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Pain and Suffering Awards in Mesothelioma Claims

Offered by Weitz & Luxenberg P.C.

Lawsuits and settlements for mesothelioma, a form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, can easily stretch into the hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars. Because millions of Americans were exposed to asbestos on the job, billions of dollars have been awarded to hundreds of thousands of victims over the years, with more diagnoses coming daily.

Some of those funds that have been paid out were for medical expenses such as surgery or chemotherapy, as well as lost wages for victims who could not work because of a diagnosis. However, those types of damages are only part of the impact mesothelioma has had on victims. Many claims also include an award for pain and suffering, and to get full value for a mesothelioma case, you need to understand what that means.

Understanding the legal definition of pain and suffering

Pain and suffering is a legal term for the physical and emotional cost of “going through” the experience of having an illness or injury. This is a component of non-economic damages –compensation for a personal injury that is subjectively determined, as opposed to economic damages, which are objectively verifiable losses such as medical bills and lost earnings.

Physical pain or discomfort is certainly part of a pain and suffering claim, but the definition is significantly broader than that. Pain and suffering includes psychological effects like fear, anxiety, depression, and loss of sleep. It also includes loss of experiences and activities due to the illness or injury, whether that’s getting on your knees to play with your grandchildren or running a marathon.

Components of a pain and suffering claim for mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a life-altering illness, and the suffering victims can experience is intense.

Physical pain

Pleural mesothelioma – that is, mesothelioma in the chest area – and peritoneal mesothelioma-that is, mesothelioma in the abdominal area — are usually intensely painful diseases. Indeed, more than 60% of pleural mesothelioma patients experience chest pain. Likewise, between 30% and 50% of peritoneal mesothelioma patients experience abdominal pain.

One of the symptoms of pleural mesothelioma is a painful buildup of fluid around the lungs, called pleural effusion. In addition, the lining of the affected lung becomes thicker, causing painful shortness of breath and coughing. Activities of daily living, such as eating and drinking, can become painful as well.

As mesothelioma progresses it may press on vital organs and nerves, causing additional pain and discomfort, and leading to significant body aches.

In addition to pain caused by the disease itself, necessary treatment for mesothelioma can also cause pain and/or other side effects. For example, chemotherapy and surgery can injure nerves, leading to either pain or numbness depending on the nature of the damage.

Emotional and psychological suffering

Receiving any cancer diagnosis is an emotionally devastating moment, and mesothelioma is no exception. Because of the nature of mesothelioma symptoms – many patients are reminded of the disease with every breath they take – it’s common to dwell on those negative emotions, leading to mental health problems like depression and anxiety.

In addition, mesothelioma can make it far more difficult or impossible to participate in the activities you once loved. Breathing difficulties make physical activities hard, and loss of energy and time devoted to treatment means less time and effort can be put into leisure and family activities. There’s a significant loss of independence that can come with mesothelioma, plus the prospect of an uncertain future.

Finally, it’s important to remember that most mesothelioma patients were exposed to asbestos because of corporate negligence and greed. Anger is a natural and justified reaction to this situation, and that, too, should be part of a pain and suffering claim.

How a mesothelioma attorney can help you maximize your pain and suffering recovery

Again, pain and suffering is, by definition, subjective. Pain tolerance varies widely between individuals, and mesothelioma affects each person’s body differently. Likewise, the anxiety and emotional experience of living with mesothelioma varies from person to person. Mild anxiety for one person may be utter emotional turmoil for another.

That’s why getting an experienced mesothelioma lawyer on your side is critical. First, your attorney can gather evidence that supports your pain and suffering claim. Remember, there is no objective verification in the world of pain and suffering – you can’t depend on an itemized medical bill or pay stub as you would with economic damages. Only an experienced attorney can assist you in providing the evidence that will give a jury a sense of the scope of your damages. That might include preparing you to testify in detail about how mesothelioma has affected your life, gathering medical records that include a description of symptoms and self-reported pain levels, asking medical experts to describe the pain caused by specific mesothelioma symptoms, or taking depositions from relatives, friends, and colleagues who can describe how the your life has changed since diagnosis.

The key factor in many pain and suffering claims is the plaintiff’s own ability to serve as a good witness and describe in court how mesothelioma has affected their life. A mesothelioma attorney who has taken cases to trial knows exactly how to prepare their clients to do just that. Your attorney can help you organize and present your story in a way that is compelling to a judge and jury – and prepare you to get through cross-examination by the defense lawyers with your case intact.

Often, when an insurance company sees that a mesothelioma plaintiff is prepared to give strong testimony in support of their own claim, they are willing to offer a fair settlement. If not, an attorney can take your case to court and argue for maximum compensation before a judge and jury. Either way, effective legal representation will help you pursue full value – and justice – for the pain and suffering you have experienced due to mesothelioma.

Talk to an experienced attorney today

The key to getting full value in a mesothelioma lawsuit is to talk to an attorney as soon as possible. Asbestos manufacturers and defendants have poured extensive resources into downplaying the effects of asbestos exposure, and the defense in a mesothelioma claim is always prepared to minimize the value of a plaintiff’s pain and suffering. An effective and experienced attorney knows how to elicit honest, detailed testimony and tell a compelling story to a jury that offsets those efforts and puts you in the best position to succeed.

Because mesothelioma attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, there is no downside to hiring a lawyer to handle your claim. You pay nothing up front and nothing out of pocket. If you win your case, either through a negotiated settlement or a jury verdict, then the fee is a percentage of the money you recover. If you don’t win, you don’t owe your attorney anything.

If you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma or a loved one died due to mesothelioma, you have legal rights, and the right attorney can help you protect them. Schedule a free consultation with a mesothelioma lawyer today.

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Weitz & Luxenberg P.C. is an experienced, nationwide "mass torts" injury law firm based in NYC, with $19 billion in total verdicts and settlements and over 55,000 clients. They ar...