Mesothelioma Compensation – What is Fair?
Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer which is usually caused by exposure to high amounts of airborne asbestos dust. This exposure was typically caused working in industries where asbestos was present and being used. Due to the industrial nature of this material, many class-action lawsuits have been filed to deal with mesothelioma compensation for its victims. There were such staggering numbers of cases going through the courts, that in 1999, the US government enacted the Fairness in Asbestos Compensation Act which limits compensation to those who have actually become sick due to their exposure.
Prior to 1999, it was possible to file a punitive lawsuit against companies who placed their employees at risk by exposing them to high levels of asbestos. Even though cancer had not developed, individuals were being compensated just because they had been placed in a high-risk environment and had a chance of developing this cancer. In 1999 alone there were 200,000 cases in the federal court system of the United States.
The 1999 Fairness in Asbestos Compensation Act stated that compensation would not be due just because a worker was exposed to asbestos. Compensation would be based upon illnesses which develop due to their exposure. This act was needed because the huge numbers of lawsuits were causing insurance companies to file for bankruptcy, which in turn led to those who were actually afflicted with the cancer not being able to receive their fair compensation.
Mesothelioma usually does not have any symptoms until several decades pass from the time of the exposure to asbestos. Normally by the time the cancer is diagnosed, it is in its later stages and is very aggressive. By this point, doctors usually treat the symptoms and work to make the patient comfortable. Due to its delayed onset followed by very rapid acceleration, it is critical if you are a diagnosed with mesothelioma to contact an attorney immediately to begin working on a personal injury lawsuit. In many states there are time constraints which begin on the day you are diagnosed, so it is important to begin this process as soon as possible.
If a loved one has died as a result of mesothelioma, you should speak with an attorney concerning a wrongful death lawsuit. There are many attorneys who specialize in mesothelioma cases, and they are familiar with the steps that are needed to prove liability in these cases. In a wrongful death lawsuit, an attorney will attempt to contact coworkers of the victim to prove their exposure to asbestos.
Depending on the state, as well as the severity of the cancer, compensation is typically from one million to three million dollars. Mesothelioma attorneys normally charge 30% to 40% on a contingency fee basis, meaning that they won’t get paid unless you do.
Due to the 1999 Act, it is not possible to add punitive damages to the lawsuit. When this Act was enacted, the US government felt that it was not fair to punish owners and managers of companies who have been deceased for decades. So today, compensation is limited to medical expenses and loss of income.