If the parties in a mesothelioma lawsuit cannot reach a settlement, the case goes to a jury verdict. If the jury rules in the plaintiff's favor, he or she may receive a substantial verdict.
Resorting to a Verdict: Worth the Risk?
Reasons to Avoid a Trial Verdict
Trials Are Unpredictable
No one knows for sure what a judge or jury will decide in a mesothelioma trial. Settling reduces the risks of a losing jury verdict and ensures compensation.
They Take Longer
It can take years before a mesothelioma verdict is reached. Many trials can last several years and can last even longer if there’s an appeal.
Verdicts Are Public Record
This means that every hearing and document filed with the court is available to the public. Settlements protect the privacy of all parties.
Get Access to Compensation
What to Expect When Going to Trial
In situations where a successful negotiation isn’t possible, mesothelioma patients are dependent on a successful jury verdict to receive an award. It is important to remember, however, that attorneys will still try to mediate a settlement during the trial. It isn’t too late to settle until a verdict is reached.
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, but this opens them up to cross-examination by the defendant.
After closing statements are made, the judge gives instruction 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 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 level of negligence of the defendant.
If the jury votes in favor of the defendant, the defendant is not required to pay any damages to the plaintiff. But the plaintiff doesn’t have to pay any legal fees if they lose their case. This is because mesothelioma cases are taken on a contingency basis. That is, clients only pay the attorney fees if they settle their case or the verdict is decided in their favor.
Compensatory VS. Punitive Damages
When the jury arrives at a verdict for the plaintiff they set the amount to be paid by the defendant, which may be the total of compensatory and punitive damages. Compensatory damages are awarded to cover any mesothelioma-related costs incurred by the plaintiff. In contrast, punitive damages are awarded as a punishment to the defendant.
The purpose of punitive damages is to discourage the defendant and other companies from engaging in similar 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
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 that can be found. 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 best option.
Jury 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. Explore your options with our free legal support and get connected to top law firms.