If you have contracted an asbestos-related illness, you may be eligible for substantial compensation through multiple avenues. The mesothelioma attorneys at Meirowitz & Wasserberg, LLP help victims identify their options and recover the maximum mesothelioma compensation available.
The asbestos industry knowingly exposed workers to asbestos and asbestos-laden products for more than half a century after it knew the product was hazardous to human health. These businesses egregiously violated their duty to protect workers and market safe products to the public.
By the time the public became aware of the dangers of asbestos, it was too late. Millions of Americans have faced painful, incurable diseases and lost loved ones because of asbestos exposure.
While compensation for mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses cannot restore health or replace a lost loved one, it can provide financial relief and bring about a sense of justice.
How Much Compensation Can I Recover for Mesothelioma?
Every asbestos exposure case is different and there is no such thing as an average payout for mesothelioma. Our mesothelioma lawyers have been able to achieve the following case results for our asbestos exposure clients:
- $32 million asbestos exposure verdict for family members of workers who unknowingly brought home asbestos fibers on their clothing
- $5.1 million mesothelioma settlement for a Navy machinist’s mate who was exposed to asbestos during active duty and while working as a civilian maintenance mechanic
- $4 million for a sugar mill mechanic and laboratory equipment engineer who contracted mesothelioma in a case that was declined by other firms
While there is no guarantee that your case will yield the same results as previous cases, if you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you have almost certainly been exposed to asbestos, and you may be entitled to significant compensation.
Factors that Affect Compensation
Determining case value requires a detailed analysis of your individual case and your sources of exposure. While every case is unique, the following factors may affect your case value:
- The identity and solvency of the companies that exposed you to asbestos
- The number of companies that exposed you to asbestos
- Your age at diagnosis
- Your prognosis and life expectancy
- The pain and suffering experienced by you and/or your family
- The laws of the jurisdiction(s) where you are eligible to file your case
Who is Eligible for Mesothelioma Compensation?
If you have developed an asbestos-related illness after having been exposed to asbestos at any time during your lifetime, you may be eligible for compensation. In addition, the immediate family members of people who have died from asbestos-related illnesses may be entitled to recover compensation. These illnesses include the following:
Types of Compensation
Federal and state governments have long recognized the devastating effects of asbestos exposure and the culpability of the responsible companies. As a result, victims of asbestos exposure have multiple pathways to recover damages and obtain justice.
Asbestos exposure lawsuits provide the means to recover the most substantial mesothelioma compensation available. Before you can file a lawsuit, the following criteria must be met:
- You have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness.
- You can prove you were exposed to asbestos by the defendant, directly or indirectly.
- The defendant must be financially solvent.
In some cases, exposure to asbestos may have occurred indirectly. If you are the spouse or child of a worker who brought home asbestos fibers on work clothing, the employer is still liable. This is known as secondary asbestos exposure.
Depending on your circumstances, you may be eligible to file a personal injury, survival, or wrongful death lawsuit.
Personal Injury Lawsuits
In a personal injury lawsuit, you can pursue economic, non-economic, and punitive damages.
Economic damages are the verifiable monetary losses that can be attributed to your diagnosis. This may include medical expenses and lost wages.
Medical expenses include the following:
- Hospital stays
- Doctor visits
- Assistive devices
- Personal care
- Home health
- Lab expenses
- Travel to and from medical facilities
- Projected lifetime medical expenses
Lost wages may include the following:
- Missed workdays
- Reduced or lost earning capacity
- The value of domestic services
- Lost business opportunities
- Lost job benefits
Reduced or lost earning capacity includes the lifetime wages that could have been earned were it not for your diagnosis.
Non-economic damages are the subjective, non-monetary losses related to your quality of life. These damages include the following:
- Loss of society
- Loss of consortium by a spouse
- Loss of bodily functions
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Some states limit the amount of non-economic damages you can recover.
Punitive damages are awarded for the purpose of punishing the defendant and deterring others from similar conduct. This type of compensation is only awarded when the actions of a defendant were deliberate or grossly negligent.
Punitive damages are limited in some states. A few states prohibit punitive damages in mesothelioma cases.
A survival action is a claim for damages on behalf of a deceased person who had a cause of action prior to death. If the decedent filed an action, the family generally may resume the pending action rather than initiate a new claim.
