Understanding  Mesothelioma Compensation After Death

If a loved one has died from mesothelioma, you feel understandably crushed by your circumstances. Watching a loved one succumb to the pain and distress of this particularly insidious cancer is enough to ruin anyone’s life, and that’s before you lose them entirely. Once they’re gone, it can leave you wondering what to do – and how to punish those who allowed this to happen.

Because mesothelioma is the result of exposure to asbestos, a substances that has since been discontinued in construction because of its severe health consequences, you have the right to sue the company responsible for the death of your loved one. And you should.

That said, it is neither logistically nor emotionally easy to prepare and bring such a suit. It takes time and effort, and you’re going to need help. Before signing on with an attorney, though, it helps to understanding exactly what a mesothelioma suit involves after death, and how you can best prepare yourself for a good outcome.

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What Is Mesothelioma?

The mesothelium is a thin layer of tissue that coats and protects most of your internal organs. As the Mayo Clinic explains, “Doctors divide mesothelioma into different types based on what part of the mesothelium is affected. Mesothelioma most often affects the tissue that surrounds the lungs (pleura). This type is called pleural mesothelioma. Other, rarer types of mesothelioma affect tissue in the abdomen (peritoneal mesothelioma), around the heart and around the testicles.”

Unfortunately, as of today, there is no known cure for this aggressive and deadly cancer. Most people who receive a diagnosis will not survive longer than 1-2 years. Even those with high-quality and immediate treatment rarely live longer than 5 years, though there are stories of long-term survivors. Whether your loved one has recently been diagnosed, is in the final stages of the disease or has already passed, it’s important to know the causes and options for a mesothelioma case.

What Causes Mesothelioma?

This form of cancer is caused by tiny asbestos fibers. Asbestos is a material used on construction sites starting in the 1930s or so and continuing until 1977 when its use was banned. It was used as an insulating material, and as such were commonly put into walls, ceilings and other parts of the structure.

This mineral is made up of sharp microscopic rods capable of piercing the mesothelioma membrane, where they cause changes to the DNA of the lining, which in turn spurs the formation of cancer. This most often affects the heart, lungs, stomach, and testicles. Once cancer gets established, it spreads to other parts of the body, usually starting with the lymph nodes and then spreading to other organs.

What Is a Wrongful Death Suit?

A wrongful death suit is one in which the plaintiff accuses the defendant of having caused a death through negligent or willfully harmful behavior. As the name suggests, there must be a death in order to bring this lawsuit against the damaging party. Even if death is expected, the plaintiffs must wait until the affected person has passed before bringing the suit.

Wrongful death lawsuits are filed through the estate of the deceased party. A representative of that estate, whether an attorney or one of the family members of the deceased, is usually the one who files the lawsuit. In order for wrongful death suits to succeed, the plaintiff must do several things:

  • Prove that the defendant had a responsibility to protect the victim but failed to do so, which means in this case that the company had a responsibility to provide a safe jobsite and did not do so
  • Prove that there were financial and emotional costs associated with the wrongful death
  • Prove a relationship to the deceased in which you would have had to suffer one or both of these costs

What Rights Do Families of Mesothelioma Victims Have After the Victim’s Death?

Assuming that the victim had a medical diagnosis of mesothelioma and that this was the cause of their death, families of victims always have the right to bring a wrongful death suit. The only question is whether a) the company was responsible for the death and b) the family members actually suffered as a result of the death. Or the plaintiff can prove the victim’s suffering and medical costs, which may also result in a settlement or award (discussed next).

Important Mesothelioma Lawsuit Terms

Understanding your options when it comes to a lawsuit starts with understanding some of the basic terms you may hear while working with attorneys and throughout the process.

  • Discovery: This is the process whereby each side on a lawsuit obtains the information the other has in order to build the best possible case. In some cases, the mesothelioma company is bankrupt and no longer in business – usually due to cases such as this – but discovery can reveal a trust set up to aid victims.
  • Claim or Lawsuit: This is when victims or family members of deceased victims, in this case, bring a civil action against an asbestos company or group of companies. Family members may bring an individual suit or join in a class-action lawsuit, in which they sign on which other similar victims.
  • Verdict: When a judge or jury hands down a decision about the case, which decides whether companies will be punished and family members compensated for the death of the victim.
  • Settlement: An amount of money paid directly or indirectly to someone who has suffered harm, in this case as a result of being related to someone who has suffered death from mesothelioma. Settlements may occur before or after a trial, and mean the company is willing to pay.
  • Award: An award is when, rather than willingly agreeing to pay the victim’s family members, the company is instead forced to do so by the judge or jury.

