Legal Action Is Possible for Asbestosis
When you are struggling with health issues that you suspect someone else is responsible for, you may not know where to turn. After asbestos exposure, you may be living with asbestosis, paying for costly treatments and fighting for every breath—all while knowing that you were likely exposed at work or in your home. You should not have to pay for these expenses and hardships on your own.
If you were exposed to asbestos through your job, even if your exposure happened many years ago, you should know that legal action is possible for asbestosis. A lawyer can explain your legal rights, tell you about the average settlement for asbestosis, and handle your case from start to finish.
Your Legal Options for Asbestosis, Mesothelioma and Other Asbestos-Related Diseases
Being exposed to asbestos can lead to serious health problems and even death. Whether you were exposed at work or in your home, you may be able to take legal action and sue for financial compensation. Depending on the details of your case, your options could include:
Filing a Civil Lawsuit
You could file a civil lawsuit against the company (or companies) responsible for your asbestos exposure. Your lawsuit may be filed against:
- A manufacturer that used asbestos in its products
- A supplier that shipped these goods
- A contractor responsible for the conditions that exposed you to asbestos
- The owner of the property where you were exposed to asbestos
- An employer who knowingly exposed you to asbestos on the job
- Other responsible companies or entities
Seeking Compensation From an Asbestos Bankruptcy Trust
Perhaps your case is against a company or entity that no longer exists or has since filed for bankruptcy. You could still seek compensation in this situation, as some defunct companies have set up asbestos bankruptcy trusts for future asbestos claims.
Seeking Workers’ Compensation or Veterans Benefits
Before the 1980s, asbestos was a ubiquitous component of building materials and other goods. Workers during this era were commonly exposed to these dangerous mineral fibers in their workplace.
Workers who are now facing health problems related to asbestos exposure may be able to seek benefits through a workers’ compensation claim or a liability claim against a manufacturer, contractor, or another responsible party.
Similarly, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs allows veterans to file asbestos-related benefits claims.
Who Is at Risk of Asbestos Exposure?
Federal laws are currently in place to protect workers from asbestos exposure and regulate the discontinued use of asbestos. However, many people may be facing symptoms of their years-ago asbestos exposure now, as they can take decades to present.
Asbestos exposure for American workers was at its height in the 1960s and 1970s, especially for people working in:
- Asbestos mining
- Asbestos milling
- The military
Today, people can still be exposed when older, asbestos-based materials deteriorate or are removed from homes, buildings, or other structures. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) confirms that people in construction who work with older materials that contain asbestos are at risk of being exposed.
How Does Asbestos Exposure Lead to Asbestosis?
After being exposed to asbestos, you could be facing many types of health problems—however, they may take years or decades after exposure to surface.
According to Mayo Clinic, asbestosis is a chronic lung condition that occurs when asbestos fibers enter the lungs and irritate the air sacs (also known as alveoli). This irritation can lead to long-term respiratory problems. Symptoms of asbestosis include:
- Dry cough
- Tightness in the chest
- Shortness of breath
- Crackling sounds in the lungs while breathing
- Clubbing (rounding and widening) of the fingers
If you have asbestosis, your doctor may recommend certain treatments to help manage your symptoms, such as supplemental oxygen, relaxation exercises, or breathing techniques.
What Is the Difference Between Asbestosis and Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is another serious respiratory condition that can result from asbestos exposure. Like asbestosis, the disease is caused by inhaling asbestos fibers, which damages the lungs.
However, mesothelioma is a rare and often aggressive form of cancer, usually affecting the tissue outside the lungs. Treating mesothelioma can be especially challenging as the survival rate is generally just 4-18 months after diagnosis. However, Penn Medicine reports that some people have lived as long as ten years after diagnosis.
If you have mesothelioma, your doctor may recommend:
- Surgery to decrease fluid buildup or remove tissue around the lungs, which can help relieve symptoms
- Radiation therapy
- Participating in clinical trials
Types of Compensation for Asbestosis, Mesothelioma, and Other Health Conditions
Compensation may be available for people who are facing health problems after asbestos exposure. You may be able to recover some or all of the losses associated with your asbestosis or mesothelioma diagnosis, including:
Medical Bills (Past, Present, and Future)
Diagnosing and treating serious respiratory conditions like these can cost thousands of dollars, and you may need to pay for treatments for many years to come. In some cases, you could have medical costs for the rest of your life. A lawyer can explain what the average settlement for asbestosis or mesothelioma is and how to pursue the compensation you deserve.
For example, you may be able to get compensation for:
- Emergency room care
- Doctor visits
- Medical equipment, such as oxygen tanks
- Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy or other treatments
Living with a serious illness will likely affect your ability to provide for yourself and your family. If you have missed time from work because of your symptoms or cannot return to the same job you once had, these losses could be compensable.
