Mesothelioma Compensation

The diagnosis of mesothelioma is shocking and devastating for patients and their families and the topic of mesothelioma compensation is a complicated one. Patients typically face a grim prognosis of 12 months or less. The experienced and dedicated mesothelioma attorneys at The Lanier Law Firm help mesothelioma patients and their families recover the financial compensation they need and deserve from those who are responsible for their condition.

Who is liable for my mesothelioma diagnosis?

Liability for mesothelioma originates with the companies that continued to manufacture and market asbestos and asbestos-containing products to the public without warning the public or their workers of the risks. Mesothelioma compensation liability is also incurred when companies and municipalities fail to inspect and abate asbestos as prescribed by law.

Asbestos Trust Funds

An estimated $30 billion has been set aside in asbestos trust funds for individuals who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses. These trust funds provide a means for mesothelioma victims to recover compensation without having to file a lawsuit.

Why were asbestos trust funds created?

Asbestos-related illnesses cost victims millions in medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering. The number of lawsuits against companies that had exposed their workers to asbestos climbed to approximately 730,000 between 1970 and 2002. The companies became overwhelmed and teetered on the brink of insolvency.

Amid the rising tide of asbestos-related lawsuits, Congress amended the Chapter 11 bankruptcy code in 1994 by adding §524(g), which established the right and obligation of businesses with asbestos-related liabilities to establish trust funds. The purpose was to ensure monies remained available for future asbestos exposure victims.

Who is eligible to collect from asbestos trust funds?

Each bankrupt company set up a separate trust fund specifically for the benefit of its own victims. To collect compensation for mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases from any one trust fund, you will need to prove you were exposed to asbestos through the fault of that specific company.

How much compensation can I receive from an asbestos trust fund?

Every trust fund functions differently. Your compensation will be determined by the policies of each trust fund. The factors that influence compensation include the severity of your condition, your life expectancy and your age when diagnosed. Compensation can include a one-time lump sum or ongoing periodic payments.

Many of the trust funds have paid more claims than anticipated, resulting in a shortage of funds necessary to pay all future claims. In an effort to continue paying claimants, the funds have resorted to reducing payouts to a percentage of the claim value.

For example, if a trust fund pays 20 percent of the claim value, and you are entitled to receive $100,000, your award is adjusted down to $20,000. Some trust funds are paying as low as 7.5 percent of the claim value. The Lanier Law Firm’s Asbestos Resolution Team is led by Maura Kolb, a 20 year veteran of the firm. Maura and and her team have decades of experience fighting for your mesothelioma compensation through the asbestos trust funds and are committed to obtaining you the maximum award through the trusts.

Can I file a claim against more than one trust fund?

You can file a claim against every trust fund established by a corresponding company that exposed you to asbestos. You may be required to disclose this information to the respective trust funds. Each fund will pay compensation according to its percentage of fault.

How long does it take to receive benefits?

Each trust fund has a unique claims process. Trust fund claims may result in faster compensation than filing lawsuits. Most funds offer an expedited process, but there may be some tradeoffs. Our mesothelioma attorneys can provide you with more information about the time frames and the claims process after reviewing the details of your asbestos exposure timeline.

Can my surviving spouse and children collect from the trust funds?

Immediate family members are eligible to file wrongful death claims against the trust. Family members can also complete claims initiated by the deceased and continue receiving funds awarded to the deceased prior to their death.

Is there a time limit to file claims against asbestos trust funds?

Yes, every trust fund has established its own statute of limitations, which generally ranges from one to three years after you receive a confirmed diagnosis of an asbestos-related illness. Our mesothelioma attorneys can help you file your claim, but it is important to contact us as soon as possible after your diagnosis to ensure we have adequate time to investigate and prepare your claim.

Mesothelioma Lawsuits

If you have a mesothelioma diagnosis through the fault of a company that has not established an asbestos trust fund, you may have the option to file a lawsuit.

What type of compensation can I claim in a lawsuit?

Compensation through a mesothelioma lawsuit can be substantial. You are entitled to claim economic, non-economic and punitive damages.

Economic Damages

Economic damages cover your verifiable monetary losses. This includes but is not limited to the following:

  • Medical expenses
  • Personal care expenses
  • The cost of domestic services
  • Caregiver costs
  • Lost wages
  • Lost business opportunities

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are subjective, non-monetary losses that stem from your mesothelioma diagnosis and include but are not limited to the following:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of society
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of consortium
  • Emotional distress

Some jurisdictions limit the amount of non-economic damages you can recover

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are non-compensatory damages awarded as a punishment and deterrent against a defendant whose injurious conduct was malicious, oppressive, grossly negligent or concealed by fraud. In light of the extensive concealment activities of many asbestos-producing companies, your case may qualify for punitive damages. Some jurisdictions limit punitive damages.

