Paraquat is a toxic chemical substance used as an herbicide in the United States and throughout the world. Farmers and the agriculture industry as a whole have relied on paraquat as a weed killer since the 1960s. Although many countries have banned its use, the U.S. still allows paraquat use as long as manufacturers and users comply with certain rules.
Even with protections in place, agricultural workers and those who consume fruits, vegetables, and grains treated with this hazardous substance risk exposure. Numerous studies have linked paraquat to adverse health effects, including the development of Parkinson’s disease.
Parkinson’s disease is a devastating condition that has a lifelong impact on people and their families. Paraquat manufacturers are well aware of the risk and link to Parkinson’s disease, so lawsuits against them are rising.
Paraquat lawsuit settlement amounts for Parkinson’s disease patients vary greatly. Each claim is different, and those who develop Parkinson’s disease suffer different symptoms and face different consequences for their condition.
If you have developed Parkinson’s disease from paraquat exposure, you deserve compensation from the negligent manufacturer responsible for developing and selling the toxic substance.
Several factors impact the settlement amount of a personal injury lawsuit, including paraquat lawsuits. Lawyers, insurance companies, and other relevant parties evaluate several aspects of a claim to place a monetary value on that claim.
The progression of your Parkinson’s disease and the way it’s impacted your life coupled with the economic loss you’ve faced as a result of developing Parkinson’s help determine the value of the claim. Settlement amounts are typically less than the value your lawyer places on your claim. Both sides negotiate to come to a number that compensates the claimant and avoids costly litigation.
Your paraquat lawsuit attorney will rely on various methods to place a monetary value on your claim, including easily quantifiable amounts from medical bills and payroll information and reviewing past similar cases. Your lawyer might enlist the help of medical experts and life care planners to help place a value on specific costs related to your treatment and care for Parkinson’s disease.
Although your paraquat lawsuit attorney will spend time and resources placing the most accurate value on your claim, they cannot guarantee a specific settlement amount for your case. Settlements can range from thousands to millions.
However, the serious and incurable nature of Parkinson’s disease typically leads to higher settlement amounts than other kinds of personal injury claims. An experienced lawyer will fight to get the best outcome possible for your lawsuit.
Below we take a closer look at factors that can impact the value of your claim and give you a better idea of what to expect. The value of your claim, which ultimately helps dictate a settlement amount, is typically made up of economic losses, non-economic losses, and, if applicable, punitive damages.
Economic Losses Related to Paraquat Exposure and Parkinson’s Diagnosis
Exposure to paraquat comes with symptoms and side effects that cause illness before doctors even have the chance to diagnose Parkinson’s disease. As the disease progresses, people often need to miss work because of their illness, losing income as their medical expenses accumulate. The way that Parkinson’s disease impacts muscle movement and mobility means people cannot work, but they cannot help maintain their homes.
These economic losses add up quickly. The value of a paraquat exposure Parkinson’s disease claim and associated settlement amount can easily be hundreds of thousands of dollars. Here is a broad overview of common economic losses that impact the value of paraquat lawsuit settlements:
People who get Parkinson’s disease from paraquat exposure do not get the disease overnight. Their condition develops and worsens over time, and doctors cannot always immediately diagnose someone.
You might have suffered symptoms related to your exposure that required an ambulance ride and emergency room treatment. However, most visit their primary care physician because they experience early symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and know something isn’t quite right.
According to the Mayo Clinic, those who develop Parkinson’s might experience these early symptoms:
- Tremors that begin in the fingers or hands
- Muscle stiffness in the arms and/or legs
- Feelings of weakness masked as slower movements
- Poor posture
- Loss of facial expression
These symptoms can also indicate other medical conditions and diseases and do not always scream Parkinson’s disease when doctors evaluate patients. Many must visit their doctor multiple times, likely visit a neurologist or other specialist, and undergo a battery of tests. Costs for MRIs, CT scans, blood tests, and urine tests also increase medical expenses.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, your doctors have discussed the importance of exercise and physical therapy. The disease impacts muscles and body movement in a way that easily leads to muscle atrophy if someone doesn’t keep moving.
According to Johns Hopkins, physical therapy helps Parkinson’s patients in five main areas:
- Amplitude training helps retrain muscles and slow down the progression of slow, shuffling movements common in those with Parkinson’s.
- Reciprocal patterns refer to regular patterns people make when they walk. Physical therapy helps reinforce these patterns to slow the progression of Parkinson’s.
- Balance work helps Parkinson’s patients maintain their stability, which deteriorates over time as the disease progresses.
- Stretching increases flexibility and helps keep hip, hamstring, and calf muscles from tightening up, a common struggle for those with Parkinson’s Disease.
- Strength training helps counteract the muscle weakness that many with Parkinson’s disease suffer from.
Although solo exercise helps patients keep active, they need guided physical therapy to target their specific challenges and issues. Physical therapy is often associated with helping someone recover after surgery or retraining muscles after wearing a cast from a broken bone.
Those with Parkinson’s disease need physical therapy for the rest of their lives to cope with their challenges, making it a costly medical expense that greatly increases the value of a paraquat lawsuit claim.
