Written by Retired LCDR Carl Jewett
A majority of the time, mesothelioma lawsuits end in a settlement. This result is due to courts having already ruled that many asbestos manufacturers were negligent in the exposure of the substance to workers and the general public. However, if a settlement isn’t reached, the case usually goes to a trial, which often concludes with a mesothelioma verdict.
Resorting to a Mesothelioma Verdict: Worth the Risk?
Mesothelioma trials often end in a favorable verdict for the plaintiff. Most national mesothelioma law firms work strictly on contingency for two main reasons: they are confident they’ll be successful in securing a settlement or a favorable verdict; and they don’t want their clients to pay unnecessary out-of-pocket costs to secure legal representation. However, because of the many variables of a trial, seeking a mesothelioma verdict can be risky.
According to the 2017-2018 Mealey’s Litigation Report: Asbestos, the median trial verdict for asbestos-related cases in 2017 was approximately $2 million. The average verdict was higher, around $9 million, due to two or three outlier verdicts that were much larger than most.
Reasons to Avoid a Trial Verdict
What to Expect When Going to Trial
The judicial process has been highlighted in movies and on television for as long as movies and TV have existed. Hollywood productions can overdramatize the intensity of courtroom events.
In situations where a successful negotiation prior to a trial isn’t possible, mesothelioma patients are dependent on a successful verdict to receive an award. It is important to remember, however, that attorneys will still try to mediate a settlement during the trial. Only after a mesothelioma verdict is reached is it too late to settle.
Presentation of evidence
Presenting and Examining the Facts
Before a verdict is reached, both parties present evidence and cross-examine witnesses to bolster their respective arguments. A mesothelioma victim may testify as a witness if they are medically able to, but this exposes them to cross-examination by the defendant.
After each side provides closing statements, the judge gives instructions to the jury to rule on certain issues of the case and may point out certain facts and rules of law. The jury then deliberates until a mesothelioma verdict is reached.
If the jury votes in favor of the plaintiff, the jury sets the amount of compensatory and punitive damages. The award amount varies given the compensatory claims of the plaintiff and the defendant’s level of negligence.
If the jury votes in favor of the defendant, the company is not required to pay any damages. When working with most top mesothelioma lawyers, the plaintiff doesn’t have to pay any legal fees to their attorney if they lose their case.
Compensatory Versus Punitive Damages
When the jury arrives at a mesothelioma verdict in favor of the plaintiff, they set the amount the defendant pays, which may be the total of compensatory and punitive damages. Compensatory damages are awarded to cover any mesothelioma-related costs the plaintiff incurs. In contrast, punitive damages are set as a punishment to the defendant.
The purpose of punitive damages is to discourage the defendant and other companies from engaging in similar negligent and harmful behavior. The amount of punitive damages awarded by the jury depends on how much the jury believes the defendant was responsible for any of the plaintiff’s asbestos exposure.
Choosing a Good Law Firm
The importance of choosing a good law firm cannot be overstated. The ins and outs of mesothelioma lawsuits are intricate and a veteran lawyer can get the full compensation that victims deserve, whether they settle or seek out a mesothelioma verdict.
Seeking a settlement is generally safer than attempting to get a favorable verdict. The reason mesothelioma settlements are so prominent is due to the overwhelming evidence against asbestos companies. In many situations, these companies have admitted fault and wish to settle as soon as possible to avoid greater expenses. In some cases where the plaintiff’s asbestos exposure history is staggering, or when an offered settlement is not satisfactory, seeking a verdict may be the mesothelioma patient’s best option.
Verdicts often award much more than the typical settlement. However, only an experienced law firm can properly assess the risk of seeking a mesothelioma verdict. If you have been diagnosed with the rare cancer, explore your options with our free legal support and connect with top mesothelioma law firms.
Last Edited: June 23, 2020.