Asbestos lawsuit settlements are typically much less than what would be awarded if the case was taken to court. Despite this, many plaintiffs choose to settle out of court. By settling out of court, plaintiffs do not have to undergo the emotional rigors of trial nor do any of the parties have to invest the ample amount of time it takes for going through a trial. There are many other benefits to choosing a settlement over a trial as well, and these all needed to be weighed carefully against the cons. If you do decide to settle, it is important to make sure that you are getting the best possible settlement offer. Here are some tips to ensure you are getting the asbestos settlement you deserve.
Choose an Asbestos Lawyer with Trial Experience
Even though most asbestos lawsuits do not go to trial, it is crucial that your lawyer have trial experience. Negotiating settlements is all about appearing tough: if your lawyer has trial experience, then the defendant will be scared from the get-go and likely offer a bigger settlement offer than if your lawyer has no trial experience. Getting a bigger settlement can be as easy as your lawyer mentioning how much was awarded to his/her previous clients in asbestos lawsuits which were taken to trial.
Prepare Your Case before it becomes a Lawsuit
Victims of asbestos exposure are often eager to get their lawsuit underway so that they can receive compensation as quickly as possible. Many asbestos victims are also faced with poor prognoses so their cases are even more urgent. However, it is still important that your asbestos lawyer does not rush the discovery part of the process. If your case is well established with clear evidence linking your disease to the defendant/s, then you are more likely to get a larger settlement. While spending time on discovery can be nerve wracking, it will pay off.
Just because you have heard of asbestos victims receiving multi-million settlements, it does not mean you are necessarily entitled to that much compensation. The value of your claim is based on many factors, particularly whether the asbestos defendant knew of the possible risk but continued to expose you to asbestos anyway. Many of the asbestos companies have filed for bankruptcy in the past few decades but have been ordered to set up trusts for asbestos victims. If the trust for the asbestos company in your case is running low, then you may not be awarded as much compensation because the funds must be reserved for other victims. Talk with your asbestos lawyer about what you can realistically expect before you discredit yourself my making outrageous demands.
Ask for Compensation for ALL Damages
The amount of compensation you receive for asbestos diseases is linked to how much the disease has damaged your life. An experienced asbestos lawyer will be able to help you identify all areas in which you are entitled to compensation. Family members of the asbestos victim may also be entitled to damages under the same lawsuit, such as for emotional duress, income lost because of care giving, and so forth.
Make the First Offer
Discuss with your lawyer the benefits of making a settlement demand before the defendant makes its offer. This way, you can show the defendant what you are expecting. By playing the aggressive role in making the first offer, you also get the upper hand in negotiations – yet the defendant will feel like it is winning with any concession that you allow.
Let Your Lawyer Deal with the Nerve-Wracking Aspects of Negotiations
Much of the settlement agreement process is simple bluffing: one side will make its demands or offers and the other side will then act like this is completely unacceptable so they are moving ahead with trial. In litigation though, there must be a fine line between bluffing and reality. Even if you and your lawyer wish to settle as quickly as possible out of court, your lawyer must still be prepared to go to court and show the defendant this readiness. Rather than trying to keep up with the negotiation process, let your lawyer handle it all. Since your lawyer is getting a percentage of your award, you can be sure that he/she is going to push for the best possible settlement. Discuss with your lawyer the least settlement amount you will accept. The lawyer should only contact you when the defendant offers this amount so you can focus on other things, like getting treatment. When you do reach this settlement amount, it will still ultimately be up to you whether you wish to accept this offer, push for a higher amount, or go to trial.
As desperate as you may be for financial compensation, it is important to be patient when negotiating settlements. As a general rule, the faster you receive a settlement, the lower amount it will be. The first offer from asbestos defendants is always going to be lower than what they can and are willing to pay. By being patient and threatening to go to trial (even after your possible death), the asbestos defendant is more likely to offer increasingly larger settlement amounts. All of the back-and-forth negotiations with the asbestos defendants can be incredibly nerve wracking. Discuss with your asbestos lawyer ahead of time how much knowledge and involvement you will have in the case, particularly if you are undergoing treatment.