What is an Asbestos Trust Fund?
When researchers linked mesothelioma to asbestos exposure in 1970, victims began filing claims against companies that mined and produced asbestos. Over time, several companies became overwhelmed with lawsuits. As a result, they filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, a form of corporate reorganization that requires companies and their owners to continue doing business while paying off their debt. Filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protects companies from individual lawsuits filed against them.
Johns-Manville Corporation was the first company to establish an asbestos trust fund. Plans to reorganize began in 1983. However, the process of filing for bankruptcy is lengthy and can take several years. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy three years later, in 1986. By 1988, Johns-Manville established the Manville Personal Injury and Property Damage Settlement Trusts. The trust is currently worth around $2.5 billion.
Trustees, usually board members, have the power to manage the trusts and determine the amount of compensation each victim will receive.
How to File a Claim Through a Trust Fund
Patients diagnosed with mesothelioma can file claims against one or more asbestos trusts. Filing an asbestos trust claim is typically easier than filing other claims, like personal injury lawsuits. To start the claim, victims are often required to specific documentation, usually summarizing their asbestos exposure and injuries. These documents must convey that the victim’s injuries resulted from exposure to asbestos.
Some trusts require claimants to show documented medical records to file a claim. The evidence determines how much compensation the victim will receive. Evidence required to file an asbestos trust claim:
Documentation must describe the extent to which asbestos contributed to the claimant’s injury.
Claimants must use evidence to confirm the company’s facilities or products exposed them to asbestos. Information can be gathered from witnesses, employment records, and invoices.
A diagnosed asbestos-related disease, such as mesothelioma, must be documented by a recognized physician. The information may illustrate results from pathology reports, biopsies, and X-rays.
A physician or oncologist must confirm the diagnosis through a drafted statement.
Working with an experienced asbestos lawyer is the best way to gather all the necessary information. Your attorney will help you navigate through the entire process by providing a record of all negligent asbestos companies.
Once you gather all necessary documentation, you can submit your claim for review by the trust fund’s administrators. There are three different ways in which administrators review a claim: expedited, individual, or extraordinary basis.
Specific criteria, such as detailed records of exposure, must be met before claims will be processed. The expedited process reviews the claim quicker, allowing claimants to receive a fixed amount of compensation sooner.
Claimants who do not meet criteria for expedited review have their claim reviewed in detail, leading to slower payouts.
Claims meeting expedited criteria may qualify as an extraordinary basis. In this case, the payout is not fixed, but determined individually. These claims typically involve victims who have worked for an employer for a significant amount of time.
Trust Fund Compensation
Since the late 1980s, 56 companies have filed for reorganization (Chapter 11), resulting in the creation of asbestos personal injury trusts. Nearly $20 billion in compensation has paid over 2.4 million claims, as of 2012. The current estimation of asbestos trust funds is $30 billion.
Top Asbestos Trust Funds Available in the United States:
United States Gypsum
Owens Corning Corporation
Pittsburgh Corning Corporation
W.R. Grace and Co.
Armstrong World Industries
Babcock & Wilcox
Owens Corning Fibreboard Subfund
How Much Compensation Can Claimants Receive?
The claim may be liquidated, meaning paid out, after trust fund administrators determine the claim reaches requirements. The amount of compensation typically depends on the payment percentage of the trust.
Trust funds do not have enough money to cover the cost of future claims. To decelerate the trust fund from running out, the claimant receives a percentage of the payment. Trust funds offer to pay 1 percent to 100 percent of the claim amount. The median percentage offered to claimants is 25 percent of a claim.
Different types of asbestos-related injuries have different payout percentages. Some injuries are more severe than others, resulting in more compensation from trust funds. The average payout from asbestos trust funds is around six-figures.
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you deserve compensation. Trust funds are not the only way to receive compensation. Learn more about mesothelioma lawsuits.