Types of Asbestos CompensationIn general, there are four types of compensation available for mesothelioma claims.
SettlementsOne way to receive compensation for asbestos-related diseases is through a legal settlement. To receive a settlement, it is first necessary to file a claim against one or more companies for either personal injury or wrongful death. Often times, companies will prefer to settle such claims rather than to risk a full trial, which could result in them having to pay even more money. Even if a case does go to trial, a claim may still be settled before the final verdict is issued.
The majority of mesothelioma lawsuits result in settlements. Having a team of knowledgeable lawyers who have demonstrated an ability to successfully navigate the settlement process is the most certain way to receive the maximum compensation for mesothelioma victims and their families.
Asbestos Bankruptcy Trust FundsExposure to asbestos has a long history, and over time a number of companies that manufactured, distributed, sold, or used asbestos products and materials have either gone out of business, merged with other corporations, or been restructured due to bankruptcy. In some cases, the downfall of these companies was due directly to the liability they incurred because of their use of asbestos.
Even though such companies no longer exist, it may still be possible to receive compensation from them. In many instances, the companies were required to establish asbestos bankruptcy trust funds ("asbestos trusts") and fund them with enough money to pay mesothelioma claims brought against them. These mesothelioma trust funds typically have a set of established criteria, and mesothelioma victims who meet those criteria can expect to receive compensation from the fund.
Jury AwardsFrom time to time, a mesothelioma claim may make it all the way to a jury trial. If no settlement is reached, and if the defendant is found liable for the asbestos exposure that led to the development of mesothelioma, a jury will determine the amount of compensation to be paid to the injured party. The amount awarded often includes actual expenses incurred as well as punitive damages.
Waiting for a verdict can sometimes be risky, which is why many companies want to settle. However, it may also be in the best interest of the plaintiff to settle as well, since juries could also return a verdict that either finds the company not to be liable or which awards a smaller amount of compensation than they might have received as a settlement. Having a skilled attorney who can advise you about the strength of your case and the likelihood of a favorable verdict and award is critical to ensuring that, as a mesothelioma victim, you receive the greatest remuneration possible.
Compensation for VeteransThe available benefits for veterans exposed to asbestos is dependent upon certain criteria—a veteran must have been discharged under circumstances other than dishonorable conditions and show that the asbestos exposure leading to mesothelioma occurred during the time of his/her service. Veterans may also be eligible to receive no-cost health benefits through the VA for service-related disabilities, including mesothelioma.
Am I Eligible for Compensation?Determining whether you are eligible for compensation depends on the type of compensation you are seeking.
Settlement and Verdict Award EligibilityWhile there is no specific set of criteria for seeking compensation through a mesothelioma settlement or jury award, there are a number of factors that will help you build a solid legal case:
- A confirmed mesothelioma diagnosis from a reputable doctor
- Complete and accurate records of all your medical costs related to diagnosis and treatment
- Occupational records that show you worked at a known job site containing asbestos
- The names and specific products or materials that you handled while employed there
- Similar details about other exposures that may have occurred at home, school, or elsewhere
Compensation Eligibility for Asbestos TrustsTypically, to be eligible for compensation from an asbestos bankruptcy trust fund, you will need to meet that fund’s specific eligibility requirements. These requirements are established in advance by the fund’s board of trustees, and they typically include a specific list of sites where asbestos exposure occurred. An experienced mesothelioma lawyer can evaluate eligibility for each asbestos trust fund and maximize compensation for mesothelioma victims from those funds.
As of 2016, there are currently about 60 asbestos trusts operating in the United States, each having their own eligibility requirements. Given the large number of trusts and the wide variation in their rules, the best way to seek compensation from an asbestos trust is to consult with a lawyer who has handled asbestos trust related compensation claims in the past and can explain the eligibility requirements to you.
Veteran Compensation EligibilityAccording to the VA, veterans must meet three eligibility requirements to receive compensation for mesothelioma:
- Discharge under other than dishonorable conditions (i.e., honorable discharge, discharge under honorable conditions, and general discharge)
- Exposure to asbestos must have occurred during your military service
- The disease or disability must be related to the asbestos exposure that occurred while serving in the military
Note that simply being exposed without being diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease is not enough to qualify for VA disability benefits.
How Much Compensation Can I Get?There is no set amount of compensation for mesothelioma claims. Each case needs to be assessed individually, and the amount of money you receive will depend on a wide variety of factors, including but not limited to:
- Where you have lived, worked, or served in the military
- Your age now, when you were exposed to asbestos, and when you received a mesothelioma diagnosis
- What products or materials containing asbestos you were exposed to
- How much physical or mental anguish (pain and suffering) you experienced as a result of your disease
- Lost income from being out of work
- Your inability to support dependents
- Medical bills for diagnosis and treatment
- Travel expenses to and from treatment centers
- Funeral costs