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Last Edited On: 02/12/2024

Written by Joe Lahav, EsquireEdited By Walter PachecoLegally Reviewed By William A. Davis

Key Facts About Asbestos Verdicts and Settlements
  • Most asbestos lawsuits end in a settlement before a trial begins.
  • Both average asbestos personal injury lawsuit settlement and wrongful death settlement amounts are between $1 million and $2 million.
  • The biggest asbestos lawsuit verdict awarded to date was $250 million.
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What Can I Expect From Mesothelioma Settlements and Verdicts?

Plaintiffs who receive a mesothelioma settlement may get a million dollars or more and verdict amounts often exceed $5 million. The payout in a settlement or a verdict is the amount of money you receive once the attorney’s fees and costs have been paid, as described in your retainer agreement with your mesothelioma lawyers.

When you file a mesothelioma lawsuit, you can expect that an asbestos lawyer will work to negotiate a favorable settlement on your behalf. If your case goes to trial, your lawyer will draw on their experience and track record of success to try to win a verdict.

I had been able to use some of that settlement money to pay for the copay or meet the deductible. I couldn’t work during treatment and recovery, and so that helped pay for food and transportation for my kids.

In a mesothelioma settlement, the company responsible for your asbestos exposure agrees to pay an agreed upon amount determined through negotiations between your attorney and the defendant. Settlements are legally binding and legal action can be taken if the settlement isn’t paid on time, offering guaranteed compensation.

A jury or court determines a mesothelioma verdict at the close of a trial. Verdicts often result in higher payouts for plaintiffs, but defendants can appeal to pay a reduced amount or have the verdict overturned completely.

Average Mesothelioma Settlement and Verdict Amounts

Mesothelioma settlements range from $1 million to $2 million, while mesothelioma verdicts average between $5 million and $11.4 million. Actual amounts vary based on case details.

Many mesothelioma survivors and their families have received settlements or jury awards worth millions of dollars. These figures reflect the average amount awarded in mesothelioma cases. Actual amounts can vary greatly based on individual case details and circumstances.

$1-2M

The average mesothelioma settlement amount

$5-11.4M

Average trial verdict amount for mesothelioma

Source: 2019 Mealey’s Litigation Report, The New York Times

Additional forms of financial assistance exist for many mesothelioma patients. Examples include asbestos trust fund payouts from bankrupt companies and VA claims for veterans. Talk to an attorney to evaluate the best options for you and your family. 

Notable Settlements and Verdicts

Exact mesothelioma settlement amount figures often are kept private, and claimants often are bound by confidentiality agreements. However, some mesothelioma lawsuit settlement amounts become public from time to time. 

When plaintiffs and defendants don’t agree to a settlement, the case usually goes to trial. If jurors find that the defendants are liable, they will decide how much money the defendants should pay in damages.

“After a mesothelioma lawyer evaluates all of the factors of when to settle a case and advises their client,” attorney Jim Kramer explained to The Mesothelioma Center at Asbestos.com. “They can fight with the defendant or fight on their client’s behalf to maximize the value of the case against that particular defendant.”

Asbestos settlement and verdict amounts hinge on factors like the severity of the diagnosis, strength of evidence and degree of negligence on behalf of the defendant. Settlement amounts can vary widely, with some reaching millions of dollars. Jury-determined verdicts can also vary based on the unique circumstances of each case.

Metal Worker: $250M Verdict

U.S. Steel was ordered to pay $250 million in 2003 to the wife of a former steel worker who died of mesothelioma. U.S. Steel reached a post-verdict settlement for an undisclosed amount believed to be substantially less than the trial award.

metal worker welding
Talc Consumer: $117M Verdict 

A jury awarded damages to Stephen Lanzo III and his wife totaling $117 million in 2018. A jury found Johnson & Johnson and Imerys Talc America liable for selling asbestos-contaminated talcum powder products to Lanzo from 1979 to 2003, which led to Lanzo’s mesothelioma diagnosis.

asbestos contaminated talc exposure
Auto Mechanic: $75M Verdict

A jury awarded Ed Robaey $75 million in the largest single asbestos verdict in New York history in 2017. Robaey claimed he developed mesothelioma from working with asbestos gaskets in car engines.

auto mechanic under car
Navy Veteran: $70.8M Verdict

A California jury awarded $70.8 million to U.S. Navy machinist Robert Whalen in a mesothelioma lawsuit involving gasket manufacturer John Crane Inc. in 2014. Whalen claimed he developed mesothelioma working with the company’s asbestos products during his 26-year service in the Navy.