The damages recoverable in survival claims are the damages that would have been recoverable by the deceased had death not ensued. These damages may include the following:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Punitive damages
Wrongful Death Lawsuits
Mesothelioma compensation for family members’ losses is available by means of a wrongful death lawsuit. Damages recoverable in a wrongful death lawsuit vary by state but may include the following:
- Burial and funeral expenses
- Lost income of the deceased
- Lost inheritance
- Loss of domestic services provided by the deceased
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of guidance, comfort, support, or instruction
- Punitive damages
Some states prohibit the following types of damages in wrongful death cases:
- Punitive damages
- Pain and suffering of the family
Unlike survival claims that focus on the losses suffered by the deceased, wrongful death lawsuits focus on losses suffered by the family. An experienced mesothelioma attorney can often ensure your case is tried in a jurisdiction with favorable laws.
Asbestos Trust Fund Claims
When large numbers of workers began experiencing asbestos-related illnesses and holding asbestos companies accountable, many of these companies became overwhelmed by their liabilities and sought bankruptcy protection. These companies cannot be sued because the bankruptcy laws shield them from liability.
However, 11 U.S. § 524(g) requires businesses with asbestos liabilities that seek Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection to establish individual trust funds for the benefit of their asbestos exposure victims. Each trust fund is administered by the trustee appointed during the bankruptcy process.
Asbestos trust fund claims are filed directly through the fund, usually online, without the necessity of going through the court process. The compensation recoverable includes economic damages and non-economic damages, but not punitive damages.
The primary advantage of filing claims through the asbestos trust fund is that the process of obtaining compensation is generally faster than with a lawsuit. However, the available compensation is typically much lower than the amount recoverable through a lawsuit.
To date, there is approximately $30 billion available in asbestos trust funds. Some funds have run out of money. Some funds, in an effort to avoid running out of money, pay only a percentage of the claim value, in some cases pennies on the dollar.
It is possible to file claims against multiple funds if you have multiple exposure sources that have established trust funds. You can also file a lawsuit or claim other types of compensation in addition to your trust fund claim.
Workers’ Compensation for Mesothelioma
Occupational asbestos exposure is the most common cause of mesothelioma. If you were exposed to asbestos while at work, you may qualify for a workers’ compensation claim. Workers’ compensation provides the following benefits:
- Partial wage replacement
- Free medical care
- Death benefits
Partial Wage Replacement
Partial wage replacement is generally two-thirds of your salary during the last year of your employment and may be subject to a statutory maximum. However, this varies by state. This benefit is also known as disability benefits.
Medical care is limited to your occupational illness. In most states, you will be required to use a doctor you select from a panel of doctors provided by the employer. This can vary, however. Workers’ compensation covers your medical care and medical travel expenses.
Death benefits may include permanent or temporary partial wage replacement and/or a lump sum payment depending on the state where you were employed. These payments are generally paid to your surviving spouse and children.
Can I sue my employer?
Workers’ compensation laws protect employers from lawsuits. If you qualify for these benefits, you generally cannot file a lawsuit against the employer.
Some states have strict deadlines for when workers’ compensation claims may be filed, and the deadline may have passed by the time you were diagnosed. In these cases, the employer’s liability protection is typically still in force, making it impossible to recover compensation from the employer.
However, you may still be able to recover compensation by filing a lawsuit against a third party, such as a supplier that provided asbestos products to your employer.
If you were an independent contractor during your employment, you may not qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. However, most states have strict requirements for when an employee can be considered an independent contractor. Independent contractors may file a lawsuit against employers that exposed them to asbestos.
Military personnel have experienced high levels of asbestos exposure in the line of duty. While it is not possible to sue the military for asbestos exposure, military veterans and active-duty personnel with asbestos-related illnesses may be eligible for benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
To qualify for VA benefits, you must have served in the military without having been dishonorably discharged. You must be diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness and have proof that you worked in a military position in which asbestos exposure occurred. The VA may be able to verify this for you through your military record.
VA Disability Benefits
Disability benefits are awarded based on your disability rating. A higher disability rating is awarded to veterans who have greater degrees of disability. If the VA finds that you are totally disabled, you will receive a disability rating of 100 percent. A 100 percent disability rating affords you the highest level of benefits offered.
A diagnosis of mesothelioma or asbestos lung cancer is likely to result in a 100 percent disability rating. As of December 1, 2022, veterans with this disability rating can receive $3,621.95 per month if living alone, with additional amounts available for veterans with dependents.
Veterans who are housebound and need assistance with activities of daily living may be eligible for additional funds to defray the costs of in-home care. These benefits are known as Aid and Attendance or Housebound Benefits.
VA Health Care
An injury or illness that stems from military service and results in a disability is known as a service-connected disability. This includes asbestos exposure resulting in mesothelioma or other asbestos-related illnesses. When you have a service-connected disability, you qualify for free health care for that condition.
If you have a disability rating of 50 percent or higher or if you have received a medal of honor, you qualify for free health care for any health condition.
