For the thousands of innocent victims affected by asbestos exposure each year, it’s important to know that recourse is possible and legal help is available. Perhaps most importantly, asbestos exposure victims should know that they do not have to be in a financial position to afford legal representation-for valid, qualifying cases, legal fees are paid out of the settlement or trial award received, not the victim’s pocket.
Most people who are diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related illness-including other types of cancers, asbestosis and pleural effusion-did not even realize that they were at risk. This is because most victims of asbestos exposure did not even realize that they had come into contact with what is known to be a highly toxic and dangerous carcinogen.
Fortunately, there is a silver lining of hope for those who have suffered the physical and financial consequences of negligent and/or illegal asbestos exposure. Recourse and compensation is possible via multiple avenues, including toxic tort and workers’ compensation laws as well as well as disability claims through the Social Security Administration and (for veterans) the Department of Veteran Affairs.
PART VIII: THREE THINGS TO UNDERSTAND BEFORE PURSUING AN ASBESTOS SETTLEMENT
If you have been affected by mesothelioma or another asbestos-related illness, an asbestos settlement is the best way to receive quick and fair compensation for your medical bills, lost wages-even pain and suffering. Once you’ve decided on filing a mesothelioma claim, it’s important to immediately find and retain an attorney to handle your case.
You’ll be able to ask your attorney many of the specific questions regarding a possible settlement amount to reasonably expect, as he or she will be the one well versed in the exact circumstances of your exposure and details of your claim. In the meantime, here are three important things to know about asbestos settlements in general, before beginning legal proceedings towards one:
Settlement amounts vary greatly. While your asbestos attorney will be in the best position to estimate a reasonable settlement amount, predicting how your case will ultimately resolve-and for how much-is impossible. Most cases end in settlement agreements, but some proceed to trial, in which the final outcome will be in the hands of a judge or jury.
Trial awards are, on average, about twice the size of agreed settlements. However, that fact alone does not necessarily indicate that going to trial is a preferred route of resolution. In fact, most cases end in an asbestos settlement for good reason. Trials tend to be lengthy, expensive (in terms of contingency-based legal fees), stressful and complex. Settlement negotiations allow litigants to avoid much hassle and cost, ultimately equaling a better outcome overall, in many cases.Settlements are affected by a number of important factors. While settling a case outside of the courtroom has many advantages, including reduced work on the part of both the attorney and the claimant, this process is still highly involved. While technically, settlement agreements can be made at any point after the commencement of a claim, most do not occur until at least the discovery phase. Discovery is a complex and highly involved process that usually includes a deposition as well as significant evidence collection and presentation-all of which is key in determining the outcome of any potential negotiation and final value of the asbestos settlement itself.