While many believe that filing an asbestos claim will lead to a lengthy court trial, this isn’t always the case. The truth is, the majority of claims are settled long before they would potentially make it to trial.
Why Settle an Asbestos Claim?
It’s often in a defendant’s best interests to settle an asbestos claim before it reaches the courtroom. There are several reasons for this:
- Other Lawsuits
It’s possible that the defendant is facing other, similar lawsuits, and doesn’t have the resources to take them all on at the same time.
This is a period in which both sides gather evidence to strengthen their case. Discovery may turn up something that the defendant believes will hurt their chances of winning, should they go to trial.
- Court Costs
Taking a case to trial costs money. If the defendant believes there’s a chance they might lose their case, or that the expense of entering into a potentially elongated process, they may choose to settle instead of incurring those costs.
- Negative Publicity
While questions of liability can sometimes be argued and debated, there are times when companies and other organizations plainly acted in ways they shouldn’t have. Rather than deal with the publicity that comes with a jury trial, a company may decide that it’s in their best interest to settle quickly and quietly.
Determining the Settlement Amount
An award in a settlement will always depend on the specifics of your claim. Medical expenses, lost wages, and the overall strength of your case against the defendant will be taken into consideration in determining the settlement amount. Some other factors may include:
If the company responsible for exposing you to asbestos did so knowingly, that could substantially increase their liability. This can also offer a defendant incentive for settling a case, rather than taking it to trial.
- Number of Defendants
In many cases, more than one party is responsible for an individual’s exposure to asbestos. For example, a company may have used tools or other products from a manufacturer that used asbestos in making them. If an asbestos claim involves more than one defendant, each of them would be required to contribute to any settlement amount.
Different states have different standards for proving how asbestos exposure occurred. This means it’s possible that the exact same case may be settled for a higher amount in one state than another. Speaking with your asbestos attorney about similar cases in your state will give you a better idea of what to expect.
- Plaintiff’s Background
In addition to the items above, companies will weigh factors such as the plaintiff’s job history and medical records when determining the amount of a settlement. This means that, while two cases may be similar, no two cases will be exactly alike.
When a Settlement Isn’t Reached
While the majority of asbestos claims are settled before making it to court, not all are. If a settlement cannot be reached, the case will be decided by a jury trial. If the jury decides in your favor, it will also decide what you are owed. While the amount awarded following a trial can be large, it’s far from guaranteed. Remember, it’s also possible that a jury will decide against you, or that a case can be tied up and even overturned in appeal.
Speak With an Experienced Asbestos Lawyer
An experienced asbestos lawyer will have the knowledge and skill to ensure that your claim is as successful as it can be. Your lawyer will also be able to offer advice on when to accept or reject a settlement, or when to hold out for a better offer, although the final decision will be up to you.