Asbestos trust funds were established by insolvent asbestos-containing product manufacturers to compensate those suffering from mesothelioma and related diseases. If you have developed an asbestos-related illness, a mesothelioma lawyer can assist you in pursuing trust fund compensation.
What Exactly Is an Asbestos Trust Fund?
Asbestos and mesothelioma trust funds were established when asbestos companies declared bankruptcy.
These special trusts are intended to have enough money to compensate all current and future asbestos exposure victims of a company. See the list of asbestos trust funds below.
Victims may be eligible for compensation for:
- Lung cancer caused by asbestosis
- Other cancers caused by asbestos
Because of its low survival rate, mesothelioma is the most serious of these asbestos-related diseases. Patients with this cancer frequently receive the highest compensation amount possible from asbestos trust funds due to its severity.
How much money can I get from the trust fund?
According to the RAND Institute for Civil Justice, the median amount paid by trusts per mesothelioma claim is $41,000, but this amount varies case by case.
Many mesothelioma patients are eligible for compensation from multiple trusts.
Having Access to Several Trust Funds
The majority of companies that manufactured and sold asbestos products did so in collaboration with others. They were involved in complex supply chains involving multiple companies.
This means that a victim’s asbestos-related illness could be caused by more than one company. If this is the case, the victim may be able to file claims against multiple trusts, each of which bears a portion of the blame.
The greater the number of trusts on which a victim can make a claim, the greater the total amount of mesothelioma compensation.
Payment Percentages for the Asbestos Trust Fund
Asbestos trust funds, by definition, were created to compensate for future claims. They work with a set amount of money that was set aside when the trusts were formed.
Mesothelioma has a 20-50 year latency period. This means that paying out a sum that bankrupts a company early on will deplete all future funds for victims.
Payment percentages were established to ensure that the trusts remain operational and that future claimants have compensation options. These percentages can range from 1-100 percent of the claim’s full value and can change over time as the trust’s financial situation changes.
For example, in a trust with a total claim amount of $100,000:
- A 1% payment percentage equals $1,000.
- Payment percentage of 50% = $50,000
- $90,000 x 90% payment percentage = $90,000
Because of the variation in payment amount, it is critical to file a claim as soon as possible. Because the payment percentage may change or be reduced, it is best to file an asbestos trust claim as soon as possible.
Settlements of Asbestos Trust Funds in the Recent Past
Because mesothelioma is such an aggressive cancer, claimants with this cancer typically receive more compensation than those with other asbestos-related conditions such as asbestosis.
Here are some examples of review payouts:
- $110,000 Armstrong World Industries
- $90,000 for the Babcock & Wilcox Company
- $135,000 for fiberboard
- $215,000 for Owens Corning
- $155,000: United States Gypsum Company
These figures represent the settlement amount prior to the application of payment percentages.
If you have mesothelioma and previously worked for one (or more) of these companies, you may be able to file a claim with one of these asbestos trust funds.
If you don’t see the company for which you worked, it doesn’t mean you don’t have a claim. There are hundreds of other asbestos companies that are not listed that could be held liable for your cancer.
Procedures for Filing an Asbestos Trust Fund Claim
1. Locate Asbestos Trust Funds
You must first determine which asbestos trust funds you can file a claim with. Work with a mesothelioma lawyer for assistance with this process.
A mesothelioma lawyer can help you figure out when, where, and how you were exposed to asbestos. They can also identify the companies that exposed you and determine whether or not trust funds were established.
Based on the findings of your legal team, you may be able to file claims with multiple asbestos trust funds.
2. Create a Claim
In their trust distribution procedures, each asbestos trust fund specifies who is eligible to file a claim (TDPs). You will almost certainly be required to provide documentation demonstrating your eligibility to receive funds from each asbestos trust fund.
Asbestos trust funds may require the following documentation:
History of work and asbestos exposure
- A mesothelioma or other asbestos-related disease diagnosis
- Documents/statements from your doctor that link your illness to asbestos exposure
- A mesothelioma lawyer can assist you in gathering all of the information required to properly present your case.
3. The Claim Filing and Review Process
After constructing your claim, your attorney can submit it to the asbestos trust fund. You will not be required to file the claim yourself.
When you file a claim, you and your legal team have the option of having your claim reviewed by a trust in one of two ways. The review determines whether or not you have a valid case, which is necessary before awarding compensation.