Navy Veteran turned around
Brake Mechanic: $25M Verdict

A New York jury ordered DaimlerChrysler to pay $25 million in 2006 to Alfred D’Ulisse, a retired police officer and former brake specialist. His lawsuit claimed he developed mesothelioma from exposure to the company’s automobile brakes.

Man's hand fixing the brakes of a car
Dock Worker: $24.26M Verdict

A San Francisco jury awarded $24.26 million in 2018 to longshoreman George Lucas. His lawsuit claimed he developed mesothelioma because of asbestos exposure he endured while working at shipyards around San Francisco Bay for nearly 30 years. He was exposed to asbestos insulation, gaskets and packing.

Port with cargo ships
Factory Worker: $18.6M Verdict

A Texas jury awarded $18.6 million in 2014 to the surviving family of Carl Rogers, who died of mesothelioma after working at a Goodyear tire factory for 30 years. Rogers was exposed to asbestos-containing machinery parts and pipe insulation at the factory.

Equipment and machinery inside of a factory
Barber’s Son: $18M Verdict

A Los Angeles Superior Court jury awarded Philip Depoian an $18 million verdict in a mesothelioma-talcum powder lawsuit in 2016. Depoian was exposed to asbestos-tainted talcum powder products used at the barber shop where his father worked.

barber shop brush
Drywall Worker: $13.4M Verdict and $75K Settlement

A drywall worker who developed mesothelioma received a $13.4 million verdict and $75,000 in lawsuit settlements in 2020 from an asbestos lawsuit filed in Washington state. Drywaller Raymond Budd said he developed the cancer from working with multiple asbestos products including Kaiser Gypsum’s asbestos-containing joint compound.

Man installing drywall in a warehouse
Shipyard Worker: $6.5M Verdict

A jury awarded former naval shipyard worker George Parker $6.5 million in 2016. The jury determined John Crane Inc. was responsible for exposing Parker to asbestos, which led to his mesothelioma diagnosis. Parker worked with gasket materials containing asbestos at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard.

A ship being built in a shipyard
Mechanic: $630K Settlement

The family of a mechanic from Redding, California, received a $630,000 settlement in 2018 to resolve a wrongful death lawsuit from asbestos-related lung cancer. The surviving family claimed their loved one developed lung cancer because of exposure to asbestos brakes, clutches and gaskets.

Man working on a car engine

Disclaimer: The former settlements and verdicts are examples of compensation received through individual cases filed in different states throughout the U.S. These examples are no guarantee of what mesothelioma compensation you might receive when filing a claim.

Most Lawsuits are Settled Before Trial

The average mesothelioma settlement is between $1 million and $2 million.

Attorneys working together

What Factors Affect Mesothelioma Settlement Amounts?

When you file an asbestos claim, many factors affect the potential mesothelioma settlement amount a defendant may agree to. These can include medical expenses and lost wages, punitive damages and the number of asbestos companies named in the lawsuit.

Factors Affecting Average Settlements
  • Company Negligence: Financial liability may be significant with strong evidence of negligence. Some historic cases have resulted in awards of damages in the tens of millions of dollars.
  • Compensatory and Punitive Damages: Jurors consider compensatory damages such as the plaintiff’s economic losses. Jurors also may consider punitive damages to punish a defendant.
  • Jurisdiction: Different states require varying amounts of evidence to prove a defendant’s liability, negligence and wrongdoing. Some states also cap the amount of damages a jury can award.
  • Medical Expenses and Lost Wages: Medical expenses can mount while patients and caregivers focusing on mesothelioma treatment may be unable to work, causing a loss of income.
  • Number of Companies in Lawsuit: Some mesothelioma lawsuits name multiple defendants. It’s common for some of the defendants to settle early.

You can speak with your attorney about the individual factors that may affect your average settlement amount. Each case is different, and every family has personal financial factors that influence settlement outcomes.

