Mesothelioma victims often need help with their bills. The medical treatments are expensive, and the disease may demand lifestyle changes that require additional expenses. This means, among their many other concerns, victims often wonder how they can make ends meet. Can they sue? Do they need to head to court?
You may have read about some of the large verdicts other mesothelioma victims have won in court, but the truth is lawsuits aren’t your only option. Approximately 19 of every 20 claims settle outside of court. So, here are four important considerations before you head to court.
Understanding the different courses of action
The first thing to understand is that you may be able to get the money you need without ever filing a lawsuit. There are generally three types of claims mesothelioma victims or their loved ones may file:
- Personal injury lawsuits
- Wrongful death claims
- Asbestos bankruptcy trust claims
All are aimed at recovering financial compensation, but there are significant differences between the three options. The facts of your case dictate which option or options may serve you best. Because you can’t understand which is the best option until you understand the details of each option, it’s generally a good idea to consult with an attorney experienced with all three courses of action.
Your needs and goals
If you do file a lawsuit, you could be offered a settlement. The question then becomes: Is the settlement fair? This depends largely on your needs and goals. Your claim will seek compensation for certain damages. These damages may include:
- Your past and future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Reduced earning capacity
- Emotional damage
- Pain and suffering
Some of these translate more easily into dollar amounts. Others take a bit more work. If you receive a settlement offer that you believe addresses these damages, you might consider settling. This removes the risk that you lose your case, although the strength of your case still matters. As experts repeatedly note, you want to prepare for settlement negotiations as you might prepare for court. It pays to negotiate from a position of strength.
Even if the settlement offer isn’t quite as large as you’d like, it’s likely that a settlement would get the money to you more quickly than taking your case to court. For those suffering from mesothelioma, the timing can be a significant concern.
Additionally, it’s not uncommon for companies that lose these cases to drag them out through appeal after appeal. As a victim of mesothelioma, you deserve justice. But it’s up to you to decide whether you want to fight for everything you deserve or to accept an offer that might not be good, but that could be “good enough.”
The strength of your case
The fact you receive a settlement offer is no guarantee you’ll win in court. If you take your case to court, you’ll face another level of scrutiny. You’ll place your case in the hands of a judge or jury that may or may not understand how the pieces all fit together. Certainly, your attorney will work to show the jury how the pieces fit, but you want to make sure you understand the strength of your case.
This means understanding not only the evidence but the law and all key precedents. It means understanding the jurisdiction in which you try your case and the value of your claim. According to Mealey’s Litigation Report, the average verdict of a mesothelioma case was roughly $2.4 million. This compares favorably to the average settlement that falls between $1 million and $1.4 million, but it doesn’t account for all the plaintiffs who lost their cases and received nothing.
Legal questions deserve experienced attorneys
The question of how to pursue fair financial compensation is a big one. It’s not one to make blindly or lightly. You want to make sure you understand the laws, precedents and details. You want to understand how these may affect your options, and you want to make sure you note all the right information as you move forward. You want your first steps following a mesothelomia diagnosis to be the right ones.