Mesothelioma Compensation Options for Patients and Families

Legal // June 14, 2018

Cancer is a huge expense in the United States, with some recent reports estimating expenses of over $173 billion on cancer care by 2020. With the average cancer drug costing well over $100,000 per course of treatment in recent years, families struggle to keep up with their medical expenses on top of every day bills.

For those facing a mesothelioma diagnosis, there are various compensation options patients and their loved ones may be eligible to receive. Different types of mesothelioma claims give patients and their families the opportunity to receive compensation to put towards expensive medical bills, make up for lost income, and for the pain and suffering such a terrible diagnosis causes. Mesothelioma lawsuits, claims against asbestos trust funds, workers’ compensation and veteran’s benefits offer mesothelioma victims the chance to alleviate the financial burdens of the disease and hold asbestos companies liable for their wrongdoings.

Have you been diagnosed with mesothelioma? Talk to someone about your options

Mesothelioma Lawsuits: Settlements and Verdicts

Because the majority of mesothelioma cases are linked to asbestos exposure, patients or their surviving loved ones may be eligible to file a mesothelioma lawsuit. In general, these can be personal injury lawsuits or wrongful death lawsuits, depending on who is filing the claim. Mesothelioma victims or their surviving loved ones can file these claims against an employer, an asbestos manufacturer, or others depending on the details of the individual case.

Mesothelioma lawsuits can result in compensation in the form of a settlement or a verdict, though the majority of these cases conclude with a settlement before the claim goes to trial. A settlement is a legal agreement between the two parties on a certain amount of compensation that releases the defendant from liability. If the settlement is accepted, the defendant has to pay the asbestos victim the agreed upon compensation.

A verdict may be decided in the event that the claim goes to trial. Jury verdicts are binding agreements made by a jury or judge, which determines whether or not the asbestos company is liable. If the company is found not liable, the mesothelioma patient will not receive any compensation.

In the case of a guilty verdict, the amount of compensation awarded can often be more than a settlement. The jury will take into consideration any lost wages, medical bills and future medical expenses, the secondary costs of treatment like travel expenses, and the pain and suffering the diagnosis has caused. However, there is no guarantee that the jury will side with the plaintiff and award compensation.

It’s important for patients and their family members to work with an experienced mesothelioma lawyer to determine if accepting a settlement or going to trial is the best decision for their case.

Asbestos Trust Funds

Claims against asbestos bankruptcy trust funds may be another option for some mesothelioma victims. Asbestos trust funds are created by asbestos companies that go bankrupt through legal bankruptcy proceedings. The process of creating a trust fund ensures the company can compensate any future claimants who were exposed to the company’s asbestos products.

Patients may be able to file more than one of these compensation claims, as there are a number of different asbestos trust funds. Each fund has its own eligibility requirements, usually related to proving that exposure occurred at a particular worksite during a certain time period or from using specific contaminated products. An experienced mesothelioma attorney can help claimants determine which funds they may be eligible for and gather the required evidence for filing.

When the trust fund claim is filed, the trust’s board will review the claim to determine eligibility and set a compensation amount to the claim. To protect funds for future claimants, trusts only pay out a percentage of what the claimant is entitled to. Each trust usually has a set payment percentage, which may change over time. For instance, the United States Gypsum Asbestos Trust currently pays out 25% of each claim.

Workers’ Compensation and Veterans’ Benefits

Depending on the nature of the mesothelioma patient’s asbestos exposure, they may be eligible for either workers’ compensation or a veteran’s benefits claim.

Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance employers are required to have in the event an employee becomes injured or falls ill as a result of the job. This type of claim is managed through state-run programs, so filing requirements and eligibility may differ slightly by state. A workers’ compensation claim can help those facing an asbestos-related disease from workplace exposure recover lost wages, pay for medical bills, and even receive training for a new career in some instances.

VA benefits are tax-free benefits, including disability benefits, for veterans who served in any branch of the armed forces and became injured or ill as a result. VA claims are paid by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which has recognized mesothelioma and some other asbestos diseases as eligible for coverage. For asbestos victims, veterans will need to prove exposure occurred during their years of service, have documentation of their diagnosis, and must have been discharged in any manner other than dishonorable.

Financial Assistance for Mesothelioma

It’s important for mesothelioma victims to remember that there are limiting time frames in which to file these claims for compensation. In some states, the statute of limitations may be just one year after diagnosis or wrongful death to file. Patients and their loved ones should explore their legal options with a reputable mesothelioma law firm as soon as possible to ensure they receive the compensation they deserve.