Understanding the Litigation Behind Mesothelioma Settlements
A person filing a mesothelioma lawsuit does not want the process to be lengthy or drawn-out. Whether you take your mesothelioma case to court or settled, the sooner you are compensated for your medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages, the better.
Below is a description of the litigation process behind settling a mesothelioma case. If you have questions about your case, talk to a licensed mesothelioma attorney in your area today.
The Process for a Mesothelioma Settlement
Mesothelioma litigation is a unique process from the time you file your case until the final settlement or judgment. The reason for this is mesothelioma cases usually have short statutes of limitations but a long litigation process.
But most courts hold that mesothelioma cases should be processed quickly and move forward as rapidly as possible. After all, mesothelioma is a serious illness and the victim usually has a five-year survivability rate of only 10%. Some cases can be resolved in a few months, while those that go to court can take years.
Below are the major litigation steps of a mesothelioma settlement:
Interview and Information Gathering
First, your mesothelioma attorney will talk to you at length about your health and confirm your mesothelioma diagnosis. He or she will need to see the official doctor’s report that diagnoses your condition.
Your attorney will also discuss your work history and pinpoint where and when you were exposed to asbestos. Next, the attorney will assess the financial damages that were caused by your asbestos exposure.
Filing Mesothelioma Claim
A major decision in the litigation process is where to file your mesothelioma claim. The claim can be filed in the state in which you live now or lived in when you were exposed. Or, your attorney may choose another state court to file your claim.
For example, it is estimated that almost 94% of asbestos lawsuits filed in Illinois in 2018 were from out of state residents. You also may be able to file your claim in more than one jurisdiction. Your attorney will determine the best court to file your mesothelioma case.
Once all of the essential litigation information is collected, your mesothelioma attorney will write a complaint against one or more companies that exposed you to asbestos to initiate the legal process.
After the formal complaint has been filed, attorneys will work on both sides to build their case. Defense attorneys could ask you to answer written questions about your work history and medical condition. You also may need to offer documents to support your medical diagnosis, and participate in a legal deposition. All of this evidence can be used in the trial.
This discovery phase may take several months. But if your mesothelioma is in the late stages, your mesothelioma lawyer may request the court to expedite the discovery process.
Most of the discovery phase can be done from your home, even the recorded deposition. A skilled and experienced mesothelioma attorney can travel to your home during the process and make it as easy as possible for you.
Settlement or Trial
The majority of mesothelioma lawsuits do not go to trial. Most asbestos companies would rather settle out of court. There are three major reasons for this:
- To avoid a much larger jury verdict for the plaintiff
- Not enough supporting evidence or witnesses to win the case
- Large legal fees or other lawsuits against the company
Your mesothelioma attorney will work to assure that you get the fairest legal settlement possible. These attorneys know the severe financial impact fighting mesothelioma has, and they know how much you need to support your family and keep your standard of living.
What Is the Average Mesothelioma Settlement and Verdict?
Mesothelioma compensation can be substantial because it is a serious disease with substantial medical expenses, not to mention the pain and suffering the patient endures.
Recent reports find the average mesothelioma settlement ranges from $1 million to $1.4 million. Verdicts average approximately $2.4 million. These are just averages and you could receive more or less in your case.
Below are some recent mesothelioma settlements and verdicts;
- Illinois: $250 million verdict for a steelworker against US Steel that was later settled for $50 million.
- Missouri: $10 million settlement for a woman who was exposed to asbestos during the renovation of a Jackson County courthouse. Two of her ex-co-workers also filed a class-action lawsuit two years after the woman died, netting them $80 million.
- Mississippi: $300 million verdict for an oil field worker against Union Carbide and Chevron Phillips Chemical.
- Montana: Libby mines were notorious for the huge amounts of lethal asbestos mined and processed there. A judge in 2011 approved a $43 settlement to cover the expenses of 1,300 miners and their families.
- New York: A boilermaker reached a $3.7 million settlement after he developed asbestos-caused lung cancer. Also, a former brake worker obtained a $35 million settlement from Daimler-Chrysler.
What Factors Affect Your Mesothelioma Award?
No two mesothelioma cases are alike, and it is important to understand the various case factors that can influence your compensation:
- Medical bills and lost wages: Most mesothelioma victims have huge financial problems as their medical bills pile up. Also, most are unable to work, which leads to a major loss of income.
- Negligence: If the asbestos manufacturer was aware its products could kill people, liability can increase. Settlements can reach $10 million or more where it is proven the company was aware of dangers but did not protect its workers.
- The number of parties to the lawsuit: Some workers were exposed to asbestos by more than one company. If several defendants are included in the suit, more compensation could be available.
- Case specifics: The key to a large settlement is proving negligence, liability and wrongdoing. Asbestos companies are defended by tough attorneys and it takes strong evidence to prove when and how your exposure occurred.
- Case valuation matrix: Some companies have established asbestos trust funds that compensate asbestos victims a certain amount for their disease. They will refer to this matrix to determine how much you should receive. Some trust funds pay .35 to the dollar, which others pay less. How much you will get can also depend on age, type of cancer, level of asbestos exposure, and previous health.
Mesothelioma Statute of Limitations
Mesothelioma litigation is subject to a statute of limitations. But these cases work differently than most personal injury lawsuits. Most personal injuries can be traced to a specific moment in time when the injury occurred.
But asbestos exposure occurs over many years. It can take up to 50 years from the time of initial exposure to be diagnosed with mesothelioma. That is the reason the statute of limitations for these cases begins on the date you are diagnosed by your doctor.
The statute of limitations for asbestos cancer varies by state. Most states have one or two-year statutes of limitations from the date of your diagnosis. It is critical to talk to a mesothelioma attorney as soon as you can after diagnosis so they can begin to build your case.
Summary of Litigation Behind Mesothelioma Settlements
The litigation process for a successful mesothelioma settlement is complex. But with a skilled and experienced mesothelioma attorney working with you, the chances of success and a fair settlement are good. Talk to a mesothelioma attorney today in your area about your health condition and when you think you were exposed to asbestos.
Mealey’s Litigation Report on Asbestos. (2015). Retrieved from http://gnarusllc.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/ASB121615cm.pdf
Mesothelioma Survival Statistics. (2018) Retrieved from https://www.cancer.org/cancer/malignant-mesothelioma/detection-diagnosis-staging/survival-statistics.html
Mesothelioma Settlements. (2020). Retrieved from https://www.asbestos.com/mesothelioma-lawyer/settlements
Timeframes and Expectations. (2020)Retrieved from https://www.kazanlaw.com/practice-focus/time-frames-and-expectations/
List of Largest Mesothelioma Lawsuit Settlements. (2020). Retrieved from https://www.mesolawsuitafterdeath.com/legal/list-of-largest-mesothelioma-lawsuit-settlement-verdicts/