How Much Compensation Can You Get for Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma compensation differs for each type of claim. According to a 2016 Mealey’s Litigation Report, the average mesothelioma trial award is about $2.4 million. The average settlement ranges from $1 million to $1.4 million. If a mesothelioma claim goes to trial, a settlement could be reached or a jury could determine the amount of compensation, if the defendant is found guilty for the asbestos exposure.
It can be hard to predict how much compensation can come with each case or how a case will be resolved. An experienced asbestos attorney can help gauge your eligibility and case value.
There are various types of mesothelioma claims that may apply to your situation. An attorney can explain your options and help you file the appropriate claim for your circumstances.
If you or your loved one is not filing a claim, there may be other types of financial assistance available.
What Types of Compensation Can You Receive?
Bankruptcy Trust Funds
Many companies that mined asbestos or manufactured products with asbestos no longer exist. Some were bought by other companies, while others went out of business. Some declared bankruptcy because of the large number of asbestos lawsuits filed against them.
This does not mean these companies don’t have money. In bankruptcy protection, many companies were ordered to set up funds to compensate asbestos victims. These funds are known as mesothelioma compensation funds or trust funds.
Some defendants decide settling a claim is cheaper than racking up more legal fees and risking a loss at trial.
Most mesothelioma attorneys are paid only if their clients’ claims are successful. Defendants’ attorneys, on the other hand, are usually paid an hourly rate throughout the case process, and that cost is not tied to the case outcome.
Other defendants are willing to risk a trial. Even if a case goes to trial, a defendant can opt to negotiate a settlement, particularly if the case seems to be favoring you.
If your case goes to trial and the defendants do not settle, a jury will rule them liable or not liable. If the defendant is found liable, money is usually awarded to you. Each mesothelioma case is unique, and there are no set guidelines for claim compensation from asbestos exposure.
If you win, the amount owed to you depends on the facts of your case and other factors such as medical costs and lost income.
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How to Get Mesothelioma Compensation
Consider the following steps to get mesothelioma compensation:
- Step 1: Find an experienced mesothelioma attorney
- Step 2: Work with your attorney to help them discover all about your asbestos exposure history (this step may involve you providing a deposition)
- Step 3: Consider all options for compensation that your attorney presents, which may include trust funds and lawsuits
- Step 4: If you decide to file a lawsuit, you may have to consider settlement offers from defendants, or your case may go all the way to a jury trial (the latter is relatively rare)
The most important step is finding an attorney with the right experience. You want to select an attorney who exclusively handles mesothelioma lawsuits. They will have enough experience to strategically handle your case and maximize your compensation.
Another important factor to consider is statute of limitations. Each state sets time limits for filing asbestos claims. The statute of limitations is two years for most states, but it can vary from one to six years.
Determining the Value of Trust Fund Claims
Attorneys use their training and experience to estimate what a lawsuit may be worth, but they cannot offer any guarantees. However, there is a more formalized process for evaluating trust fund claims.
Case Valuation Matrix
The managers of asbestos trust funds rely on something called a case valuation matrix. The matrix is a legal document that assigns base dollar figures to cancer types and then recalculates that base amount with additional information.
For example, the matrix will assign one baseline dollar amount for mesothelioma, one for lung cancer and one for asbestosis. Those dollar amounts can vary by state or region. The baseline dollar figure can be as low as several hundred dollars or as high as hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Once the baseline is established, some specifics of your case will influence an increase or decrease your level of compensation.
Factors Affecting the Value of a Trust Fund Claim
- Your location, age, gender and work history
- A history of military service
- Physical and mental distress (also known as “pain and suffering”)
- Where the asbestos exposure occurred
- Which asbestos products were involved
Expenses That May Impact Your Claim
- Medical expenses, including those not covered by health insurance
- Travel costs for medical treatments
- Lost wages
- The cost of continued medical care
- Your ability to support dependents
- Funeral expenses
An attorney can review information about your trust fund claim and provide a range of expected values. This estimate can assist you in deciding whether to pursue a claim.
Remembering Your Exposure
No one is expected to remember everything about their own work, medical, life and exposure history. It’s simply too much information, and the time between exposure and diagnosis is too long.
That’s why the single most beneficial action you can take if you are considering an asbestos claim is to speak with a qualified mesothelioma attorney. They have resources other attorneys do not have, and those resources can help your case significantly.
