For decades, companies that produced and sold asbestos-containing materials knew of their dangerous health effects but failed to warn the public. The result has been devastating, with thousands of people dying each year in the United States due to preventable asbestos illnesses such as mesothelioma and lung cancer.
Some of these asbestos companies have filed for bankruptcy. To do so, these companies filing for bankruptcy must set up trust funds, putting aside money to pay future victims.
Mesothelioma patients and their families can file claims for compensation from asbestos trust funds. You will get maximum compensation from these trusts if you hire an experienced asbestos counsel.
LEARN IF YOU QUALIFY FOR PAYMENT FROM A TRUST FUND
What Are Asbestos Trust Funds?
Companies that face liabilities from asbestos litigation and other financial burdens can file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. This protection allows the company to reorganize, while shielding it from lawsuits.
As part of the bankruptcy process, the company must submit a plan to the court for approval. This plan is evaluated to ensure a fair amount of money is set aside in a fund to cover payment to current and future victims.
Once the plan is approved and the trust is established, a separate group of trustees is charged with managing the fund, evaluating claims and making payouts. Our asbestos attorneys sit on the committees of many bankruptcy trusts.
How Much Money Do Asbestos Trust Funds Currently Have?
Because asbestos diseases such as mesothelioma have a long latency period, companies that set up trust funds must plan for victims to file claims for many years to come. In total, billions of dollars have been set aside in these trust funds for people coping with mesothelioma, lung cancer and other serious asbestos illnesses.
Since these types of trust funds were originally set up, starting in the late 1980s, about $18 billion has been paid out. Currently, more than $30 billion is available in various asbestostrust funds.
How Much Compensation Can Asbestos Trusts Pay Victims?
The payment amount you can receive from an asbestostrust will depend on several factors:
The type of asbestos disease
The scheduled value the trust has assigned to the disease
The set percentage the trust pays on all claims
Each trust sets up a “schedule” that outlines the specific values of claims involving each type of asbestos disease. These scheduled values are believed to be set based on how much the company paid on these types of claims before it filed for bankruptcy.
Scheduled values can vary widely among trusts. For example, a RAND Corporation report from 2010 noted that the scheduled value for mesothelioma claims ranged from $7,000 to $1.2 million among the top 26 asbestostrusts, with a median value of $126,000.
Because trust funds do not anticipate having enough money to properly pay all future asbestos victims, each fund adjusts the payouts it makes by a set percentage of the scheduled value. The goal is to conserve money in order to pay as many asbestos victims as possible.
How Do Asbestos Trust Funds Work?
Obtaining compensation from an asbestostrust does not follow the same process as pursuing compensation through an asbestos lawsuit. Still, you should work with a knowledgeable attorney who understands how asbestostrusts evaluate claims.
Filing a claim. Your lawyer will first help you determine which trusts are liable to you. Your lawyer will also gather all the evidence necessary to support your claim for compensation. Then, you will be ready to file your trust fundclaim.
Claim review. The trustees who manage the trust will then review your claim. The trustees will evaluate the evidence and determine whether you qualify for expedited review or require a more detailed individual review.
Liquidating the claim. Once the trustees have reviewed your claim, they will decide how much compensation to offer. Your lawyer may work to negotiate a larger payout for you.
Payout of the claim. When you and the trustees have agreed to an amount, you will receive your payout from the trust.
Who is Eligible to File a Mesothelioma Trust Fund Claim?
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos disease, an experienced asbestoslawyer can review your work history and military service history to identify when and how you were exposed to asbestos.
Your lawyer will work to determine which companies made or used the dangerous products without warning you of the serious health effects. If any of those liable parties has filed for bankruptcy and set up a trust fund, you will be able to file a claim for compensation with the trust.
Your mesotheliomalawyer will also determine which additional companies should be held liable in an asbestos lawsuit.
How to File an Asbestos Trust Fund Claim
In order to file an asbestostrust fundmesothelioma claim, your attorney will start by gathering the evidence needed to demonstrate your illness and document your exposure to asbestos.
This evidence may include (but is not limited to):
Diagnosis documentation. This may include X-rays, biopsy results or any other medical evidence explaining your diagnosis.
Statement from your physician. Your doctor will need to provide a statement confirming your diagnosis of mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis or another asbestos-related disease.
Evidence of exposure. You will need to show that you were exposed to asbestos through the company’s products or on one of its job sites. Evidence of exposure may include your employment records, statements from former co-workers and records of asbestos products used at the facility.
Proof of future hardship. You may also include evidence to demonstrate the financial struggles and losses you are expected to face in the future as a result of your illness.
Different trust funds have different requirements for filing claims for compensation. Your asbestos attorney may also determine that you are eligible for compensation from more than one trust fund, as well as through a lawsuit.
It is crucial that you choose an attorney who has extensive experience successfully securing compensation through asbestostrust fund claims as well as through asbestos settlements and verdicts.
How Are Claim Values Calculated?
