Every year in the U.S., about 2,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer or other deadly diseases that may be traced directly to asbestos exposure, such as lung cancer or asbestosis. As a result, mesothelioma sufferers and their families are faced with devastating changes ranging from financial losses to the eventual loss of a loved one.
Compensation to cover the losses caused by mesothelioma and asbestos can be obtained by hiring an attorney and taking legal action against the asbestos supplier, employer, or any entity that was negligent in its use of asbestos products. Although they cannot take away one’s mesothelioma, asbestos lawsuit settlements can go a long way in helping with some of the financial consequences. Because mesothelioma compensation amounts can vary, you will want to hire an attorney who has the experience necessary to get the desired settlement.
Millions of Americans Exposed to Toxic Levels of Asbestos
Since the 1940s, there have been an estimated 20 million people exposed to dangerous levels of asbestos at their workplace. As a result, there will likely be a continuing rise in the number of mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer cases in the coming years. This is due to the fact that it can take as long as 50 years for symptoms to develop and for any form of treatment to commence.
What is particularly concerning is that many companies were well aware of the dangers of asbestos exposure well before the US government acted in the mid-1960s to heavily regulate the use of asbestos in many industries. The companies often knew, and yet they stood idly by and allowed their loyal workers to be exposed to asbestos, which sometimes leads to terrible mesothelioma cancer.
If you are a person who has been exposed to asbestos at work or elsewhere, consult a lawyer to discuss your options regarding legal compensation for mesothelioma damages.
Types of Mesothelioma Compensation
People who have suffered from asbestos exposure due to corporate malfeasance have several options for obtaining compensation for their injuries:
First, bankruptcy trust funds have been established because many of the companies that once used, mined or manufactured products with asbestos are no longer in operation. Some of these firms were bought by other firms, while others simply went out of business. Others may have declared bankruptcy because of the large number of mesothelioma lawsuits they were facing.
Do not take this to mean necessarily that the companies do not have money. To be protected in bankruptcy proceedings, these firms were often required to set up trust funds that were made to compensate victims of asbestos diseases.
These funds are usually referred to as mesothelioma compensation funds, or sometimes mesothelioma trust funds. They often play an important part in a mesothelioma settlement; the funds may be dispatched quite quickly. This can be incredibly important when dealing with seriously ill people who need medical care.
Second, some companies in an asbestos lawsuit may determine that it is less expensive to settle an asbestos claim than it would be to spend large sums in legal fees for a long trial. Also, the possibility of a jury handing down a large verdict weighs on companies’ collective minds as well. It is often less expensive to settle an asbestos lawsuit than go to trial.
Many mesothelioma lawyers are only paid if the client has a successful verdict or settlement. Defense attorneys usually are paid by the hour throughout the lawsuit, and that cost is the same no matter who wins.
But some defendants may decide to risk going to trial. Even if the case starts to go to trial, the defendant may decide at any time to make a settlement.
Third, another option for compensation is a trial verdict. If the case ends up in trial and the defendant declines to settle, there will be a verdict of either liable or not liable. If the defendant is liable, you will win some type of financial award. If not, you do not get anything.
Every case involving asbestos is different and complex. There is no way to say with any degree of certainty how much money you may be awarded in a verdict.
Last, you may be able to make a VA claim if you were exposed to asbestos in military service. This was especially common in World War 2 in the shipbuilding industry. Veterans have a legal right to file a VA claim to obtain compensation for any injuries sustained in service to their country.
How a Case Is Valued
Making a determination of what a mesothelioma case is worth is complicated. You will want to consult with an experienced mesothelioma attorney who will be presented with all of the aspects of the case so you can get a decent idea of the financial award that could be awarded if you win. Good mesothelioma attorneys are skilled at winning cases, and they can get the case to the finish line without too much inconvenience on you and your loved ones.
Also, consider choosing a loved one close to you who can serve to document your struggle with mesothelioma. This loved one will be an important aspect of the case; he or she will be needed to collect important medical files and any correspondence from doctors and get it to the attorney.
Note that your attorney will need to know right away what the stage of your cancer and what the prognosis is. Also, he or she will need to know your work history; most of these cases involve employment from decades ago.
You will need to provide a very accurate timeline of where you worked and for how long. The defense will probably try to argue that you were exposed to asbestos at another employer. It is critical to have a very accurate employment timeline for your case to be successful.
You also need to provide specifics about how, when and with what you were exposed to asbestos on the job. Was it in insulation for boilers, was it in brake pads, or was it contained in some other type of product or machinery?