Review in a hurry
The trust will process your claim using an expedited review based on criteria they have established (such as what type of asbestos-related disease you have). The claim will be accepted as valid if it meets the criteria.
During an individual review, the trust will examine your claim and the evidence presented in greater depth. As a result, the individual review process is typically more time consuming.
4. Obtaining Payment
Once your claim has been reviewed, asbestos trust funds will begin the liquidation process. Liquidation will determine the value of your claim. After that, you can accept the compensation offered by the trust funds.
The review process used can have an impact on the amount of compensation you receive. Individual review settlement amounts can vary greatly even within a single trust, but expedited review settlement amounts do not.
Expedited reviews use pre-set values to determine the value of your claim. Individual reviews assign a unique value to the claim and may award you more or less compensation based on the findings of the trust.
In our free veterans packet, you can learn more about how to obtain compensation from asbestos trust funds.
Mesothelioma Lawsuits vs. Asbestos Trust Fund Claims
Filing a claim with an asbestos trust fund is not the same as filing a lawsuit. Mesothelioma lawsuits are typically filed against asbestos-based product manufacturers who did not file for bankruptcy and thus do not have trust funds. Many mesothelioma lawsuits have resulted in financial settlements worth millions of dollars.
Depending on the companies that manufactured the asbestos products you were exposed to, you may be able to file a mesothelioma lawsuit alongside a trust fund claim. An asbestos lawyer can advise you on your legal options.
Filing Restrictions for a Trust Fund Claim
Who can file a trust fund claim, how long they have to do so, and where they can do so are all governed by state and federal laws.
Asbestos claims are governed by state laws and regulations.
States can make decisions on specifics such as:
Minimal medical requirements: How ill must an asbestos victim be before filing a claim?
Filing multiple claims for various diseases: Whether a victim who filed a claim for a less severe asbestos disease, such as asbestosis, can file again if they develop a more severe condition, such as mesothelioma, later in life.
Limitation of liability: The deadline for filing a trust fund claim has passed.
State laws can be difficult to understand. Working with an experienced mesothelioma law firm can help ensure that a victim’s compensation is not harmed by unanticipated rules and regulations.
Filing Additional Claims and Lawsuits
Victims who intend to seek compensation from both asbestos bankruptcy trusts and lawsuits against active companies must be aware of how the two processes can interact.
Compensation Disclosure Regulations
Some states have information-sharing laws that require plaintiffs in a lawsuit to disclose whether or not they have already received compensation from a trust for the injuries or illness they are suing for.
This allows defendants to shift blame for the injury to the now-bankrupt company that established the trust, even if they are also partially to blame.
Other states permit setoffs, which can reduce the total amount of compensation a defendant must pay if they lose at trial. Setoffs reduce the verdict amount based on previously received compensation.
In a state that allows setoffs, for example, a victim who is awarded $500,000 in a trial but has already received $100,000 from a trust may find that the defendant is only required to pay them $400,000.
How Did Asbestos Trust Funds Come to Be?
When asbestos litigation first gained traction in the late 1970s, many of the manufacturers of asbestos-containing products were unprepared to face the consequences.
As a result, they began to file for bankruptcy in order to avoid mesothelioma lawsuits.
The courts ordered these companies to set up asbestos trust funds in order to prevent them from avoiding responsibility. Asbestos trust funds, which were governed by the United States Bankruptcy Code, allowed victims of asbestos exposure to seek compensation without suing the companies at fault.
The Procedure for Establishing an Asbestos Trust Fund
When an asbestos-related company files for bankruptcy, it is now required to follow certain trust fund establishment procedures in order to compensate current and future victims.
Bankruptcy Court: First, the company files a Chapter 11 bankruptcy and reorganization petition with the bankruptcy court. If the request is granted, all lawsuits filed against the company are immediately halted.
Estimates for Asbestos: After declaring bankruptcy, the company must negotiate with its creditors. This includes the plaintiffs and their legal counsel who are suing them for asbestos-related illnesses. They collaborate to create a reorganization plan for funding and managing the asbestos trust fund. The trust is funded by the sale of the company’s assets.
Approval of the Reorganization Plan: The reorganization plan is submitted to the courts. If it is approved, the asbestos trust fund will be established and will be able to start settling claims.