Mesothelioma patients are often eligible for compensation, because this rare form of cancer is primarily caused by asbestos. During the 20th century, asbestos exposure was a common workplace hazard. It was created by companies that manufactured or used asbestos products.
Companies knowingly risked the health of workers and their families, putting profits before people. Because of the long latency of asbestos-related diseases, the consequences take decades to arise.
Today, big businesses try to put the issue of asbestos exposure behind them. But people diagnosed with mesothelioma do not have this luxury — they have medical bills to deal with. Mesothelioma causes households to grapple with loss of income, and families to experience pain and suffering.
How to Get Financial Compensation for Mesothelioma
There a many ways to get compensation for mesothelioma. Every person’s circumstances are unique. A lawyer who specializes in mesothelioma cases can help you look at your options. Mesothelioma compensation ranges from modest benefit payments to settlements worth millions of dollars.
Mesothelioma is usually caused by occupational asbestos exposure, so workers’ comp may seem like a natural resource to turn to. However, workers’ comp systems generally are not designed to help workers who get sick long after they have retired.
Plus, receiving workers’ comp benefits usually means giving up the right to seek a greater amount of compensation through a lawsuit.
Many American veterans — especially those who worked in Navy shipyards — were exposed to asbestos while on active duty. Veterans who develop cancer as a result of their military service are entitled to monthly disability benefits.
Veterans cannot sue the military over asbestos exposure, but they can sue companies that sold asbestos products to the military.
Trial Verdict Awards
When a mesothelioma lawsuit goes to trial, the jury may award damages to the plaintiff. This is a monetary award that compensates the person with mesothelioma for their financial hardships and pain and suffering. Damages may be awarded to family members as well.
The jury may also award punitive damages to discourage companies from being negligent in the future.
Most mesothelioma lawsuits are settled out of court. This is because many companies calculate that offering a modest settlement is cheaper than paying defense lawyers to go to trial (and possibly lose).
In other cases, defendants fight the lawsuit in court. If they lose, many will try to negotiate a settlement in exchange for not filing an appeal. The appeals process can delay compensation for several months.
Asbestos Bankruptcy Trust Funds
Many former asbestos-industry companies have set up special trust funds for personal-injury claimants. Companies do this to protect themselves from going bankrupt under the weight of lawsuits.
Asbestos trust funds create a standardized process for providing out-of-court settlements to people harmed by asbestos exposure.
Determining Mesothelioma Compensation Payouts
The potential value of a mesothelioma lawsuit depends on many factors. These include your cancer prognosis and asbestos-exposure history. To file a successful claim, your attorney must determine exactly when, where and how you were exposed to asbestos.
Compensation from jury verdicts varies widely. But asbestos trust funds use a “case valuation matrix” to decide how much compensation each claimant receives. This legal document assigns base dollar values to different asbestos-related diseases. It details how to modify the amount based on factors such as:
- Your age and gender
- Where you live
- Your work and/or military service history
- How the asbestos exposure occurred
- Medical expenses not covered by health insurance
- Travel costs for medical treatments
- Lost wages if you or a caregiver had to stop working
- Whether you have dependents
- The pain and suffering you have experienced
The baseline compensation amounts vary by region and by which trust fund you file to. They range from several hundred dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
All these variables make it hard to estimate a case’s potential value at the outset. An experienced mesothelioma lawyer will explain your options and give you estimates, but they will not guarantee a specific outcome.
How Long Does Mesothelioma Compensation Take?
The timeframe for mesothelioma compensation depends on what type of claim you file. Government benefits and asbestos trust fund claims may take a few months. A lawsuit may take several months if you accept an out-of-court settlement — or years if you go all the way to trial.
In any case, it will likely take at least a few months to receive compensation.
During that time, you should work with your attorney to track all your expenses related to mesothelioma. Include medical bills, travel and lodging for treatment, and the cost of getting help with activities of daily living. Record how the cancer has affected your budget and lifestyle.
This information will strengthen your case so you have a better chance of receiving fair compensation.
3 Cited Research Articles
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2018, January 19). Asbestos Exposure. Retrieved from https://www.benefits.va.gov/COMPENSATION/claims-postservice-exposures-asbestos.asp
- Scarcella, M. & Kelso, P. (2013, December 11). Asbestos Bankruptcy Trusts: A 2013 Overview of Trust Assets, Compensation & Governance. Retrieved from https://www.lexisnexis.com/legalnewsroom/litigation/b/litigation-blog/archive/2013/12/11/asbestos-bankruptcy-trusts-a-2013-overview-of-trust-assets-compensation-amp-governance.aspx
- Bowker, M. (2003). Fatal Deception: The Terrifying True Story of How Asbestos is Killing America. New York: Touchstone.