Asbestos Trust Funds

Receive Financial Compensation Through a Trust Fund

You may be exploring what options are available to you if you developed an asbestos-related disease. Exposure to asbestos at work, in school, or even indirectly through a family member continues to devastate the health and financial well-being of millions of Americans.

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Depending on the situation, filing a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit against a company that is responsible for an asbestos-related injury or death is not always possible. Even if it is, it may not necessarily the best option in your case. Filing an asbestos trust fund claim may be your best course of action.

Consequences of Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos is a very versatile and durable mineral. Because of its heat resistance, strength and sound absorption qualities, this “miracle mineral” was used in thousands of places and products. It was found in insulation for homes and offices, various automotive parts, and many materials used to make ships.

Asbestos is also extremely hazardous to human health, a fact that has been known to the medical community, the insurance industry and asbestos companies since the 1930s.

Despite this awareness, the mass production and widespread use of asbestos continued in the United States into the 1980s.

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry estimates that 27 million Americans were exposed to asbestos in their workplace between 1940 and 1979. However, many asbestos products have not been banned in the U.S.

Deceit and Disregard—How Asbestos Trust Funds Began

Asbestos manufacturers reaped enormous financial benefit from weak federal and state regulation of their product. But for much of the 20th century, they also exploited the fact that asbestos-related illnesses take decades to progress before they can be clinically diagnosed.

In the case of mesothelioma, it can take between 20-50 years to be detected. Because symptoms can take so long to show up, victims are often misdiagnosed with other diseases related to asbestos. And because the life expectancy for mesothelioma patients is usually 6-24 months, many will not be compensated before they die.

In some cases, such as with the John-Mansville Corporation—one of the largest asbestos companies in the world—employees of asbestos companies were given routine medical examinations but were never told by their employer that they had developed asbestosis. Court records show that the company knowingly lied to their workers about their ill-health and continued to expose them to ongoing risk. Their deceit allowed the company to reduce the number of compensation claims brought forth by its workers.

As awareness increased during the 1960s about the links between exposure to asbestos and the increasing occurrences of asbestosis, mesothelioma and other cancers, the John-Mansville Corporation paid out a large amount in workers’ compensation claims.

In 1969, even with this ongoing deception by the John-Mansville Corporation, almost $1 million was paid out to 285 of its asbestosis-disabled workers.

When the John-Mansville Corporation filed for bankruptcy in 1982, it was the largest asbestos manufacturer in U.S. history to do so. Within six years, a new legal entity known as the Manville Personal Injury Settlement Trust had emerged. This trust became the first specifically set up for asbestos victims.

But the story of seeking justice for asbestos victims does not end with the John-Mansville Corporation. Due to the hundreds of thousands of lawsuits filed against Babcock and Wilcox, Pittsburgh Corning, Turner and Newall and others using asbestos in their products, many of these companies have filed for bankruptcy under Section 524 (g) of Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code.

As part of these filings, personal injury asbestos trust funds were set up by some of the former companies that made and sold asbestos-containing products. Companies established bankruptcy trusts to deal with their present and future liability for asbestos-related illnesses caused by their products.

Legal Options for Asbestos Victims

Asbestos victims and their families cannot file legal claims against an asbestos company whose product caused the injury if the company has filed for bankruptcy.

If a company is is still and business and hasn’t filed for bankruptcy, a victim can file suit against them in civil court. If a company seeks bankruptcy protection while being sued, all lawsuits against them are stopped. By speaking to an experienced and knowledgeable mesothelioma attorney, an asbestos victim can avoid unnecessary delays and find out what legal remedies and financial aid will be available to them.

Personal injury (PI) asbestos trust funds were created by bankruptcy courts as a way for affected people and their families to seek compensation for their illness or wrongful death.

A group of trustees is given legal responsibility to govern the trusts for the benefit of claimants. These trustees oversee the assets and investments of the funds, file annual tax returns as well as make annual reports available to the bankruptcy court. They must also manage ongoing compensation payouts. This ensures that the fund can continue to operate as new claims are made.

How to Access Asbestos Trust Funds

There are restrictions that apply when making a claim to access compensation through an asbestos trust fund.

