Asbestos Compensation Claims Payouts Timeline
In case you or someone close to you has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, or has sadly passed away due to this condition, it is conceivable that one or more employers may have exposed you or your family member to asbestos. If it can be demonstrated in a legal context that certain employers were responsible for this exposure to the harmful mineral asbestos, you may have the right to seek compensation for mesothelioma.
The following section contains additional details regarding mesothelioma lawsuits and the associated time frames.
Types of Legal Claims for Asbestos Exposure
The type of legal claim you can pursue depends on whether you have developed an asbestos-related disease or if a family member has passed away due to such a condition.
Personal Injury Claim
If you have personally suffered from an asbestos-related disease, such as mesothelioma, your attorney can initiate a personal injury lawsuit on your behalf. This type of claim is suitable for cases where the affected individual seeks compensation for their own injuries and losses.
Wrongful Death Claim
In situations where the claim involves a deceased loved one, your attorney can file a wrongful death mesothelioma lawsuit. Wrongful death claims are often filed when the individual with mesothelioma passes away before being able to pursue a personal injury claim. This legal action may start as a personal injury claim but later transition into a wrongful death claim following the individual’s death. Alternatively, the family can file a wrongful death lawsuit after the passing of their loved one to seek compensation for the damages caused by asbestos exposure.
Timeline Steps for Asbestos Claim Compensation:
- Finding a Mesothelioma Attorney: The first crucial step is to find an experienced mesothelioma attorney who is well-versed in the specific laws governing asbestos-related claims and personal injury in your state. They will have access to data on companies that used asbestos during your employment, essential for building a strong case.
- Lawsuit Preparation and Filing Complaint: Once a mesothelioma law firm takes your case, they will gather information about your situation through an investigation. This includes determining which company or companies are responsible for your asbestos exposure. You will need to provide your medical and employment records to support your case. With all the necessary information collected, your lawyer will file a complaint against the defendant(s).
- Defendant Response: After the lawsuit is filed, the defendant(s) will respond to the allegations. They have a set period, usually around 30 days from the date of receiving the lawsuit, to file their answer. Defendants may deny liability or even claim that you are responsible for your own illness, though such claims might not be relevant to mesothelioma cases, such as attributing the illness to smoking.
- Discovery: If the defendant responds, the discovery phase begins. During this period, both sides continue to collect evidence to strengthen their respective cases. This involves gathering documentation from each other, taking depositions from witnesses, and more. The plaintiff may also identify specific instances of asbestos exposure during this phase.
- Settlement Negotiations: In most cases, mesothelioma claims are settled outside of court. Attorneys on both sides engage in negotiations to reach a settlement. The process typically takes around 18 months, though some cases might be resolved in less than a year.
- Trial: If a settlement cannot be reached, the case proceeds to trial. Mesothelioma trials usually take longer than settlements. The outcome is determined by a jury, and while trials carry certain benefits, they can be unpredictable. If successful, the compensation amount awarded in a verdict is generally higher than settlements.
- Appeals: After a trial, either party can choose to appeal the verdict. This appeal process may cause delays in receiving mesothelioma compensation. However, a skilled mesothelioma attorney will strive to expedite the process and ensure you receive your rightful compensation as soon as possible.
Factors Affecting the Claims Payout Timeline in Mesothelioma Cases:
- Statute of Limitations: The time limit within which a personal injury lawsuit must be filed, known as the statute of limitations, varies by state. In mesothelioma cases, where the disease may take decades to manifest, the statute of limitations typically begins on the day of diagnosis rather than the day of exposure. The duration of the statute of limitations ranges from one to five years, depending on the state.
- State Jurisdictions: Different states have varying legal procedures and timelines for handling mesothelioma lawsuits. Some states have laws that prioritize mesothelioma cases, ensuring that victims have the right to a trial within a shorter time frame.
- Number of Companies Involved: In many mesothelioma lawsuits, multiple manufacturers or companies may be named as defendants. The more companies involved, the higher the likelihood that one of them might opt to settle the case sooner than others. This can lead to varying settlement timelines for different defendants.
