Timeline for Mesothelioma Settlement
Obtaining a settlement is one of the primary ways that mesothelioma victims and their families recover compensation from negligent asbestos companies. A full and fair settlement ensures that money will be available to cover the many expenses and losses that accompany a tragic mesothelioma diagnosis.
Patients must act quickly if they want to pursue mesothelioma compensation. The clock starts ticking right after a diagnosis is confirmed. In addition, deadlines to file asbestos claims vary by state. Make sure to contact an experienced mesothelioma attorney as soon as possible. Settlements can often be reached in as little as 30 days.
Contact us now to discuss your eligibility for mesothelioma compensation.
Understanding Mesothelioma Settlements
between opposing parties. Asbestos manufacturers knew that their products were toxic but failed to warn others about the health risks. Today, former employees, military veterans and innocent bystanders suffering from asbestos diseases can file lawsuits against the asbestos manufacturers for compensation.
Asbestos companies have important decisions to make once a mesothelioma victim or family member files a claim. First, they must consider the evidence against them. Then they must decide whether to fight the claim at trial or negotiate a financial settlement to resolve the dispute.
Asbestos manufacturers know that going to trial is expensive and risky, so most mesothelioma claims end in a settlement. Some cases may even go to trial but settle before a jury reads a verdict.
It’s very important for people suffering from asbestos diseases like mesothelioma to seek legal counsel. A well-negotiated settlement can mean the difference between long-term debt and a secure financial future for mesothelioma victims and their loved ones.
What is the Mesothelioma Settlement Timeframe?
The timeframe to reach a mesothelioma settlement is generally shorter than some other types of legal claims. Claimants are only expected to live for months or years after diagnosis. Knowledgeable mesothelioma attorneys can request that the courts expedite such cases so that victims get financial assistance to help during their cancer battle and beyond.
Some patients and families are fearful of filing a lawsuit. That’s understandable. Living with mesothelioma or caring for a loved one with the disease is physically, emotionally and financially draining. The idea of taking legal action is overwhelming. It may even seem impossible.
Understanding the mesothelioma settlement process can help calm those fears.
Here is the path towards a settlement:
Hire a skilled mesothelioma attorney. Mesothelioma victims should retain a legal team with a proven track record of success with asbestos claims. There are several reasons why:
- Asbestos litigation is a very complex area of the law.
- Asbestos attorneys will already have a library full of legal research and important precedents to jumpstart progress on the claim.
- Experienced mesothelioma lawyers know the common defenses that asbestos companies use in an attempt to avoid paying victims the amounts they deserve. A victim’s attorney will provide solid evidence to counter a company’s claims, no matter what defense strategies they try.
- Lawyers with a background in asbestos litigation know what’s needed to support a claim for compensation. That includes — but is not limited to ― medical records, employment history, military service records, witness statements and dates of exactly when, where and how a claimant was exposed to asbestos.
- Sometimes more than one company is responsible for a victim’s asbestos exposure. A mesothelioma attorney digs deep to find all possible defendants, even if the asbestos companies are no longer in business.
- Mesothelioma lawyers have seen firsthand how devastating a mesothelioma diagnosis can be for victims and their families. They will know how to account for that pain and suffering in a settlement demand.
File the mesothelioma lawsuit. All states have a deadline for how long injured people have to make a personal injury claim. This is called the statute of limitations. Some things to know:
- For mesothelioma victims, the statute of limitations is measured from the date he or she was diagnosed with the disease. This is important because a person may not begin experiencing mesothelioma symptoms for 15 to 60 years after being exposed to asbestos. It’s the date that the doctor confirmed the diagnosis — not the date(s) of asbestos exposure ― that makes a difference.
- Family members who lost a loved one to mesothelioma also face deadlines to file wrongful death claims. The time limits for personal injury and wrongful death claims are not always the same. Talk to a mesothelioma attorney immediately to avoid being barred from compensation due to an expired statute of limitations.
The defendant(s) respond to the claim. Asbestos manufacturers must reply to the mesothelioma victim’s request for compensation within a specific timeframe. The deadline varies from state to state. Most likely, the initial claim will be denied.