You will encounter many other legal terms throughout the course of preparing a case, bringing it against the company responsible for the death, and weathering the trial period. Be sure to ask your attorney whenever you don’t understand something, which is the only way to ensure you get the best possible outcome.

Mesothelioma Payments and Awards

It’s important going in to know how the payment process works. Most mesothelioma lawyers work on a contingency basis. That means they only get paid if you receive a settlement from the company or an award as part of the trial process. Usually, this is a percentage of the amount you earn, though it may be a set fee. As many mesothelioma cases are a class action, it may be a percentage of what everyone makes.

The bottom line is that you should not pay an attorney upfront or at any point in the process until you have received financial compensation yourself. A lawyer who asks you to do so does not have your best interests at heart, for the simple reason that no one can assure you that you a) have a case or b) will win it at the outset. At a reputable law firm, there are no startup fees, consultation fees or anything else – so don’t ever pay them.

Frequently Asked Questions

In this section, we answer the following questions

Q: Is Mesothelioma a Painful Death?

A: Yes, unfortunately, mesothelioma is considered by many to be one of the most painful of all types of cancer. It can cause fluid to build up in the chest or abdomen, which constricts breathing and causes shortness of breath, as well as constant severe coughing.

Q: What is the average settlement for mesothelioma?

A: A typical settlement in a mesothelioma case could run as high as $1.5 million, which was the reported amount Johnson & Johnson agreed to for settling a 2019 case in which a New York woman claimed to have gotten cancer from asbestos-tainted talcum powder.

Q: What is the statute of limitations on mesothelioma claims?

A: Usually 2-3 years. Each state has different rules depending on the type of lawsuit (personal injury vs. wrongful death), but generally, the limitations range from 2-3 years.

Q: How long do mesothelioma claims take?

A: A verified mesothelioma claim from an asbestos trust fund could wrap up in as little as a few months. Once a diagnosis has been made, many claims move quickly because of the clear connection between asbestos and mesothelioma. If filing a lawsuit (as opposed to making a claim against an asbestos trust fund), keep in mind that every state has its own laws regarding time limits around filing lawsuits, and these are generally 2-3 years in most states.

Q: What are the first signs of mesothelioma?

A: It can take decades after exposure to asbestos for an individual to begin showing signs of this rare and serious cancer. Early signals include:

  • Chest, abdominal or lower back pain
  • Fatigue & weakness
  • Fluid around the lungs
  • Night sweats
  • Fever
  • Constant dry cough
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath

Q: Why is mesothelioma painful?

A: The most common type of mesothelioma, pleural mesothelioma, causes fluid to build up in the chest between the heart and lungs. This makes breathing very painful and difficult, as well as leading to a painful and prolonged cough.

Q: What is the life expectancy of someone with mesothelioma?

A: According to the most recent data from the American Cancer Society, less than 10% of pleural mesothelioma patients will survive five years after their diagnosis. The earlier their cancer is caught, however, the greater their chance for survival, as mesothelioma cases caught in the earliest stage have an 18% survival rate.

Q: How much do mesothelioma victims get?

A: Compensation for mesothelioma victims and their families depends on several factors, including each individual case as well as how the claim was pursued and whether a settlement was reached. Typical settlements have been in the $1.5 million range. For mesothelioma victims who seek payouts from asbestos trust funds, the typical sum is around $50,000, though each case is unique.

Q: Can you sue for mesothelioma?

A: While the only way to know if you have a strong legal case is to consult a qualified expert attorney, tens of thousands of cases already have been filed with several juries returning high-value verdicts related to mesothelioma and asbestos exposure. If you suspect that you or a loved one got mesothelioma from asbestos exposure, you should contact an attorney.

Q: How do I get checked for mesothelioma?

A: Mesothelioma is a rare and serious form of cancer that can be treated if it’s caught early. The initial warning signs include a sustained, dry cough, pain in the chest, back or abdomen and shortness of breath. If you have reason to believe you’ve been exposed to asbestos and you are experiencing these or similar symptoms, your doctor will likely begin by getting a chest X-ray, which could show several of the markers of mesothelioma, such as calcium deposits in the lungs, fluid between the chest and lungs or unusual thickening of lung lining.

Q: Can peritoneal mesothelioma be cured?

A: It is possible for peritoneal mesothelioma to go into remission with treatment. What options exist for those suffering from peritoneal mesothelioma depends, as with any type of cancer, on how advanced the disease is upon diagnosis. For those whose cancer is caught early, surgery can remove much of the cancer, and chemotherapy can help send the mesothelioma into remission, which can be long-lasting.

