Previously, we began looking at some of the considerations that go into deciding whether to pursue workers’ compensation benefits or a legal claim against a manufacturer for asbestos exposure on the job. As we noted, these considerations include the relative difficulty of proving that asbestos-related diseases are work-related, and meeting the statute of limitations.
Another important issue to consider is the type of compensation available, whether through workers’ compensation or a claim against a third-party manufacturer. Workers’ compensation includes medical benefits, as well as permanent total and permanent partial disability benefits, and supplemental earnings benefits. These benefits are paid out according to very specific rules and are subject to limitations.
In claims against manufacturers of asbestos-containing products, plaintiffs will typically be able to recover economic damages, which include medical expenses and lost earnings, as well as noneconomic damages, including pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life. The type and amount of damages available depends on the nature of the disease, the evidence presented regarding the costs, and potentially the jurisdiction in which the case is filed. Typically, benefits available through the workers’ compensation system will be less than damages available through the courts, but it really depends on the facts of the case.
Another issue to consider in determining what type of claim to pursue for asbestos exposure in the workplace is how the various claims made and benefits sought will affect each other. In our next post, we’ll look specifically at how workers’ compensation benefits, damages awards from manufacturer claims and Social Security benefits can affect each other, and how an experienced attorney can help guide one through the process of seeking compensation through one or another of these various avenues.