Business Stuff

Asbestos Trust Funds: What They Are, How They Work, and Who Is Eligible?

Asbestos is a mineral that can cause mesothelioma in people exposed to it. In the past, when the detrimental health impacts of asbestos were not visible, companies used asbestos to manufacture many products. Though the government has banned many asbestos-containing products, many products are still in use. A person diagnosed with mesothelioma can file a claim for compensation to pay for mesothelioma treatment. There are three major options to file a mesothelioma claim: personal injury claim, wrongful death, and asbestos fund claim. Today we will discuss the asbestos fund claim, what it is, how it works, and the eligibility criteria. 

What are asbestos trust funds? 

A mesothelioma diagnosis can lead to a lengthy litigation procedure. Many companies avoid wasting time in lengthy and complicated lawsuits. Therefore, several companies that use or manufacture asbestos-containing products have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. But to ensure that the victims of asbestos exposure get their rightful compensation, the US government has ensured that these companies keep some money in a trust fund called an asbestos trust fund. This money is later used to pay for the compensation to the claimants. This fund ensures the financial viability of the mesothelioma victims. The money received through this fund helps the victims make up for job loss and income and manage other financial issues. Below you will learn about asbestos trust funds history and what led to its creation. 

The history of asbestos trust funds and lawsuits

Approximately a century ago, asbestos was used extensively in manufacturing many commercial and household products. The industry was aware that their products were causing harm to the people. By 1940, it was made clear that asbestos exposure caused cancers. A couple of decades passed, and a tangible link between asbestos and mesothelioma was established in the 1960s. Hence, the companies got overwhelmed with lawsuits pouring in demanding compensation. As a result, many companies deemed it necessary to file for bankruptcy. But the legal system under section 524(g) under chapter 11 did not allow them to escape their responsibility. Hence, they were ordered to develop an asbestos trust fund to fulfill their obligation towards the victims and their families.

How do trust funds work?

Asbestos trust funds are managed by a board of trustees who have no connection with the company creating the fund. They work as an independent body and manage the funds. To be paid through an asbestos trust fund, you have to file a claim in court. Your lawyer can help you through the whole process of filing and getting the compensation. You will first need to have a mesothelioma diagnosis showing your illness to file the claim. You will share all the information regarding your exposure to asbestos and the companies you have worked with. The legal process of getting compensated by the company can take time, by part, because there is a maximum amount that the fund can pay in one year. Moreover, collecting all the evidence is time-consuming, gathering statements and depositions and proving your case in court. An experienced lawyer can still give you an estimate of when you can get the compensation. 

What makes you eligible for asbestos trust funds?

The person exposed to asbestos and getting mesothelioma or other asbestos-related disease diagnosis is eligible to file for an asbestos trust fund claim. People eligible to file for trust funds include those exposed to asbestos on the worksite, workers who used asbestos-containing products, and members of the family who are victims of secondhand exposure. Moreover, family members who lost a loved one due to asbestos-related disease or people exposed to asbestos through atmospheric spread can also file for asbestos trust fund claims. Every trust fund also has its own eligibility criteria, so contacting your attorney is the best way to ensure your eligibility for a specific fund. 

Establishment of asbestos trust funds

Trust funds are established after a rigorous estimation procedure to check how much money should be allocated to pay for the current and future asbestos claims. There are ample management procedures to ensure that enough money is kept to pay the victims. This means that the victim may get less than what they may get otherwise to prevent the quick depletion of the funds through the asbestos claim. 

There are approximately 60 trust funds active at this time. The estimated amount available in these funds is roughly $30 billion. From the total, the trust has already paid $20 billion to the victims or their families, starting from the late 1980s. Due to the long dormancy period of asbestos-related diseases, it is expected that many new cases will emerge over the next several decades. 

Receiving trust fund claim payments

After your attorney has collected all the evidence and filed it in court, the trust will make a payment offer to your attorney after your claim is approved. In most cases, disbursements are made to the claimants in regular intervals. So, the first payment offered to you is probably a percentage of the total amount approved for you. Different amounts are established for victims with different asbestos-related diseases; they could be mesothelioma, asbestosis, or lung cancer. 

Conclusion

Filing an asbestos trust fund claim is one of the many options that victims of asbestos exposure have. The money helps them manage the financial burden, including the medical costs of the treatment and the loss of jobs and wages. A person filing for a trust fund claim must engage with their attorney and ensure their eligibility and chances of getting paid before starting the procedure. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.