This four-part series is designed to introduce non-legal-professionals to the complex and complicated world of asbestos litigation. Topics covered will include applicable legal terms, sources and methods of compensation, how to choose an attorney and what to expect from a settlement.
When your life has been forever changed by exposure to asbestos, a settlement is usually in order. What to expect from that settlement can certainly vary by individual case, but in general, it has the potential to cover outstanding medical bills—including previously incurred medical debt—and solidify the future of both you and your family and loved ones.
How much to expect from an asbestos settlement can be a complicated question, the specifics of which should be handled by your chosen asbestos exposure lawyer. An average range for settlements in mesothelioma cases is likely to be somewhere around one to two million dollars. In general, however, settlement amounts will vary according to certain key factors, including the type of asbestos-related illness you have, as well as the severity and length of the illness. For instance, terminal illnesses—for rather obvious reasons— generally bring larger settlements than those that affect the quality of life but are not necessarily fatal.
Your attorney will be able to best give you an estimate of your possible final asbestos settlement amount, after reviewing all of your medical records—in addition to work history or other exposure-related factors. In an initial consultation, you can certainly ask for a ballpark amount but should not expect this to be a number set in stone. In fact, even the best estimate given by your attorney is still only that—an estimate. Even beyond the specifics of your case, other factors can affect the final settlement amount—including various individualities encountered in the negotiation process, assuming your case does not go to trial. If a judge or jury ends up deciding on your settlement in court, the exact settlement amount would then be up to either of those parties, who will of course, take all of the facts of your case into account when reaching a decision.
As far as how long it will take to receive your asbestos settlement, this is another estimate best made by your attorney. But keep in mind that the law does protect victims of asbestos-related injuries by maintaining rules and guidelines that govern the progression of any mesothelioma or asbestos lawsuit. For instance, the court is not likely to allow the defendant in your case to drag the case out past the average life expectancy of a claimant—a ploy sometimes used by attorneys on the other side to prevent a claimant from collecting.
You should also note that, even in cases where the claimant is deceased prior to the conclusion of their trial, settlement funds are generally payable to the claimant’s family or another designated beneficiary—even posthumously.