Settling an Asbestosis or Mesothelioma Lawsuit

When a victim of an asbestos related illness sues an employer or manufacturer for compensation, he or she can either continue with the trial until a court verdict made, or the case can be settled out of court. For most people with conditions that are usually terminal, like asbestosis or mesothelioma, a settlement is recommended. Some ways of settling an asbestos case are better than others.

Avoid Settlement Trusts If Possible

Unless a lawyer specifically advises filing a claim with a mesothelioma settlement trust, the case should be taken up directly with employer, manufacturer, or other liable party in question. A settlement trust—not to be confused with arbitrated out of court settlement—is a fund that's been set aside from a previous lawsuit, in which the court has ordered the defendant to pay a certain sum that's used to handle future claims. If a trust already exists for company or entity you intend to sue, you can sometimes find these trusts through a search engine—for instance, by Googling, "[company name] settlement trust" or a variation thereof. A lawyer will only recommend using a settlement trust of the company has filed for bankruptcy or has gone out of business.

Settlement trusts should be a last resort. They're extremely convenient, because getting compensation involve little more than filing some elementary paperwork. Court appearances and rigorous evidence are rarely necessary. The biggest drawbacks are the small amounts awarded (often between 5% and 15% of the claim), and the fact that, by accepting the payout, you waive your right to sue in the future. Many asbestos poisoning symptoms seem very minor in the beginning, consisting of shallow breathing, stomach pains or loss of appetite. But by the time these symptoms emerge, asbestos fibers have very likely been lodged in the lining of the patient's internal organs for years or decades. Inflammation and scarring of these organs will can easily develop into a terminal illness within months of diagnosis.

What to Look for In a Lawyer

Most asbestos cases are contingency work. The client pays no attorney's fees unless the case is won, except for expenses, such as medical expert witnesses or additional diagnostic tests need to prove the client's condition. Many lawyers charge a lower contingency fee for settling a case early than the do for winning a trial verdict. The might take 25% to 33% of whatever they negotiate in an out of court settlement, while they might take 33% to 40% of any court award they win. However, a lawyer with a lot of experience in asbestos settlement work might charge the same for a settlement as they would for a court award.

While higher contingency fees for top lawyers might seem exorbitant, many experts agree than a highly experienced attorney that comes highly recommended is worth the premium. They know from many previous negotiations when an offer from the plaintiff is too low to accept initially, or whether the case should continue in court. They're also more skilled at knowing which evidence to gather and present to different judges and juries. You can find lawyer ratings using the Martindale-Hubbell directory. A good lawyer will be able to procure the highest settlement possible in the least amount of time.

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