What Are Asbestos Trust Funds?
Nowadays, it is a well-known fact that asbestos exposure can cause devastating illnesses, including lung cancer and mesothelioma. Although it was in 1971 that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency classified asbestos as a human carcinogen and began regulating it accordingly, the health risks associated with exposure had been known long before. The manufacturers of asbestos products were aware that asbestos exposure is responsible for pulmonary disease since the early 1930s, as more and more reputable medical studies on this topic were emerging throughout the country at the time, as well as in Europe. However, the executives of most asbestos companies chose to hide this information from employees for their own financial profit, insisting that exposure was safe, which resulted in a 40-year national conspiracy.
Diseases Caused By Asbestos Exposure
Shortly after the dangers of asbestos were publicly acknowledged, the number of people suing for personal injuries increased exponentially. As a consequence, a lot of asbestos companies soon became unable to compensate former employees and decided to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. In order to be granted bankruptcy protection, each liable company was required to create a trust fund so that future victims of occupational asbestos exposure could receive the compensation they deserved. The first asbestos trust fund was set up by Johns Manville in 1988, with $2.5 billion available as compensation.
Companies Responsible for Asbestos Exposure
Nearly one hundred other companies sought bankruptcy reorganization under section 524(g) of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code afterwards. Nevertheless, while some of them were not approved for bankruptcy reorganization at all, others had to file for Chapter 7 instead, which entailed the liquidation of their assets to pay debtors. There are currently 60 active asbestos trust funds in the U.S. and more than $18 billion has been paid to asbestos victims since the 1980s.
ACTIVE ASBESTOS TRUST FUNDS
Nicolet Keasbey & Mattison
Burns and Roe
NGC Bodily Injury
Porter Hayden Bodily Injury
Stone and Webster
Swan Asbestos and Silica
T. H. Agriculture and Nutrition, LLC Industries
Piper Aircraft Corporation
Bell Asbestos Mines
Federal Mogul Corporation T&N Subfund
J.T. Thorpe Inc.
Republic Powdered Metals
C.E. Thurston and Sons
DII Industries, LLC
Federal Mogul, Fel-Pro Subfund
Federal Mogul, Vellumoid Subfund
Federal Mogul, FMP Subfund
J.T. Thorpe Company Successor
United States Mineral Products
UNR Asbestos-Disease Claims
Utex Industries, Inc
North American Refractories Company
Thorpe Insulation Company
Energy Future Holdings Corp.
Who Can Recover Compensation from Asbestos Trust Funds?
Asbestos trust funds provide financial compensation to individuals who developed a disease following on-the-job asbestos exposure. Former employees whose health was severely affected by occupational exposure are eligible for filing a claim with one or multiple asbestos trust funds, depending on the number of companies at fault. While each asbestos trust fund makes use of a different series of requirements people who intent to seek compensation have to meet, the majority of them operate on the following eligibility criteria:
- the claimant must have been exposed to raw asbestos or asbestos-containing products while working for the company behind the asbestos trust fund in question (the required duration of exposure varies from trust fund to trust fund, the average being 5 years)
- the claimant must be diagnosed with mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis or another asbestos-related cancer (esophageal, bladder, colorectal etc.) and their illness must have occurred at least 10 years after the first asbestos exposure
How Do Asbestos Trust Funds Work?
Asbestos trust funds operate on behalf of liable companies. Each of them is managed by a board of trustees who do not have any relation to company executives, employees or staff. Trustees are in charge of processing the claims submitted by asbestos victims, calculating the amount of money each individual qualifies for, making monthly payments to those whose claim was approved, as well as ensuring the trust has sufficient funds to compensate future claimants. It is worthy of note that asbestos trust funds pay out only a certain percentage of the entire sum of money a claimant is eligible for, depending on their financial resources. The percentage may change over time due to various factors.
In general, mesothelioma claims will result in substantial compensation, as this is the most severe disease asbestos exposure can cause, whereas people who suffer from other types of cancer will receive slightly less. Although non-malignant conditions like asbestosis are worth a relatively small amount of money, a lawyer specialized in asbestos litigation can negotiate with trustees for a more satisfying outcome.
Regardless of the asbestos trust fund you file with, the claim must be accompanied by the following:
- evidence of employment, such as records or invoices, which are necessary to support your workplace asbestos exposure
- medical documentation clearly stating your diagnosis and how it relates to occupational exposure, as well as concrete proof of your illness, such as pathology reports or radiographs
The evidence you will need to submit along with your claim depends on the asbestos trust fund you seek compensation from, but also on your illness, as the requirements are different for each qualifying disease. It is important to know that there are three ways of submitting a claim:
- expedited review, for individuals who meet all the eligibility criteria, which results in a preset amount of money
- individual review, for claimants who meet the trust’s requirements only partially, which might provide you with a larger sum of money (however, you will have to wait longer for your claim to be reviewed)
- extraordinary review, which is suitable for special circumstances, such as when a person has been exposed to asbestos by a single company for several decades
Deciding which one is appropriate for your particular case might be challenging. For this reason, it is highly recommended to navigate the entire legal process with the aid of an experienced attorney whose primary area of practice is asbestos litigation. After submission, your claim will be reviewed accordingly. The claims which entail the shortest waiting time are those filed for mesothelioma, which are usually liquidated within 3 to 6 months. If your request for compensation is approved, you will receive the sum of money assigned to your claim in monthly payments. Other factors which might influence how fast your claim will be processed include:
- the size of the asbestos trust fund
- the number of claims trustees have to review
- the type of review via which your claim was submitted
- the complexity of your case
Another advantage of working with a lawyer is that they can negotiate the amount liquidated with the trust if your claim was submitted via individual review. This way, you are very likely to recover considerably more money than what you were initially scheduled to receive.
If the hazardous products you handled or were exposed to on the job were manufactured by more than one company, you can file with multiple asbestos trust funds. Provided you meet the eligibility criteria, you have the legal right to seek compensation from the asbestos trust fund of each company responsible for your injury.
OUR LEGAL PROCESS IN FILING CLAIMS WITH ASBESTOS TRUST FUNDS
Our Skilful Lawyers Will Help You File a Claim with Asbestos Trust Funds
With 27 years of experience in asbestos litigation, the attorneys at Environmental Litigation Group, P.C. have been assisting and representing over 25,000 asbestos victims. So far, over 150,000 asbestos claims prepared by our experienced lawyers have resulted in financial compensation. If you suffer from a disease as a consequence of occupational asbestos exposure, we highly encourage you to take legal action immediately, as time is unfortunately limited. Please contact us at 205-328-9200 and we will answer any question you may have concerning the legal process.
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In order to receive compensation, you need to file a claim with the asbestos trust fund set up by the company responsible for your injury. A lawyer will speed up the process significantly.
The companies which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection were required by law to set up asbestos trust funds so that former workers injured by occupational asbestos exposure would still be able to receive financial compensation.