With nearly one million mesothelioma victims filing court complaints since the early 1930s, many mesothelioma lawsuits don't wind up in the courtroom; they end up in settlement talks.
Mesothelioma, a disease that is almost exclusively the result of asbestos exposure, is known to strike hard after a 20- to 50-year latency period. Most victims unwitting come in contact with asbestos in the workplace and accidentally bring the dangerous fibers home to contaminate family members as well. In many cases, the employers didn't do enough to protect workers and their families from the deadly asbestos fibers.
With an increasing number of mesothelioma victims coming forward each year, many at-fault companies realize that it's easier and more cost effective to settle a case rather than go through tedious and costly court proceedings. More and more lawsuit settlement talks actually begin shortly after an initial court complaint is filed.
How Much are Settlements Worth?
For most mesothelioma victims, the key question in filing a court complaint is the settlement amount. After all, this sum is expected to help pay for mounting medical bills, household expenses, lost wages and is also aimed at helping family members in the future. This is money that every mesothelioma victim deserves after being forced into a deadly medical situation as a result of corporate greed.
The amount of the settlements varies greatly from patient to patient, from several hundred dollars to several million. Often, settlement terms are kept confidential, but there have been some high-award cases in recent years:
- A $43 million settlement was awarded to more than a thousand asbestos victims in a Montana town after it was found that dust from a mine was killing the residents.
- A $1.7 million settlement was awarded to a former Buffalo, New York police officer who was exposed to asbestos in city buildings.
- A $7.5 million settlement was awarded to a former Marine machinist. He was exposed to asbestos while working in a variety of naval shipyards and submarines.
While it's difficult to predict how each individual case will turn out, settlements have become the norm in mesothelioma cases. Because of this, defendant companies often try to pay a lower sum than is appropriate. That's when it's most important to have an expert attorney on your side who is skilled in asbestos litigation.
The Settlement Process
The asbestos settlement process begins like any other asbestos court case. A skilled mesothelioma attorney will prepare court documents, file them in the appropriate courthouses and prepare the case for a judge and jury. This initial preparation includes taking depositions, researching the defendant company's history and determining the best path for a jury trial.
Sometimes, defendant companies will want to immediately settle, especially if the company has been the focus of other public trials that ended with large jury awards. Often, the initial settlement offer is not adequate and much less than the victim deserves. This is just one example of how an experienced mesothelioma attorney will be helpful. Only an attorney who is skilled in the intricacies of mesothelioma litigation will know what kind of settlement is appropriate.
If no settlement offer is reached immediately, it could easily happen just minutes before a trial is ready to start or even during a trial. Attorneys for both sides will sit down and negotiate a fair financial resolution based on your injuries and the amount of pain and suffering inflicted on you and your family.