Asbestos Trust Funds

Receive Financial Compensation Through a Trust Fund

If you were exposed to asbestos at work and have since developed an asbestos-related illness, you may have a few different legal compensation options to help you pay for treatments, cover the cost of loss of income and provide for your family. One of those options is asbestos trust funds.

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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.

Find Out If You 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:

  • Johns-Manville
  • 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.

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 20, 2019

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