No two mesothelioma cases are worth the same amount. Determining the value of a case is a complex process, and estimates vary.
How Much is Your Case Worth?
It’s hard to estimate how much an individual mesothelioma case is worth, but Mealey’s Litigation Report suggests $1 million is often considered an average compensation. There are many factors involved, and every plaintiff (the person filing the claim) is different. Understanding what goes into determining the value of a case can give patients and family members an idea of how much their case is worth.
Main Factors Affecting Case Value
There is a definite link between the level of asbestos exposure and the likelihood of developing mesothelioma. The amount of asbestos a person was exposed to is carefully evaluated when determining case value.
Patients and families affected by mesothelioma often face economic loss from the inability to work and resulting debt. Economic loss is factored into each case value for compensation.
Mesothelioma is expensive to treat, and medical bills can stack up quickly. These costs also affect the value of a case. Compensation for medical expenses are meant to relieve any resulting financial burden.
Other Factors That Affect Case Value
Each mesothelioma diagnosis is unique and so is each case. There are many variables taken into account with each case to determine how much compensation the plaintiff deserves. Factors commonly evaluated in each case are:
- Employer negligence
- Type of mesothelioma
- Medical expenses
- Marital status
- Loss of earnings
- Age of plaintiff
- Loss of pension
- Funeral expenses
- Age at diagnosis
- Asbestos exposure
- Pain and suffering
The overall impact on the mesothelioma patient and their family is the main point of concern in each case. The negative impact faced by the family sums up many of the individual elements that affect case value. But negligence on the part of the defendant is also considered. A greater value is typically assigned to cases with a higher overall negative impact
Settlements and Verdicts
Every mesothelioma case requires an attorney to determine how to file the case. Attorneys can assess the plaintiff’s asbestos exposure history and decide where to go for compensation.
There are two ways a plaintiff can recover compensation in a lawsuit—through a settlement or a verdict decided by a jury. Case values vary depending on whether the case is settled or goes to verdict.
- Settlements – These cases are safer and more consistent in case value and are handled out of court.
- Verdicts – These are high-risk, high-reward cases. It usually takes special circumstances to lead to a verdict in court.
The majority of cases are settled out of court because attorneys want to make sure their client receives compensation. Since they are settled in a private setting, settlement amounts aren’t typically known.
According to Mealey’s Litigation Report, there are a variety of reports placing the estimated value for cases settled out of court between $1 and $6 million.
The actual values of verdicts are somewhat unpredictable because they are set by a jury. Some plaintiffs have won tens of millions of dollars, while others were awarded more modest amounts. Each verdict depends on the evidence at hand as well as other factors in the mesothelioma diagnosis. Luckily, verdicts are public, so these values are easy to find.
Asbestos Trust Funds and the Case Valuation Matrix
If the asbestos company has filed bankruptcy, the plaintiff’s attorney must pursue compensation from a special trust fund set up by that company. Many asbestos companies have declared bankruptcy over the past few decades. As part of their agreement to reorganize their companies, they were forced to set up trust funds for any potential mesothelioma cases filed against them.
These trust funds typically use what is known as a “case valuation matrix” to determine the value of each case. The case valuation matrix assigns a minimum value to each mesothelioma case and then adjusts it for factors such as marital status, extent of exposure, etc.
Two of the many trusts that have used the case valuation matrix are Western Asbestos Company and J.T. Thorpe, Inc. On top of the base value paid out by the trusts, the case value is adjusted according to the extent of asbestos exposure; higher asbestos exposure corresponds with a higher case value. Employees with high exposure are those exposed to larger amounts of asbestos for longer amounts of time than the average employee.
These trusts also have adjustments for economic loss and medical expenses. In both instances, these trusts compensate for expenses over $200,000 and up to $2 million.
For example, medical expenses at $350,000 would result in an additional $150,000 added to the base value paid out because the trusts don’t compensate for the first $200,000. Conversely, if the expenses run over $2 million, the maximum compensation for medical expenses is $1.8 million.
The adjustments for total economic loss and medical expenses are calculated separately, so a person seeking compensation from a trust can receive compensation for both.
Find Out Your Case Value
An experienced attorney can give an individualized estimate of how much your case is worth. Additionally, all good mesothelioma attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, which means patients and families can get an estimate of their case value for free.
Some reasons mesothelioma patients and families decide to pursue a case include:
- Compensation for medical expenses
- Recovering costs from loss of work
- Pursuing justice for a loved one
Our patient advocates at Mesothelioma Guide can put you in touch with an attorney who is best for your case today. Get connected with an attorney using our free legal support.