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Mesothelioma & Asbestos Trust Funds

Asbestos trusts were started as a way to compensate people injured by the toxic materials. Companies that have used asbestos and file bankruptcy must put money in a trust to pay for current and future claims.

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Who is Eligible for Compensation

With billions of dollars available to help sick and injured people, asbestos trusts are a reliable and risk-free way of accessing vital funds. The first step to compensation from an asbestos bankruptcy trust is determining eligibility.

Who is eligible for compensation from asbestos trust funds?

Anyone who has been exposed to asbestos and has an asbestos-related disease (including mesothelioma, associated lung cancer and asbestosis) is eligible for trust fund compensation. Many people are exposed to asbestos in the workplace, during military service or work as a first responder. Family members can also be at risk for asbestos diseases through second-hand exposure.

The amount of mesothelioma trust fund compensation depends on factors that include the severity of the disease, the level of exposure, the amount of funding in the trust and the time elapsed between the diagnosis and filing a claim.

How Do I Apply?

Asbestos trust funds were created to make access to compensation relatively easy for injured victims. However, the process can be challenging due to the amount and complexity of the documentation needed.

What are the criteria to file an asbestos trust fund claim?

To file a claim, victims must have evidence of several things:

  • Documentation proving an asbestos-related disease (including medical records and test results)
  • Evidence connecting the victim to asbestos-containing products or the site where asbestos was used
  • A statement from a qualified physician confirming the diagnosis
  • A timely claim to the trust (not exceeding the individual state statute of limitations on filing a claim)

In addition, family members of asbestos victims who have died must also submit the following information for a successful claim:

  • Proof of negligence by the company in question
  • Evidence of substantial impact on the family’s wellbeing (including emotional and financial)

The trustees that run trusts also consider overall hardship when determining trust allocations.

How long does a trust fund claims process take?

The duration of a claims process depends on the type of claim filed (either expedited or individual review) and the accuracy of the information provided to the trustees. In general, the quickest asbestos claim is an expedited review. Claimants who submit the correct documentation and supporting materials can expect a final decision within six to eight weeks of submission.

All claims are paid in a first-in, first-out (FIFO) process, meaning claims are paid based on the order of receiving and processing.

Factors that slow the process include:

  • Claims that are submitted with insufficient evidence or documentation
  • Claims seeking an individual review

Factors that accelerate the process include:

  • Claims that demonstrate severe financial hardship
  • Claims that indicate the victim will survive six months or less due to an asbestos-related illness.

Can a claim be filed if the company responsible for the asbestos exposure is not known?

In some cases, claimants cannot identify the company responsible for the asbestos disease, but a claim can still be filed. Since it is the claimant’s responsibility to submit documentation that identifies the at-fault company, extensive research might be needed to find the information. Asbestos trust fund attorneys work to identify companies by reviewing IRS records and employment documents and speaking to witnesses, among other methods.

What happens if more than one company is responsible for asbestos exposure?

Many claimants were exposed to asbestos at a variety of worksites, so they file claims to multiple trusts. The U.S. Bankruptcy Code does not cap the number of trusts for individual filings. Many claimants receive compensation through numerous trusts.

How do I file a claim against an asbestos trust?

After a confirmed asbestos-disease diagnosis, claimants must determine the source of asbestos exposure. They must also collect proof of exposure, including employment records, and evidence of disease, including medical records and physician statements. The information must be submitted within the statute of limitations (typically two to three years following a diagnosis) or the claim will not be considered. If the trust finds incomplete or missing information, the claimant must track down the right evidence.

Instead of doing all the legwork themselves, many claimants choose to contact attorneys who specialize in asbestos trust claims. They help asbestos victims find the correct documentation and get the necessary paperwork to file the financial request promptly. Our skilled attorneys also help victims identify the at-fault companies for the best settlement amount.

How Much Money Can I Receive?

