For the thousands of innocent victims affected by asbestos exposure each year, it’s important to know that recourse is possible and legal help is available. Perhaps most importantly, asbestos exposure victims should know that they do not have to be in a financial position to afford legal representation-for valid, qualifying cases, legal fees are paid out of the settlement or trial award received, not the victim’s pocket.
Most people who are diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related illness-including other types of cancers, asbestosis and pleural effusion-did not even realize that they were at risk. This is because most victims of asbestos exposure did not even realize that they had come into contact with what is known to be a highly toxic and dangerous carcinogen.
Fortunately, there is a silver lining of hope for those who have suffered the physical and financial consequences of negligent and/or illegal asbestos exposure. Recourse and compensation is possible via multiple avenues, including toxic tort and workers’ compensation laws as well as well as disability claims through the Social Security Administration and (for veterans) the Department of Veteran Affairs.
PART III: FREQUENTLY ASKED MESOTHELIOMA SETTLEMENT QUESTIONS
Among the most common topics of concern for those affected by asbestos exposure is what to expect from a mesothelioma settlement. No potential litigant wants to endure the stress and demands of a long and drawn-out trial, especially without the promise of a reward at its end. Because most asbestos-injury cases settle out of court, questions about settlements are among the most frequently addressed by attorneys and paralegals.
Do I have to accept a settlement?
No. It is entirely up to you, the plaintiff, whether or not any settlement offer is accepted, thus becoming a settlement agreement. As implied by its name, a settlement agreement requires that its terms be agreed upon by both parties involved in the suit-that is, the plaintiff (also called the claimant) and the defendant(s). While the respective attorneys for each will make recommendations and provide advice during settlement negotiations, the ultimate decision to accept a settlement or counter-settlement offer-for either side-is entirely on the part of the litigant.
What is the typical amount of a settlement?
This is probably the most commonly asked question in mesothelioma litigation. Unfortunately, answering it is not as simple as one might think. The amount of one mesothelioma settlement to the next can vary drastically. While it is not uncommon to see in the news that a high-profile case has settled in the multi-millions, that is not necessarily what should be expected of your individual case. The amount of your settlement will depend on many factors-including the length, severity and type of asbestos-linked illness as well as the nature of the exposure experienced and the degree of liability provable on the defendant(s).
What are the advantages of settling a case versus going to trial?
A settlement will almost inevitably save you considerable time and expense. Cases that go to trial can take twice as long-or longer-to reach conclusion. And that time also equals money. Although your asbestos attorney will charge you on a contingency basis (meaning that he or she is paid the amount of outstanding fees only if the case results in a monetary), you may rack up court costs and other added expenses during the course of a trial. Finally, one key advantage to a settlement agreement is that it always ends in you receiving some compensation for your injury and illness. Although the odds are almost certainly weighed heavily in your favor, the ultimate risk of going to trial is that the other side could prevail.