About Asbestos Trust Funds
If you’ve become ill due to an asbestos-related illness, you have the legal right to seek compensation against the party that negligently exposed you to asbestos. This is generally done by filing a lawsuit against the culpable party. In some cases, however, the companies responsible for your injuries have already set up a asbestos trust fund. These companies have filed for bankruptcy, meaning they are protected against lawsuits.
However, the United States Bankruptcy Code mandates that businesses that file for bankruptcy due to overwhelming asbestos-related lawsuits must pay enough into a trust fund to compensate currently pending and future lawsuits.
If the company or companies that negligently exposed you to asbestos have set up trust funds, instead of filing a lawsuit against you’ll be able to file a asbestos trust fund claim.
How to File a Asbestos Trust Fund Claim
Filing a asbestos trust fund is a detailed process involving numerous steps. The first step is to determine if the businesses you are filing against have created trust fund. Most people are unsure whether the company (s) they are filing against have their own trust funds, and the many plaintiffs aren’t even sure who the businesses that exposed them to asbestos are. This is perfectly fine, and an experienced mesothelioma lawyer will be able to assist you in determining who the manufacturers and if they have an established trust fund.
Once it’s determined that the companies have a trust fund, the next step is to provide evidence of your asbestos-related illness. Again, your attorney will more than likely help you during this process as well, but common types of evidence can include:
- Medical documents that indicate a formal diagnosis
- Evidence that asbestos exposure happened at your work site
- A medical statement from a qualified doctor
Once the information is gathered, you can submit your claim. Afterwards, the decision process will start.
Asbestos Trust Fund Decisions
As mentioned earlier, assigned trustees are generally responsible for deciding how much compensation a claimant will receive. These trustees also decide whether a case is valid for approval.
Currently, there are two different ways that claims are reviewed: expedited reviews and individual reviews. Expedited reviews typically take much less time that individual reviews, and therefore the payout is faster. This type of review is used when a claimant already has a fixed set value of their claim and the established criteria is met (medical and work history).
If the criteria for an expedited review is insufficient, an individual review is set up. The benefit of an individual review is that the compensation is not a fixed amount like expedited reviews are. However, this could mean that the compensation amount may be more, but it could also be less. Some attorneys prefer that their client’s claim be an individual review as it gives them the leeway to seek additional compensation as opposed to a set price. Individual reviews tend to take longer since there is a longer process involved when validating the evidence and negotiating the compensation amount.
Once your case has been decided, it goes into the claims liquidation process, which simply the step when the amount of compensation you will receive is decided and applied. For expedited reviews, this will always be a fixed rate. As mentioned earlier, however, individual review compensation amounts will vary.
How Much Compensation Will I Receive?
The average payout in asbestos trust fund claims are around 25%. For instance, if your claim is worth $20 million, then the payout to you would be $5 million. Keep in mind, however, that this is not a set rule, and the percentages will different according to each trust fund. Some trust funds pay lower than 25% while others pay up to 100%.
Although it may seem unfair to receive only a percentage of your total claim worth, this is done so that future asbestos victims will have access to compensation as well. Companies that set up trust fund must pay all qualified claimants. In addition, an asbestos trust fund eliminates the need to go through a long, arduous trial, in which a successful verdict in your favor is not always 100% guaranteed.
There is expected to be a rise in asbestos claims in the future. This is due to the fact that since asbestos illnesses tend to lie dormant for up to 50 years, more and more cases will surface as people are diagnosed in upcoming years. Fortunately, there is currently over $30 billion in asbestos trust funds, set up by more than 50 companies.
Asbestos Trust Fund Statute of Limitations
It’s important to remember that, similar to personal injury lawsuits, there are statute of limitations in place when filing an asbestos trust fund claim. You will have a certain amount of time to file your case, which in general is around two years after the diagnosis of your illness. Statute of limitations will vary according to each state, so it’s important to file as soon as possible.