Asbestos trust funds, also called mesothelioma trust funds, have an estimated $30 billion in reserve for asbestos victims and their families. The amount each person receives depends on several factors, including the extent of illness and the total number of people making claims on the individual trusts.
In many cases, asbestos victims have been exposed from several sources so they can make claims on several trusts. Court-ordered trustees manage the finances and trust distributions and follow strict criteria to determine how much compensation claimants receive.
Since the trusts must safeguard their funds to pay all current and future claims, most trusts pay a percentage of a claim (ranging from 1% to 100%). Victims who are most ill (such as mesothelioma patients) receive the highest amount of compensation.
Asbestos trusts were established to provide financial compensation to patients and families who have suffered the most from exposure. Each trust has established disbursement terms based on presumptive medical and exposure criteria. The terms establish if a claim qualifies for compensation.
When determining asbestos trust fund settlements trustees review the claims against at-fault companies. In general, some of the factors that impact compensation levels include the following:
Most asbestos settlement trust fund claims begin with a consultation between the victim and a qualified mesothelioma attorney (See claims process below). After getting the necessary information, mesothelioma attorneys submit documentation to the trust for a claims review. Reviews can happen in one of three ways:
An expedited review allows for quick claims settlement, so asbestos victims and family members can gain fast access to settlement money.
Through the expedited process, claimants must meet the criterion established by the trust, which includes medical evidence and occupational exposure history. The ER is considered less burdensome on claimants because the review is based on easily identifiable medical and exposure criteria. Once the trustees verify the information, claimants are offered a fixed settlement amount.
The disbursement amount depends on the size of the trust. For example, Owens Corning, one of the largest asbestos trusts in operation today, has established the following scheduled values for ER settlement amounts:
|Asbestosis/Pleural Disease/Level III||$19,000|
|Asbestosis/Pleural Disease/Level II||$8,000|
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If the trustees determine the claimant does not meet the standards for compensation through an ER, the claimant can elect for an individual review.
When a claim does not meet the trust’s presumptive medical and exposure criteria and the claim is denied, claimants can escalate their case to an individual review. Also, claimants who are seeking more significant settlement amounts (larger than the expedited review provides) may opt for an individual review.
IR claims may garner more or less funds for the claimant, depending on the trustees’ examinations and decision. When reviewing the cases, trustees look at factors that include:
The IR process is known to take longer than an ER, so it may not be best suited for claimants who require funds immediately.
For those who have a grave illness (mesothelioma) and need funds immediately, the extraordinary claim can provide financial relief.
Claimants who meet the presumptive medical and exposure criterion for an expedited claim and the exposure is a result of a single employer (or product) are eligible for an extraordinary claim review. Claimants can accept the settlement offer or move to arbitration.
Asbestos cancer victims who file claims against bankruptcy trust funds must be able to provide extensive documentation to prove exposure and illness. Most claimants choose to rely on expert asbestos and mesothelioma attorneys to file the complicated claims.
In general, the claims process can be broken down into a four-step system:
Currently, about $30 billion is being held in 60 active asbestos trusts formed after at-fault companies filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The trusts allow the companies to continue daily operations while handling asbestos claims. A board of trustees established by the courts manages each trust.
The first trust created, in 1987, was from the Johns-Manville Corporation, the largest provider and producer of asbestos worldwide. When the trust was finalized, it was funded with $2.5 billion. Since then, several other trust funds with billions of dollars have been established.
|U.S. Gypsum Corp. (USG)||Amt. in Trust: $3.9 billion, Created: 2006, Percentage Payment: 25% for expedited and individual reviews|
|Pittsburgh Corning Corp. (PCC)||Amt. in Trust: $3.5 billion, Created: 2016, Percentage Payment: 30.1% for expedited and individual reviews|
|Owens Corning/Fibreboard (OC)||Amt. in Trust: $3.4 billion, Created: 2007, Percentage Payment: Owens Corning (OC) pays 11.1% for expedited and individual reviews. Fibreboard (FB) pays 9% for expedited and individual reviews|
|W.R. Grace and Co.||Amt. in Trust: $2.9 billion, Created: 2001, Percentage Payment: 26% for expedited and individual reviews|
|DII Industries (Includes asbestos liabilities for Halliburton Company, Harbison-Walker Refractories Company, Kellogg Brown & Root, Inc. and Dresser Industries, Inc.)||Amt. in Trust: $2.5 billion, Created: 2005, Percentage Payment: 60% for expedited and individual reviews|
|Babcock and Wilcox Co. (B&W)||Amt. in Trust: $1.8 billion, Created: 2006, Percentage Payment: 11.9% for expedited and individual reviews|
|Combustion Engineering (CE)||Amt. in Trust: $1.43 billion, Created: 2005, Percentage Payment: 25% for expedited and individual reviews|
|Kaiser Aluminum & Chemical Corp.||Amt. in Trust: $1.2 billion, Created: 2006, Percentage Payment: 25% for expedited and individual reviews|
|Eagle-Pitcher Industries||Amt. in Trust: $730 million, Created: 1997, Percentage Payment: 33% for expedited and individual reviews|
|Federal Mogul (includes asbestos liabilities for Turner & Newall (T&N), Gasket Holdings Inc., Flexitallic, Ferodo America Inc. and Vellumoid)||Amt. in Trust: $690 million, Created: 2007, Percentage Payment: Federal Mogul Asbestos Personal Injury Trust T&N Subfund pays 8.5% for expedited and individual reviews. Federal Mogul Asbestos Personal Injury Trust FMP (Federal Mogul Products) Subfund pays 6.9% for expedited and individual reviews|
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Daniel Wasserberg was a New York metropolitan area “Super Lawyer Rising Star” from 2013 to 2018 (attorneys under age 40), and a Super Lawyer in 2019. In 2017, Daniel was named a “Top 100 Civil Litigator” by the National Trial Lawyers organization. This recognition is rarely awarded to attorneys under the age of 40. Daniel is proud to call himself a Trial Lawyer, and is often asked to speak at gatherings of the nation’s leading attorneys, from both sides of the bar.Learn More