Mesothelioma Settlements and Compensation
Mesothelioma is a rare and potentially fatal illness caused by asbestos exposure. It typically manifests in the linings of the lungs and the abdomen. Because mesothelioma has no cure and is very aggressive, patients often face medical costs in the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. As a result, the United States government enacted the US mesothelioma and asbestos laws to regulate asbestos exposure and allow affected individuals and their families to file mesothelioma claims to obtain compensation for medical and other expenses incurred. Filing a claim can allow a victim to recover damages by jury verdict or settlement.
Mesothelioma settlements are a common means of dispute resolution in the mesothelioma litigation process. A mesothelioma settlement occurs when an asbestos company decides to compensate a victim who developed mesothelioma after being exposed to the company's asbestos-containing products. This settlement is a private agreement in which one party offers financial relief to the other in exchange for the dismissal of a lawsuit.
Mesothelioma settlements are legally binding; if the agreed sum is not received by the stipulated deadline, the injured party may take legal action. For this reason, settlements are considered a source of guaranteed compensation. Negotiations between a mesothelioma victim and the party liable for their illness generally decide the settlement amount.
Types of Mesothelioma Compensation in the United States
In addition to mesothelioma settlements, mesothelioma patients can seek compensation through other legal channels. In many cases, patients can recover more compensation through these other avenues than under a settlement agreement. Other types of mesothelioma compensation include:
- Trial verdicts: If parties cannot agree on a settlement, the case will go to trial. At the trial, a judge and jury will decide the amount of compensation.
- Asbestos trust funds: Following the disclosure of the potential harm caused by asbestos exposure, asbestos businesses and companies established a trust fund to facilitate compensation to individuals who had been exposed to the toxin. Affected employees of these companies may receive compensation from the trust funds.
- Veterans compensation: Veterans make up a sizable proportion of mesothelioma patients. Until the 1980s, the United States Military utilized a significant amount of asbestos. Due to their exposure to asbestos fibers, several veterans suffered asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma. As a result, the Department of Veterans Affairs established financing initiatives to help veterans who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma. The Veterans Affairs Pension, Veterans Affairs Healthcare, and disability compensation are some examples of military compensation for mesothelioma patients.
Private health insurance, Medicare or Medicaid benefits, long-term disability insurance, social security disability payments, and community assistance are other possible types of compensation.
Overall, the amount or type of compensation that a patient receives is often dependent on the facts of their case and the severity of their injuries. Because each mesothelioma claim is different, the type and amount of compensation paid varies accordingly. Predicting the amount or type of compensation can be challenging. As such, it is advisable to consult a professional asbestos attorney to help determine whether or not a patient is qualified for compensation and the value of their claim.
Notable Asbestos Lawsuit Verdicts in the United States
A mesothelioma verdict is the amount of compensation assessed by a jury or court following the conclusion of a mesothelioma trial. If both legal teams cannot reach an agreement on a settlement amount, the case will be tried. Trials are usually deemed a final resort because they are more time-consuming and expensive than settlements. Trials carry additional risks. Unlike settlements, mesothelioma trials do not guarantee that the court will rule in the plaintiff's favor.
Some settlement amounts in mesothelioma cases include:
- A man's wrongful death case resulted in an $82 million award for the plaintiff in 2017. The plaintiff died due to asbestos exposure via Napa-brand vehicle parts.
- In 2016, a jury in Minnesota awarded $3.72 million to the family of a man who died after being exposed to asbestos in car friction compounds. He had offered to help his father with brake repairs as a child. This case was brought against several asbestos-producing companies.
- After being diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2018, a 65-year-old construction supervisor was awarded $30.2 million in damages.
- The family of a mechanic from Redding, California, was awarded $630,000 compensation in a wrongful death action originating from asbestos-related lung cancer in 2018. The surviving family claimed that their loved one had lung cancer due to working in the automobile business and being exposed to asbestos brakes, clutches, and gaskets.
- In 2018, after being exposed to asbestos while using Johnson & Johnson baby powder daily, a woman was granted $25.75 million in damages.
- A woman and her husband were given a $75 million verdict in 2017. The wife was exposed to asbestos as a result of the husband's employment as a mechanic, and by aiding him with vehicle maintenance.
Average Mesothelioma Settlement in the United States
The average value awarded in mesothelioma settlements ranges between $1 million and $1.5 million. Still, the amount of a mesothelioma settlement largely depends on a patient's asbestos exposure, the cost of medical bills, the kind of mesothelioma diagnosis, the number of defendants, state legislation, and other contributing factors.
How are Mesothelioma Settlements Paid?
To settle a mesothelioma lawsuit, the defendant must make a formal offer. Such an offer is made after the plaintiff (affected party) files an asbestos or mesothelioma lawsuit. A settlement offer from the defendant's counsel might be made after the lawsuit is filed. This might happen before or during the litigation.
