An asbestos settlement can be considerable, sometimes in excess of tens of millions of dollars. Exposure to asbestos is the cause of a specific type of cancer called mesothelioma, and since data on the link between asbestos and mesothelioma has been known since about 1960, litigation can often legitimately claim that the employer should have been aware of the risks.
The first asbestos settlement was in 1929 and many settlements have been processed since 1960. Compensation can be obtained for many aspects of the disease, including loss of earnings, compensation from care provided whether paid-for or not, items purchased due to the disease, loss to other family members as well as travel to medical and healthcare facilities as well as for the disease itself.
The disease of mesothelioma is most common in people working directly with asbestos, which includes shipbuilders, boilermakers and laggers because asbestos was often used as lagging to insulate boilers, also electricians, joiners, carpenters and builders who might cut or drill into asbestos insulation as they do their work, motor mechanics who have been exposed to asbestos in brake pads and clutches, pipe fitters and plumbers who come in contact with asbestos pipe insulation, as well as fire fighters, police officers, managers and other professions. Also, mesothelioma is sometimes contracted by people with secondary contact with asbestos, such as people washing the clothing of those who worked with asbestos, or even children playing on playgrounds where asbestos mine wastes were dumped.
Some asbestos cases are handled by legal professionals on the basis of "no win no fee", so need not cost the claimant anything until the settlement is obtained. An asbestos settlement is often obtained before the final court hearing. This means that the claimant is unlikely to have to appear in court at all. A claimant having applied for state benefit is unlikely to prevent a claim from being made, although can make some difference to the result.