Resources Exclusive to Mesothelioma Lawyers
- Product identification books featuring pictures of asbestos-containing products and their packaging. These kinds of images can help jog your memory of products long forgotten. Knowledge of exposure to specific products or brands can significantly raise the value of your case.
- Employment records are accessible through the federal government with your approval. Likewise, a good lawyer will know to dig through your medical records (with your permission, of course) and establish certain facts about you, your work history and your life history.
- Attorneys will also attempt to identify and locate co-workers, friends, shipmates or other witnesses who can help confirm your exposure history.
- Experienced attorneys may also be able to compare your case to other cases they have handled and see how it stacks up. Case histories can be a good indicator of what can be expected in your case.
Deciding whether to file a lawsuit is an important decision in any situation, especially if you are coping with a serious illness.
When Will I Receive Compensation?
Compensation from an asbestos lawsuit usually comes after a settlement is reached or you win a trial verdict.
- A verdict from a jury trial could take years, but defendants may offer to settle quickly.
- Money from asbestos trusts can come within a few months.
Tracking Your Expenses
Regardless of the types of claims you file, it will likely take at least a few months to receive any payment.
During this time, you will be responsible for doctor, hospital and prescription bills. You will also discover unexpected expenses related to your illness, many of which may not be covered by health insurance.
It is important to track all of the expenses related to your cancer. If you are unsure of what to track, think about how your illness has changed your daily lifestyle and your budget. All of this information can help your attorney make a case for fair and adequate compensation.
Frequent transportation to and from medical providers can become costly. Even if your doctor is nearby, the cost of frequent trips quickly adds up.
Because a select number of doctors specialize in mesothelioma care, many patients have to travel some distance to visit a specialist. As a result, you and your loved ones may need to pay for temporary housing near your medical provider.
Hiring Home Health Aides
You may require help at home handling things such as cooking, cleaning, yard work, general maintenance and caring for yourself. You may need to hire someone to help you.
Health Insurance Premiums
You will need to maintain your health insurance. If you are unable to return to work, you may lose your job, and the cost of your insurance premium may increase.
You may decide to take advantage of alternative therapies, such as massage therapy, to relieve your symptoms. Your health insurance may not cover these costs.
Other Types of Financial Assistance
In addition to compensation from a mesothelioma claim, you can take advantage of other types of financial assistance. These programs are designed to help anyone with a serious illness. Some of these programs can provide financial assistance in just a few months.
Many people who served in the U.S. armed forces — especially those who worked in shipyards — were exposed to asbestos.
Veterans have a right to file a VA claim seeking compensation for any illnesses that developed as a result of their military service. The paperwork can be confusing and complicated. A VA-accredited claims agent can help.
Private Health Insurance
Health insurance can help offset your expenses. If you already have insurance, review your out-of-pocket deductible and copay amounts, as well as any limits on coverage.
If you receive benefits through your employer’s group health insurance plan and are unable to return to work, your employer will usually stop paying for your health insurance. You can continue your coverage for a limited period of time, but your premium will cost more.
Be sure to review your insurance documents, get more information from your insurer and talk with your human resources manager.
Medicare and Medicaid
You may be eligible for Medicare or Medicaid benefits. These government programs offer health care benefits for eligible senior citizens, people with disabilities and people with limited income.
Long-Term Disability Insurance
If you have long-term disability insurance, you may be able to receive a percentage of your salary.
Usually, this is only available if you will be away from work for more than several months. You have to submit paperwork so your insurer can determine if you are eligible for benefits. This includes documentation from your doctor verifying your disability.
It typically takes one to four months to start receiving benefits. Your policy may also limit how long you can receive benefits. Like health insurance, if you do not already have long-term disability coverage when you are diagnosed, you may not be eligible for a new policy.
Social Security Disability Payments
If you are unable to work because of your illness and you are still eligible, you can apply for Social Security Disability Benefits.
You may qualify to receive a disability determination within days, but it usually takes several months to apply for and begin receiving benefits.
The Compassionate Allowances program allows patients with certain serious diseases to apply for benefits under a fast-track process. Pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma patients are eligible.
Assistance may be available in your local community. Some organizations provide grants to help families with transportation, lodging, food and other out-of-pocket costs that arise during treatment.
There may also be volunteers in your community who can help you with errands, transportation and other caregiving duties. Contact your local chapter of the American Cancer Society or another cancer support group for more information.