The level of funding from trust funds depends on several factors, including the victim’s disease and the exposure site. The most severe diseases, including mesothelioma and asbestos-related lung cancers, usually receive compensation in the five- and six-figure range.

How much is the average settlement amount from asbestos trust funds?

According to a landmark report by the Rand Institute, the average asbestos trust settlement for patients with mesothelioma is $180,000. The award can range from $7,000 to $1.1 million, however. Other asbestos-related diseases, including lung cancer, asbestosis and COPD, receive lesser amounts.

In addition to the extent of the disease (and the impact on the patient), the amount of the settlement depends on the level of funding in the trust. All asbestos trusts only pay a percentage of the pre-assigned financial award to ensure there is enough money for everyone. The trusts usually change the percentage rates periodically. In all, the 30 biggest trusts have about $30 billion in assets for compensation.

How are claim values calculated?

During the bankruptcy process, each trust develops fixed claims values (also called payment guidelines) for compensation. The most amount of compensation goes to the sickest patients; those diagnosed with mesothelioma receive the most significant settlements. Other categories of disease include stage I and II lung cancer, asbestosis and pleural plaques.

Claimants who submit documentation for an expedited review can expect to receive a fixed amount based on the trust’s payment guidelines. Claimants who file under the individual review may receive compensation based on specific individual circumstances.

List of Asbestos Trust Funds

Even though there are dozens of individual companies that have established bankruptcy trusts, they all share a commonality — reckless use of asbestos. Since the companies have acknowledged their asbestos misuse by creating the trusts, they are eager to settle claims.

What companies have the highest funded asbestos bankruptcy trusts?

Although there are dozens of trust funds, a select few have more funding and a wider reach, mostly due to the size of the companies and the number of injured workers. Some of the top-funded trusts include:

  • U.S. Gypsum Asbestos (USG)Personal Injury Settlement Trust – USG is the largest manufacturer and marketer of gypsum-based products, including drywall, in North America. The company used and sold asbestos-containing products through 1978. The trust was initially funded with about $4 billion and currently pays 19.2% of the scheduled value.
  • Pittsburgh Corning Corporation (PCC) Asbestos Personal Injury Trust – With $3.5 billion in initial assets, the PCC trust is considered one of the largest asbestos trusts in the country. The trust was created in 2016 and incorporates claims from Unibestos and PPG Industries. It currently pays 30.1%
  • Owens Corning/Fibreboard Asbestos Personal Injury Trust – The Owens Corning Fibreboard trust was formed in 2006 to resolve claims with Owens Corning and its subsidiary Fibreboard, which produced home insulation, fiberglass and other asbestos-containing products. The initial funding for the trust was $3.4 billion. Owens Corning currently pays 7.8% and Fibreboard pays 6.7%.
  • W.R. Grace and Co. Asbestos Personal Injury Trust – W.R. Grace and Co., which manufactured and sold asbestos-containing insulation, cement and acoustical materials, filed for bankruptcy in 2001, facing more than 129,000 asbestos personal injury claims. The trust launched in 2011. The trust started with about $3 billion and currently pays 26%. The company is also responsible for an asbestos Superfund Site in Libby, Mont.

What are some of the more common products that contain asbestos?

  • Paints, sealants and adhesives
  • Insulation, linings and ductwork
  • Cement powder mix
  • Automotive parts
  • Valves, gaskets and hoses
  • Mechanical and electrical components
  • Heat and fire protective clothing

What are some of the more common high risk occupations for asbestos exposure?

  • Shipyard workers
  • Members of the military
  • Demolition workers
  • Drywall removers
  • Automotive workers
  • Construction workers
  • First responders
  • 9/11 rescue, recovery and cleanup crews

Trust Funds vs. Lawsuits

Asbestos trust funds are designed to provide financial compensation for asbestos victims and their families. They are created when companies that used asbestos file for bankruptcy. Unlike asbestos lawsuits, asbestos trust fund compensation is easy to access and provides victims with quick access to money that can be used for anything, including treatment and recovery.

