Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Aug 8, 2012

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If you are unable to use your residence without substantial modification, you may be able to receive money to help you either remodel your existing residence or move to a new, more suitable residence. However, most asbestos litigation takes a fair amount of time. If you need to make the changes to your house now or if you need to move now, you will probably be reimbursed for your expenses later. However, remember that it may be years before you see those damages and that getting any damages is not guaranteed – do not invest significantly more money than you can afford into modifications or moving, thinking that you will receive reimbursement quickly.

Furthermore, the amount you receive may be reduced somewhat if the modifications or move benefit other family members as well. For example: if you spend $10,000 to install a lift on your stairs so you can get upstairs and you are the only one that uses the lift, you may be able to recover the entire $10,000. However, if you spend $100,000 for an addition to your house on the first floor to add a bedroom and bathroom so you don’t have to go upstairs, and your spouse also uses the bedroom and bathroom, you may only be able to recover for the part that has benefited you – probably no less than $50,000 and possibly more than that. 

The parties who are found to be liable for your asbestos-related illness would be the parties who would also pay for these damages; in other words, your asbestos attorney would include costs of remodeling or moving in any settlement offer or in any request to the court for damages. These damages, however, should be fairly easy to claim as they are compensatory – they compensate you for an exact amount of money that you had to spend. 

Your damages will be much more difficult to prove if, for example, you want to be compensated for the emotional distress of having to move from your home of 35 years. Though subjective factors, such as emotional distress, are important considerations in evaluating a claim, putting a dollar and cents amount is a difficult task because there is no objective measurement. The most effective way to demonstrate a subjective factor, such as emotional distress, is to visit a doctor and report your complaint. The doctor’s medical report will add value to your claim.