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 1 to 2 years. If your request for compensation is approved, you will receive the sum of money assigned to your claim in monthly payments. Other factors that 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.