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Calculating Mesothelioma Damages

Published June 5, 2023

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral fiber used for insulation and fireproofing across various industries until the late 1980s. When a person inhales airborne asbestos fibers, they can become lodged in the lungs, which can lead to a variety of health problems. Malignant pleural mesothelioma, a form of cancer, is the most dangerous of these asbestos-related diseases. Today, approximately 3,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma yearly in the United States. According to the American Cancer Society, the average 5-year relative survival rate of all malignant pleural mesothelioma patients is only 12%.

When an individual has developed mesothelioma, they or their family may have the right to seek financial compensation for damages related to the disease. If the parties involved cannot reach a pre-trial settlement, they may require the services of an expert forensic economist to determine a fair settlement value. Since 1979, The Knowles Group has calculated economic loss & damages and provided expert witness testimony for the legal community. If you are a plaintiff or defendant involved in a mesothelioma lawsuit or another form of asbestos litigation, contact us today to learn how we can assist in your case.

What are Mesothelioma Damages?

Mesothelioma damages refer to the compensation mesothelioma patients or their families may receive due to the harm caused by asbestos exposure. Generally, there are two types of mesothelioma lawsuits, each with its associated damages.

Personal injury lawsuit filed by the mesothelioma patient seeking compensation for damages such as medical expenses, household services,  lost wages, pain and suffering, and loss of quality of life.

Wrongful death claims filed by the family of a deceased mesothelioma patient seek compensation for damages such as medical expenses, financial support, household services, consortium loss, and pain and suffering.    

What is the Average Mesothelioma Settlement Amount?

While there isn’t a single average claim value, there is data available that gives an idea of what a mesothelioma claim could be worth. Most mesothelioma settlements happen before trial and range between $1,000,000 and $1,400,000 in value. Those claims that do go to trial are generally worth more. According to Mealey’s Litigation Report, Mesothelioma Group reports that the average mesothelioma trial verdict is worth between $5,000,000 and $11,400,000.

However, mesothelioma settlements and asbestos verdicts can also far surpass these averages. Many claims exceeded the $11.4 million value, with the largest verdict in U.S. history being $250,000,000 awarded to the wife of a deceased U.S. Steel worker in 2003.

Is There a Formula Used to Calculate Mesothelioma Damages?

Due to the unique factors influencing each case, economic experts cannot use a simple formula to calculate mesothelioma damages. When completing calculations, an expert forensic must consider factors such as the following

  • The severity of the plaintiff’s sickness
  • The plaintiff’s age at diagnosis
  • Number of family members and dependents
  • The plaintiff’s employment status at diagnosis date
  • Evidence of asbestos exposure
  • Number of defendants involved
  • Evidence of company negligence
  • The case’s jurisdiction
  • And more

With so many elements to consider, one can see why a simple formula cannot exist for mesothelioma damage calculations. However, a highly-simplified formula would be as follows

Damages + Total Non-Economic Damages

Hypothetical Example

Andrew worked in California for a company that manufactured asbestos-containing products for 15 years. During that time, he was exposed to asbestos fibers regularly. Several years after retiring, he was diagnosed with mesothelioma.

Andrew filed a lawsuit against his former employer for negligence and product liability which went to trial. The jury found that Andrew’s former employer was negligent in not warning employees about the dangers of asbestos exposure, which led to Andrew’s mesothelioma. As a result, the jury awarded Andrew and his family $7,260,000.

Types of Damages Included in Mesothelioma Lawsuits

As previously mentioned, economic experts must consider several factors when completing mesothelioma damage calculations. While not a complete list, some significant damage categories considered by economic experts include

  • Medical Expenses
  • Lost Wages, Earning Capacity, and Pension
  • Household services
  • Pain and Suffering
  • Loss of Consortium
  • Punitive Damages
  • Death and Funeral Expenses

Medical Expenses

Medical expense damages may be awarded to cover the cost of past and future medical costs related to the illness, including expenses such as hospital bills, specialized scanning, cost of surgery, cost of medication, and the like.


In our hypothetical example, Andrew incurred $250,000 in medical expenses for his mesothelioma treatment, including CT scans, MRI scans, PET scans, chemo, lung removal surgery, and other hospitalization expenses. The jury awards him the total amount.

Lost Wages, Earning Capacity, and Pension

Lost wages include past and future income & employment benefits the plaintiff cannot collect due to their sickness, while loss of earning capacity pertains to any future work the plaintiff loses the ability to perform.


In our hypothetical example, Andrew was forced to retire early due to his illness and lost out on $500,000 in potential earnings. The jury awarded him $500,000 in lost wages and earning capacity.

Lost Household Services

Loss of household services attempts to quantify the value of the number of weekly hours the plaintiff would have spent to maintain their home. This damage award would replenish the out-of-pocket expenses the claimant’s household would now have to pay a third party to perform those services formerly performed by the claimant (cleaning, cooking, etc.).


In our hypothetical example, Andrew was unable to continue to provide the chore services he used to perform in order to maintain his household and property. The jury awarded him $400,000 in lost household services.

Pain and Suffering

Pain and suffering are some of the least predictable factors in damage calculations. A plaintiff may claim to be afflicted by many forms of pain and suffering, including physical, emotional, loss of enjoyment, loss of self-esteem, and more.


In our hypothetical example, Andrew suffered significant physical and emotional pain from his illness. The jury awards him $1,000,000 in pain and suffering damages.