- Trials and Motions: If a settlement cannot be reached through negotiations, the case may proceed to trial or may require resolution through motions. Even during these phases, settlements can still be achieved before a final verdict is reached.
- Complexity of the Case: Mesothelioma cases can be complex due to the long latency period of the disease, which can make it challenging to pinpoint the exact source of asbestos exposure. Cases with more complexities might take longer to resolve.
- Cooperation and Response from Defendants: The response and cooperation from the defendants play a significant role in the timeline of a mesothelioma claim. Willingness to engage in negotiations and reach a settlement can expedite the process.
- Medical and Legal Documentation: The availability and accessibility of medical records, employment history, and other essential legal documentation can affect how quickly the case progresses.
- Court Docket and Caseload: The court’s schedule and existing caseload can influence the timeline for resolving a mesothelioma claim. Courts with heavy caseloads may experience delays in setting trial dates.
- Settlement Amount and Negotiations: The settlement amount sought and the negotiations between the parties can impact how long it takes to reach an agreement.
It is important to note that while many mesothelioma settlements are resolved within 12 months, individual cases can vary significantly based on these factors and other unique circumstances.
Average Claims Settlement Payouts in Mesothelioma Cases:
The average settlement payout in mesothelioma cases ranges between $1 million and $1.4 million. However, it is important to note that individual settlements can vary based on the specific circumstances of each case.
Trial verdicts in mesothelioma cases have been reported to average around $2.4 million.
Additionally, some mesothelioma settlements may involve payments from mesothelioma trust funds, which are typically lower than lawsuit settlements. For instance, one claimant who filed claims with 30 mesothelioma trust funds received a trust fund recovery of $662,000 in 2015.
Notable settlements in recent years include:
- Illinois: In 2005, US Steel was ordered to pay $250 million to the wife of a deceased steelworker who died of mesothelioma.
- Missouri: In 2011, a circuit court judge approved a $10 million settlement for a woman who worked in the Jackson County courthouse during a renovation project that exposed her to asbestos. Unfortunately, she passed away from mesothelioma before she could collect, but her family was awarded the settlement funds.
- Montana: Due to mass asbestos exposure in the asbestos mines in Libby, two large settlements were reported. In 2011, a judge approved a $43 million settlement that covered 1,300 miners and their estates. In 2017, a class-action lawsuit provided a $25 million settlement to 1,000 asbestos-related disease victims.
- New York: In 2006, a retired police officer and brake repair worker reached a $25 million settlement with Daimler-Chrysler.
It’s important to remember that each case is unique, and settlement amounts can be influenced by various factors, including the extent of asbestos exposure, the severity of the illness, and the liability of the responsible parties.
To achieve maximum compensation for your asbestos case in the shortest possible time, it is essential to hire an experienced attorney with a track record of swiftly settling or taking cases to trial. These attorneys can often secure compensation within 90 days, depending on the circumstances of your asbestos exposure and diagnosis. On the other hand, without a skilled attorney, mesothelioma personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits may take several years to resolve.
For Wyoming victims, there is over $30 billion available through Asbestos Trust Funds, offering financial compensation without the need for a lawsuit. Mesothelioma and lung cancer victims qualify immediately. To determine the amount of asbestos lawsuit money you may be entitled to, consult one of their experienced mesothelioma attorneys.
- Mesothelioma Payout Timeline. Retrieved from https://www.asbestos.net/legal/compensation/settlements/payout-timeline/
- Filing Mesothelioma Asbestos Lawsuit. Retrieved from https://mesothelioma.net/filing-mesothelioma-asbestos-lawsuit/
- Mealey’s Litigation Report for 2015 and 2017. Retrieved from https://store.lexisnexis.com/products/mealeys-litigation-report-asbestos-skuusSku41082
- Asbestos Claim Settlements. Retrieved from https://www.asbestos.com/mesothelioma-lawyer/settlements/