Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive cancer that starts near the lungs or in the lining of the abdominal cavity. The average life expectancy for most patients is 1-2 years, and few people with this cancer surpass the 5-year mark.
All of this is to say that mesothelioma often leaves a void in families. These surviving family members deserve financial help – and they can get this help through a mesothelioma lawsuit.
Wrongful death compensation is one of a few types of compensation for victims available to family members when a loved one dies from mesothelioma. There are a few others, and the staff at Mesothelioma Guide created a guide discussing each of them so you can file a claim for compensation. If you’re family to a victim who died of mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, you should understand the financial compensation options available to you and others in your family.
Why Family Members Deserve Mesothelioma Compensation
There are nearly 3,000 cases of mesothelioma in the United States each year. Most, if not all, of them involve family members who endure the cancer battle with the patient. When the patient passes away, the family is left to struggle with the fallout.
The surviving loved ones lose a beloved member – whether a grandparent, parent, sibling or child. They also will deal with unpaid medical bills, lost wages, and more, in addition to emotional struggles. Mesothelioma law aims to support patients and family members in these unfortunate circumstances with options for financial security. Family members may be eligible to seek compensation for asbestos exposure through a legal claim or VA claim.
Companies Promoted Asbestos and Caused Mesothelioma
The fact tying everything together is the cause of mesothelioma. Asbestos is the only proven cause of the cancer, meaning everyone who dies of mesothelioma was at one point exposed to asbestos. Asbestos can also cause lung cancer, ovarian cancer and more.
The mineral is durable and resistant to heat. When it’s disturbed and broken apart, loose fibers float in the air or land on clothes, skin or hair. People can breathe in or swallow the fibers without knowing, which can lead to the sharp fibers irritating tissue inside the body.
Many industries in the United States promoted the use of asbestos. Some even created commercials or advertisements boasting of the benefits of asbestos. It was added to roof shingles, tiles, siding, paint, home appliances, electrical wiring, insulation and more. Even some automobile parts have asbestos.
Many of the companies that promoted asbestos also profited off of it. They made billions of dollars while putting their workers and consumers in the path of a rare and deadly cancer. For this fact alone – not even considering that many companies knew asbestos was harmful – they are responsible for the thousands of mesothelioma and asbestos lung cancer cases each year.
Wrongful Death Compensation for Surviving Loved Ones of Mesothelioma
Wrongful death compensation for mesothelioma is the possible result of a lawsuit when the victim has passed away. There are a few types of wrongful death claims for mesothelioma.
What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death claim is a type of claim taken when someone passes away and his or her loved ones believe the death is the fault of another person or entity. Mesothelioma is caused by asbestos exposure. Certain companies produced or sold asbestos products or equipment requiring the use of asbestos, and they are at fault for mesothelioma deaths.
Many asbestos companies were aware of the hazardous health risks associated with the substance but did not warn their employees or consumers. Now, these companies are held responsible for the cancer deaths they caused through wrongful death claims.
Types of Wrongful Death Claims for Mesothelioma
There are two types of wrongful death claims for mesothelioma family members. The first is a mesothelioma lawsuit. These are used when the defendant company is still active as a business and the asbestos victim has passed away. They work similarly to other types of asbestos claims, meaning they include:
- Deposition recordings
- Mesothelioma settlement offers
- Jury deliberations
The second type of wrongful death claim for mesothelioma is an asbestos trust fund claim. Asbestos trust funds are bank accounts created by bankrupt companies that were responsible for mesothelioma cancer cases and deaths. These bank accounts help fund future claimants.
The process for wrongful death asbestos trust fund claims is easier and quicker than lawsuits. The family members usually get compensation faster and don’t need to go to trial.
Criteria for Wrongful Death Asbestos Compensation
The main question regarding mesothelioma wrongful death cases is “Who is eligible to file a claim?” Usually, the most immediate family members can file a wrongful death asbestos compensation claim. The family members eligible are:
- Parent (in some states)
- A person who suffered financially from the death (in some states)
Each state has different rules for who can file wrongful death claims. Talk to a mesothelioma lawyer to learn if you’re eligible – and if not, who in your family is eligible.