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Long-term Nursing Care
Physical therapy and medication help many Parkinson’s patients live fairly normal lives, at least for some time. The disease does not reduce life expectancy in most people. However, even those who follow doctors’ orders and undergo treatment face the progression of their condition.
Once someone reaches advanced-stage Parkinson’s disease, medication no longer helps as much, and patients face the full spectrum of disabilities that come with their condition.
In most cases, spouses and families no longer have the means or the experience to take care of a loved one with advanced-stage Parkinson’s, so they must put their loved one in a nursing home for the around-the-clock care they need.
The American Council on Aging estimates that a long-term nursing care facility costs residents an average of $100,000 per year depending on whether they have a private room or share a room. Also, some states and cities can cost more than $180,000 per year.
The average health insurance policy does not cover the cost of a nursing home. Medicare covers nursing home care for 100 days, and Medicaid only covers nursing home care if someone has almost no assets and a meager monthly income.
Putting a loved one who developed Parkinson’s because they were exposed to paraquat into a nursing home can bankrupt the average middle-class family unless they have purchased a special long-term nursing care insurance policy. Estimated future costs for treatment and nursing care often drastically increase the value of a paraquat exposure claim and potential settlement amounts.
Lost Wages and Benefits
In the beginning stages of Parkinson’s disease, many people can continue to work. They might have to take time off if they experience complications, for doctor’s appointments, special treatment, and physical therapy. Parkinson’s patients need to use personal days, sick time, and vacation time if they want to get paid for their time away from work.
In some cases, employees might not have enough paid time off to cover the amount of work they miss because of their paraquat exposure and Parkinson’s diagnosis.
Lost wages and benefits can put an additional economic strain on Parkinson’s patients and their families, all because negligent paraquat manufacturers continue to push their poison to the agricultural industry. Parkinson’s disease is a permanent condition with no cure.
As the disease progresses, Parkinson’s patients who work have no choice but to quit their job. The value of a paraquat lawsuit settlement includes estimated lost current and future wages.
Home Modification Costs
Each person who suffers from Parkinson’s has a different experience. Some face quick progression, while others progress slowly and maybe never develop advanced-stage Parkinson’s. Those in earlier stages are fortunate enough to live at home. Yet, they can still struggle with mobility and balance, so they must modify their home to make it more accessible or move to a new home that provides what they need.
Going up and down the stairs is one of the biggest challenges for Parkinson’s patients who struggle with slow movement and shuffling. Many must have their entire living area on one floor because they cannot go upstairs to a bedroom or bathroom. Remodeling a home to create a main floor living area can be costly, especially if the home needs an addition.
Other common changes a Parkinson’s patient might need to make to their home include installing handrails in hallways, putting grab bars in the shower and tub, and constructing a wheelchair ramp for those who must use a walker or use a wheelchair. Home modification costs can add hundreds or tens of thousands to the value of a paraquat lawsuit.
Costs for Replacement Services
Before a Parkinson’s diagnosis, most patients worked outside the home, likely in some part of the agriculture industry where they were exposed to paraquat. Many worked just as hard in their free time to maintain their household; however, the progression of Parkinson’s leaves many unable to do the same household tasks they did before.
Families, especially those who live with someone who has Parkinson’s, can chip in to help out, but sometimes they need outside help.
Examples of services families might need to hire include:
- Lawn care service
- Snow removal services in certain parts of the country
- Laundry service
- Cleaning service
- Cook or grocery delivery
- After-school tutoring or childcare
Different families need different services depending on their situation. However, they often cost huge sums and increase the economic loss of someone who developed Parkinson’s disease from paraquat exposure.
Non-Economic Losses Related to Paraquat Exposure and Parkinson’s Diagnosis
If you or a loved one in your family has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s and is coping with symptoms, you have already experienced some or all the economic losses listed above.
Those who suffer from Parkinson’s also suffer great non-economic losses. Non-economic losses broadly refer to a monetary value on how an injury or illness impacts someone’s life. They are difficult to quantify and, in the most severe Parkinson’s disease cases, make up a large portion of a claim and settlement.
Examples of non-economic losses that impact the value of a paraquat settlement include compensation for:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Reduced quality of life
- Loss of enjoyment
- Loss of consortium
Punitive Damages in Paraquat Lawsuits
Although laws vary from state to state, many allow victims of paraquat exposure to seek punitive damages, sometimes referred to as exemplary damages, as part of their paraquat lawsuit.
Punitive damages exist to punish manufacturers for gross negligence and deter them from future negligent acts. Many paraquat manufacturers have deep pockets, so going after punitive damages in a paraquat lawsuit is a real option. However, they also have teams of high-powered lawyers who will fight attempts to claim punitive damages, so you’ll need your own law team to get the damages you deserve.
Courts, moreover, only award punitive damages in rare situations; you must prove the exposure that led to Parkinson’s disease occurred because of fraud, deceit, or another egregious act.
Let an experienced paraquat exposure attorney evaluate your claim and advise you on whether you should ask for punitive damages in your case. If an insurance company or legal defense team knows a court will award punitive damages, it can drastically increase the value of a settlement.
Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33756