Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer (malignancy) that most frequently occurs in the thin layer of cells lining the body's internal organs, known as the mesothelium. There are three recognized types of mesothelioma. Pleural mesothelioma is the most common form, accounting for 70 per cent of all cases, often presenting with symptoms in the lining of the lung known as the pleura. Peritoneal mesothelioma occurs in the lining of the abdominal cavity, known as the peritoneum, and the third type - pericardial mesothelioma originates in the pericardium, which lines the heart.
Asbestos exposure is the single known cause of mesothelioma, though some other factors such as smoking can also make the disease more or less likely in some individuals. Inhaled or ingested asbestos fibers may cause an inflammation of internal tissue and disrupt organ function which will lead to the development of the disease. Two to three thousand Americans are being diagnosed with mesothelioma every year, and from all of them, around two thirds suffer from the pleural form of mesothelioma.
Asbestos was used commercially throughout the 20th century in a wide variety of applications. In North America it appeared as early as the late 80s, but the use of it drastically increased during the World War II, when shipyards were producing big numbers of ships for the war purposes. Since that time, products containing asbestos were mainly used by the construction and building trades, refineries, power plants, steel plants, the automotive industry and the manufacturing industry. Several asbestos companies still continued to use these products even after they were found to be dangerous and harmful to workers and their families. All forms of asbestos have been shown to cause deadly and serious health effects, including mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis.
In most cases, mesothelioma symptoms do not appear until many years after the person has bee exposed. An exposure of as little as one or two months can result in mesothelioma 30 or 40 years later and in some cases, as much as 70 years later, therefore the scope of the asbestos problem cannot fully be determined. Those who have developed the disease because of the deadly effects of asbestos, may now be eligible for financial compensation in case they were wrongfully exposed. Some victims diagnosed with mesothelioma have been entitled to large compensation packages and have chosen to reach a mesothelioma settlement claim. From diagnosis to death, mesothelioma is a fast-killing form of cancer with no cure, and a mesothelioma settlement can sometimes be reached to avoid going to trial and potentially long delays in court.
Individual settlements will vary depending on different factors of each case. Since there is no real gauge to exactly determine the damage that mesothelioma can cause a victim or his family, the compensation money given as mesothelioma settlements today, differs from one case to another, from one state to another, from one region to another, and depends on the political atmosphere under which the mesothelioma settlement has been reached.
In the mid 90s, there were few reform bills signed, after many mesothelioma lawsuits, when claims were much more exaggerated by both lawyers and their clients. There, however, has never been any problem when it came to genuine cases of mesothelioma.
The settlement amounts also differ depending on every individual case. The compensation being paid can range from a few thousands of dollars to millions of dollars. There is no average amount for a mesothelioma settlement. The final decision is completely determined by the amount of damage done to the plaintiff, the level of negligence in the part of a defendant, and to an extent, the results of other mesothelioma settlements as well as trial decisions.
Some of the larger mesothelioma settlements of all time include the following cases:
$250 million awarded to 70-year-old Roby Whittington from U.S. Steel.
$34.1 million awarded to a previous employee of Shell Oil Company in Wood River, Illinois.
$33.7 million to a resident of California and his wife from Foster Wheeler Corporation in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Mesothelioma settlements are of course no substitute for good health and a long life, but the funds from a mesothelioma settlement can help a victim or his/her family alleviate some of the financial pressure. This huge settlement is reached not without reason. It is covering the enormous medical bills that victims run getting treatment for their disease, and compensation for the mental anguish and pain suffered by the victim and their family. Mesothelioma settlements often include funeral expenses, and in some cases, punitive damages. The settlement also considers the fact that the family of the victim has a right to be financially secure.
Mesothelioma settlements are not only available for the individuals with the disease. They are also available for families of the deceased victim on the ground that they have lost their loved one and went through all kinds of the emotional stress. While mesothelioma is a painful experience for both victims and their close ones, a good settlement can go a long way in order to secure the future of the victims' families.
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