A mesothelioma wrongful death lawsuit is filed by a deceased victim’s loved ones. They may file against parties responsible for the victim’s asbestos-related death. Wrongful death lawsuits may help cover medical bills, lost wages and other expenses.

01. Wrongful Death Definition

What Is a Mesothelioma Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

A deceased asbestos victim’s loved ones may be able to file a mesothelioma wrongful death lawsuit. This type of legal action may provide valuable mesothelioma compensation for expenses and other losses related to the victim’s death. It can also establish accountability for parties responsible for exposing people to asbestos.

The plaintiff in the case is a victim’s immediate family member or another representative. The defendant is the party or parties alleged to be responsible for the victim’s death by an asbestos-related disease. Asbestos companies are common defendants in wrongful death cases. 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 victim. A mesothelioma victim 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.

A mesothelioma lawyer can help a victim’s loved ones decide if a wrongful death lawsuit is the best course of action.

Mesothelioma Wrongful Death Settlements vs. Lawsuit Verdicts

There are two ways a mesothelioma wrongful death lawsuit can result in compensation. A case may result in a mesothelioma settlement or verdict.

An asbestos wrongful death settlement is an agreement between parties to dismiss the lawsuit before or during trial. The defendant offers to provide compensation to no longer be liable. The plaintiff then must agree to the offered settlement amount. A lawyer will negotiate and provide consultation to their client during any settlement process.

A judge or jury will reach a verdict if the parties do not settle. The trial verdict will determine whether the defendant owes the plaintiff compensation. A separate verdict determines the amount of compensation.

What Is the Average Award in a Wrongful Death Case?

Mesothelioma verdicts average about $2.4 million in compensation. Mesothelioma settlements generally range from $1 to $1.4 million. These averages represent mesothelioma cases in general.

Settlement or verdict amounts in wrongful death cases may or may not vary from the average. The amount any plaintiff receives is based on the unique facts of their individual case.

An asbestos lawyer will help a victim’s loved ones get the mesothelioma compensation they deserve. The lawyer will help with the entire legal process from filing to litigation if the case goes to trial. They will also help negotiate any settlement.

02. Why File?

Why File a Mesothelioma Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

There are several reasons why people may decide to file mesothelioma wrongful death lawsuits. These lawsuits may help families pay for the costs associated with a victim’s death. Such costs may include medical expenses, funeral costs and lost wages. Wrongful death lawsuits can also hold guilty parties accountable for asbestos exposure.

Expenses and Other Losses Wrongful Death Compensation Can Cover

  • Funeral expenses
  • Loss of care, companionship and guidance
  • Loss of inheritance
  • Lost wages
  • Medical expenses
  • Pain and suffering damages

Victims’ loved ones considering filing a lawsuit should speak to a mesothelioma attorney. 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 from mesothelioma. The statutes generally require a person to file within one to three years of the death in question.

There may also be other options for compensation when a person dies from mesothelioma. 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 victims’ loved ones 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?

It is difficult when a beloved friend or family member passes away from mesothelioma. One question the deceased’s loved ones may have during this time is who can file a wrongful death lawsuit.

Loved Ones Who May Be Able to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

  • Spouses and domestic partners
  • Children
  • Parents
  • Siblings

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

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

The 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 any 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

Compensation awards are paid to the beneficiary or beneficiaries of a wrongful death lawsuit. The person empowered to file the lawsuit is called the “real party in interest.” They are not always the same person as the beneficiary or beneficiaries. For example, an estate administrator may file a wrongful death lawsuit for the benefit of a deceased person’s loved ones.

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. An attorney can help a victim’s loved ones understand this process and know what to expect.

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 will affect outcomes. Examples of compensation from mesothelioma wrongful death verdicts include:

  • 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 (September 2021).
  • An Ohio jury awarded the estate of a Korean War veteran more than $10 million, $5 million of which was mesothelioma wrongful death damages. He was exposed to asbestos while working with asbestos-containing packing materials at a factory (June 2021).
  • 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 (April 2017).

Wrongful death lawsuits may also result in settlements. Mesothelioma wrongful death settlements are often private agreements between parties. Data on specific settlement amounts is therefore more difficult to come by. The average settlement amount for mesothelioma lawsuits generally ranges from about $1 to $1.4 million.

05. How to File

How to File for Wrongful Death Compensation

Filing an asbestos lawsuit in the wake of a loved one’s death can be overwhelming. But an experienced mesothelioma lawyer will guide a plaintiff through the necessary steps.

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 will help determine who may sue for wrongful death under state law. The person who can sue is called the “real party in interest.”
  3. A lawyer will 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 will file the wrongful death lawsuit for the plaintiff.
  5. The plaintiff and defendant 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 help meet 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 will help keep the entire process on schedule.

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 will help track down other relevant testimonies and evidence. For example, because the decedent cannot testify, a lawyer may seek testimony from the decedent’s former co-worker(s) at an asbestos company. This type of testimony may be used to substitute the decedent’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:

  • Funeral and burial 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.