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.

Wrongful death compensation is one of a few types of compensation available to family members. There are a few others, and the staff at Mesothelioma Guide created a guide discussing each of them. If you’re family to someone who died of mesothelioma, you should understand the 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.

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 wrongful death claim. There are a few types of wrongful death claims for mesothelioma. First, let’s define a wrongful death claim for mesothelioma.

What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?

A wrongful death claim is a term for the legal action 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 lawsuit. Wrongful death lawsuits for mesothelioma are used when the defendant company is still active as a business. Wrongful death lawsuits work similarly to other types of lawsuits, meaning they include:

  • Deposition recordings
  • Settlement offers
  • Trial
  • 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 Mesothelioma 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 these claims. The family members eligible are:

  • Spouse
  • Children
  • 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. A mesothelioma lawyer can sometimes file in a different state with a longer statute of limitations. This legal rule is another reason you should talk to a mesothelioma lawyer 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 compensation for mesothelioma also has different types. 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 this compensation type does not apply to your family’s situation.

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 dependants.

Guide Packet Desktop Ad

Want to learn more?

Try Our Free Guide to Fighting Mesothelioma

Get in depth knowledge about your diagnosis & the best treatments.

Learn More
Guide Packet Mobile Ad

    Sources & Author

  1. Wrongful Death Claims: An Overview. NOLO. Retrieved from: Accessed: 7/21/17.
Picture of Jamie Iovino

About the Writer, Jamie Iovino

Jamie Iovino is the senior writer at Mesothelioma Guide. She creates and edits pages to make sure mesothelioma patients and their families receive the newest and most accurate information about mesothelioma.