Those eligible to access trust funds include:

  • A person with a confirmed diagnosis of an asbestos-related illness such as asbestosis, mesothelioma or other specified forms of lung cancer
  •  A family member (i.e. child, sibling or spouse) of someone who died from an asbestos-related illness

Asbestos Exposure Claim Proof

To access a trust fund, a claimant must prove a “significant occupational exposure” to asbestos. A claimant must show a connection between their asbestos exposure and one of eight different “disease levels” before receiving compensation. The most serious of these disease levels is mesothelioma.

For your claim to succeed, you need to prove that your asbestos exposure was linked to asbestos products made, sold or used by the bankrupt company.

To prove that your claim is valid, you need the following information:

  • Type of industry in which the exposure occurred (e.g., manufacturing, shipyard)
  • Type of occupation during the time of exposure (e.g., steamfitter, construction worker)
  • Name of the site of exposure
  • Beginning and end dates for the time of exposure
  • Social Security and employment records
  • Affidavit or deposition by the claimant or co-workers regarding work history
  • Affidavit of a family member where the injured person is deceased
  • Documented proof of economic loss

Also, a claimant must be able to provide medical records regarding their illness.

These documents and details include:

  • Type and stage of disease (mesothelioma, asbestosis, lung cancer or other cancer)
  • Death certificate (if applicable)
  • Date of diagnosis
  • Medical records such as chest X-rays, documentation of treatments

For mesothelioma, a pathology or autopsy report identifying the disease may also be required.

The Statute of Limitations on Asbestos Claims

With most types of legal action, there are strict rules about the period of time in which an injured person must take action to claim compensation related to their illness. Every state has its own statute of limitations or rules related to these time frames, but these limits usually begin from the time the injured person received their medical diagnosis.

Although it is different from filing a civil lawsuit, the general best practice is to file a claim with an asbestos trust fund as soon as possible after receiving an asbestos-related diagnosis, even if serious symptoms have not yet been experienced.

Choosing the Claim Option that is Right for You

Before starting your claim, you should know that the details of your own situation are very important and will determine the best way to proceed. Getting the right kind of feedback on your medical and work history from an experienced legal team will help you get the best compensation possible.

Each trust sets its own payout amount, and you may qualify for more than one trust. An experienced mesothelioma lawyer will check with each trust to determine your payout.

In most cases, a claimant with the required medical and work records can find out how much their claim is worth by filing an expedited review claim. With this type of claim process, a fixed set of values is used to determine the claim value. Payment is made more quickly than it is for the individual review claim method.

The individual review claim method can be used where the claimant hopes for an increased payout amount based on their personal circumstances.

Different factors will affect this payout, including:

  • Age
  • Minor children
  • Exposure from the product covered by the trust
  • Historical settlement and verdict amounts obtained by a mesothelioma law firm

The individual review may be used for certain types of illness and requires more detailed proof. However, it does not guarantee a higher claim payout. In fact, if you choose an individual review, you can sometimes receive less than the expedited amount. An experienced legal team can help you determine what claim is best for you.

This information is provided as a general summary of a compensation process that has been of significant help to many asbestos victims.

Getting Legal Guidance on Asbestos Claims

There are many factors to consider when filing a claim with an asbestos trust fund. Regardless of your situation, you need to work with a reliable attorney that is experienced and trustworthy. This is the best way to increase your chances of receiving compensation.

Depending on your work history and the sites where the exposure took place, you may be able to file claims with multiple trust funds.

If you have concerns about filing a claim gathering employment and medical history details, call us at (888) 360-4215. Our claims representatives can assist you and help get your treatment costs covered.

There is help for you, and we are here to get you that help.

Author:Stephanie Kidd
Stephanie Kidd

Stephanie Kidd is the Editor-in-Chief of the Mesothelioma Justice Network and works tirelessly as a dedicated advocate for the vulnerable and underrepresented. Stephanie worked as a copywriter for an agency whose focus was communicating safety procedures on construction work sites. With her extensive background in victim advocacy and a dedication to seeing justice done, Stephanie works hard to ensure that all online content is reliable, truthful and helpful.

Last modified: June 4, 2019

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