Mesothelioma Lawsuit Settlements
If you file a mesothelioma lawsuit, you can be compensated for your pain and suffering and more in two different ways. First of all, there is the possibility that you will have to take to your case to trial. If the jury decides in your favor, you will be awarded a certain amount. However, it should be noted that most asbestos cases go in favor of the claimant. This means that companies usually settle out of court, as this will be less costly overall.
What Is a Settlement?
A settlement happens if the two parties agree on a common ground, meaning that the defendant is willing to pay an amount that the plaintiff believes is sufficient as compensation. Most of the time, both defendant and plaintiff want to avoid trial, since there is no guarantee of a certain outcome. Furthermore, litigation can be very lengthy and costly. However, if you have mesothelioma and have filed a suit, then there is no real guarantee that the defendant will agree to settle either. You must be aware of both options existing, therefore, which is one of the reasons why you should consult a lawyer.
Should You Settle?
In most cases, a mesothelioma lawsuit is filed against a number of defendants who are all alleged to have played a part in the injury of the plaintiff. This may be, for instance, the plaintiff’s employer, the owner of a building in which the plaintiff was exposed to asbestos, and the manufacturer of the product that contained asbestos. Usually, each of the defendants will have a certain element of liability, and this is not simply split down the middle. Rather, a judge will determine if the individual defendants have any liability and, if so, how much.
A settlement can be reached at any point after filing a complaint. In an ideal situation, a settlement is reached as soon as possible, so that minimal money and time have to be invested in the case itself. There are quite a few defendants, such as those who have no experience with litigation or those who are worried about their reputation, who will agree to settle very quickly. Others, however, feel their case is much stronger and won’t settle at all. Usually, it is in a plaintiff’s best interest to accept a settlement, if it is fair.
Usually, a defendant will not start by offering a settlement. However, as more evidence is presented and it looks more and more likely that a jury will award significant damages to the plaintiff, the defendant may suddenly decide to offer a settlement. The defendant is entitled to do this and the plaintiff is allowed to agree, right up to the moment when the jury reaches a verdict. In fact, there have even been cases where settlements have been reached after a jury verdict, often for less than what the jury awarded. This is because, as part of the settlement, the defendant will agree not go to appeal and will pay out very quickly.
Examples of Mesothelioma Lawsuit Settlements
- Borel v. Fibreboard, which provided the precedent for thousands of other cases. Clarence Borel was employed in oil refineries and shipyards in 1936. He was diagnosed with asbestosis in 1969 and he settled on worker’s compensation. However, the money he settled for turned out to be wholly insufficient for his expenses and his lawyer recommended that he file a lawsuit against the manufacturers. While he won his case, this happened after his death due to mesothelioma. His wife received the financial award instead. This case is important because it was the first in which manufacturers were held liable for the development of asbestos-related illnesses. Today, when mesothelioma cases go to trial, the plaintiff’s lawyer will almost inevitably refer back to Borel v. Fibreboard.
- Roby Whittington v. U.S. Steel, in which case Roby Whittington was diagnosed with mesothelioma and a jury ordered U.S. Steel to pay him $250 million. Rather than file an appeal, the company decided to settle for an amount that was less than $50 million.
- In 2011, a Missouri circuit court judge approved a settlement amounting to $10 million to be awarded to the family of Nancy Lopez. Nancy was a courthouse employee in Jackson County and she was exposed to asbestos during a renovation of the courthouse by U.S. Engineering Company. She passed away in 2010 before the out-of-court settlement was reached.
What Influences Settlements?
A number of different variables will determine whether or not a defendant is likely to offer a settlement, and whether or not a plaintiff will accept the settlement. In all cases, however, what matters is whether someone stands to win financially by going to trial.
Mesothelioma is a very rare but aggressive form of cancer that takes a huge financial and emotional toll not just on those who have the condition, but on their loved ones as well. In an ideal situation, a plaintiff would be compensated for all losses. However, because the cancer is so aggressive and prognosis is so poor, many feel that it is better to accept a settlement, so that they can at least enjoy the remainder of their life.
Naturally, defendants will always try to limit the amount of liability they are held responsible for. Sometimes, they can do this through a settlement. This is because, if the case does not go to trial, fewer people will be inclined to take legal action as well, thereby avoiding far more legal costs. A settlement does not, in any way, constitute an admission of liability. Hence, a defendant is able to offer a settlement without worrying that the same will be done in all other cases. On the other hand, settlements are public knowledge, and since so many mesothelioma patients want to settle, it may actually encourage them to take legal action against this same defendant.
The last important element when it comes to choosing to settle or not to settle is insurance. A lot of larger companies now have insurance in place that ensures expenses and litigation fees are covered. In these cases, it is usually the insurance company that will recommend whether or not a settlement should be offered and, if so, how much.
Settlements for Plaintiffs
Few people understand exactly what happens after they are awarded a settlement and accept it. Unfortunately, it isn’t as easy as walking into a bank and depositing a check. Rather, they are likely to have to do some of the following before any money will be paid out to them.
- Written confirmation should be signed and witnessed by the plaintiff stating that no further lawsuits will be filed against the defendant.
- Plaintiffs have to agree to no longer pursue the defendant as being liable for their asbestos-related condition.
- The terms and conditions reached within the settlement are generally kept completely quiet. This means that they cannot disclose the actual amount of money that was paid to them
If you or a loved one have been affected by mesothelioma and you feel that you have a case to make, it is likely that you will be offered a settlement. Whether not you should accept this is down to your personal situation and needs. Your legal representative can help with these issues and should be consulted before coming to a decision.
Get Immediate Help Now
If you or someone you love has been exposed to asbestos and now face a condition such as Mesothelioma or lung cancer, contact us immediately to speak with a specialist who will help guide you through your options, both legally from a compensation standpoint and medically should you have questions.