There are several ways asbestos-cancer victims and their families can pursue financial compensation from at-fault companies, including asbestos trust funds and mesothelioma lawsuits.
Asbestos trusts, also known as mesothelioma compensation funds, were formed after thousands of injured workers started filing lawsuits against at-fault companies. The companies, in response, filed bankruptcy to shirk their financial obligations. The courts demanded these companies establish trust funds to ensure injured victims would receive financial compensation that could help pay for medical treatments and living expenses.
In filing trust claims, patients and their families must provide documentation that proves the connection to the at-fault companies and the resulting illness. Claimants can file for either an expedited or individual review.
Expedited reviews are paid out based on the level of disease (with mesothelioma being the most severe). The trustees, or administrators who oversee each trust, determine the amount of compensation.
Individual reviews provide an in-depth look at each case and fund the requests based on distinctive characteristics of the case. In some cases, claimants receive more through an individual review, but it often takes longer than expedited reviews.
Due to the large number of claims on individual trust funds, many claimants do not get the full amount of the requested funds. The funds pay from one to 100 percent, with the average being 25 percent. Some claimants seek funds from multiple trusts due to multiple exposure locations.
Overall, trust funds requests are funded in a first in, first out (FIFO) process, providing quicker compensation to those who file ahead of others.
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Asbestos-related litigation began in the late 1960s after scores of blue-collar workers began getting sick after exposure. Since then, tens of thousands of people have filed lawsuits in response to the widespread corporate negligence.
There are two common types of asbestos lawsuits: personal injury and wrongful death claims. Both types of lawsuits can be expedited for those in declining health.
In a personal injury claim, asbestos patients file lawsuits against a company, or in some cases multiple companies, that are primarily responsible for the exposure. If an asbestos-cancer patient dies before a lawsuit can be resolved, the patient’s estate can assume the claim. Family members can also file separate wrongful death claims that can provide compensation for lingering medical bills, funeral expenses and living expenses.
The lawsuit process is typically spread out over several months and includes filing written complaints, collecting evidence and taking depositions. In many cases, however, at-fault companies are eager to resolve the case with a settlement. A skilled mesothelioma attorney will negotiate the best settlement terms. If the company does not provide a beneficial settlement, then the case will go to trial.
Mealey’s Litigation Report found the average trial award was about $5.8 million in 2015, but some awards have exceeded $20 million.
Plaintiffs who win typically start receiving payments several months after the trial. At-fault companies can appeal the courts decision, so the award amount might be reduced or thrown out entirely.
It is important to carefully consider all of the options when considering an asbestos trust fund claim or lawsuit. Consult with a qualified mesothelioma attorney before making any decisions.
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