Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive form of cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, chest, abdomen, and heart. It is caused by exposure to asbestos, a toxic mineral that was widely used in construction, manufacturing, and other industries until the 1980s. Mesothelioma has a poor prognosis, with a median survival time of 12-21 months after diagnosis. In many cases, mesothelioma is fatal, and the families of victims may file wrongful death claims to seek compensation for their losses.
Wrongful death claims are lawsuits filed by the surviving family members of a person who has died as a result of someone else’s negligence, recklessness, or intentional misconduct. In the case of mesothelioma, the defendants are typically the companies that manufactured, distributed, or installed asbestos-containing products, as well as the employers who failed to provide adequate protection or warning to their workers.
Damages in wrongful death claims are intended to compensate the surviving family members for their losses, including the financial and emotional impact of the death. In mesothelioma cases, damages may include:
Medical expenses: The cost of medical treatment for the victim’s mesothelioma, including hospitalization, surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and other related expenses.
Funeral and burial expenses: The cost of the victim’s funeral, burial, or cremation, including any associated expenses such as flowers, transportation, and the purchase of a burial plot or urn.
Loss of income: The amount of income the victim would have earned over the course of their lifetime, had they not died from mesothelioma. This includes salary, wages, bonuses, and any other forms of compensation.
Loss of benefits: The value of any benefits the victim would have received, such as health insurance, retirement benefits, and other employee benefits.
Loss of companionship: The emotional impact of the victim’s death on the surviving family members, including the loss of love, support, and companionship.
Pain and suffering: The physical and emotional pain and suffering experienced by the victim before their death, as well as the emotional distress suffered by the surviving family members.
Punitive damages: In some cases, the court may award punitive damages to punish the defendant for their misconduct, deter similar conduct in the future, and provide a sense of justice to the victim and their family.
The amount of damages awarded in mesothelioma wrongful death claims can vary widely depending on the circumstances of the case, including the severity of the victim’s illness, the extent of the defendant’s negligence or misconduct, and the jurisdiction where the case is being heard. In general, however, mesothelioma wrongful death claims can result in substantial settlements or verdicts, often in the millions of dollars.
For example, in 2019, a California jury awarded $40.3 million in damages to the family of a man who died of mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos during his career as a construction worker. In 2018, a New Jersey jury awarded $117 million in damages to a man who developed mesothelioma after using Johnson & Johnson talcum powder products that were contaminated with asbestos. And in 2017, a Texas jury awarded $125 million in damages to the family of a man who died of mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos while working at a chemical plant.
In addition to these individual cases, there have been several large-scale settlements involving asbestos manufacturers and their insurers. For example, in 2006, the asbestos manufacturer Johns-Manville established a $2.5 billion trust to compensate victims of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. And in 2011, the asbestos manufacturer W.R. Grace & Co. agreed to pay $3 billion to settle claims brought by the federal government and several states.
In conclusion, mesothelioma wrongful death claims can result in substantial damages for the surviving family members of victims. These damages are intended to compensate for the financial and emotional losses caused by the victim’s death, as well as to punish the defendants for their negligence or misconduct. While the amount of damages awarded can vary widely depending on the circumstances of the case, mesothelioma wrongful death claims have the potential to result in significant settlements or verdicts.