What is the average compensation from a mesothelioma lawsuit?

Compensation varies widely based on a multitude of factors, including but not limited to the following:

  • The severity of the case
  • The age at diagnosis
  • The expected lifespan
  • The total financial losses
  • The jurisdiction where the case is filed
  • The available assets of the at-fault company
  • The company’s degree of fault
  • Whether the company participated in the cover-up or was just negligent

Is it better to settle or go to court?

Settling a case can be an ideal outcome for all parties involved because it results in a faster resolution and removes the uncertainties that are inherent in court proceedings. However, asbestos companies do not always agree to reasonable settlement terms. In these cases, our law firm advises clients to litigate in court.

Our attorneys are world-class litigators and have been recognized by our peers as some of the most feared litigators in the nation. We prepare every case as if it is going to court, and we have a successful track record of winning substantial verdicts on behalf of our mesothelioma clients.

Can mesothelioma lawsuits be expedited?

Many jurisdictions recognize the urgent nature of mesothelioma cases and provide means to ensure cases are heard expeditiously.

Expedited Trials

Many states have adopted procedures to prioritize asbestos cases based on the severity of each victim’s condition. Individuals with mesothelioma and other malignancies are given priority, while those who are still functioning well are placed on inactive status until their condition worsens. In these and other jurisdictions, plaintiffs can file a motion for an expedited hearing.

The attorneys at The Lanier Law Firm have witnessed firsthand how quickly mesothelioma progresses. We take seriously the urgency of resolving mesothelioma cases to make a difference for our clients and their families.

Can my loved ones file a lawsuit after my passing?

Your immediate family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit to claim damages that stem from your death. The following damages may be available in a wrongful death lawsuit depending on the jurisdiction:

  • Medical bills
  • Burial costs
  • Funeral expenses
  • Loss of income
  • Pain and suffering of the deceased
  • Mental anguish of the family 
  • Loss of parental guidance
  • Loss of companionship
  • Punitive damages 

Wrongful death lawsuits may be filed by a personal representative, such as the executor of the estate, or by the surviving spouse, children or next of kin. Proceeds are divided among the survivors according to state guidelines.

How long do I have to file a mesothelioma lawsuit?

The statute of limitations varies by state, both in terms of the length of time and when it begins tolling. The time limit ranges from one to three years in most states. 

In some states, the statute of limitations begins tolling at the time of the most recent exposure. Since mesothelioma typically does not emerge until decades after exposure, lawsuits are often time-barred in these jurisdictions. 

In other states, the statute of limitations begins tolling at the time of discovery. Discovery is the time you became aware of the exposure, such as when you were diagnosed.

A successful mesothelioma lawsuit requires meticulous preparation. Thus, it is important to contact an attorney at The Lanier Law Firm as soon as possible to ensure a strong case can be prepared on your behalf.

VA Claims

Military personnel have historically experienced significant asbestos exposure while in the line of duty. The U.S. government has acknowledged this by allowing veterans to claim mesothelioma compensation through VA benefits when diagnosed.

Who is eligible to file a mesothelioma VA claim?

Veterans diagnosed with mesothelioma who served on active duty or inactive training duties and were not dishonorably discharged may be eligible for benefits. If the asbestos exposure occurred during the veteran’s military service, the VA will consider the exposure to be service-connected. Establishing mesothelioma as a service-connected illness can yield greater mesothelioma compensation.

Was I exposed while in the military?

Veterans who worked in the following occupations during military service were the most likely to be exposed:

  • Boatswains
  • Metalsmiths
  • Boilermakers
  • Electricians
  • Firemen
  • Machinists
  • Mechanics
  • Pipefitters
  • Fire control technicians
  • Gas turbine system technicians
  • Hull maintenance technicians
  • Instrument men
  • Sonar technicians
  • Water tenders
  • Radiomen
  • Support equipment technician
  • Electronic technician
  • Construction workers
  • Engine men
  • Missile technicians
  • Painters

Navy personnel experienced the highest levels of asbestos exposure due to the extensive use of asbestos on naval vessels.

What types of benefits are available through the VA?