Q: Is Stage 1 mesothelioma curable?

A: Successful treatment can send Stage 1 mesothelioma into remission. While mesothelioma is often an aggressive cancer, cases that are caught early often can be treated with a combination of surgery and chemotherapy, and many patients have years of cancer-free lives ahead of them. Particularly for Stage 1 pleural mesothelioma, a high percentage of mesotheliomas can be removed through surgery.

Q: What is the average settlement for mesothelioma?

A: Johnson & Johnson in 2019 settled for $1.5 million in the case of a woman who claimed to have gotten mesothelioma from asbestos, and other companies have settled cases for similar amounts. For individuals or families that do not pursue lawsuits but make claims against asbestos trust funds, payouts generally are lower with the median payout around $50,000.

Q: What is the statute of limitations on mesothelioma claims?

A: In most states, the statute of limitations for personal injury or wrongful death claims related to mesothelioma is 2-3 years, though some states have longer time limits, while others have shorter ones. Be sure to check your state’s laws, as the exact limit will depend on your state and the type of lawsuit.

Q: What is a mesothelioma lawsuit?

A: Mesothelioma lawsuits are brought by cancer patients (or their survivors), most often against companies that may have been negligent in their use of asbestos among their products. Mesothelioma is a rare and often fatal cancer that’s most frequently caused by exposure to asbestos, and a mesothelioma lawsuit is a way to hold companies accountable for their use of a dangerous substance.

Q: Is there a statute of limitations on mesothelioma cases?

A: There is no specific statute of limitations on mesothelioma cases, but every state has rules limiting the number of time individuals have to bring lawsuits over a personal injury, product liability or wrongful death. These limitations usually range from 1-5 years after diagnosis or death from mesothelioma.

Q: What is the average settlement for a mesothelioma case?

A: About $1.5 million. As recently as 2018, Johnson & Johnson settled an asbestos-mesothelioma case in New York for that amount, though the company in that same year was on the receiving end of a more than $4 billion verdict.

Q: How long do mesothelioma claims take?

A: For a mesothelioma lawsuit that goes all the way to trial, the process usually takes several months or even years. However, given the nature of this particular type of cancer, causes often are expedited when plaintiffs are very ill. For those who seek payouts from an asbestos trust fund, they could receive their money in as little as a few months.

Q: How much is mesothelioma compensation?

A: Mesothelioma compensation varies widely depending on how the claim is pursued — asbestos trust fund claim, settlement or jury verdict. Recent examples of each type of claim include:

  • Trust fund claim: $50,000
  • Settlement: $1.5 million
  • Jury verdict: $33 million

Q: Can you get compensation for asbestosis?

A: Asbestosis is a lung disease caused by prolonged exposure to asbestos particles, and it is a major risk factor for developing mesothelioma. Because the condition is so closely connected to asbestos, many patients could be eligible for compensation through asbestos trust funds or lawsuits. It’s not necessary to have developed mesothelioma to seek compensation for an asbestos-related illness.

Q: Is mesothelioma a death sentence?

A: While some early stages of mesothelioma, particularly pleural (or respiratory) mesothelioma, can be successfully treated through a combination of surgery and chemotherapy, mesothelioma is an aggressive and often deadly cancer. If caught in its early stages, many patients are able to have several years of remission, but the five-year relative survival rate of even the least-advanced mesothelioma is just 18%.

Q: How much money do mesothelioma patients get?

A: For mesothelioma patients (or their survivors) who are able to mount an effective lawsuit, jury verdicts can be quite impressive. In 2019, a judge upheld a jury’s $33 million decision against a now-defunct pipe insulation company. In an unrelated Johnson & Johnson case, the New Jersey-based company reached a $1.5 million settlement.

Q: What is the average payout for asbestos?

Average payouts for asbestos-related claims vary depending on the type of claim, including whether the case is taken to trial or ends in a settlement. Out-of-court settlements in asbestos-related mesothelioma cases average around $1.5 million, but individuals also can seek payouts from asbestos trust funds, which are funds established to compensate victims of now-defunct companies that used asbestos. Payouts from funds vary, but a typical claim is paid at around $50,000.

Q: Can I sue for asbestos exposure?

Individuals who were exposed to asbestos and later became sick, including being diagnosed with mesothelioma, may be able to seek damages in a court of law. Each state has a statute of limitations for various types of lawsuits that apply in these cases, but those who have become seriously ill as a result of being exposed to asbestos may have multiple options for suing the company that caused the exposure, including personal injury and product liability lawsuits.