VA Benefits for Families
The spouse and dependent children of veterans with service-connected disabilities may be eligible for health care and disability benefits. These benefits may also extend to certain family caregivers during the lifetime of the veteran and after the veteran’s death.
Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC)
Surviving spouses, dependent children, and parents of military personnel who die from a service-connected condition such as mesothelioma may be eligible to receive a monthly benefit payment known as Dependency and Indemnity Compensation.
The benefit amount is based on the veteran’s pay grade while serving and whether the family member is a spouse, dependent child, or surviving parent.
Health Care Benefits for Families
The military offers two health insurance programs to family members: CHAMPVA and TRICARE. TRICARE is a comprehensive health insurance program with a variety of plans from which to choose. CHAMPVA is a cost-sharing program that provides payment for some health care services and supplies.
Disability insurance may be available through your employer or the Social Security Administration.
Long-term disability plans offered by employers provide partial income replacement during the period of disability until the disability ends or you reach retirement age.
Social Security Disability
Social Security Disability is a long-term monthly benefit for individuals totally disabled, which is often the case with asbestos-related illnesses. The Social Security Administration’s Compassionate Allowances program expedites the claims of individuals with specific terminal illnesses, including mesothelioma.
How can a mesothelioma lawyer help me recover maximum compensation?
Successful handling of a mesothelioma case requires in-depth knowledge of the asbestos industry and the types of claims available. An experienced mesothelioma lawyer has the necessary skills and experience to accomplish the following:
- Identify all sources of exposure
- Provide evidence of the asbestos company’s knowledge and pattern of fraudulent concealment
- Consult with medical experts, financial planners, and private investigators to build a strong case and calculate an accurate case value
- Negotiate a significant settlement
- Confidently take your case to trial when a reasonable settlement cannot be reached
Meirowitz & Wasserberg, LLP has more than 30 years of combined experience handling asbestos cases. We have access to such important resources as internal company documents, an extensive network of asbestos exposure experts, and our comprehensive database of asbestos companies and products.
Our attorneys have been honored with such national accolades as the following:
- Top 100 Trial Lawyers
- Super Lawyers
- Top 10 Mesothelioma Lawyer
We treat each client with compassion, respect, and attentiveness. If you or a loved one is facing a mesothelioma diagnosis, you need not face it alone. Our dedicated mesothelioma lawyers will stand with you and fight vigorously on your behalf. Contact us today for a free consultation.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Below are answers to the questions we most frequently receive about compensation for asbestos-related illnesses.
Is it better to settle my mesothelioma lawsuit or go to trial?
The ideal scenario is for the asbestos defendant to offer a fair and reasonable settlement. We work vigorously to obtain a generous settlement for each client. If a defendant refuses to take responsibility, our attorneys are well-prepared and eager to fight on your behalf at trial.
How long will it take to get mesothelioma compensation?
The length of time depends on the types of claims you file and the complexity of your claims.
If you file a lawsuit, you may be able to obtain a settlement within several months. If the case goes to trial, obtaining compensation may take a year or more.
Trust fund claims are generally faster than lawsuits and may only take a few months.
VA claims take approximately 104.8 days on average to reach a settlement, according to the November 2022 statistic provided by the VA.
Workers’ compensation claims can take as little as 30 days to be approved.
Social Security takes approximately three to five months to approve or deny your disability application. If your claim is denied, it could take years to complete the appeal process if your case requires a hearing.
Can I recover compensation for asbestos exposure if I have not been diagnosed with a disease?
Exposure to asbestos increases your risk of developing a disease, but it does not guarantee this will occur. Under personal injury laws, you must prove that you were injured before you qualify for a case. In asbestos exposure cases, an injury is defined as the diagnosis of a related illness.
How do I prove a mesothelioma case?
To prevail in a mesothelioma case, you must prove that you have contracted an asbestos-related illness and that the defendant exposed you to asbestos. You can accomplish this by providing the following evidence:
- Employment records
- Evidence of exposure in a residence or building, such as your address history
- Receipts showing you purchased asbestos-containing products
- Military history
- Medical records
What if I cannot identify the source(s) of my exposure to asbestos?
This is not an uncommon scenario. However, you must identify your sources of asbestos exposure before you can file a claim. It is common to have had multiple exposure sources. Our mesothelioma attorneys will perform a detailed life and work history to help you identify as many sources of exposure as possible in order to maximize compensation.
Where does Meirowitz & Wasserberg, LLP accept mesothelioma cases?
We accept asbestos exposure cases nationwide. Our attorneys will travel to you and file in the jurisdiction that best represents your interests.
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