Other examples of career losses include:
- Missed paychecks
- Reduced earning capacity
- Lost benefits
- Missed opportunities for promotions
Harm to Your Life and Well-Being
You could also seek compensation for the emotional and psychological realities of life with a serious illness, such as:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment
Wrongful Death Damages If You Lost a Loved One
People who lose a loved one to their fight against asbestosis or mesothelioma not only deal with the emotional reality of their loss, but they face many other challenges as well.
Through a wrongful death claim or lawsuit, you could seek compensation for:
- Your loved one’s final medical expenses
- Lost income to your family
- Loss of companionship
- Funeral and burial costs
Specific damages available in wrongful death lawsuits vary based on state law. A lawyer can determine exactly what your family might qualify for in your state.
Asbestosis and Mesothelioma Settlement Amounts
To determine how much your settlement or verdict could be worth, it is often best to seek a case evaluation from an attorney. After reviewing the details of your situation, they can calculate a goal amount for your case.
However, be aware that certain factors can influence your final recovery amount, including:
- Whether your case goes to trial or is resolved through a settlement
- How many defendants are liable for your damages
- The seriousness of your health condition
- The cost of your medical expenses
- How the illness has affected your life overall
Because mesothelioma is such an aggressive cancer, people with mesothelioma can usually seek some of the highest asbestos-related settlements or verdicts. Additionally, treating cancer often requires expensive therapies, such as chemotherapy or radiation.
Examples of Past Settlements
In some cases, people with mesothelioma or their surviving family members are able to seek seven-figure settlements. When these cases go to trial, the verdicts can be substantial. Consider these examples:
- Ronald Burlie Thomas passed away from mesothelioma decades after he was exposed to asbestos as an Arkansas mechanic in the 1970s. His family received $18.5 million. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)
- Franklin Finch was a long-time tire factory employee in North Carolina who passed away from mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure. His family received $33 million. (Business Insurance)
Typically, the average settlements for people with asbestosis are lower than in mesothelioma cases. However, these settlements can still reach six figures, especially in serious cases.
How Do I Qualify to Seek Compensation for Asbestos Exposure?
Victims will need to be able to show that they were diagnosed with an asbestos-related health condition, such as asbestosis or mesothelioma. You must also be able to show that you were exposed to asbestos in the workplace, in the home, or another location for a lengthy period of time. The stronger the evidence in your case, the more likely you will be able to file a successful claim or lawsuit.
Additionally, you will need to meet your state’s statute of limitations deadline for filing a lawsuit. In most states, you have from 2-4 years after discovering your illness to file suit. However, depending on your state’s laws, you could have more or less time. A lawyer can tell you exactly how long you have to take legal action.
How Long Does It Take to Get an Asbestos Settlement?
Depending on what type of legal action you take, you could receive a payout within a year’s time. If you file a claim through an asbestos bankruptcy trust, you could get compensation in as little as a few months.
Asbestos lawsuits are generally resolved out of court. While it is unlikely that your case would go to trial, some cases could see litigation. Taking a civil lawsuit to trial could take longer than cases that are resolved through the settlement process.
The Benefits of Working With a Lawyer
It can be difficult to know where to turn or what to do next when you are facing serious health problems, especially if someone else may be responsible. You are probably preoccupied with doctor appointments or supporting your loved one through their health condition, which is totally understandable.
A product liability lawyer can handle every step of your case for compensation in an asbestos lawsuit, including:
- Explaining the average settlement for asbestosis and mesothelioma
- Identifying the specific damages you can seek in your case
- Investigating your case and gathering evidence
- Submitting your claim and handling negotiations
- Filing a lawsuit on your behalf
- Communicating with all parties involved in your case
- Advocating for your best interests throughout the process
One of the most important reasons why you may want to work with a lawyer is that they can tell you what your case is worth. If the other party does not fairly value your case, your lawyer can argue for the amount you deserve based on the available evidence. They can also help you decide when to accept or reject a settlement offer.
How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Lawyer?
Some people hold back from seeking legal help because of concerns about legal fees and whether or not they can afford to pay them. However, you should know that many law firms help asbestos injury victims on a contingency-fee basis. This means you do not have to worry about paying any fees up front.
Instead, you only pay if and when the law firm secures a successful financial recovery for you—typically, the firm receives a percentage of your settlement or verdict as payment for their services.
You should always discuss the terms of a contingency fee agreement when you hire a law firm. They will explain their percentage rate and any incidental fees you may be responsible for.
Connect With a Lawyer Today
You do not have to wonder any longer about your asbestos lawsuit questions. An experienced product liability lawsuit lawyer can explain everything you need to know about your eligibility for a claim or lawsuit and what the average settlement for asbestosis or mesothelioma is.
A law firm can offer you a free consultation for your case today. Fill out our contact form to learn more about your next steps and connect with a lawyer from our network.