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Asbestos Trust Funds: A Helping Hand for Asbestos Victims

By Shaniqua Williams

Posted on November 22nd, 2018

Settlements with asbestos trust funds represent the most responsive source of financial compensation from the parties liable for your asbestos exposure. All qualified victims of asbestos injuries are compensated without the hassle of going to trial.

The use of asbestos on a large industrial scale began two hundred years ago, yet the awareness of asbestos's adverse health effects started to emerge in the early 20th century. The act of holding companies liable for exposing workers and consumers to this perilous mineral substance is a relatively recent phenomenon. Asbestos is currently the single largest cause of occupational cancer in the U.S. Studies associated more than a dozen different diseases to asbestos exposure. Asbestos exposure may cause four distinct malignancies, and it may increase a person's risk for several others. Mesothelioma is the stamp for asbestos-related cancer, as asbestos exposure is the only way someone can develop this disease. Lung cancer and laryngeal cancer also have a confirmed relationship with asbestos. Studies have reported various degrees of success linking other cancers to asbestos exposure including esophageal cancer and throat cancer. In order to recover cancer compensation for the negligence of asbestos manufacturers, trust funds are an option for the victims.

History of Asbestos Trust Funds

Although aware of the dangerous impact asbestos could have on their employees, the companies which used asbestos aimed to cover up the health risks. As demands for asbestos products grew throughout the 1900s, corporations prioritized profit over safety. However, the health implications soon became impossible to ignore, and when the first asbestos lawsuits were brought, companies promptly looked to for ways to protect themselves. In 1982 one of the biggest manufacturer asbestos products, John-Manville, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, as a result of thousands of individual lawsuits based on asbestos-related injuries, such as asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma. Since then, around one hundred companies have sought bankruptcy protection from asbestos liabilities. While it might seem unfair protecting these companies from asbestos lawsuits, bankruptcy reorganization might be the only way to ensure compensation for current and future claimants.

How Asbestos Trust Funds Work

Asbestos trusts, also known as mesothelioma compensation funds, were organized by bankrupt companies to ensure that there will always be monetary compensation for victims. The U.S. Bankruptcy Courts have approved new Compensation Trust Funds, with initial funding of over $30 billion, to help and support asbestos-disease victims and their families. Trust funds are created by 'trust agreements'. The agreement is between the trust and the company. The trust takes on the company's asbestos liabilities, and the company accepts to fund the trust in the amount authorized by the court. The trust is a separate entity from the company, and the company has no input in paying claims.

You Deserve to Know If You Are Eligible For Asbestos Trust Funds

The first step to benefit from an asbestos trust fund is choosing the right mesothelioma lawyer to represent you. Eligibility for asbestos trust funds is based on the following criteria:

  • Proof of disease - For a valid mesothelioma claim, documentation of diagnosis, including x-rays, MRIs, CAT scans, and biopsy, must show mesothelioma or asbestos lung cancer as primary cancer.
  • Proof of exposure, occurred from working at a particular work site during a certain period of time or exposure while using specific products.
  • Negligence proof - Claimants must also show the defendant failed to warn product users and conspired to hide information in favor of profits.
  • The statute of limitation is the amount of time a legal claim for mesothelioma can be processed. This is typically between 1 and 3 years of an initial diagnosis and begins immediately following an asbestos disease diagnosis. If the victim dies, the statute of limitation begins immediately after the death.

If a claimant meets the criteria, the lawyer can also help collect the required documents for the claim, such as medical records, including a physician's statement confirming the asbestos disease diagnosis. Our mesothelioma attorneys can assist you each step of the way and ease many of the tougher aspects of the filing claim.

Victims Are Compensated: How much You Can Win

There are a number of individuals that have taken advantage of Asbestos Trust Funds, as they are not only for people who have developed mesothelioma. Depending on your work history and the plants where the exposure took place, you may be entitled to file claims with multiple trust funds. Because of the large amounts of people making claims to the individual trusts, many trusts are underfunded and stretched the funds to meet needs. Therefore, trusts only pay a percentage of the amount the claimant is granted. Each trust has a different payout percentage ranging from 1 to 100 percent. Reports estimate that from 2006 through 2012, the entire trust system paid out over $15 billion to asbestos petitioners. Asbestos trusts use 'disease levels' to ensure that the limited amount of money in the trust is paid out fairly.

Disease levels in order of the most severe to the least severe condition:

  • Level 8 - for Mesothelioma
  • Level 7 - for Lung Cancer 1
  • Level 6 - for Lung Cancer 2
  • Level 5 - for Other Cancer
  • Level 4 - for Severe Asbestosis
  • Level 3 - for Asbestosis/Pleural Disease 2 with significantly restricted function
  • Level 2 - for Asbestosis/Pleural Disease 1 without significantly restricted function
  • Level 1 - for Other asbestos diseases

The amount paid will depend on the type of disease you have and what our attorneys specialized on asbestos law can negotiate. If you are a victim of asbestos exposure, don't hesitate to contact our team to learn more about the legal options available to you.
Our standard fee is a 40% contingency fee. Which means we only collect the fee when we are able to collect settlements or claims for a client. If we do not collect anything, our clients are not out any money out of pocket.