Many asbestos lawsuits are settled well before trial. They are paid out of mesothelioma trust funds that have been set aside by the company. To get a case settled, the fund managers rely on a case valuation matrix. This is a legal document that will assign a dollar figure to types of cancer. Then it will recalculate the base amount that you may be due, along with any other information that could affect that base number.
For instance, the matrix would assign a baseline dollar amount for pleural mesothelioma, and a different one for lung cancer, and another for peritoneal mesothelioma. The dollar figures may vary considerably by region or state; exposure levels to asbestos varied by location. The baseline amount may be several thousand dollars, or it could be hundreds of thousands of dollars.
After this baseline has been set up, the specifics of your case will be applied. This can increase or decrease your compensation. Some of the things that can affect the value include:
- Geographic location, age, gender and where you worked
- Whether you were in the military
- The level of physical and mental suffering you are or have undergone
- Where the exposure to asbestos occurred
- What type of asbestos and products were involved
Expenses that the illness has caused you could be involved, too:
- Medical costs, which can include those that your insurance does not cover
- Costs for travel for your medical treatments
- Lost salary and wages
- What the cost of continued care will be
- How much you are able to support any dependents
- Potential or actual funeral costs
How to Recall Asbestos Exposure
It is difficult to remember everything about the work you once did, often decades ago. There is simply too much time between when you were exposed to asbestos and when you were diagnosed. So, you should not be discouraged if you are not able to remember exactly when and where you were exposed.
This difficulty in remembering when and where you were exposed is one of the most vital reasons to talk to a good mesothelioma attorney immediately. They possess resources that other attorneys lack. Those resources may be able to help you remember how and when you might have been exposed.
For example, many mesothelioma lawyers have books that contain product pictures of items that contain asbestos. They also contain pictures of the packaging they may have come in. These images can be a powerful reminder. One image of a product that you were exposed to can bring back a flood of memories about how and when you were exposed to asbestos.
The more specific information that you remember about specific products and brands of products that contained asbestos, the higher your potential settlement.
You may not be able to remember your entire employment history, but don’t worry. Odds are that your attorney can locate it. Employment records can be accessed by your attorney with your permission. The federal government keeps employment records going back decades. A good attorney also will be able to go through your medical records with your authorization. He or she can find out more about how and when you may have been exposed by reviewing past diagnoses and illnesses.
Each of the above factors are important to determine how and when the asbestos exposure may have happened. Your attorney will also try to find co-workers, friends and any other witnesses who can vouch for your asbestos exposure. The more witnesses there are, the more likely that you will be able to be well compensated in a settlement.
Further, good, experienced asbestos attorneys can often locate comparable cases to yours. They can look at similar cases and see what you may be able to expect money wise in your case. This is a very important part of the process to determine if it is really worth filing a lawsuit or not. If the potential pay out is relatively small, you may not want to go to the trouble when you are dealing with a serious medical issue.
But if the potential pay out is substantial, you may want to move forward; you may be in desperate need for the funds to pay for you medical treatments that extend your life.
Attempts to Secure Mesothelioma Compensation
The health care costs of asbestos damages on a nationwide scale are alarming, and they place a significant financial strain on the people who are suffering from the disease. The issue of how to compensate so many people for their losses has vexed policymakers and insurance companies for decades. When people seek compensation for mesothelioma, they should keep in mind that state and federal court systems often have huge backlogs of asbestos compensation cases. Many proposals to deal with the thousands of asbestos claimants have come and gone. An example is the Fairness in Asbestos Injury Resolution (FAIR) Act, suggesting a $140 billion trust fund to compensate Americans with mesothelioma, cancer, and other diseases caused by asbestos exposure.
The FAIR fund would be financed by the defendants in all of these asbestos cases, including the asbestos mining industry, the manufacturers who made asbestos products, the many companies that used these products without adequate safety precautions for their employees, and the insurance companies of the defendants. However, the FAIR Act has not been implemented.
Mesothelioma Compensation for You and Your Family
If you contracted mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure at your job or your spouse’s or parent’s job, you may be able to obtain compensation for mesothelioma-related damages. For example, mesothelioma lawsuit compensation amounts can help with damages such as medical bills, loss of your job and income, rehabilitation and long-term care costs, and emotional pain and suffering. If you want to learn more about asbestos lawsuit settlements, contact Mesothelioma Treatment Centers today to speak with an experienced asbestos Mesothelioma attorney who will thoroughly evaluate your case, review potential asbestos settlement amounts, and help you recover the compensation you need and deserve.