People who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses are often offered mesothelioma settlements that preclude the need to pursue a lawsuit in court. These mesothelioma settlements offer many advantages for the person who is struggling with illness, as well as for the companies responsible for their asbestos exposure. The mesothelioma victim is able to receive compensation for their expenses as well as for their pain and suffering while the asbestos companies avoid the high costs of fighting a lawsuit that they are unlikely to win.
If you have been exposed to asbestos and diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, a mesothelioma law firm may be able to help you get a mesothelioma settlement that will provide you with considerable compensation. Contact us today to learn more.
Mesothelioma and the Asbestos Companies
Mesothelioma and serious medical conditions have afflicted people ever since asbestos was first discovered and began to be used. The fibrous mineral’s strength and heat-resistant characteristics have made it a popular choice for construction and insulation for centuries, but its primary use came in the last hundred years, when it was widely used by the armed forces as well as industry. The product provided tremendous advantages to manufacturers, who were able to obtain it at a very low cost, but those advantages proved to be a living nightmare for the workers who were exposed to its dangerous effects. In the middle of the 20th-century suspicions about the hazards of ingesting or inhaling asbestos fibers began to be voiced, and industry leaders commissioned reports on whether it was indeed a health hazard. Upon learning that it caused mesothelioma, asbestosis, and a host of serious illnesses, most chose to keep the information quiet in order to continue earning huge profits. As a result, they continued to make money as American workers were dying by the thousands.
Today it is estimated that more than 3,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year, and most of them were sickened as a result of exposure to asbestos fibers in the workplace, particularly during the latter half of the 20thcentury. Those victims worked in a wide range of industries, including construction workers, electricians, shipbuilders, auto mechanics, railroad workers, oil refinery workers and carpenters. Veterans of the armed services were also exposed to a high degree. Although the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a report in the 1970s confirming the dangers of asbestos exposure, many companies continued to use the product, and according to a study out of the University of California at San Diego, the country’s use of the carcinogen peaked in 1974 with 750,000 metric tons of the mineral used that year alone.
As word spread about the dangers of asbestos and action began to be taken to eliminate its use and to provide protections and compensation for workers, some companies continued to use the product and expose people to its dangers. Individuals and large groups of asbestos workers began filing mesothelioma lawsuits and juries began handing down large verdicts in favor of victims: mesothelioma quickly became the largest single mass tort in American legal history, with hundreds of thousands of lawsuits filed against thousands of defendants, and billions of dollars being paid out to those who had been sickened, as well as their survivors. In some cases that compensation came in the form of jury verdicts, but in many cases where asbestos companies were faced with irrefutable evidence against them and compelling victims, they simply offered large settlements in order to avoid the bad publicity and high costs of a public trial.
The vast majority of mesothelioma lawsuits are resolved in mesothelioma settlements, and those settlements often require that the sum that is given to the victim remains a secret. Though most mesothelioma settlements are undisclosed, jury awards are not. There have been several notable cases where the amount of compensation received in mesothelioma settlements by the victims have been made public, and those (as well as jury awards) provide a good idea of what a mesothelioma victim can expect for their own case. Some of the most notable mesothelioma settlements and awards include:
- Johns-Mansville Employees vs. Travelers Insurance Corporation — This case represented the largest settlement ever paid in an asbestos litigation. A lawsuit was filed by employees of Johns-Mansville against the company’s insurers, including Travelers Indemnity Company, Surety Company of America, and the Travelers Casualty. They were seeking compensation for their exposure to asbestos while in Johns-Manville’s employ. The case went on for several years before the settlement was achieved, but ended in a $500 million award to be divided between several victims.
- Nancy Lopez vs U.S. Engineering Co. — This case involved a woman who had served as a judicial administrative assistant in the Jackson County, Missouri Courthouse in the 1980s. She was diagnosed with mesothelioma many years after having been exposed to asbestos during courthouse renovations, and filed a lawsuit against U.S. Engineering, the company doing the renovations. Though she died before her case was resolved, her mother continued the suit and received a $10 million award as well as cash settlements of $400,000 and $200,000 from Jackson County and Lippert Mechanical Services Corp. respectively. She also received another $200,000 settlement from Johnson Controls.
- In another case involving courthouse exposure to asbestos, a former county courthouse janitor named Lauren DuPuis filed suit against Yellowstone County for asbestos exposure on the job. DuPuis died from mesothelioma in July 2015, but his estate received a $650,000 mesothelioma settlement after he died.
