What Are Asbestos Trust Funds?
Trust funds are set up by bankrupt companies to provide compensation to people who have developed an asbestos-related disease. Companies are often forced to file for bankruptcy when they are found liable for exposing people to asbestos.
Since people cannot sue bankrupt companies, trust funds allow victims to access compensation from those responsible for their illness.
The funds are held by a group of trustees who are given legal responsibility to govern and manage the trusts for claimants. Trustees manage the ongoing compensation payouts of the fund, ensuring that it can continue to operate as new claims are made each year.
Asbestos trust funds currently contain over $30 billion to be paid out to future claimants.
Why Were Trust Funds Established?
In the 1960s, United States courts began hearing asbestos-related personal injury claims. Companies that made and sold asbestos products were ordered to pay billions of dollars in these lawsuits, forcing many into bankruptcy. Asbestos trust funds were created by bankruptcy courts so that injured claimants or their family members could seek compensation.
By setting up asbestos trust funds, companies can continue to operate free from liability. This protects asbestos companies from lawsuits. Instead of suing the companies, current and future asbestos victims can access the money set aside in their trust funds.
Access Asbestos Trust Funds
Compensation for treatment, loss of income and other damages are available through Asbestos Trust Funds. Mesothelioma patients exposed to asbestos may qualify.
Benefits of Asbestos Trust Funds
Asbestos trust funds can help victims with asbestos-related diseases pay for treatment. Claim funds can also protect you from bankruptcy and provide for your family should you pass.
Some asbestos-related diseases, like mesothelioma, can take years to develop after exposure. Trust funds ensure that there will always be compensation available for victims of asbestos exposure.
Trust Funds vs. Lawsuits
Seeking compensation from an asbestos trust fund is much faster and more straightforward than filing a lawsuit. However, the payout may be smaller compared to the compensation you may receive from a lawsuit settlement or jury award.
Accessing Asbestos Trust Funds
To receive compensation from an asbestos trust fund, you will need to file a claim. An asbestos attorney can help you navigate the claim process and increase your chances of successfully recovering the compensation you deserve.
It’s essential to work with an experienced legal team to gather evidence to support your claim.
Who Can Access Asbestos Trust Funds?
Anyone who has developed an asbestos-related disease may be able to access asbestos trust funds. Family members can also file claims if the asbestos victim has died. However, various restrictions apply when a person makes a claim to access compensation payments. Legal assistance can help you determine your eligibility and ensure your claim is successful.
Some of the eligibility requirements for accessing asbestos trust funds include:
- A confirmed diagnosis of an asbestos-related illness such as asbestosis, mesothelioma or another specified form of lung cancer.
- Proof of a connection between the company’s asbestos-containing product and the asbestos illness.
- Evidence that the death of an asbestos victim had a substantial impact on their family’s financial or emotional well-being.
Choosing a Trust Fund
People seeking compensation through a trust fund must first determine which trusts they qualify for. Often, more than one company is responsible for someone’s asbestos-related illness, so it’s common to file with multiple trusts.
When filing a trust fund claim, you must show that a particular company caused your illness. This is often established based on the claimant’s work history. While it can be challenging to identify the companies responsible for exposing you to asbestos, an asbestos attorney can help you determine your exposure history.
Accessing Multiple Trusts
Many companies worked together to make and sell asbestos-containing products. As a result, more than one company may be responsible for your asbestos-related disease. In this case, you may be able to file against more than one trust.
Asbestos Trust Fund Companies
The first asbestos trust fund was set up by the Johns-Manville Corporation in 1987. Since then, over 100 major asbestos companies have filed for bankruptcy, and many of these have set up trust funds for their victims.
Some of the most notable companies to set up asbestos trust funds include:
- W.R. Grace & Co.
- Babcock and Wilcox
- Armstrong World Industries
- Turner and Newall
- Pittsburgh Corning
Statute of Limitations on Asbestos Claims
Statutes of limitations are strict rules about the period of time in which an injured person can take action to enforce their rights or claim compensation related to their injury. Every state has its own statute of limitations, but typically the clock starts ticking when the injured person receives their medical diagnosis.
The best practice is to file a claim as soon as possible after receiving an asbestos-related diagnosis, even if you are not yet experiencing serious symptoms. Work with an experienced lawyer to determine how long you have to file a claim.
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Proving Your Exposure to Asbestos
People who wish to access asbestos trust funds must prove the connection between their asbestos exposure and their disease. Essentially, you will need to prove how, when and where you were exposed to asbestos. For your claim to succeed, you also need to demonstrate that your disease was caused by the asbestos products manufactured or used by the bankrupt company.
You must provide the following evidence when filing a trust fund claim:
- Industry in which the exposure occurred
- Occupation during the time of exposure
- Name of the site of exposure
- Beginning and end dates for the time of exposure
- Social Security and employment records
- Documented proof of economic loss
- Type and stage of disease (mesothelioma, asbestosis, lung cancer or other cancer)
- Death certificate (if applicable)
- Date of diagnosis
- Medical records
Asbestos Trust Fund Settlements
The payout that you receive from a trust fund settlement will depend on the particular trust funds you access. Each trust sets its own compensation amounts and payment schedule. Since trusts contain only limited funds—which must be available for future claimants—they only pay out a certain percentage of the amount granted.
These trusts have developed levels to categorize asbestos-related diseases and determine the appropriate compensation amount. Mesothelioma is considered the most severe condition, so mesothelioma patients often receive the highest compensation amount possible.
Mesothelioma Payouts Are the Highest
Trust fund settlement amounts are paid to victims based on the severity of their diagnosis. Because mesothelioma is such an aggressive disease with a low survival rate, claimants with mesothelioma typically receive the highest compensation amount possible.
Get Guidance on Filing a Claim
There are several factors to consider when filing a claim with an asbestos trust fund. Many asbestos victims have concerns about filing a claim within the statute of limitations and providing adequate evidence to support their claim. Gathering employment and medical history details can be overwhelming.
Whether you or a loved one were exposed to asbestos, choosing a reliable attorney is the best way to ensure you are fully and fairly compensated for your situation. Contact the Mesothelioma Justice Network today so one of our claim’s representatives can walk you through your compensation options.