A defendant’s history of success at trial can also play a role. If a defendant has settled or lost cases in the past, the company may want to settle quickly without going through the trial process again.

Asbestos Settlement Process & Common Scenarios

The settlement process starts with a mesothelioma attorney preparing to present a plaintiff’s case to a judge and jury. Asbestos settlement negotiations with defendants can take place before, during or even after a trial.

  1. Filing Claims and Receiving Responses: After you file a lawsuit, the defendants typically have 30 days to respond in the form of an answer. Some defendants may offer a small settlement immediately, but most file an answer denying the claim.
  2. Discovery and Preparation for Trial: During discovery lawyers on both sides collect evidence to build their cases. Defendants may be willing to negotiate a settlement at this stage to avoid a trial.
  3. Trial and Appeal: If a trial starts going badly for a defendant, they may settle to avoid a damaging verdict. If a jury takes your side, it may be in your best interest to accept a settlement if the defendants waive their right to file an appeal.

Your lawyer can advise you about your options and whether you should hold out for a better proposal. Asbestos attorneys can also advise you about trust fund claims and how they might affect other legal claims available to you.

The best firms prepare well for court knowing a strong case improves settlement outcomes. “We’re prepared to take every one of our cases to trial. A very small percentage, though, ever get to a verdict,” said Dan Kraft, an attorney at Weitz & Luxenberg, the mesothelioma law firm responsible for two record-setting asbestos verdicts in New York.

What Do I Need to Win a Mesothelioma Settlement?

Essential evidence to secure a mesothelioma settlement includes medical records, work history, expert testimony and financial records demonstrating the impact on your family. A robust amount of evidence greatly enhances the chances of a successful outcome.

Necessary Documentation
  • Documentation showing your diagnosis through medical records
  • Proof of employment history at the company listed as a defendant
  • Records that prove mesothelioma caused claimed economic challenges
  • Testimonies about your asbestos exposure and medical diagnosis

A mesothelioma lawyer plays the biggest role in securing a settlement or verdict. They navigate complex legal processes, gather crucial evidence, secure expert witnesses and negotiate on your behalf. They strategize how to maximize the chances of a successful outcome.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Asbestos Settlement?

The time frame to receive money from an asbestos settlement varies for each case. After a mesothelioma settlement is reached, it can take anywhere from a few months to more than a year for you to start receiving settlement checks.

Because settlements provide compensation faster than lawsuits, they may be a more immediate solution to pay expenses. Verdicts typically result in higher amounts of total compensation, but the majority of lawsuits are settled before trial.

You may choose to receive your money in installments rather than in one lump sum. You should discuss with your mesothelioma attorney how you want your payments distributed.

Benefits of a Mesothelioma Settlement

One of the main benefits of a mesothelioma settlement is that the money is guaranteed. While a trial verdict may result in a larger award of damages than a settlement might, there is no guarantee a jury will side with you. 

Qualified mesothelioma attorneys know there are no sure bets in a trial. The more evidence you gather to support your case, the easier it will be to obtain a favorable mesothelioma settlement amount.

The decision to settle or not is best made with the advice of an experienced mesothelioma attorney. These lawyers understand the nature of malignant mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases.

Should You Always Accept a Mesothelioma Settlement?

A skilled attorney can help you decide whether to accept a mesothelioma settlement. It requires careful consideration of various factors. 

Settlement Offer Considerations
  • Fairness Evaluation: Your asbestos attorney can provide valuable insights based on their extensive experience, ensuring you receive a just and equitable amount.
  • Lost Wages Coverage: If the settlement includes funds for lost wages, it can help maintain financial stability during and after treatment.
  • Medical Expenses Coverage: Ensure the offered settlement covers all current and future medical expenses for mesothelioma treatment and related health expenses.

Even if you need a settlement quickly, it’s vital to weigh these considerations carefully. The first offer may not be fair in your case. Hiring a lawyer with experience in mesothelioma cases who can manage the negotiation process on your behalf will improve your settlement offers.

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Most Common Reasons a Defendant May Agree to Settle

Asbestos defendants may agree to settle because of overwhelming evidence, expert testimony or a pressing need to avoid costly trials. Sometimes defendants don’t have enough time to prepare for smaller trials if they’re facing bigger legal issues.

