Asbestos injury victims may obtain compensation from funds from former suppliers and asbestos-containing product manufacturers. Filing a claim should be a faster and simpler approach than filing a lawsuit against a company that’s still in business, though the recovery will probably be smaller.
What is an Asbestos Trust Fund?
A mesothelioma, asbestos, or asbestos bankruptcy trust fund is a pool of money to compensate asbestos injury victims. They started after a change to the US Bankruptcy Code passed Congress in 1994.
Bankruptcy is a legal process where a company with more liabilities and debts than assets can seek protection. Most companies in the US that were part of the asbestos industry have gone through bankruptcy. They either shut down or re-formed into a different business.
To get court approval for protection from creditors and lawsuit plaintiffs, these companies put money into funds that compensate people injured by their products. These trusts take claims, evaluate them, and offer payments they believe are reasonable.
What Information Must Be Provided With a Claim?
To file a claim, you must provide documented proof that you:
- Were exposed to asbestos from products made by the company that created the trust fund
- Have an asbestos-related diagnosis such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, or asbestosis
Requirements vary. Families of victims who died of asbestos-related conditions may also qualify for trust fund compensation.
What is the Claims Process?
It varies depending on the trust fund, but generally, there’s a four-step process:
- Claim filing: You gather information, documents, and evidence relevant to your claim. That includes how you were exposed, your work history, and disease details
- Trustee claim review: A trustee (a person responsible for managing the trust and claims against it), not a judge, reviews your claim and makes factual determinations. Your claim can be expedited and grouped with similar claims. They’re assigned a payment based on general information. This is a faster but potentially lower-paying route than an individual review
- Claim liquidation: If a claim is validated, the payment amount is determined. It may be predetermined based on your diagnosis, or it may be subject to negotiation. It’s then reduced by the payment percentage.
- Payment: You would have a given time, usually 30 days, to accept or reject the payment
As part of bankruptcy proceedings, the trust created rules by which it would operate. Satterley & Kelley, PLLC ensures the trust fund is handling our clients’ claims properly to give them the greatest chances of success.
How Do Asbestos Trust Funds Determine Payments?
Each trust fund uses a “schedule” based on the disease diagnosis and a set payment percentage. Based on this percentage, you would receive a portion of your claim’s value. If the value is $100,000 and the payment percentage is 20%, the trust fund would pay you $20,000.
You won’t be fully paid because the trust fund must have resources to pay future claims filed by others. Some trusts are underfunded and may stop or cut payments to prevent running out of money.
Depending on how many different types and brands of asbestos products you were exposed to, you may file claims with all the trust funds responsible for each product.
How Much Do Asbestos Trust Funds Pay?
It varies on the trust fund, the extent of your illness, and the fund’s payment percentage. Mesothelioma victims may obtain in the low six figures or more if they file claims with multiple trust funds.
This money may:
- Pay for treatment and related costs
- Replace lost current and future earnings
- Provide some financial security for claimants and their families
How you spend the money will be up to you.
Can I File a Claim With an Asbestos Trust Fund and File a Lawsuit?
Yes, with limits. You can’t sue a manufacturer that received bankruptcy protection and created a trust fund. Though there aren’t many, you could sue a company that hasn’t undergone bankruptcy proceedings and doesn’t have such a fund for claimants. We can discuss the best approach to getting maximum compensation in your situation.
Get Help If You Have Been Diagnosed with Mesothelioma
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, focus on your medical care and quality of life while we focus on your legal rights. People who contracted severe and fatal illnesses due to asbestos exposure may be entitled to compensation. To get help, contact us at Satterley & Kelley, PLLC today.