Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive form of cancer that is expensive to treat. Its only known cause is exposure to asbestos, with many people having been exposed to the fibers during their employment in specific industries and during service in the military.
Many people who are diagnosed with mesothelioma could be entitled to significant compensation from the asbestos companies responsible for their exposure. Anyone who has been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos disease should consult with an experienced attorney right away to discuss their case and learn about their legal rights and options.
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What Types of Compensation Can You Receive?
Compensation for mesothelioma can come through many sources, including trust fund claims and asbestos settlements and jury awards. Mesothelioma victims may also be entitled to other financial assistance through government benefits or workers’ compensation insurance.
Mesothelioma patients and their families can learn about all the possible compensation sources when they work with an experienced mesothelioma lawyer. It is important to choose a trusted law firm with the knowledge, resources and manpower to aggressively pursue maximum compensation.
Asbestos Bankruptcy Trust Funds
Some companies that were involved in manufacturing products containing asbestos have since gone out of business. Many of these asbestos companies entered bankruptcy to try to reorganize their debts.
Asbestos companies that file for bankruptcy are required to create trust funds to pay current and future victims of asbestos disease. Many of these asbestos trust funds contain millions of dollars set aside for payment of these claims.
A trust fund claim is different from filing a lawsuit, but the complexities are far too complicated for the average person. A skilled asbestos attorney will be able to identify the trust fund(s) that are responsible for paying you, as well as build a strong claim for full compensation.
Mesothelioma Lawsuits and Settlements
In addition to pursuing trust fund claims, you can file a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit against the company or companies responsible for your or a loved one’s mesothelioma diagnosis. In many cases, settlements can be reached as quickly as 30 days. An experienced mesothelioma lawyer will push to resolve the entire case within one year.
When a mesothelioma case does go to trial, a jury awards damages, often a combination of economic damages and noneconomic damages.
Common economic damages include medical bills, future medical expenses, lost wages, reduced earning capacity and other out-of-pocket expenses. Noneconomic damages can include pain and suffering, emotional distress or loss of consortium.
Military veterans may be entitled to U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs benefits as a result of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. Veterans must show they have an illness caused by contact with asbestos that occurred while they were serving in the military (without having received a dishonorable discharge) to be eligible.
Veterans who file a claim for disability benefits can obtain compensation (payments) and health care benefits. They are required to provide evidence, such as service records listing their job or specialty, a doctor’s statement saying there is a connection between the veteran’s contact with asbestos during military service and the illness or disability, and medical records describing the veteran’s illness or disability.
Veterans may also be entitled to treatment from a mesothelioma specialist at a VA health care facility.
Dependency and Indemnity Compensation may also be paid to spouses and dependent children of veterans whose deaths resulted from service-related diseases.
Social Security Disability Benefits
The Social Security Administration uses a listing of impairments when it evaluates whether a medical condition is disabling. While the official title is “Disability Evaluation Under Social Security,” the listing is more commonly referred to as the Blue Book.
The Social Security Administration does recognize mesothelioma as a disabling impairment. The listing of impairments for pleura or mediastinum includes: malignant mesothelioma of pleura; tumors of the mediastinum with metastases to or beyond the regional lymph nodes or persistent or recurrent following initial anticancer therapy; or small-cell (oat cell) carcinoma.
A mesothelioma victim may be entitled to Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. Cases may also qualify for the agency’s compassionate allowances program, which expedites the handling of terminal cases.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Mesothelioma is considered an occupational illness, so patients may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Employers often challenge mesothelioma workers’ compensation claims, but an experienced lawyer can evaluate your eligibility and pursue any benefits you are entitled to receive.
Determining the Value of a Claim
When determining what full and fair compensation should be in your case, a knowledgeable mesothelioma lawyer will consider past, present and future expenses relating to the mesothelioma patient’s condition so that the value of the award will cover these costs. An experienced attorney will gather extensive documentation of a victim’s losses to support the claim.
In a mesothelioma case, there are several kinds of expenses for which a victim will want to seek compensation:
Undoubtedly, one of the most significant expenses confronting a mesothelioma victim is for costs relating to medical care. Mesothelioma often involves expensive medical treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and medications.
In November 2017, the peer-reviewed medical journal the BMJ published a study that estimated 427 newly diagnosed mesothelioma cases and 1,904 lung cancer cases attributable to asbestos exposure in 2011 involved an economic burden of $831 million in direct and indirect costs. The study also estimated $1.5 billion in quality-of-life costs associated with these cases.
Travel and Care Expenses
Calculating the costs of treatment is not limited to the initial expenses. Secondary expenses involved in the treatment also deserve consideration in a mesothelioma claim.
Receiving proper care for mesothelioma often means that victims and their families must travel significant distances. Some may need to see specialists located in different cities or states.
In such cases, even a brief appointment can require airfare and lodging costs. When these trips become necessary more frequently, the bills can quickly become overwhelming.
Missed Time from Work
People who are still working when they are diagnosed with mesothelioma typically must take significant time away from their jobs to receive treatment. Eventually, they will be forced to quit because of their deteriorating health.
Unemployment can leave mesothelioma victims and their families in a perilous situation. Although workers’ compensation or disability benefits may offer a short-term solution, the payments are less than a worker’s regular income.
Compensation in a mesothelioma claim will take into account the total loss of income, including future income that the patient would have earned had he or she not fallen ill.
Pain and Suffering
People suffering from mesothelioma often must deal with a tremendous amount of physical pain. Some of this pain is the result of the cancer itself, while other pain may relate to the treatment side effects, such as those associated with chemotherapy.
In pleural mesothelioma cases, victims may experience pleural effusion (fluid build-up around the lungs), fatigue and chest pain. With peritoneal mesothelioma, victims may suffer ascites (an accumulation of fluid in the abdominal area), fever, and abdominal pain and swelling. Pericardial mesothelioma can involve difficulty breathing, chest pains and heart palpitations, while testicular mesothelioma typically surfaces as an accumulation of fluid in the scrotum or a mass in the testicle.
In addition to the physical pain, mesothelioma takes a serious toll on patients psychologically and emotionally. Although it can be hard to equate this pain and suffering to a dollar amount, an experienced mesothelioma lawyer can help a patient account for this intangible loss.
Compensation for Families
When a person dies from mesothelioma, family members of the deceased may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the company(s) responsible for the victim’s asbestos exposure. The statute of limitations that governs the time in which family members have to file a claim varies by state.
Each state also has its requirements regarding who can file a wrongful death lawsuit, although most states establish that benefits are exclusively for the deceased person’s surviving spouse and children. Other family members could be entitled to benefits in some states, though.
Finding the Right Mesothelioma Lawyer to Handle Your Claim
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you should not worry about whether you can afford to hire an attorney. Lawyers handle mesothelioma cases on a contingency-fee basis, which means that you will not have to pay anything until you receive a financial award.
However, asbestos claims can be incredibly complicated, so you will want to be sure you are working with an attorney who has extensive experience successfully handling these types of claims. A lawyer who understands the ins and outs of asbestos liability will give you the best chance of recovering all the compensation that you are entitled to receive.
A top-rated mesothelioma attorney will be able to investigate your work history or service history and collect all the necessary evidence to prove which companies were responsible for your asbestos exposure. A compassionate lawyer will also take the time to learn how your diagnosis has impacted your life.
If you are ready to talk about your options for receiving mesothelioma compensation, please contact us today. You shouldn’t have to bear this burden alone. The caring support team at Mesothelioma Help is here to help you and your family through this journey.
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