Loss of Consortium

Loss of consortium damage is intended to compensate the plaintiff’s spouse or partner for loss of companionship, love, and intimacy.


In our hypothetical example, Andrew’s wife suffered a loss of companionship, love, and intimacy due to her husband’s illness. The jury awards her $500,000 in loss of consortium damages.

Punitive Damages

In cases where the defendant acted with extreme negligence or intentional misconduct, the court may award punitive damages to punish the defendant and deter similar behavior in the future.


In our hypothetical example, the jury finds that the company acted with extreme negligence and awards Andrew an additional $5,000,000 in punitive damages to punish the company and deter similar behavior in the future.

Death and Funeral Expenses

Death and funeral expenses refer to the costs associated with a person’s death and the funeral or memorial services that follow. Certain states will allow for awarding wrongful death damages before the plaintiff’s passing, known as “survival actions,” under certain circumstances, such as when the patient is in a terminal condition and has a limited life expectancy.


In our hypothetical example, Andrew’s mesothelioma diagnosis has been determined as terminal, and California allows the award of survival actions. As a result, the jury awards Andrew $10,000 in death and funeral expenses.

Statute of Limitations for Asbestos Exposure Cases by State

Each state has its own statute of limitations for filing a mesothelioma claim, whether a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit, following the initial diagnosis. Likewise, each state upholds its own requirements for the amount of evidence required to prove a defendant’s liability, negligence, and wrongdoing. Additionally, certain states maintain damage caps to limit the mesothelioma compensation awarded at trial.


State Personal Injury (Years) Wrongful Death (Years)
Alabama 2 2
Alaska 2 2
Arizona 2 2
Arkansas 3 3
California 1 1
Colorado 2 2
Connecticut 3 3
Delaware 2 2
Florida 4 2
Georgia 2 2
Hawaii 2 2
Idaho 2 2
Illinois 2 2
Indiana 2 2
Iowa 2 2
Kansas 2 2
Kentucky 1 1
Louisiana 1 1
Maine 6 2
Maryland 3 3
Massachusetts 3 3
Michigan 3 3
Minnesota 4 3
Mississippi 3 3
Missouri 5 3
Montana 3 3
Nebraska 4 2
Nevada 2 2
New Hampshire 3 3
New Jersey 2 2
New Mexico 3 3
New York 3 2
North Carolina 3 2
North Dakota 6 2
Ohio 2 2
Oklahoma 2 2
Oregon 3 3
Pennsylvania 2 2
Rhode Island 3 3
South Carolina 3 3
South Dakota 3 3
Tennessee 1 1
Texas 2 2
Utah 3 2
Vermont 3 2
Virginia 2 2
Washington 3 3
Washington D.C. 3 1
West Virginia 2 2
Wisconsin 3 3
Wyoming 4 2

Alternative Forms of Compensation Available After Mesothelioma Diagnosis

Aside from personal injury and wrongful death claims, a few alternative forms of mesothelioma compensation are available to mesothelioma victims depending on their circumstances. A few of these alternatives include asbestos trust funds, VA benefits, and workers’ compensation claims.

Mesothelioma Trust Funds

When the general population became aware of the hazards of asbestos, many asbestos product manufacturers filed for bankruptcy due to business failure or as a way to avoid future lawsuits. In response, these asbestos companies were required by court order to establish asbestos trust funds to compensate current and future employees diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease such as mesothelioma.

Since the late 1980s, these trust funds have paid out $20-30 billion to former employees, and approximately sixty mesothelioma trust funds remain active. However, according to The Mesothelioma Center, these trust fund payouts vary considerably ($7,000 to $1,200,000) depending on the company’s size, with a median payout of only $180,000.

Veteran Affairs Benefits

From the 1930s until the early 1980s, the U.S. military relied heavily on asbestos for various reasons. In fact, approximately three out of every ten people diagnosed with mesothelioma are veterans.

As a result, the VA has created several programs available to veterans exposed to asbestos and diagnosed with mesothelioma, some of which award financial compensation, such as disability benefits, pensions, VA health care, and burial benefits. A VA-accredited mesothelioma lawyer can assist veterans in the qualification process for such benefits.

Workers’ Compensation

A large majority of individuals who contracted asbestos-related diseases did so while working. As a result, individuals diagnosed with mesothelioma may have a workers’ compensation claim even if they no longer work for the company, as mesothelioma takes between ten and fifty years to develop.

Once an individual files a workers’ compensation claim, they will no longer be able to file legal action against their former employer. However, they may still have a third-party claim against other asbestos-manufacturing companies.

Accurate Economic Damage Calculations are Critical for a Successful Mesothelioma Lawsuit

The Knowles Group has provided professional economic services on behalf of thousands of attorneys since 1979. For plaintiffs and defendants, we’ve provided expert witness testimony for personal injury and wrongful death cases in multiple state and federal courtrooms across North America.

If you’re involved in a mesothelioma claim, our expert damage calculations and witness testimony could provide the substantiation required to win your case. Complete the case consultation form on our website today, and be in touch shortly to schedule a complimentary consultation call.

Eric Knowles, MBA

The Knowles Group has been providing professional economic services to the legal community since 1979. The firm has worked on behalf of thousands of attorneys in a dozen states and Canada. Testimony has been provided in both federal and state venues.