The following benefits are available through the VA:

  • VA health care – Comprehensive medical coverage with travel and caregiver benefits
  • Disability compensation – Monthly compensation for veterans with service-connected disabilities
  • VA pensions – Monthly compensation for low-income veterans with or without service-connected disabilities
  • Survivor benefits – Financial compensation, health care and educational benefits for survivors after the veteran passes away
  • Educational benefits – Monthly benefits to cover the cost of education, which are transferable to surviving spouses and children
  • Burial benefits – Funeral honors, a plot in a national cemetery and a military headstone

Can I sue the military?

The Feres Doctrine, which was upheld by the Supreme Court, prohibits veterans of the military from suing for harm that occurs during military service. However, you can sue the companies that sold asbestos-containing products to the military. The mesothelioma attorneys at The Lanier Law Firm can assist you with identifying these companies and holding them accountable.

How long does it take to start receiving VA benefits for asbestos exposure?

The time frame varies depending on the specifics of your application. According to the VA, disability claims take an average of 141.9 days to process.

What if I have multiple sources of exposure?

Many mesothelioma patients have been exposed to asbestos through multiple sources. It is important to document each source of exposure because you may be able to seek compensation from all sources. If applicable, you can file a lawsuit, a trust fund claim and a VA claim simultaneously. Filing one type of mesothelioma claim does not bar you from filing another type.

Some trust funds may reduce your compensation if you receive proceeds from a lawsuit, but lawsuit proceeds do not impact your VA benefits if your mesothelioma is service-connected.

What if I am unable to determine how I was exposed to asbestos?

A mesothelioma diagnosis comes as a shock to many patients because they were unaware they had been exposed to asbestos. The source of asbestos exposure may not be obvious. One of the most important roles of an experienced mesothelioma lawyer is helping clients discover the sources of their exposure.

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you have almost certainly been exposed to asbestos. During the 32+ years since The Lanier Law Firm’s establishment, we have uncovered hundreds of sources of asbestos exposure. When our attorneys take on your case, we will take the necessary time to piece together a detailed life history and help you identify how you were exposed.

Can I sue for other conditions caused by asbestos exposure?

Mesothelioma is one of several illnesses caused by exposure to asbestos. The following conditions can also stem from asbestos exposure:

lungni
Lung Cancer
asbesni
Asbestosis

Scarring of the lung tissue

plaquesni
Pleural plaques

Plaque buildup on the membranes surrounding the lungs

thickni

Thickening of the membrane surrounding the lungs

Can I receive mesothelioma compensation if I have been a lifelong smoker?

Mesothelioma is precipitated by exposure to asbestos fibers, but no causal link has been established between mesothelioma and tobacco. 

In cases of lung cancer, both tobacco and asbestos have been identified as risk factors. Asbestos exposure combined with smoking has been shown to have a synergistic effect on the risk of lung cancer. While smoking contributes to lung cancer risk, asbestos has been shown to increase the risk by five times.

Lifelong smokers diagnosed with lung cancer with proven exposure to asbestos may still be able to recover compensation. However, if smoking is a contributing factor, the compensation can be adjusted downwards accordingly.

Is mesothelioma compensation taxable?

Mesothelioma compensation from trust funds and VA benefits are not taxable, but punitive damages awarded in lawsuits are taxable. Economic and non-economic damages are generally not taxable, and punitive damages may not be taxable in wrongful death lawsuits filed in jurisdictions that prohibit all forms of compensation except punitive damages.

How can a lawyer help me with my mesothelioma compensation?

Although mesothelioma cases seem straightforward, they are rarely easy. The companies responsible for exposing scores of individuals to asbestos are primarily concerned with their own financial status. Many of these companies invest substantial financial resources in their fight to avoid paying mesothelioma victims the compensation they deserve.

The attorneys at The Lanier Law Firm specialize in standing up to large companies on behalf of injured victims. These companies profited from the labor of the very workers they irreparably harmed by exposing them to asbestos. The fact that they use those same profits to resist compensating workers is reprehensible.

Our attorneys have the resources, experience and work ethic to level the playing field and ensure mesothelioma victims receive the highest level of legal representation and advocacy available. We have received such recognition by our peers as Best Law Firms, Best Lawyers in America, Most Impressive Plaintiff Verdict and Super Lawyers. 

If you or your loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, we are prepared to devote our time, skill and resources to ensure you and your family receive the compensation you need and deserve. We only charge fees after we recover compensation for you. Time is of the essence.

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