Mesothelioma settlements can be considerable if you believe workplace exposure to asbestos caused your disease. Many factors influence the amounts that claimants can receive, and not all claimants receive the same amount.
Asbestos exposure diseases do not manifest in a person right away, and it can take several years or decades before mesothelioma develops. If your work exposed you to asbestos, it might be beneficial to understand the symptoms of mesothelioma so you can be diagnosed, start treatment, and file a lawsuit as soon as possible. After decades pass, it can be harder to prove your workplace was negligent, which can import how much you receive from a mesothelioma settlement.
Companies set up asbestos trust funds in case they go bankrupt before mesothelioma victims can sue for compensation, but, according to a report from the RAND Institute for Civil Justice, those trust funds can diminish over time.
Compensation typically provides financial relief for mesothelioma patients and their families. You could receive a substantial settlement if you are suffering from mesothelioma. However, it is hard to gauge how much the average mesothelioma settlement will be.
Mesothelioma and Asbestos
Mesothelioma is an aggressive, incurable, and deadly cancer of the mesothelium, a thin layer of tissue covering most internal organs. Amongst others, symptoms of mesothelioma can include:
Shortness of breath
Pain in the chest or ribs
Nausea or bloating
Unexplained weight loss
The cause of mesothelioma is ingesting or inhaling asbestos fibers. Once inhaled or ingested, the fibers cause damage such as inflammation and scarring that later may lead to mesothelioma tumors and other diseases.
Asbestos is the most significant cause of malignant mesothelioma, according to the Archives of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine.
Asbestos is a material used in the insulation of buildings. Several different products, like roof shingles, brake linings, clutches in cars, and fire blankets, contain it.
Asbestos is a carcinogenic material, meaning that it has the potential to cause cancer in humans. Exposure to asbestos can cause cancer of the lungs, larynx, and mesothelium. Asbestos can also cause other illnesses, for example, fibrosis of the lung.
People at Risk of Mesothelioma
Asbestos exposure can happen in different locations, including the workplace. Occupations at risk for developing mesothelioma include construction workers, asbestos miners, car mechanics, firefighters, and carpenters, among many others.
If you are suffering from work-related mesothelioma, you could get compensation for your losses. Filing an asbestos-related lawsuit can be fairly complex.
Mesothelioma may only develop decades after the asbestos exposure, and many things can change over such a long timeframe. It may be a challenge to find witnesses and evidence after so many years. However, speaking to a lung cancer lawyer who deals with mesothelioma cases can help you find out what your legal options are.
Types of Awards From Mesothelioma Lawsuits
If you are suffering from mesothelioma, you will probably need extensive and costly ongoing treatment. A lawsuit will not cure your ailments, but a mesothelioma settlement or other award can help considerably with medical bills, and other costs related to the disease.
Since mesothelioma is not curable, patients may need treatment for the rest of their lives. Early treatment can increase life expectancy for those suffering from mesothelioma. A settlement can help you get the best possible treatment for your mesothelioma, which may increase your life expectancy.
Some of the awards you might receive from a mesothelioma lawsuit include:
Ongoing and future costs for treatments
Costs for medical devices
Costs of transportation associated with the illness
Home help aides
Lost wages and loss of future potential income
Physical and mental pain and suffering
You may be able to receive other awards, depending on your unique case. If your case goes to trial, you may additionally receive punitive damages. Awards of any punitive damages on top of compensatory damages can increase the final settlement amount considerably.
Wrongful Death Mesothelioma Lawsuit
If your loved one had mesothelioma and has since passed away, you may benefit from filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the workplace where the exposure took place for any damages your loved one and family have sustained. Mesothelioma settlements can help with funeral costs and the loss of income, for example.
You might also receive awards for pain and grief from losing your loved one. Time is of the essence in these cases, as it can be challenging to prove negligence after so many years.
What Is the Average Settlement for a Mesothelioma Case?
The value of mesothelioma settlements can vary widely. It is difficult to determine the amount of an average settlement in these cases because there are so many elements to take into account.
In the 1980s, judges ordered companies that manufactured asbestos to create asbestos trusts as part of asbestos injury compensation. These asbestos trust funds covered the medical expenses of people who would later develop cancer from breathing in or swallowing their products.
