The majority of personal injury cases are settled before they go to trial. However, asbestos cases have special settlement-related questions that they pose. This article and subsequent ones will discuss issues relating to the settlement of an asbestos lawsuit.
Settlement agreements puts an end to a dispute resulting in the voluntary dismissal of any related litigation action. While settlement provides compensation to the injured individual, the dollar amount is not pulled from the sky. Rather, damages must be analyzed to come to as close as possible to the actual losses the injured person suffered.
Issues of Liability
In personal injury cases damages include economic losses and non-economic losses. It is possible for more than one party to be liable for such damages. The American legal system is structured in a way that liability is split proportionately across those who are responsible. Therefore, this means that defendants who contributed to a little of the injury pay less than those with greater responsibility.
It is much easier to divide a cake than to determine exact shared responsibility in the exposure to asbestos. This is mainly because of the characteristics of asbestos-related diseases. Such diseases are cumulative in nature and all exposure counts even very small amounts. Further, it is harder to determine the amount of a claimant’s damages than knowing the size of a cake. Economic losses such as medical bills or lost wages are much easier to determine when there are reliable records available. However, determining non-economic losses such as pain and suffering are subjective and harder to do.
At the beginning of the asbestos case, this is where the process of gathering evidence starts. There are many other aspects that occur as the case proceeds; such as:
- investigations by expert witnesses,
- reviewing construction records or purchase invoices.
All these have a bearing on the direction a case takes. Thus, it is likely that your attorney won’t be able to tell you which defendants with settle or be dismissed.