- 1 Mesothelioma Settlements & Verdicts
- 2 Do You Settle or Seek a Verdict?
- 3 Prominent Mesothelioma Settlements by State
- 4 Settlement Process & Common Scenarios
- 5 Factors Affecting Settlement Amounts
- 6 Prominent Mesothelioma Verdicts by State
- 7 Compensatory and Punitive Damages
- 8 Attorney Fees
Mesothelioma Settlements & Verdicts
Mesothelioma Settlements & Verdicts? While the average mesothelioma trial award is significantly higher than the average mesothelioma settlement, most lawsuits are settled out of court. A lawyer trained in asbestos litigation can help you decide the best option.
Most mesothelioma settlements begin as lawsuits. History shows an overwhelming majority of cases end in a settlement before reaching the courtroom.
Some cases go to trial, where a judge or jury can make a verdict that awards significant compensatory and punitive damages. However, trials may take a long time to conclude.
Settlement and verdict amounts may depend on:
- A claimant’s diagnosis and medical history
- The number of companies sued
- Where the claim is filed
- Proof of negligence
- Lost wages, medical bills and other expenses
Compensation is linked to the strength of the case. This brings into play the plaintiff’s specific diagnosis, their health condition, and the degree of perceived liability on the part of one or more defendants.
According to a recent Mealey’s Litigation Report, the average mesothelioma trial award is estimated at $2.4 million. The average mesothelioma settlement is between $1 million and $1.4 million and typically paid by multiple defendants. However, every case is unique.
An experienced mesothelioma attorney can build your case and negotiate settlements on your behalf. They can also help you understand the statute of limitations for the state where you file a claim.
Do You Settle or Seek a Verdict?
While a jury verdict may result in a larger award, there is no guarantee the jury will side with you. Juries can be surprising, and many attorneys can attest there are no sure bets in a trial. While the amount awarded in an asbestos lawsuit settlement may be smaller than what might be expected in a trial verdict, at least compensation is guaranteed.
The decision to settle or go after a verdict is best made with the advice of an experienced mesothelioma attorney. These lawyers understand the nature of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases.
Ultimately, it will be up to you to accept or decline a settlement offer. There is no magic formula to decide whether to reject an offer and take the case to trial. The issue becomes whether you are ready to end the case by accepting the offer. Only you or your family can answer that question.
Prominent Mesothelioma Settlements by State
Exact settlement figures are usually kept private, and claimants often are bound by confidentiality agreements. However, settlement amounts tend to reach the public eye from time to time.
Settlement Process & Common Scenarios
The settlement process doesn’t start out as a settlement. It starts with a mesothelioma attorney preparing to present a case to a judge and jury.
“We’re prepared to take every one of our cases to trial. A very small percentage, though, ever get to a verdict,” said Dan Kraft, an attorney at Weitz & Luxenberg. The law firm is responsible for two record-setting asbestos verdicts in New York.
There are several factors and scenarios that can lead to a settlement of a mesothelioma or asbestos lawsuit.
Reasons a defendant may choose to settle:
- The discovery of information that would likely lead to a favorable verdict for the plaintiff
- A compelling deposition that favors the plaintiff
- Lack of time to complete necessary research before a trial
- Sudden unavailability of a key witness or expert needed to win the case
- Mounting legal fees
Factors Affecting Settlement Amounts
Anyone considering filing an asbestos-related lawsuit should understand what factors affect any settlement amount. Certain factors are more relevant than others as the defendant decides whether a settlement is warranted.
Medical Expenses and Lost Wages
Most mesothelioma patients dealing with the hardships of cancer also undergo financial difficulties as the costs of medical expenses mount. Furthermore, because patients need to focus on treatments, they may be unable to work, causing a loss of wages and other income.
In cases where the manufacturer knowingly allowed asbestos products to harm people, the potential financial liability may be enormous. Some historic cases have warranted awards in the tens of millions of dollars. Settling with plaintiffs may be the best way to minimize expenses.
Number of Companies in a Lawsuit
In some cases, more than one company may be at fault. As a result, plaintiffs often file claims against multiple companies that manufactured asbestos-containing products. In the event of a settlement, multiple defendants may be required to participate in paying the mesothelioma patient.
State of Case
Proving liability, negligence and wrongdoing on the part of a defendant may or may not be easy. It depends on where the claim is filed and how exposure occurred. Different states require varying amounts of evidence and proof. Your attorney will help you understand the trends and requirements in your state.
When asbestos companies establish trust funds, they use a legal document called a case valuation matrix. They refer to this matrix to determine how much compensation a claimant will receive. Each asbestos-related disease has a baseline amount of compensation. For each claim, this is adjusted according to factors such as the patient’s age, specifics of the cancer diagnosis, level of asbestos exposure and past health records.
Prominent Mesothelioma Verdicts by State
If the plaintiff and defendants don’t agree to a settlement, the asbestos case will go to trial. When that happens, a jury delivers a verdict. This takes into account liability and compensation. If jurors agree the defendant is liable, they will decide how much money the defendant should pay you.
Compensatory and Punitive Damages
Any time a jury issues a verdict in favor of the plaintiff, jurors consider compensatory damages — the actual economic losses of the plaintiff. Jurors also consider punitive damages, which serve to set a public example. The financial punishment is supposed to deter the defendant and other companies from engaging in dangerous behavior again. Typically, the more egregiously the jury feels the defendant behaved, the larger the punitive damages.
Although juries often get to decide the final amounts awarded to a plaintiff, some states limit compensatory damages. Most states do not cap punitive damages. It’s not unusual in mesothelioma verdicts for awards to reach in the millions. In many cases, this is because asbestos companies were aware of the dangers of their products but did nothing to protect or warn workers.
Most mesothelioma attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. This means you owe nothing if you do not receive compensation for your injuries.
Keep in mind that your attorney will receive a percentage of any award or settlement. The percentage can vary if you negotiate a settlement rather than win a verdict. When determining the minimum acceptable amount of a settlement, be sure to account for the percentage your attorney will receive. These percentages will be determined at the beginning of your case.
You will likely receive your compensation in installments rather than in one lump sum, especially if the settlement is very large. During the settlement process, you should discuss with your attorney how you want your payments distributed.