There are two types of mesothelioma claims that can be filed against the party or parties liable for negligent or unlawful exposure to asbestos. The first and most commonly filed action is called a personal injury claim, in which the claimant is the same individual named in the suit. The second type is called a wrongful death lawsuit, a claim filed on behalf of a deceased victim by his or her family member(s) or dependant(s).
Personal Injury Claims Related to Asbestos and Mesothelioma
The majority of mesothelioma claims filed in the U.S. are personal injury claims that fall under the sub-field of toxic tort law. Toxic tort cases involve a specific type of personal injury claim related to injury and/or illness caused by a chemical substance. Besides asbestos, other types of toxins named in toxic tort cases of recent years include mercury, lead, various pesticides and a plethora of different pharmaceutical products.
In a personal injury claim involving asbestos exposure, the most common defendants named are companies that profited from the sale, manufacture or distribution of asbestos-made products-all while withholding information from the public, and those who were regularly exposed to those products, about the health risks associated with asbestos. The claimant in a personal injury suit is the individual who suffered the negligent exposure and developed an asbestos-linked illness, such as mesothelioma, as a result.
Wrongful Death Lawsuits on Behalf of Asbestos Victims
In a situation where the injured party is already deceased, a different kind of mesothelioma claim can be filed by loved ones alleging wrongful death. In a wrongful death suit, it is the family or dependents of the victim who are listed as the claimants. The defendant(s) are usually the same parties that would be (or have been) listed in a personal injury claim filed by the victim directly. The basic gist of the two types of lawsuit is the same.
An obvious difference between a personal injury and wrongful death claim is the beneficiary named. In wrongful death claims, compensatory damages (if awarded) are paid out to the loved ones of the victim who have brought the suit. In either type of case, the amount of an asbestos lawsuit settlement or trial award can vary greatly, depending on many different factors. In theory, however, a wrongful death suit can be just as profitable as a personal injury claim if successful. In fact, a case out of California courts earlier this year ended with a jury award in a wrongful death suit that was more than twice the amount previously awarded in a personal injury claim which named the same victim.