Determining the best option for financial compensation (either a trust fund or an asbestos lawsuit) can be confusing. An asbestos lawsuit may be risky because the chances of a hefty payout depend primarily on the will of a judge or jury.

A more straightforward way to pursue financial compensation for asbestos injuries is bankruptcy trusts. Once all the necessary paperwork is filed and approved, victims get quick access to funds that can be used for anything.

In some situations, victims file both trust fund claims and asbestos lawsuits. No matter which path to compensation is taken, patients who are considering seeking funds should use the services of a skilled mesothelioma attorney.

History of Trust Funds

Scientist and healthcare professionals have acknowledged the dangers of asbestos for centuries. But those who stood to profit the most from asbestos use, like business owners, concealed and denied the risks to ensure they would not face any liabilities from sick workers. By the 1960s, ill and injured workers realized their deadly illnesses were a result of asbestos exposure in the workplace or by contact with asbestos-containing products.

Early on, injured workers did not sue the at-fault companies. Instead, they filed claims through state workers’ compensation programs. But most claims were denied because asbestos diseases, like mesothelioma, manifest so slowly they were not considered traumatic injuries to be eligible for workers’ comp. With no relief in sight, workers turned to the court system.

Even with mounting pressure from injured victims, the companies continued to lie about asbestos dangers and filed for Chapter 11 reorganization bankruptcy to eliminate their financial liabilities. The court system, under section 524 (g) of the federal bankruptcy code, demanded companies that faced asbestos liability create trust funds to pay current and future claimants.

How much money has been paid out to asbestos victims and their families?

In the past decades, asbestos trusts have paid out billions of dollars in claims. Due to a large number of claimants, trusts only pay a percentage of each financial request to ensure there is enough money available for all claims. The percentages change every few years.

The level of the total amount of compensation depends on the number of claimants to the individual trusts and the claimant’s disease.

What does the bankruptcy trust process require?

Bankruptcy trust procedures require asbestos-exposure victims and their families to submit documentation that confirms an asbestos-related illness diagnosis. This includes employment records, medical documentation and a death certificate, if applicable. Anyone who files an asbestos claim must meet medical requirements set by individual trusts. Each trust has lists of compensable diseases, including asbestos lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis. Claimants who choose an expedited review, which offers quicker payments, must meet a minimum set of presumptive exposure and disease levels. Individual claims require more detailed information but may provide higher payouts because they are considered based on individual merits. Anyone seeking funds from an asbestos trust should contact a qualified asbestos lawyer for assistance through the complicated procedure.

In the past decades, asbestos trusts have paid out billions of dollars in claims. Due to a large number of claimants, trusts only pay a percentage of each financial request to ensure there is enough money available for all claims. The percentages change every few years. The level of the total amount of compensation depends on the number of claimants to the individual trusts and the claimant’s disease.

The Role of Bankruptcy Trusts

In 1988, the Johns Manville Corporation (Manville Trust), a longtime user of asbestos and manufacturer of asbestos-containing products, was designated as the first asbestos bankruptcy trust and funded with $2.5 billion. Since then, about 60 other companies have established trust funds for victims.

What is the process for filing a legal trust claim?

  • Determine the company, or companies, at-fault for the exposure.
  • Submit documentation to individual trusts with the following information: 1. Medical diagnosis, 2. Asbestos involvement, 3. Patient’s connection to the offending company or companies, 4. Physician’s confirmation of the disease
  • Wait for the individual trusts to review the materials. Submit additional documentation as determined by the trustees.
  • Review the payout amount, also called liquidation. If the sum does not seem appropriate, contact the individual trusts for additional information.
  • Accept the trust settlement sum.

To ease the process, many asbestos victims use the services of attorneys who specialize in trust claims. Their expertise reduces the burden for asbestos patients and their families as they battle the disease.

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