- An $18.5 million jury award was given to a former plastic molder named David Bakkie after he filed suit against his former employer, Union Carbide. Bakkie was just 49 when he was diagnosed with mesothelioma. Union Carbide also faced a $48 million jury award in a case filed by the family of a former contractor, Bobbie Izell, who had died of mesothelioma after he’d inhaled asbestos fibers during home inspections that he performed for the company.
- One of the most notorious asbestos companies, W.R. Grace & Co., faced a number of lawsuits revolving around the company exposing their employees and the residents of Libby, Montana to asbestos. They settled that case in 2011 for $43 million to be divided between over 1,300 contractors, former employees, and were also required to pay $54 million in fines to the U.S. government to pay for the costs of cleaning up the contamination that they had caused.
- A New Jersey carpenter named James Johnson who specialized in installing ceiling tiles in commercial properties was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma and received a $3 million settlement from the various manufacturers of those tiles.
- In one of the largest sustained verdicts in the history of the state of New York, the widow of a U.S. Navy veteran, was provided an $8 million settlement by The Crane Co. for their role in exposing him to asbestos during his employment with the company. Though Crane Co. argued that they were not liable for damages because they were a government defense contractor, the decision was made that Doris K. Dummit was owed the money for her husband Robert’s death because There was proof that Crane had known of asbestos’ dangers and withheld the information maliciously.
Factors in Determining Mesothelioma Settlement Amounts
It is difficult to predict what a mesothelioma settlement amount will be in any one case, but the average amount provided generally ranges between $1 million and $1.4 million. This amount varies based upon a number of factors, including whether the asbestos company in question was aware of asbestos dangers and failed to act, or whether they were innocent of asbestos’ dangers. In many instances, if a company chose to ignore the hazards that they were exposing workers to, and failed to provide appropriate protections or warnings, they face larger potential jury awards and therefore pay larger settlement amounts in order to keep their wrongdoing out of the public eye.
Another determining factor in how much a settlement will be is whether a mesothelioma lawsuit names several asbestos companies or just a few. The more companies are named in a lawsuit, the higher the total settlement is likely to be, assuming that each of the companies can be proven responsible for asbestos exposure. One example of this type of mesothelioma settlement can be seen in the case of Hall of Fame football player Merlin Olsen, who worked on construction projects before he began his football career. He filed a mesothelioma lawsuit against several different companies and asbestos manufacturers and received an undisclosed settlement from over ten companies as a result. In many instances a mesothelioma victim will file a lawsuit against over twenty different companies that exposed them to asbestos, and the result will be that many will settle out of court and one or two will defend themselves in court. In some cases some companies will successfully defend themselves and not have to pay either a settlement amount or a jury award, while others are found guilty and do.
Location and Case Specifics Matter to Mesothelioma Settlement Amounts
Because the laws regarding mesothelioma lawsuits are different in different states, it is important that you work with a mesothelioma attorney who will be able to guide you in determining where you should file your mesothelioma lawsuit. The amount of the settlement that you are offered or receive can depend to a large degree on the amount of evidence that a specific state requires regarding asbestos exposure. An individual state’s statute of limitations also plays a role in whether you will be able to file a mesothelioma lawsuit. Equally important to the amount of settlement you receive will be the specifics of your individual case, your age, your health status prior to being diagnosed with mesothelioma, and other personal factors. A mesothelioma attorney who has extensive experience will be able to tell your story in a compelling way that is designed to provide you with considerable compensation.
Working With Your Mesothelioma Attorney
When you begin working with your mesothelioma attorney, they will explain the benefits and disadvantages of settlements and of jury trials. They will also let you know whether a settlement offer is reasonable or whether it is advisable for you to go to trial, and explain how a trial may impact the fees that are incurred in pursuing your case. Your attorney will ask you very specific questions about your work history, your asbestos exposure, your medical bills, lost wages and how your diagnosis has impacted your life in order to make sure that they put together a comprehensive list of the damages that you have suffered.
Contact Us Today to Learn More About Mesothelioma Settlements
A mesothelioma settlement can provide you with the compensation that you need to pay your medical bills and provide you with peace of mind regarding your family’s financial security after you are gone. Contact us today at 1-800-706-5606 for more information and to set up a free consultation about your case.