The discovery phase begins. Attorneys on both sides begin gathering information from each other to build their cases. This information can include:
- Document requests (e.g., medical records, work history, expert testimony, etc.)
- Interrogatories (written questionnaires provided by attorneys from the opposing side)
- Requests for the victim’s personal information, activities and hobbies
- Names of friends, family members and current and former co-workers who may be able to provide relevant testimony in the case
- Depositions to answer question from the defendant’s attorney(s) under oath
Mesothelioma settlement negotiations can begin at any time, but often start during the discovery phase. Both parties are starting to get a sense of the strength of the other’s case. Mesothelioma attorneys will advise their clients on whether a settlement offer is fair. More often than not, the first offer is a lowball one.
A settlement is reached or the case goes to trial. Most mesothelioma cases are resolved in a settlement within one year or less. But sometimes asbestos companies simply won’t agree to a fair settlement amount. At this point, a mesothelioma attorney may urge the victim to take the case to a jury trial. Asbestos companies may make a better settlement offer once they see that a victim is serious about a trial. Other times, an acceptable settlement doesn’t come until the trial is underway.
There may be an appeal. Asbestos companies that lose at trial may decide to appeal the jury’s decision. They may ask the court to reduce the amount they are ordered to pay or for the verdict to be overturned altogether. Appeals are uncommon in mesothelioma cases because most claims result in settlements.
How Long Does It Take for a Settlement to Be Paid?
Mesothelioma is an aggressive disease that progresses rapidly. Because a patient’s health can decline quickly, the goal of asbestos litigation is always to reach a settlement as quickly as possible. That way, patients can be compensated for their medical expenses and other losses while pursuing the best quality of life possible and spending time with friends and family.
Skilled mesothelioma attorneys strive to get cases fast-tracked so that seriously ill claimants can get the payments they need to address urgent financial needs. As a general rule, most mesothelioma victims can expect to receive compensation within a few weeks of hiring a lawyer. However, each mesothelioma case is unique. Some claimants may wait longer depending on the circumstances of the case.
Risks and Benefits of Accepting a Mesothelioma Settlement Offer
When considering a settlement offer, it’s important to consider both the risks and benefits.
Benefits of Settling
Accepting a settlement has significant perks, which is why it is usually favored by mesothelioma plaintiffs and defendants alike. Perks include:
- Definite payment: Signing off on a settlement offer means that payment is guaranteed. Going to trial is riskier ― a mesothelioma victim could receive more money or nothing at all.
- Faster resolution: Preparing for a trial takes a lot of time — and time is of the essence when it comes to getting compensation for mesothelioma patients. Agreeing to a settlement can ensure that payments come when patients and their families need it most.
- An official ending: A legal settlement is a final, binding agreement. The timeline for a trial depends on multiple factors, such as how long discovery lasts, how full the court docket is and if unexpected circumstances arise.
- A cheaper option: Trials are costly. A settlement can reduce or eliminate many expenses that are necessary when preparing a mesothelioma case for trial.
Risks at trial
Taking a mesothelioma case to trial can be very rewarding. Verdicts often result in larger amounts of compensation, but there are some risks to consider before moving forward. These include:
- No guarantees: Juries sometimes rule in favor of the asbestos companies. Or if they do rule in favor of the plaintiff, the compensation may be less than what was offered during settlement talks.
- Longer process: Even with an expedited case, a trial takes time to prepare and argue.
- Less privacy: Court proceedings are public. Victims and families can protect their privacy by finalizing their claims outside of the courtroom.
Mesothelioma claimants have the final say in whether to accept a settlement or go to trial. However, working with an attorney who can evaluate the fairness of the offer and the strength of the claim can be a vital asset in the decisionmaking process.
Mesothelioma Settlement Amounts
It’s impossible for a mesothelioma attorney to promise a specific settlement amount. Each case comes with a unique set of facts. However, a lawyer can assign a value to a claim after assessing the damages resulting from the diagnosis ― in other words, how mesothelioma has negatively impacted the overall wellbeing patients and their families. That value becomes the basis for all future settlement talks.
