Mesothelioma lawsuits have two practical purposes -- holding at-fault companies liable for injuries and compensating the injured victims and their families.
While many people are reluctant to file a lawsuit, in the case of asbestos-related injuries it may be a necessity. Compensation for mesothelioma claims -- whether it’s through a lawsuit, bankruptcy trust fund or Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) claim -- can range widely. This uncertainty can be agonizing for mesothelioma victims and their families, especially if they are depending on funds to pay for medical expenses, funeral expenses, lost wages and emotional distress. It’s important to put a skilled attorney on your side to take any doubt out of the equation. The at-fault companies will have good attorneys on their side; you need to have great ones on yours.
How can I get Compensation?
Since the 1930s, injured victims have been turning to the court system for help with asbestos-related injuries. At the time, many of the at-fault companies knew about asbestos dangers for decades, but concealed the hazards to put profits first. Today, up to 3,000 people a year are diagnosed with mesothelioma as a result of occupational exposure. There are several options for compensation:
This is typically the first place that workers turn after a workplace injury. The same was true in the early 1930s, when the number of workers injured by asbestos exposure was on the rise. As a result, many of the companies hired strong lobbyists and workers’ compensation laws were passed shielding some companies from asbestos-related lawsuits and claims. Each state has a different set of laws regarding asbestos-related worker’s comp claims. In many cases, however, the compensation amount is very limited.
Bankruptcy Trust Funds (or Compensation Funds)
When injured workers started filing lawsuits for compensation, many at-fault companies filed bankruptcy. The bankruptcy didn’t mean the companies had no money. Instead, they were trying to shield themselves. These companies were required under court order to form bankruptcy trust funds to ensure that all injured workers would be compensated for asbestos injuries. While most workers only receive a fraction of the requested funds, these moneys are often dispatched quickly.
Of the several types of compensation, lawsuits tend to offer larger returns but come with risk. While going to trial takes more time than filing a workers’ comp or bankruptcy trust claim, the award amount can be in the millions. In some cases, lawsuits never reach trials. Instead, attorneys agree on a settlement amount. In other cases, a jury may decide to punish at fault companies and make large awards to the plaintiffs. However, there is a large element of risk with a lawsuit. A jury may decide the plaintiff’s case was not strong enough and decide in favor of the defendant, leaving the injured victim with nothing. Because of the risk, it is crucial to have a skilled mesothelioma attorney. Most mesothelioma cases are taken on a contingency-fee basis, meaning the attorney doesn’t get paid unless you win. Most attorneys won’t take this risk unless they know the case will be successful.
Veteran’s Affairs Claims
About 30 percent of all mesothelioma cases come as a result of military service from all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces. Even though the VA recognizes mesothelioma as a service-related medical condition, that doesn’t mean it’s easy to get compensation. Veterans must prove that the asbestos exposure was isolated to and a direct result of military service, among other things. Our Veteran’s Assistance Department can help you cut through the red tape for a successful VA claim.
Dixon, Lloyd, et al. Asbestos Bankruptcy Trusts: An Overview of Trust Structure and Activity with Detailed Reports on the Largest Trusts. RAND Institute for Civil Justice. Retrieved from http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/technical_reports/2010/RAND_TR872.pdf
Rand Institute for Civil Justice. “Asbestos Litigation.” Retrieved from http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/monographs/2005/RAND_MG162.pdf