Not only do these settlements have to consider the severity of the claimant’s cancer, but they must also consider the health of the trust fund from which they are seeking compensation. This can add another layer to the legal process when pursuing a settlement.
Asbestos Trust Funds and Their Role in Mesothelioma Payouts
In the past 30 years, more than 60 trust funds have paid out around $17.5 billion in response to mounting mesothelioma and other asbestos-related cancer diagnoses.
According to research conducted by the Rand Corporation, the average value for a mesothelioma settlement was $180,000 in 2008, the latest year when Rand reported this figure. Under the schedules set for mesothelioma claims, these awards could vary from $7,000 to $1.2 million. When looking at all types of asbestos-related illnesses, the average settlement for asbestos-related cancer rose from $21,700 in 2007 to $34,100 in 2008.
Most trusts cannot pay every claim in full and still protect enough of their funds for future cases. For this reason, many trusts have a payment percentage, only paying out a portion of the total claim. The range of these payment percentages is from 1.1% to 100%. A legal professional can provide you with more information about certain trust funds and their average payment percentage.
Filing a Lawsuit Based on Your Asbestos Cancer Case
You can take legal action against an asbestos manufacturer, or multiple manufacturers, if you can show they caused your exposure and, later, your asbestos-related cancer. This is true no matter if the company still exists or if they created a trust fund after filing bankruptcy.
This could result in a court award or out-of-court settlement. The value of this type of case depends on the settlement you or your attorney negotiates, the ruling from the judge and jury, and factors related to the health of the trust fund, if applicable.
Building a Case for a Mesothelioma Award or Settlement
To get an award in a mesothelioma claim, you will need to build a compelling case. You will need to take several steps and collect all evidence related to your condition. This includes:
Getting a confirmed mesothelioma diagnosis
Determining and proving the source of your asbestos exposure
Determining the company responsible for the asbestos
Submitting all required paperwork or filing a lawsuit before official deadlines
The evidence necessary in this type of case, whether for a lawsuit or trust fund claim, includes:
Statements from your doctor
Medical expert witness testimony
Information about your employment, job, and asbestos exposure
Documentation of your losses
You may be able to pursue an award that helps you cover the cost of expenses and losses related to your diagnosis. This could include treatment, out-of-pocket costs, pain and suffering, and more.
You May Qualify to Take Legal Action to Pursue an Award
Many of the companies responsible for manufacturing asbestos filed for bankruptcy after mass torts were filed against them. However, this does not mean that they cannot be held responsible for paying for your treatment and other expenses regarding asbestos-related cancers. If you worked around this dangerous material or were otherwise exposed to asbestos and later received a mesothelioma diagnosis, the asbestos company should be responsible for paying for your care, not you.
You may be able to file a claim or lawsuit to pursue an award based on your diagnosis today. An attorney on your side who is familiar with these cases can reduce your stress and collect the necessary evidence you need to file your claim.
What Is the Average Settlement for Mesothelioma and Asbestos Lung Cancer Lawsuits?
Unfortunately, there is no average settlement for mesothelioma and asbestos lung cancer lawsuits. Each person’s diagnosis and development of mesothelioma and asbestos lung cancer is unique. Therefore, every settlement offer is specific to the facts and circumstances of each individual. While there are no average settlement amounts with respect to mesothelioma and asbestos lung cancer lawsuits, there are some common factors that will determine how much compensation you may receive in your asbestos-related cancer lawsuit.
Factors in Settlement Amounts for Mesothelioma and Asbestos Lung Cancer Lawsuits:
Exposure to Asbestos – The circumstances of your exposure to asbestos is the first factor that courts will examine. In order to file a claim against a company, we must prove that your mesothelioma or asbestos lung cancer was in direct relation to your exposure to asbestos. Most of the people who develop mesothelioma or asbestos lung cancer inhaled asbestos fibers at work, either at a company, manufacturing, or asbestos mine. While these workers have a higher risk of developing malignant mesothelioma or asbestos lung cancer, their families have a risk of developing these diseases as well. Workers would unknowingly bring home these microscopic asbestos fibers on their clothes, skin, and hair, which would then be inhaled by family members, who received this second-hand exposure.