There are two other criteria for filing a mesothelioma wrongful death claim:
- No previous claims – If a mesothelioma patient already received compensation for their disease before they passed away, then no one can file a claim against that same defendant company. However, family members might be able to file claims against other asbestos company defendants not part of the initial claim(s).
- Statute of limitations – Most legal cases must be filed by a certain time limit, called the statute of limitations. Mesothelioma wrongful death cases need to be filed 1-3 years after a patient’s death. The statute of limitations varies by state, and an asbestos lawyer can sometimes file in a different state with a longer time limit. This legal rule is another reason you should talk to an asbestos attorney to get answers for your case.
Types of Wrongful Death Compensation for Mesothelioma
Each mesothelioma claim may involve different types of compensation. For example, a verdict has punitive damages and compensatory damages. One is payment to the victim, and the other is a penalty for the defendant.
Wrongful death also has different types of mesothelioma compensation. Family members of a deceased mesothelioma patient may receive compensation for:
- Economic loss – This includes financial contributions to the family that the victim would have made if they were still alive, including their expected future wages and benefits. Medical costs for mesothelioma treatment as well as funeral expenses can be part of this compensation.
- Non-economic loss – Although there is no way to replace a loved one, asbestos companies should compensate victims’ families for their emotional loss. Non-economic damages include loss of love, society, companionship, guidance, nurturing, and more that the victim would have provided. They can also include damages from pain and suffering.
- Punitive Damages – These damages are created purely to punish the defendant for their misdeed. These are not always included in wrongful death cases. These damages are used at the verdict stage of trial in cases where the defendant’s actions were especially detestable.
Mesothelioma VA Compensation for Family Members
Taking legal action is not the only way family members can get mesothelioma compensation. Financial help from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is available if the deceased patient was a veteran of the U.S. military.
Quite often, this is the case. Veterans with mesothelioma are unfortunately quite common relative to the number of cases.
Asbestos was a mainstay of Navy ships, military aircraft, barracks and more. Veterans make up nearly half of all mesothelioma cases in the United States. The surviving family members eligible for VA compensation are spouses and children.
If your loved one was not a veteran, then they would not be eligible for mesothelioma compensation through the VA.
Types of VA Compensation for Family of Mesothelioma Victims
There are two types of VA compensation for mesothelioma: Disability Compensation and Pension. The same is true of mesothelioma VA compensation for family members.
If the veteran was exposed to asbestos during military service, then they were most likely eligible for Disability Compensation. This means their immediate family members are eligible for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC). This compensation is given monthly at a base amount of around $1,300. The amount increases if the beneficiary (such as the spouse) has dependents or disabilities.
If the veteran’s mesothelioma is not linked to asbestos exposure occurring during military service, then they would receive Pension. If they die, then their loved ones receive Survivors Pension. The monthly payment varies based on the beneficiary’s income and dependents.
File a VA claim to begin the process. You can also get a free case review from an experienced mesothelioma lawyer by contacting Mesothelioma Guide. You can learn how much compensation may be available from an asbestos lawsuit.
How to File a Wrongful Death Claim
The first step in filing a wrongful death claim for mesothelioma is contacting an asbestos law firm. Finding a mesothelioma lawyer can help you learn your history of asbestos exposure and determine the amount of compensation you deserve from the companies responsible for your asbestos exposure. Many mesothelioma lawsuits settle before trial, so your wrongful death lawsuit likely will be settled quickly with the help of a mesothelioma attorney.
Email our lead patient advocate, Carl Jewett, at email@example.com for help getting financial relief and closure for your loved one’s death.
- Wrongful Death Claims: An Overview. NOLO. Retrieved from: http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/wrongful-death-claims-overview-30141.html. Accessed: 7/21/17.
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