Why Asbestos Companies Settle
  • A compelling deposition that favors the plaintiff
  • Desire to avoid ongoing legal fees from a drawn-out lawsuit
  • Discovery of information favorable to the plaintiff
  • Lack of time to complete necessary research before a trial
  • Sudden unavailability of a key witness or expert needed to win the case

Settlements offer a predictable financial outcome and protect defendants from potentially higher verdicts. Additionally, settling may help companies avoid negative publicity associated with asbestos-related litigation.

Mesothelioma Settlement Payouts

Mesothelioma settlements are typically paid out in two primary ways. The first is a lump sum, which provides immediate financial relief. The second is a structured settlement that involves payments over an agreed-upon period.

Settlement Payout Options
  • Lump Sum: This option is a one-time, full payment of the agreed-upon settlement amount. It provides fast financial assistance for patients and their families.
  • Structured Settlement: Instead of a single lump sum, this option involves payments over a certain period, providing a steady income stream and more financial stability.

These payment options have different benefits and drawbacks. A lump sum may not account for long-term expenses. A structured settlement provides a steady income stream but may lack the flexibility needed for unforeseen financial challenges. Choosing which one is right for your family depends on personal circumstances.

Latest Asbestos Lawsuit Settlement and Verdict Updates

For the past five years, between 3,500 and 4,100 asbestos lawsuits have been filed in U.S. courts each year, according to the consulting firm KCIC. Most of these claims are settled privately before reaching a jury trial.

Status of Asbestos Lawsuits
  • January 2024: Johnson & Johnson agrees to pay $700 million in nationwide talc settlement. The company is accused of not warning consumers about potential health issues linked to its talc-based baby powder.
  • December 2023: Johnson & Johnson announced it worked with three law firms to settle about 100 asbestos-contaminated talc cases. In another case, an Illinois jury awarded a $30 million verdict to the surviving family of a man who died of mesothelioma as a result of second hand asbestos exposure from his father’s work at a Decatur Firestone tire manufacturing facility.
  • November 2023: A North Carolina federal judge ruled that Ford Motor won’t have to pay a $275,000 jury award to the widow of an auto mechanic who died of mesothelioma because she is set to receive $7 million in settlement offers.
  • July 2023: Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay $18.8 million to Emory Hernandez Valadez, 24, who developed mesothelioma after long-time exposure to the company’s talc-based baby powder.

Mesothelioma settlements and verdicts are two different ways of achieving compensation through a mesothelioma lawsuit. Patients diagnosed with mesothelioma and their loved ones may be eligible to file an asbestos claim. While there are many differences between the two, both offer a variety of benefits to patients and families coping with mesothelioma.

$250M

In 2003, the largest mesothelioma verdict was issued.

Source: 2019 Mealey’s Litigation Report, The New York Times

Common Questions About Mesothelioma Settlements

What Is The Average Asbestos Settlement Amount?

The average asbestos settlement amount is typically between $1 million and $2 million, as Mealey’s latest findings show. The average mesothelioma verdict amounts are between $5 million and $11.4 million.

How Do Mesothelioma Settlements Work?

A mesothelioma settlement is reached when someone who was exposed to asbestos agrees to the compensation offer from a company that may be responsible for their asbestos exposure.

Are Mesothelioma Settlements Taxable Income?

In general, mesothelioma settlement payouts are not taxable. Financial compensation you receive for lost wages and emotional distress can be taxable.

An experienced mesothelioma law firm can explain how your settlement may be taxed. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 expanded the amount of settlement money that may be taxable.

Who Receives Money in a Wrongful Death Settlement?

Compensation awarded in a wrongful death settlement may go to the deceased person’s estate. How asbestos settlement money is distributed to surviving family members depends on the unique circumstances of each case.

What is the Average Asbestos Wrongful Death Settlement Payout Amount?

The average asbestos wrongful death settlement amount is between $1 million and $2 million. This is the same payout as an asbestos personal injury case.

How Much Are Legal Fees?

Most mesothelioma attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. This means your attorney generally agrees to receive a percentage of any award or settlement, but you will owe nothing if you don’t receive compensation for your mesothelioma injuries. You agree on the specific terms with your lawyer at the beginning of the case.

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