A mesothelioma settlement or verdict can help victims of asbestos exposure pay for many of the costs incurred during the course of their diagnosis and treatment, as well as replace lost income and help families recover from financial hardship. The amount of compensation received from a settlement can vary significantly depending on the individual elements of each case.

Most mesothelioma lawsuits are settled before going to trial. However, even in cases that do end up going to trial, plaintiffs who receive a favorable verdict will be awarded money based on their expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and sometimes even punitive damages.

Average Mesothelioma Settlement Amount

It is very difficult to estimate the average amount of money that plaintiffs can receive from a mesothelioma settlement. One thing that is certain is that compensation amounts have been steadily increasing over the last several decades.

Mesothelioma Settlement Trends

  • In 2000, RAND Corporation estimated that the average settlement was $900,000 per mesothelioma claim.
  • In 2007, Mealey’s Litgation Report estimated that average mesothelioma compensation lay somewhere between $1 million and $1.4 million.
  • Today, average settlement and verdict amounts may be even higher, to take into account things like increased medical costs, as well as the greater potential for lost income due to higher salaries/wages and longer average life expectancies than in previous decades.

Another reason why it’s difficult to calculate an average mesothelioma settlement amount is that it can vary depending on where a claim is filed (i.e., the venue). A 2015 paper by an economic consulting firm studied how consolidating multiple asbestos lawsuits in a single court can increase the amount individual plaintiffs receive. Specifically, the report reviewed the effect of the New York City Asbestos Litigation (NYCAL) court, finding that significantly higher verdict awards were given to consolidated cases than had been previously given to individual cases.

For all these reasons, there is no standard method by which to calculate a trustworthy average amount for mesothelioma cases. If somebody promises that you can get a certain amount for your claim, they are likely either using old numbers or relying on incomplete data.

Settlement Examples

A 50-year-old plumber and mechanic in California received $13 million in compensation after filing a claim for asbestos exposure while on the job.

An Illinois pipefitter received more than $11 million in compensation to help pay for medical expenses, as well as lost wages and potential future income, for being exposed to asbestos.

An operating engineer who served in the U.S. Navy filed a claim in New York and received $6.9 million after being exposed to asbestos during his career.

Settlement Process

A settlement is typically reached after filing a lawsuit but before going to trial. Some settlements may also be reached during the trial itself.

Step 1: Research

The first step is to organize as much information as possible to build your case. This will include gathering items such as:

  • Medical records, including a diagnosis of mesothelioma
  • Employment history, including union membership and military service records
  • Receipts and bills for expenses related to your illness, including travel to see specialists or obtain treatment

Your lawyer will help you assemble all of the information you need to build your complaint.

Step 2: File a Lawsuit

Once your attorney has gathered all the necessary information, the next step is to file a lawsuit against the company or companies responsible for the asbestos exposure. When filing a complaint, it is important to consider the following:

Which State to File in
This can be where you have lived, worked, or served in the military.
Which Type of Claim to File
Personal injury claims are filed by the individual exposed, while wrongful death claims are filed by survivors of an exposure victim.
Whom to Name as Defendant
This will be the company or companies responsible for the asbestos exposure.

Your lawyer will prepare your lawsuit appropriately based on these considerations.

Step 3: Pretrial Activities

Once the lawsuit is filed, both sides will participate in a number of pretrial activities. This will include submitting various motions related to the case and the Discovery phase where relevant information is shared between the contending parties.

At any time after the lawsuit is filed, the defendant’s lawyer may present a settlement offer to the plaintiff’s attorney. Your attorney will inform you of the offer and provide advice about any merits or disadvantages the offer might contain. It is up to you to either reject or accept the offer at that point. If you accept the offer (usually by signing a printed agreement), the case will be settled; however, if you reject the offer, the case will continue before the court.

You may also suggest a counteroffer through your attorney, who can negotiate settlement terms with the defendant’s lawyer.

Step 4: Trial

If a settlement is not reached before trial, then the trial will proceed before the court. Note that just because a case goes to trial, a settlement is not out of the question. A defendant may offer to settle at any time during the trial, before a verdict is reached.

Once a verdict is reached, however, a settlement is no longer possible. If the verdict favors the plaintiff (i.e., the mesothelioma victim who filed the lawsuit), then the judge or jury will award compensation based on the various details presented during the trial, such as expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, etc.

Settlement Considerations and Tips

  1. It’s common practice for the first settlement offer to be much lower than the client is entitled to. For this reason, in many cases, the first settlement may be rejected.
  2. When multiple defendants are named in a complaint, some may be willing to settle while others may be willing to risk a full trial. It’s best to remember that each defendant represents a separate entity, and thus, his/her settlement offer should be considered individually rather than as a group.
  3. Defendants who have lost trials in the past may be more willing to settle quickly rather than risk losing again.
  4. Having a law firm with experienced mesothelioma attorneys supporting you is the best way to ensure your settlement is as large as it possibly can be.

Settlement vs. Verdict

A settlement is an agreement reached between two parties to end a legal dispute. With asbestos litigation, as with many other types of complaints, this often includes a sum of money paid in compensation for injuries that came about due to asbestos exposure. Settlements can occur any time during the litigation process, up to and including during a trial itself, but must occur before a verdict or decision is reached.

A verdict is a legal decision by a jury declaring the defendant to either be liable or not liable of the claims levied against them by the plaintiff. When a defendant is found liable, an additional decision will be made by either the judge or a jury to determine the amount of money they are liable for and award that amount to the plaintiff. However, if the defendant is found not to be liable, then they will not be made to pay an award.

Both settlements and verdicts are legally binding. Once a settlement is reached, it is often enforced using an order of the court. If one of the parties breaks the terms of the settlement – such as by not paying the amount agreed upon or not paying within the agreed timeframe – they could be held in contempt of court.

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