Keep in mind that if you or a loved one suffer from an asbestos-related illness, you have the legal right to file for compensation. For more information and for a free, confidential case consultation, we encourage you to contact our leading mesothelioma lawyers today.
Mesothelioma Settlement Process
Before a settlement is concluded, both parties will typically go into negotiations. Known as the discovery phase, this is when your mesothelioma attorney presents evidence of your asbestos exposure, proof of your illness, and any other factors that help back up your claim.
Initially, many defendants will offer too low of a settlement amount. It generally takes an experienced mesothelioma lawyer to counteract these low offers and show proof as to why the offer is unacceptable. The negotiations may go back and forth at this point until a settlement amount is agreed upon. As a result, this is the longest phase of the settlement process.
However, if the defendant (s) has multiple asbestos cases pending against them or lost similar cases in the paste, there is a chance they know their chances of winning is low, and therefore will offer a quick settlement. Unless they offer a substantial settlement, your attorney may still refuse to settle quickly.
Sometimes mesothelioma settlement negotiations will continue right up until it’s time to go to trial. In some cases, the defendants may not settle until the trial has already started, which is legally allowed in most states.
Mesothelioma Settlement Amounts
It’s difficult to pinpoint an exact amount of compensation you can expect from your settlement. There are various factors that go into determining settlement amounts, which generally include the following:
The medical costs associated with treating an asbestos illness can be extremely overwhelming. From medications, surgery, chemotherapy, trips to medical appointments, and more, the expenses are generally much more than an average family can afford. All medical expenses incurred due to your asbestos disease will be factored into the settlement amount, including past and expected costs for future medical treatments.
In addition to medical expenses, lost wages are usually calculated into the settlement amount. Most mesothelioma patients are unable to work, and in turn, both present and estimated lost future earning may be factored in.
Pain and Suffering
Mental and physical pain and suffering are generally factored into a mesothelioma settlement. On average, the longer you’ve lived with an asbestos illness, the more compensation you may receive for pain and suffering.
In addition, the stage of your illness may be calculated in. For example, someone living with Stage IV mesothelioma may be going through a lot more physical pain than someone who is still in Stage I.
Spouse and Dependent Care
If you have dependents who were relying on you financially, yet your disease prevents you from working, costs associated with their care may be figured into the settlement amount.
The State You Live In
Each state has its own sets of rules and laws when it comes to mesothelioma lawsuits. This may or may not affect your total settlement amount. For example, some states allow non-economic damages in mesothelioma cases, whereas others may not. Your attorney should be able to tell you the laws in your state.
Funeral and Burial Expenses
If a mesothelioma wrongful death lawsuit is filed, the costs associated with funeral and burial expenses are almost always calculated into the total settlement amount.
Benefits of a Mesothelioma Settlement
Although plaintiffs are generally awarded more if their case goes to trial as opposed to a settlement, there are numerous benefits to a settlement, which in part is why the majority of these cases end this way.
For example, although trials typically pay out more, they only pay out if you successfully win your trial. Even though there is an excellent chance that most mesothelioma victims will win their case, there is still a small risk that the jury will not rule in your favor. What this means is that you’ll not be able to recover any damages, unless you appeal and win.
In addition, trials are much longer than settlements. Whereas a settlement may take a year or less, a trial may drag on for several months. For people paying out mounting medical bills and living in a frail condition, waiting too long may not be feasible.
Furthermore, just because a settlement generally yields less compensation than a trial, this does not mean that a settlement cannot result in significant compensation. For instance, in 2011, the family of Nancy Lopez, a mesothelioma victim who died due to complications that come along with such an invasive illness, sued the Jackson County, Missouri courthouse where Lopez worked. After negotiations, the family successfully won a $10 million settlement.
Although the aforementioned settlement is a welcoming victory for mesothelioma victims, the average settlement amount in most cases is a little over $1 million. This is not to say, however, that you will $1 million for your own case. There is a chance that your compensation may be substantially higher or lower. Again, it will depend upon the factors mentioned earlier that help determine the value of your case.
Additional Resources and Legal Help
Keep in mind that mesothelioma lawsuits are quite different than other types of personal injury lawsuits. In turn, it’s crucial to have an experienced mesothelioma lawyer by your side during this arduous process, to ensure that your legal rights are being met and that you have the best chances of success.