After, the plaintiff’s attorney will convey the defendant’s offer and advise the plaintiff on the benefits and drawbacks of accepting the offer. The plaintiff will then be able to accept or decline the offer. If they refuse the settlement, the case will proceed to trial. Payments for asbestos-related claims might be made in the form of a check or a wire transfer.
Mesothelioma Settlements After Death
Patients who die due to mesothelioma are still eligible for wrongful death compensation. Many families choose to file a wrongful death claim when a loved one dies due to mesothelioma to receive compensation for medical bills, lost earnings, burial costs, and other losses. They may also hold negligent companies liable for their acts that exposed their loved ones to asbestos through this claim.
Each state has regulations that govern who can pursue a wrongful death claim. An expert attorney can determine who is entitled to file a claim and where they can do so. Regardless, in the event of a person's death due to mesothelioma, the estate representative, also known as the personal representative, makes legal decisions. This representative might be a family member or someone from outside the family named in the deceased’s will. The representative is legally entitled to file a wrongful death claim in any state where the death happened.
The compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit is paid to the whole estate rather than the estate representative. Suppose the estate gets money as compensation for the mesothelioma through settlements, jury verdicts, or trust funds. In that case, the funds may be distributed among family members in the same way other assets are split when a loved one dies.
Mesothelioma Settlement Taxes
Asbestos settlements are typically excluded from federal income taxation. As a result, income paid as part of a mesothelioma settlement is frequently deemed tax-free compensation. However, there are exceptions.
Taxation may apply to monetary compensation for lost earnings or punitive damages. Punitive damages are considered punishment and are frequently imposed at the discretion of the court when the defendant's behavior is assessed to be exceptionally damaging or negligent. This type of compensation is often awarded in the case of a wrongful death or personal injury. According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), those who get compensation for personal injuries in the United States are not taxed. On the other hand, the American Bar Association (ABA) claims that punitive damages are always taxed, regardless of the circumstances, and with no exceptions.
Mesothelioma Claims Calculator
A legal team will analyze a range of criteria to decide how much money to request in a mesothelioma settlement agreement. The following are some examples of elements that may have an impact on mesothelioma settlements:
- Diagnosis of mesothelioma
- The diagnosis's stage and severity
- Patient's personal medical history and age
- Lost wages
- Healthcare bills
- Funeral expenses (if applicable)
- Occupational background
- Asbestos products that the patient was exposed to
- The jurisdiction where the claim was filed
- Patient’s age, etc.
Mesothelioma Workers Compensation
Workers' compensation is one means through which asbestos victims might seek restitution for their losses. Employees who develop asbestos-related illnesses due to their job are eligible for financial aid and medical care. Asbestos exposure is deemed one of the most serious occupational dangers. As such, workers' compensation benefits may be offered to anyone suffering from diseases caused by asbestos exposure. Patients who develop mesothelioma as a result of occupational asbestos exposure may be entitled to workers' compensation benefits, including the following:
- Medical care costs
- Disability compensation (replacement income)
- Funeral costs
- Vocational rehabilitation (support in finding alternative employment).
Every state in the country has a mechanism to compensate injured workers. The laws that apply and the requirements for qualification vary by state. Consequently, the amount of compensation given is heavily influenced by state law and the nature of the illness. The major qualifying factors to receive worker’s compensation are being an employee of an asbestos company, and contracting an ailment related to one's present employment.
Additional limits or requirements may apply if a workers' compensation claim is made in a different state. When evaluating whether or not a claimant is qualified to submit for compensation, certain jurisdictions consider the claimant's age and retirement status. Claimants are encouraged to consult with an asbestos lawyer to determine if they are eligible for workers' compensation payments.
Another critical criterion is submitting the claim within the time limit specified by the specific states concerned. Claimants who want to make a workers' compensation claim must do so within the statutes of limitations for the type of claim they want to file. The statute of limitations restricts the amount of time that legal proceedings can be initiated, often to a certain period following the circumstances that gave rise to the legal action. Failure to file a legitimate claim within this timeframe may result in the plaintiff losing the right to seek compensation.
Workers' compensation claim time frames typically range from one to three years after the accident. In some cases, the time limit may be extended because mesothelioma has a long latency period before manifesting. This implies that developing symptoms of mesothelioma might take anywhere from 10 to 50 years. As a result, patients may be diagnosed after the workers' compensation claim filing deadline has expired. In such circumstances, the statute of limitations might begin to run from the date of diagnosis.
Asbestos Trust Funds in the United States
Asbestos trust funds were created in the United States to provide compensation to individuals who have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease. These trusts are essential because they provide funding for treatment and other expenses related to asbestos exposure.
There are many different asbestos trust funds in the United States, each with its own rules and regulations. Some of these trusts are open to anyone who has been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, while others may have stricter eligibility requirements.
Not all asbestos trust funds are the same. Some trusts may be better funded than others, and some may have more generous benefits than others. It is essential to research each trust fund before deciding on which one to apply to.