Families file wrongful death lawsuits when a loved one dies from mesothelioma. They may get compensation from settlements or jury verdicts. Asbestos lawsuit payouts average over $1 million. This money can help cover medical bills, lost wages and other expenses.

01. Overview of Wrongful Death

What Is a Mesothelioma Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

A mesothelioma wrongful death lawsuit is a legal action for families of mesothelioma patients. Relatives, and possibly others, may file this type of lawsuit. Successful lawsuits win compensation to cover losses caused by a patient’s death, like medical bills and lost wages.

Family members (plaintiffs) file against the companies (defendants) alleged to have exposed the deceased patient to asbestos. For mesothelioma lawsuits, the defendants are usually asbestos companies. To succeed in their asbestos lawsuit, the plaintiff must show:

  • Loss of financial or emotional support was caused by the death of the victim.
  • The victim died of mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease.
  • The defendant(s) wrongfully exposed the victim to asbestos.

Wrongful death lawsuits are filed after the death of a mesothelioma patient. A patient may have filed a personal injury lawsuit before passing away. Filing a wrongful death lawsuit does not end the personal injury case. An experienced attorney can explain what happens in these instances.

Lawyers at experienced mesothelioma law firms can counsel bereaved relatives on their options. Once hired, a mesothelioma lawyer can file a wrongful death lawsuit on their client’s behalf.

Mesothelioma Wrongful Death Settlements vs. Lawsuit Verdicts

Mesothelioma wrongful death cases may result in settlements or verdicts. Both mesothelioma settlements and verdicts provide compensation for families of deceased patients. Most wrongful death lawsuits settle before trial.

An asbestos wrongful death settlement is an agreement between parties to dismiss the lawsuit before, during or after trial. The defendant offers to provide compensation to no longer be liable. The plaintiff then must agree to the offered settlement amount. Lawyers can negotiate settlements on behalf of families. Family members have final approval of any settlement.

A judge or jury reaches a verdict if the parties do not settle. The trial verdict will determine whether the defendant owes the plaintiff compensation.

What Is the Average Award in a Mesothelioma Wrongful Death Case?

Mesothelioma verdicts average about $2.4 million in compensation. Mesothelioma settlements generally range from $1 to $1.4 million. Payouts may be much higher depending on the case. For example, in 2022, a Florida jury awarded a family $18 million in their wrongful death lawsuit against John Crane Inc.

The amount any plaintiff receives is based on the unique facts of their individual case.

An asbestos lawyer can help a victim’s loved ones seek compensation. A lawyer can handle the legal process from filing to arguing the case at trial. They can also negotiate settlements for family members’ approval.

02. Why File?

Why File a Mesothelioma Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Families file wrongful death lawsuits for a number of reasons, including financial compensation. Money from successful lawsuits can help pay medical bills, cover lost wages and more. Asbestos litigation may also offer a sense of justice. It can be a way to hold companies accountable for negligent asbestos exposure.

Expenses and Other Losses Wrongful Death Compensation Can Cover

  • End-of-life costs
  • Loss of care, companionship and guidance
  • Loss of inheritance
  • Lost wages
  • Medical expenses
  • Pain and suffering

Families considering filing a lawsuit should speak to a mesothelioma attorney as soon as they are able.

An asbestos wrongful death lawsuit must be filed within a state’s statute of limitations. Each state has its own rules for when a plaintiff can file after the death of a loved one. The statutes generally require a person to file within one to three years of the death in question.

Families may also have other options for mesothelioma compensation. Options may include asbestos trust fund claims, veterans’ benefits claims and workers’ compensation. Deadlines to file these claims vary based on type.

A mesothelioma lawyer can help families and other eligible people explore their compensation options. They can also explain the various timelines for filing after the death of a loved one. A lawyer can help determine individuals’ eligibility for different types of compensation.

03. Who Can File?

Who Is Eligible to File an Asbestos Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Family members may be eligible to file wrongful death lawsuits after a patient dies from mesothelioma. Every state allows the spouse, children and parents of unmarried children to file this type of lawsuit. Some states allow other people connected to the deceased to file.

People related to patients who have died from other asbestos-related illnesses may also be eligible to file. For example, families have won lawsuits after patients with asbestos lung cancer passed away.

Who May Be Able to File an Asbestos Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

  • Spouses and domestic partners
  • Children
  • Parents
  • Siblings
  • Other legal representatives

The person with the right to file an asbestos wrongful death lawsuit varies by state. The person in question is called the “real party in interest.” This may be:

  • Persons designated as real parties in interest by statute, such as a spouse, child or other family member
  • A personal representative designated by the decedent’s will
  • A trustee
  • An estate executor/administrator

A real party in interest must file the wrongful death lawsuit. Sometimes the real party in interest is also the person who will receive compensation through the lawsuit, such as a spouse or child.

Other times, the real party in interest may be different from the family members who may benefit from the lawsuit. For example, a non-family third party may administer the decedent’s estate. They may also have the right to sue under their state’s laws. But, the families for whom the estate exists may receive compensation the estate representative secures.

An experienced mesothelioma lawyer can help answer questions about who has the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

04. Wrongful Death Compensation

Mesothelioma Wrongful Death Compensation Awards

The average mesothelioma lawsuit settlement is between $1 – $1.4 million in compensation. Verdicts average around $2.4 million. Individual wrongful death lawsuits have resulted in much higher payouts.

