos.
- An operating engineer who served in the U.S. Navy filed a claim in New York and received $6.9 million after being exposed to asbestos during his career.
Additional cases are listed below, showing approximate amounts of settlements that experienced mesothelioma attorneys have helped negotiate. Please note that individual cases vary based on a number of factors, and prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.
|State||Disease||Occupation / Exposure||Age||~ Monies to Date|
|CA||Mesothelioma||Plumber / Mechanic||53||~$13,100,000|
|IL||Mesothelioma||Pipefitter / Household||61||~$11,900,000|
|CA||Mesothelioma||Bystander / Army||66||~$11,750,000|
|MD||Mesothelioma||Hairdresser / Household||68||~$11,450,000|
|CA||Mesothelioma||Navy / Dry Wall Sprayer||49||~$9,500,000|
|PA||Mesothelioma||Household / Air Force||53||~$9,350,000|
|IL||Mesothelioma||Coast Guard / Engineer||63||~$8,800,000|
|CA||Mesothelioma||Maintenance / Construction||56||~$8,650,000|
|CA||Mesothelioma||Navy / Maintenance||56||~$8,570,000|
|NY||Mesothelioma||Navy Worker / Operating Engineer||61||~$6,900,000|
|NY||Mesothelioma||Navy Worker / Machinist||53||~$6,400,000|
|CA||Mesothelioma||Navy / Plantworker||69||~$6,000,000|
|CA||Mesothelioma||Household / Technician||63||~$6,000,000|
|NY||Mesothelioma||Navy Worker / Plumber||67||~$5,875,000|
|CA||Mesothelioma||Lumber Yard Manager||42||~$5,200,000|
|TX||Mesothelioma||Navy / Mechanic||68||~$5,000,000|
|CA||Mesothelioma||Navy / Mechanic||60||~$4,800,000|
|IL||Mesothelioma||JM Plantworker / Shipyard||51||~$4,600,000|
|IL||Mesothelioma||Navy / Mechanic||51||~$4,300,000|
|CA||Mesothelioma||Navy / Teacher||70||~$4,200,000|
|TX||Mesothelioma||Carpenter / Marine Corps||71||~$4,100,000|
|IL||Mesothelioma||Army / Engineer||64||~$4,100,000|
|TX||Mesothelioma||Coast Guard US / Shipyard||67||~$4,050,000|
|LA||Mesothelioma||Household / Office Worker||62||~$4,000,000|
|IL||Mesothelioma||Plantworker / Household||59||~$3,900,000|
|CA||Mesothelioma||Navy / Nuclear Plant||62||~$3,800,000|
|NY||Mesothelioma||Carpenter / Trimmer / Mechanic||64||~$3,750,000|
|IL||Mesothelioma||Painter / Merchant Marine||79||~$3,500,000|
|NY||Mesothelioma||Household / Machine Operator||54||~$3,500,000|
|SC||Mesothelioma||Navy / Powerhouse||62||~$3,400,000|
|PA||Mesothelioma||Navy / Boilerman||54||~$3,400,000|
|NY||Mesothelioma||Pipe Organ Builder||71||~$3,300,000|
|NY||Mesothelioma||Plantworker / Sales Worker||65||~$3,100,000|
Mesothelioma Verdict Examples
When taken to court, mesothelioma awards are often higher than if the plaintiff settles. However, it’s not a given that the court will rule in the plaintiff’s favor, and verdicts can be appealed and overturned, which often results in a much lower settlement amount.
Examples of verdicts in mesothelioma cases include:
- A 65-year-old construction supervisor was awarded $30.2 million in mesothelioma damages (Fall 2018).
- A woman was granted a $25.75 million verdict after exposure to asbestos through frequent use of Johnson & Johnson baby powder (Spring 2018).
- A woman and her husband received a $75 million verdict after she faced secondary asbestos exposure from her mechanic husband and when helping him with car repairs (Winter 2017).
- $82 million was awarded to a man through a wrongful death lawsuit after his wife died from exposure to asbestos through Napa-brand auto parts (Spring 2017).
- A Minnesota jury awarded $3.72 million after a man passed away from supposed exposure to asbestos in automobile friction products when helping his father with brake jobs as a child. This lawsuit was filed against multiple asbestos companies (Summer 2016).
Ultimately, mesothelioma victims or loved ones looking to file a lawsuit or considering a settlement should discuss details of their case with an experienced mesothelioma lawyer to fully understand what the best route is to get the compensation that they deserve.