Q: Who is the best mesothelioma attorney?

The best mesothelioma attorney is one who has experience in all matters related to asbestos, mesothelioma and other related illnesses that can be caused by asbestos exposure. For those who are considering a mesothelioma lawsuit, it’s important to find an attorney who has been successful in pursuing these cases and getting financial compensation for victims. Remember that every state’s laws are different, so you should always find a qualified local attorney.

Q: Is mesothelioma a type of lung cancer?

Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer than can affect the respiratory and digestive systems, but pleural (or respiratory) mesothelioma is the most common type. While mesothelioma can affect the lungs, it’s not considered lung cancer because it does not affect the tissue of the lungs but rather the pleural lining.

Q: How can I get mesothelioma compensation?

Individuals who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos have several options for securing compensation, including:

  • A personal injury lawsuit
  • A product liability lawsuit
  • A wrongful death lawsuit (for the survivors of those who have died as a result of their exposure)
  • A settlement of any of these types of lawsuits
  • A claim against an asbestos trust fund (if that applies to your situation)

Remember that the best way to know which route is right for you is to consult with an attorney who has experience in asbestos- and mesothelioma-related cases.

Q: What are the end stages of mesothelioma?

The stages of mesothelioma can be broken down from Stage I through Stage IV. In Stage IV, the cancer has spread far from where it began in the body. In the end stages of mesothelioma, Stage III and Stage IV, it’s unlikely that the cancer can be removed through surgery, so the main treatment option for mesothelioma at these stages is chemotherapy.

Q: Is mesothelioma a painful death?

Many researchers believe mesothelioma is among the most painful types of cancer because it usually affects an individual’s ability to breathe. While individuals with late-stage mesothelioma may choose to seek chemotherapy or even surgery as a treatment, cancer cells interrupts the normal function of all areas of the body to which they’ve spread.

Q: What is the average payout for asbestos?

The payout a sick person can expect to compensate them for their exposure to asbestos varies depending on how sick they are and what type of case they are pursuing. But generally, people who mount successful lawsuits are likely to see the highest payouts with one jury awarding a mesothelioma plaintiff as much as $33 million. Settlements in mesothelioma cases are around $1.5 million, while payouts on claims against asbestos trust funds are in the $50,000 range.

Q: What is the average settlement for a mesothelioma case?

About $1.5 million. As recently as 2018, Johnson & Johnson settled an asbestos-mesothelioma case in New York for that amount, though the company in that same year was on the receiving end of a more than $4 billion verdict in an unrelated case in which 22 women say they got ovarian cancer because of asbestos in the company’s talcum powder.

Q: Can you sue for mesothelioma?

Yes, in many cases individuals who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma can seek financial compensation if their cancer is found to be related to their exposure to asbestos. As many as 80% of mesothelioma cases are related to prolonged exposure to asbestos, which most often takes place at work. Anyone considering a mesothelioma lawsuit should consult with a local expert attorney who is educated on asbestos and mesothelioma as well as state laws regarding limitations on such lawsuits.

How to Find the Right Mesothelioma Lawyer

The right mesothelioma lawyer or law firm will have several traits going for it:

  • Experience bringing mesothelioma suits to court: If your attorney has not yet taken any such cases, or even if they’ve only brought a few, steer clear. Even if you work with a young attorney, they should have the oversight of older, more experienced lawyers.
  • Time in the industry: Good attorneys have at least five years of experience, and ideally much more, in the wrongful death field.
  • Attorneys who have experience with trusts: Not all asbestos companies need to be sued in order to pay you. Many have established trusts for asbestos victims and their families. Only work with a firm that knows how to navigate this situation.
  • A substantial number of cases won: The firm’s track record is important. Don’t work with anyone who has a less-than-stellar record or who is cagey about what that record is.

Since there are plenty of firms that meet all these requirements, you shouldn’t have trouble finding the right attorney. For instance, we are proud to say that we meet these requirements, and would love to help you out.

Get a Free Consultation Today

If you’re ready for help, please feel free to schedule a free consultation today. Our friendly, compassionate attorneys have the experience to help you through this difficult time. We understand you are feeling wronged, emotional, overwhelmed and lost – which is why we work so hard to help you navigate the process in a seamless manner, without confusion or additional life setbacks.

Our consultations are free and take place at your convenience. Just let us know what works for you and a member of our team will make themselves available to hear you out, assess your case and move forward if at all possible. Don’t wait to get in touch … and get what you deserve.