The amount any plaintiff receives varies based on the unique facts of the case. The victim’s medical records, asbestos exposure history, the jurisdiction in which the case is filed and other factors may affect the outcome of any case.

How Are Wrongful Death Awards Paid?

Compensation awards for wrongful death lawsuits are typically paid out either as a lump sum or a structured settlement. The award will be transferred to the plaintiff’s attorney’s office. The attorney will then disburse the award to the plaintiff or the lawsuit’s beneficiary. The disbursement typically occurs through a check or wire transfer.

Mesothelioma Wrongful Death Compensation Examples

The amount of compensation received from a mesothelioma wrongful death lawsuit varies based on the facts of the case. Things such as work and medical history affect outcomes. Examples of compensation from mesothelioma wrongful death verdicts include:

  • An Ohio jury awarded the estate of a Korean War veteran more than $10 million. He was exposed while working with asbestos-containing packing materials at a factory.
  • A South Carolina jury awarded a man a $32 million verdict, $10 million of which was wrongful death damages. His wife developed mesothelioma after secondary exposure to asbestos from his work clothes.
  • A Washington jury awarded the family and estate of a mesothelioma victim nearly $82 million in wrongful death damages. The victim was exposed to asbestos through automotive repair work and excavation work.

Wrongful death lawsuits may also result in settlements. Mesothelioma wrongful death settlements are often private agreements between parties. The average settlement amount for mesothelioma lawsuits generally ranges from about $1 to $1.4 million.

Asbestos Lawsuit Spotlight: Wrongful Death From Talc Exposure

In recent years, increased awareness of the dangers of asbestos in talc products has led to lawsuits against talc product makers. Some of the cases against companies like Johnson & Johnson have alleged wrongful death.

For a time, Johnson & Johnson talc lawsuits were on hold for bankruptcy proceedings. But several lawsuits are now going forward, including at least one wrongful death case.

05. How to File

How to File for Mesothelioma Wrongful Death Compensation

The first step to filing a wrongful death lawsuit is to talk to an attorney. Once hired, an asbestos law firm can file the lawsuit on behalf of family members or other representatives.

Mesothelioma Wrongful Death Lawsuit Process

  1. Wrongful death statutes of limitations go into effect when a mesothelioma patient dies. The lawsuit must be filed within the time frame specified by a state’s statute.
  2. A lawyer can help determine who may sue for wrongful death under state law.
  3. A lawyer can gather appropriate documentation to file the lawsuit. For example, the decedent’s death certificate may be required to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
  4. A lawyer can file the wrongful death lawsuit for the plaintiff.
  5. The parties’ legal teams then begin the discovery phase of the lawsuit. The parties may settle at any time during this period.
  6. If the parties do not settle, the case goes to trial. The trial may result in a settlement, before a verdict is reached, or in a verdict.
  7. Any compensation is awarded to the beneficiary of the lawsuit. Common beneficiaries include spouses, children and other dependents.

Challenges of Filing an Asbestos Wrongful Death Lawsuit

An experienced lawyer can handle the challenges presented by a wrongful death lawsuit. A lawyer can help meet deadlines and track down documents.

Wrongful death lawsuits must be filed within the time limit designated by a state’s statute of limitations. The time after the death of a loved one from mesothelioma can be difficult. A lawyer can handle filing once hired.

Unlike in a personal injury lawsuit, the subject of a wrongful death lawsuit is not present. This means they are not around to provide testimony and other evidence. A lawyer can help track down other relevant testimonies and evidence. For example, because the victim cannot testify, a lawyer may seek testimony from former co-workers at an asbestos company. This type of testimony may be used in place of the victim’s testimony.

06. Death During Lawsuit

What Happens to a Personal Injury Lawsuit When a Person Dies?

Sometimes a mesothelioma victim passes away during their personal injury lawsuit. This does not end the legal action. Each state has a type of law called a “survival statute.” This law designates the person responsible for continuing the lawsuit. The person responsible is usually a representative of the decedent’s estate.

A wrongful death lawsuit is not a continuation of a personal injury case. It is a new type of lawsuit. This means the two types of lawsuits can be litigated at the same time and may both result in compensation for the families.

One way to think about the difference between the two is to look at the different types of financial compensation they may provide.

Personal injury lawsuits may provide for:

  • Medical expenses
  • Pain and suffering damages
  • Wages lost from the time of injury until death

Wrongful death lawsuits may provide for:

  • End-of-life costs
  • Loss of care, companionship and guidance
  • Loss of inheritance
  • Lost wages the decedent could have provided if they had not died
  • Medical expenses

The types of compensation highlight the different purposes of each type of lawsuit. A personal injury lawsuit is meant to compensate a victim or the victim’s estate. A wrongful death lawsuit is meant to compensate the victim’s loved ones after the death of the victim.

It is important to contact an experienced mesothelioma lawyer to explore legal options. An attorney can also help navigate any changes in the status of a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit.

07. Common Questions

Common Questions About Mesothelioma Wrongful Death Lawsuits

What is the highest mesothelioma wrongful death settlement?

The highest mesothelioma wrongful death settlements have provided several million dollars in compensation. Lawsuit settlements are often private agreements between families and asbestos companies. Data on specific asbestos case settlements is therefore not readily available.

How are wrongful death settlements calculated?

Parties calculate settlement amounts based on the facts of an individual case. In a wrongful death lawsuit, a settlement offer may factor in economic losses, like end-of-life costs and medical bills. It may also factor in less tangible harms, like pain and suffering.