Companies and manufacturers that mined, manufactured, or produced asbestos or asbestos-containing products have now faced and lost thousands of mesothelioma and asbestos lung cancer lawsuits. Courts and juries have required that these companies pay awards to victims since they knowingly placed workers around asbestos material with full knowledge that it was a carcinogen without informing them. Companies and manufacturers now know that they are likely to lose lawsuits. Therefore, they often settle lawsuits with victims early in the legal process.
The Severity of Mesothelioma or Asbestos Lung Cancer – The settlement offer will take into account the severity of your mesothelioma or asbestos lung cancer. Life expectancy averages for mesothelioma or asbestos lung cancer patients are approximately one year from the date of diagnosis. However, catching these cancers early provides more treatment options, and life expectancies could potentially be longer. The severity of your mesothelioma or asbestos lung cancer will factor into your settlement amount.
Cost of Medical Treatments – Your settlement could include the cost of your medical treatments related to your mesothelioma and asbestos lung cancer that are not covered by insurance. The financial burden of medical treatments can include alternative treatments or alternative health care options to prolong your life expectancy. The economic costs related to your mesothelioma or asbestos lung cancer can be substantial, and those costs belong in your mesothelioma or asbestos lung cancer lawsuit.
Ongoing Care and Additional Costs – On top of medical treatments, you may require ongoing care, medical care, or other costs associated with your mesothelioma or asbestos lung cancer development. Some ongoing care or additional costs could include a special bed to allow you to sit up or raise your legs, home nursing care, hospice care, housecleaning services, food delivery services, or any other costs that are associated with your mesothelioma or asbestos lung cancer.
Lost Wages – Your mesothelioma or asbestos lung cancer diagnosis has likely led to lost wages, or diminished earning capacity due to your inability to work. Many settlements will not only include your lost wages but will also include any loss of potential future income to you and your family due to the development of your disease.
Pain and Suffering – While no amount of compensation will ever restore you to health, the courts have allowed victims of negligence to attempt to receive compensation for their pain and suffering for their development of mesothelioma or asbestos lung cancer. Therefore, settlements from companies tend to also include pain and suffering as part of the compensation they offer to victims.
Are Mesothelioma Settlements Taxable?
Publication 4345 from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has complex rules about the taxability of proceeds from lawsuits or settlements. In general, any personal injury case involving mesothelioma settlements are not taxable for damages related to medical care and other out-of-pocket costs. This includes asbestos exposure cases. However, other types of compensation, depending on the type of case, in mesothelioma settlements are taxable. This includes the money awarded to a claimant that goes above and beyond their illness-related expenses and losses such as lost wages and emotional distress.
Understanding how the IRS will view your settlement or award is important because you want to have the correct information when filing your taxes. You may want to discuss whether mesothelioma settlements are taxable with an attorney or tax accountant before you take legal action in a mesothelioma case.
Some Parts of a Mesothelioma Payout May Be Taxable While Others Are Not
An IRS guide on lawsuits, awards, and settlements helps taxpayers in the United States understand their rules pertaining to monetary compensation paid due to legal action.
This guide offers insight into types of settlements, including whether mesothelioma settlements are taxable.
In many personal injury cases, the entire award or settlement payout in a mesothelioma case is tax-free under the Fairness in Asbestos Injury Resolution Act of 2005, Senate Report 109-97 and the Fairness in Asbestos Injury Resolution Act of 2003, Senate Report 108-118. The same rules apply to mesothelioma lawsuits that apply in a personal injury case. In general, most compensatory damages are tax-free. This includes both economic and non-economic awards, sometimes called special damages and general damages. In many cases, these damages include:
Medical treatment and related care costs
Pain and suffering losses, including both physical and emotional distress
However, some types of compensatory awards may be taxable (see: settlement agreement that’s published by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)). This is generally limited to compensation recovered for your lost wages or lost profits for a business you could not operate because of your asbestos-related diagnosis.
In addition, non-compensatory awards are taxable. One type of non-compensatory award available in a mesothelioma case is punitive damages. Punitive damages do not reimburse you for any expense or loss. Instead, they punish the individual or company for their role in causing your condition. Punitive damages are rare in any personal injury case but may be possible depending on the facts of your case.
