Many companies knew for decades that asbestos could kill, but they exposed their workers to asbestos because it was cheaper than replacing asbestos with another substance. While asbestos can be found in nature, most people are exposed via products and materials in the workplace as others have mentioned.
Because many manufacturers knew about the risks and didn’t warn people for a long time, the courts punished them by making the pay money to be use for current and future victims.
They payments are not exactly “automatic” but a confirmed diagnosis of mesothelioma means there is a valid claim which can run $500k to $1.5M or more depending on a number of factors.
The compensation may seem like a lot, but how much is 10-30 years of your life worth?
Your lifespan is going to be shortened. And you may be quite sick before you die. How will you pay for hospital bills? What will replace all of the income you would have earned if you didn’t get mesothelioma? How will your family be compensated for losing you before your time?
I am not a lawyer, I provide Internet consulting to one of the largest and most effective mesothelioma law firms in the world.
Medical care, lost wages and out-of-pocket expenses all contribute to massive expenses when battling mesothelioma.
It is often through neglect that employers, knowingly or unknowingly, exposed their workers to asbestos-containing materials.
In other words, an asbestos-related diagnosis and the associated devastation it causes are avoidable, and patients and their families deserve compensation from the manufacturers and companies that wronged them.
Some of the money is designed to compensate the injured/ill person for actual out of pocket costs like medical bills and some of the money are damages because a culpable party caused the problems.
If the money is paid to the person while he is alive, the money is his to pass on to whomever he wants after his death. It is part of his estate. If Grandpa has a large mesothelioma settlement while he was alive set up as an annuity, that could explain why the extended family is getting money. This is called a structured settlement and is common in larger cases.
If the person dies because of the injury or illness, there is a separate legal action that is brought by his official next of kin. As a general rule, this is called a wrongful death action. This money is paid directly to the kin and is not part of the (deceased) injured person’s estate.
Each state has its own rules as to who can bring a wrongful death action. Children certainly can. An official spouse can. Most likely a civil union partner can. A live-in girlfriend cannot.(Wrongful death cases is one of the last places where being official makes a difference.