Once you file your claim along with all the supporting evidence, the trustees will review everything to determine how much your claim is worth. This review process can be done on an expedited basis or an individual basis:
Expedited review. If your claim meets the trust fund’s criteria for medical and exposure evidence, the trustees can expedite the review by assigning a “scheduled value” to your claim based on your disease level. An evaluation from the RAND Corporation indicates that trusts often set the scheduled value as just above the 50th percentile of the amount the company paid for settlements for the disease before it filed for bankruptcy.
Individual review. In an individual review, the trustees will take into account all the details that are specific to your claim, such as the extent of your disease and your asbestos exposure. A value will be assigned to your claim based on the specific evidence you submitted.
Once a value has been assigned to your claim, your payout amount may then be reduced by a set percentage the fund has implemented across the board to maintain sufficient funds to pay all future victims.
Asbestos Trust Funds or Mesothelioma Lawsuit?
Ultimately, there may be several companies responsible for the asbestos exposure that led to your illness. You have the right to recover compensation from asbestostrust funds as well as file a lawsuit against companies that are still in business and have not set up trusts.
A knowledgeable mesothelioma lawyer can review your case in a free consultation and explain all your options, as well as what to expect. If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and are ready to speak with an attorney about what to do next, contact us now.
How Setoffs Affect Compensation
Different states have different laws on whether payouts obtained from asbestostrust funds should be taken into consideration when determining what full and fair compensation should be in an asbestos lawsuit. This type of credit for a payment made by a trust fund is known as a “setoff.”
You should speak with your asbestos attorney about whether state law regarding setoffs could affect your compensation amount.
Asbestos Trust Funds Companies List
Some of the major companies that have established asbestostrust funds include:
Although the health hazards posed by asbestos were widely known for decades, it wasn’t until the 1970s that companies were forced to begin reckoning with the harm they had caused. Jury awards and settlements cost asbestos companies billions of dollars, and more than 100 companies were forced to file for bankruptcy protection.
The Johns-Manville Corporation
In 1982, asbestos products manufacturer Johns-Manville was the first company to file for bankruptcy due to asbestos litigation. It was also the first one to establish a trust fund ─ Manville Personal InjuryTrust Fund ─ as part of the bankruptcy process. The company emerged from bankruptcy in 1988.
Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1994
The Manville trust set the stage for how other companies would resolve their asbestos liabilities in bankruptcy, and this approach was cemented as Section 524(g) of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in 1994. Section 524(g) lays out the official framework for establishing an asbestos trust as part of the bankruptcy process.
How Are Asbestos Bankruptcy Trusts Created?
Bankruptcy is a long process that can take many years to complete. As part of a Chapter 11 filing, a company must submit an extensive reorganization plan to the court that also outlines the amount it plans to set aside in a trust fund for future asbestos victims. Although this trust is established by the company, it is managed by a group of independent trustees.
In evaluating whether the company’s plan is acceptable, the Bankruptcy Court holds estimation proceedings to hear from all parties that could be affected, including lawyers for asbestos victims. All the parties offer their own estimates of how much they believe needs to be set aside in the fund. The parties may back up their estimates with testimony from expert witnesses.
Ultimately, the bankruptcy judge decides how much money is needed to fund the trust. Once a company’s reorganization plan is approved, it sets up the trust. Victims may find additional information ─ such as rules, qualifications and lists of exposure sites ─ on the trust website once it is established.
Compensation for Victims of Asbestos Disease
For those who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or are caring for a loved one with the asbestos cancer, no amount of money can truly compensate you for the losses your have suffered. However, a skilled asbestos attorney will fight for maximum payouts through all liable trust funds as well as through settlements and jury awards.
Some of the common types of compensation asbestos disease victims are eligible to receive include:
Payment for past and future medical expenses, including hospital bills, surgery costs, medication expenses, end-of-life care needs, etc.
Lost income, as well as diminished earning capacity in the future
Damages for physical, emotional and psychological pain and suffering
Losses related to the wrongful death of a family member
Asbestos victims may also qualify for veterans’ benefits, Social Security disability benefits or workers’ compensation benefits. An experienced asbestoslawyer can review the details of your case and explain all your legal options for obtaining financial compensation for you and your family.
Find Out If You Qualify ─ Talk to a Top Mesothelioma Lawyer Today
If you or a family member has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you should learn about your right to asbestostrust fund compensation as well as other options for obtaining the money you and your family need during this difficult time. At Mesothelioma Help, we can provide you with a free consultation, during which you can obtain trusted legal advice from a highly qualified and nationally respected mesothelioma lawyer.
Contact us today to set up your free consultation, and let us help you protect your family’s financial future.
American Bar Association: 11 USCS ß 524
Free Mesothelioma Patient
& Treatment Guide
We’d like to offer you our in-depth guide, “A Patient’s Guide to Mesothelioma,” absolutely free of charge.
It contains a wealth of information and resources to help you better understand the condition, choose (and afford) appropriate treatment, and exercise your legal right to compensation.
Copyright MesotheliomaHelp.org The information provided by Mesothelioma Help is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Our website does not host any form of advertisement.