Your attorney can help you understand if your case may warrant pursuing any type of taxable award. It is important that you understand how the IRS applies these rules to the types of compensation you recover. You may need to report a portion of your settlement as a source of income when you file taxes.
Recovering a Mesothelioma Settlement or Award
Because so many people joined mass torts to hold asbestos companies responsible for their malignant and non-malignant asbestos-related medical conditions during the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, many of these corporations filed for bankruptcy. Beginning in 1988, courts ordered these bankrupt companies to establish asbestos trust funds to compensate victims whose disease would remain latent for the next 30 years or more.
Since that time, an asbestos injury compensation report has shown that these companies have established dozens of trust funds holding more than $30 billion in assets. These trust funds allow workers and others who developed mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, or another asbestos-related illness to recover some or all of their losses, even if the company that was responsible for their exposure no longer exists.
You may be able to pursue compensation from one of these funds by filing a claim or a lawsuit. This will require you to prove:
Your asbestos exposure
Your medical condition, severity, and relationship to working with asbestos
Who is responsible for your exposure
How it affects you physically, emotionally, and financially
A lawyer who regularly handles asbestos cases can help you determine whether your mesothelioma settlement is taxable and gather the necessary evidence you need to prove your case for a settlement or award.
What Compensation Can I Get If I Sue for Mesothelioma and/or Asbestos Lung Cancer?
The compensation you can receive if you sue for mesothelioma and asbestos lung cancer diagnoses can vary, but typically these cases settle between $1 million to $1.4 million.
Your Steps to Receive Compensation for Your Mesothelioma and/or Asbestos Lung Cancer
In order to receive compensation for your mesothelioma or asbestos lung cancer lawsuit, you should follow these steps:
The more concrete evidence you have showing your exposure to asbestos can help build a stronger case. While no one can remember every detail of their lives, your attempt to recall the duration of your exposure in a job or work environment can help bolster your claim. In addition, attempting to locate old pay stubs or even look through federal employment records can help you rebuild your employment timeline.
You may not remember how you were exposed to asbestos if your exposure was not at your place of employment. There are product identification books that highlight asbestos-containing products and their packing methods to help you determine if you ever were exposed to these practices. Your friends, family, and coworkers can also provide testimony regarding your work or living conditions or your possible exposure to products that contained asbestos.
Document All Expenses
While it is important to track all of your medical expenses such as medical tests, prescriptions, surgery, etc., it is also important to track all additional expenses related to your condition.
Perhaps you needed to purchase a new bed to ease your pain and suffering after medical treatments. You may have had to hire a housecleaner or subscribe to a meal delivery service. Home health aides are often required to help with the patient and daily chores around the home.
You will likely have lost wages at work or may have lost your job completely. If so, you may have to find other health insurance, which can be even more expensive. Alternative therapies, vitamins, massages, and other expenses can all add up as you are going through this difficult time. Make sure to document all of these expenses to seek compensation in a lawsuit.
Mesothelioma is considered an occupational disease since many of its cases stem from exposure to asbestos in the workplace. This means that it was your company’s negligence that led to your condition, and you deserve compensation.
How Long Does a Mesothelioma Claim Take?
Mesothelioma claims vary greatly depending on the details of each case, so there is no set timeline as to how long they take. Individual factors such as precise medical diagnosis and the type of asbestos-related lung diseases that fit your circumstances play a critical role in determining the duration of your claim.
Our attorneys can explain your legal options, help you take your case to court, and provide more information on how long your mesothelioma claim will take.
How Your Mesothelioma Diagnosis Affects the Length of Your Claim
Mesothelioma often takes decades to manifest in those who suffer from the disease. While the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) now maintains strict protections for those who work in hazardous environments, your exposure may predate the establishment of these asbestos safety regulations.
In order to seek a mesothelioma claim, you must first prove that your condition resulted from exposure to asbestos. A doctor can confirm this link through certain types of testing, such as CT scans and MRIs. If you or a loved one suffers from mesothelioma due to occupational exposure to asbestos, you may be eligible for a case. The specific diagnosis and severity of the disease may affect the length of your mesothelioma claim.