Factors that play a role in calculating the potential amount of a mesothelioma settlement include:
- Patient age: Most mesothelioma patients are older men. But some are diagnosed before retirement age, which means that compensation should take lost wages and lost future earning capacity into account.
- Economic damages: Mesothelioma and other asbestos diseases are expensive to treat. The combined cost of surgery, imaging, chemotherapy and radiation therapy can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. That burden becomes even greater if a mesothelioma victim was the primary breadwinner and had to stop working, or if a family member had to quit a job to become a full-time caregiver. Mesothelioma lawyers assess current debts and anticipated future costs when considering economic losses for their clients.
- Non-economic damages: Mesothelioma has devastating costs that are not easily quantified. These are called non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, loss of companionship and loss of consortium. A compassionate lawyer knows how to account for those precious losses when negotiating a settlement.
- Proof of negligence: Lawsuit after lawsuit has established that asbestos manufacturers were aware of the dangers of their products and did not warn the public. Skilled mesothelioma lawyers obtain the evidence necessary to prove that the defendants in a case were negligent. It’s up to those defendants to decide whether it’s better to settle or go to trial.
- Number of defendants: Mesothelioma claims frequently have more than one defendant, which means that patients and their families may be entitled to several individual settlements.
- Location of the claim: States have different rules for handling asbestos claims, which may affect who can be held liable for a mesothelioma diagnosis.
Other Types of Mesothelioma Compensation
Settlements and verdicts are not the only sources of compensation for mesothelioma victims and their families. Financial assistance may also be available through:
Asbestos bankruptcy trust funds. Many of the asbestos companies that negligently supplied employers with asbestos have gone bankrupt or out of business. As part of the bankruptcy process, the companies were required to establish trust funds to compensate past, present and future asbestos victims and their families. Getting an asbestos trust fund payment is not the same as filing a legal claim against an asbestos company. However, a mesothelioma attorney can help patients identify which trusts may provide compensation and assist them with preparing claims.
Veterans’ benefits. Approximately one-third of all mesothelioma victims are U.S. military veterans. Disability benefits are available for veterans who were exposed to asbestos during active duty and who were honorably discharged from the military. Many mesothelioma attorneys can help veterans apply for VA disability benefits during settlement negotiations.
Social Security Disability benefits. Mesothelioma patients or family members who were diagnosed with the disease before retirement age may be able to obtain compensation through Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits. A mesothelioma lawyer can help compile the evidence that patients will need to justify their requests for compensation.
Workers’ compensation. Most cases of mesothelioma are the result of on-the-job asbestos exposure. It may be possible to obtain workers’ comp benefits to help with the financial burdens that accumulate after a diagnosis.
Find Out if You Qualify for a Mesothelioma Settlement Today
If you or someone are suffering from mesothelioma or another asbestos disease, it’s not your fault. You should have been informed of the risks of working around asbestos. You deserve to know whether you can take legal action against the asbestos companies responsible for your illness.
Talking with a seasoned mesothelioma attorney is simple. Just contact us to arrange a free consultation. We want to hear your story. We want to stand up for your rights.
Please don’t worry about whether you can afford to hire an attorney. Mesothelioma lawyers handle claims on a contingency-fee basis, which means that clients only pay if a settlement or verdict is won on their behalf.
Let our team help you and your family during this difficult time.
Download Your Free Patient’s Guide to Mesothelioma
Not sure what your next steps will be after a mesothelioma diagnosis? Our free guide is available to answer your questions. You can find:
- Answers to legal questions from one of the nation’s top mesothelioma attorneys
- Medical advice from qualified mesothelioma specialists
- News on the latest innovations in mesothelioma treatment
- How to find mesothelioma doctors, specialists and medical centers near you
- Ways to connect with others who are on the same mesothelioma journey as you are
This guide will provide a comprehensive overview of mesothelioma for patients and caregivers that can be read from the comforts of home, at the hospital or on the go.