Settling Asbestos Lawsuits Out of Court

In an asbestos lawsuit, obtaining trial damages is the ideal outcome. Court awards tend to be much higher than out of court settlements, and the plaintiff experiences a greater sense of justice when the public record reflects the defendant’s negligence. A less lofty but more frequent practice is to negotiate a settlement, which is what happens more than 80% of the time. Since the plaintiff is also a patient, a settlement allows him or her to receive compensation to cover quickly escalating medical bills. It also lets the proceedings happen in far less time than a trial. Finally, settlements are generally more cost effective in the long run.

Money for Medical Bills

Even for legal reasons, the plaintiffs medical expenses are likely to be high. Most cases of mesothelioma or asbestos have a grim prognosis, with physicians predicting another year and a half of life for the patient or less. The average asbestos trial rarely concludes in less than a year. However, an asbestos settlement can be concluded in a few months. If a plaintiff manages to win substantial trial damages, they won’t be of much use of they’re only available in his or her last weeks of life; but a quick settlement can provide the means to proceed with medical care as early as possible.

Less Time in Court

As mentioned, asbestos settlements tend to go much more quickly than trials, which is less of a financial and emotional burden. Asbestos trials are quite labor intensive due to the need to produce a high standard of proof. One of the reasons that medical expenses are higher for plaintiffs is the need for more medical testing than would ordinarily be require. This is to persuade a judge or jury that signs of asbestos poisoning are more than allegations, or symptoms attributable to other causes.

Less Money Spent

Plaintiffs in asbestosis and mesothelioma cases almost always get legal representation on a contingency basis, so that they owe no attorney’s fees unless the case is either won in court or settled favorably. Faster settlements typically result in lower contingency fees, since they involve less work on the lawyer’s part. Lawyers that receive 40% of trial damages might receive 25% of a settlement negotiated very early into the case, or 33% if the negotiations have been going on for a while. This can save thousands of dollars in fees, so it’s important not to dismiss an early settlement offer on principle. It might be the best deal offered.

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