Asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral, is harmful enough to cause mesothelioma – a type of cancer. From mining and construction industries to military armor and weaponry, asbestos was widely used for its insulating properties. Asbestos, though banned in the 1990s, is illegally used even today.

Workplaces exposed their employees to asbestos as a regular part of their work, and as a result, they developed fatal diseases. Mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses take up to fifty years to emerge, and they are incurable. If you, or your loved one, have been diagnosed with diseases linked to asbestos exposure, you can get financial compensation. 

There are two ways of getting financial compensation – through a lawsuit or settlement. The safest way is to claim monetary compensation through an asbestos trust fund.

What is an asbestos trust fund?

Asbestos trust funds help mesothelioma victims to get the financial compensation they deserve. During the 1990s, organizations tangled in mesothelioma lawsuits filed for bankruptcy to avoid compensating the victims. Thus, the U.S. Congress made it compulsory for bankrupt organizations to create asbestos trust funds so that the victims don’t suffer.

These trusts help victims financially as they help recover funds from lost wages, cover health expenses, and provide for the future.

Throughout the 20th century, thousands of U.S. military veterans have also been exposed to asbestos. After Johns-Manville established the first asbestos trust fund in 1988, facilitation centers like the Mesothelioma Veterans Center emerged. Mesothelioma Veterans Center provides legal advice and settlement guidance to those claiming financial compensation for asbestos exposure.

It is better to work with a mesothelioma attorney to file a claim as they can get you the highest financial reward. The lawyer would also help you prepare for the trial and get all the legal paperwork done while you focus on your health.

Who is eligible for an asbestos claim?

Victims of asbestos exposure are individuals who worked in places like the construction industry and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or other types of asbestos illnesses. These individuals are liable to file an asbestos claim. If the victim is deceased or not physically capable of filing the claim, their family or friends can file a claim on their behalf.

Compensation from an asbestos claim

The compensation for mesothelioma victims can vary case by case. On average, in the U.S., an asbestos claim can go anywhere from a few thousand dollars to over $1 million.

The financial reward depends on several factors like the type of asbestos illness diagnosed, the payment plan scheduled by the trust fund, the payment percentage of the trust, and how many trusts you claim.

Asbestos trust funds value asbestos claims based on the type of asbestos illness. This criterion is called a “schedule.” These schedules are values dependent on factors like how much the defendant company paid to other asbestos victims before becoming bankrupt.

Though asbestos trust funds get you the financial reward you deserve, it is better to look for other options. Some different ways to claim monetary compensation are filing an asbestos lawsuit, applying for veteran benefits, or Social Security Disability Insurance.

How are asbestos bankruptcy trusts created?

Asbestos trust funds are created through the Chapter 11 bankruptcy courts. These trusts are funded to account for current and future claims regarding mesothelioma and other asbestos illnesses. 

Mesothelioma patients can file claims at more than one trust fund. Since it is difficult to identify which corporation is responsible for your asbestos exposure, filing as many claims as possible is better.

How do trust fund payment percentages work?

After careful consideration, each claimant is assigned a percentage to denote the worth of their claim. This percentage ensures that enough funds are available to pay for future lawsuits, but it can also mean underpayment for some claimants.

Payment percentages vary for each trust fund and can change over time. If a claimant has demanded $200,000, a trust fund with a 20% payment percentage will pay $40,000.

Payment percentages may change depending on how many claims the trust fund was supposed to provide versus the actual number. If the payment percentage for a trust fund increases, then the trust fund is liable to pay previous claimants the remaining amount. If the rate is reduced, previous claimants are not supposed to pay back the difference.

Do asbestos trust funds have enough money?

So far, 60 asbestos trust funds are operating in the U.S., with $30 billion reserved for claims. These trusts have rewarded up to $20 billion to asbestos claimants since the 1980s. Since there is a twenty-to-fifty-year latency period for asbestos illnesses, more claims might arise in the future.

Asbestos trust funds are created after meeting a criterion. This criterion determines how much an organization should allocate for current and future asbestos claims. It makes sure that there are enough funds to pay for future lawsuits.

How to file an asbestos trust fund claim?

You must seek legal advice before filing an asbestos claim. Mesothelioma lawyers will guide you on whether you should file a lawsuit or make a trust fund claim.

Trust Fund Claim vs. Mesothelioma Lawsuit

There are many ways of seeking a financial reward. The two common ones are filing a claim or a lawsuit. In case of a lawsuit, victims, or their families, claim against the manufacturer of asbestos. Sometimes, a lawsuit may end up in a settlement outside court which takes less time. On the other hand, a jury trial takes longer, and lawsuits offer a higher financial reward.

A trust fund claim is when the claimant files against a trust fund. It is necessary to follow the criteria of the trust fund. Financial rewards from a trust fund depend on the trust fund’s criteria and schedule.

Filing an asbestos claim

There are a few steps for filing an asbestos claim, and your attorney will guide you through these.

1. Meeting the trust fund criteria

As mentioned earlier, every asbestos trust fund has a criterion necessary to file and win a claim successfully. The criteria usually include

  • an account of when the asbestos exposure occurred
  • the place of occurrence
  • information regarding asbestos materials you were exposed to
  • proof of diagnosis of mesothelioma or an asbestos illness
  • statute of limitations

2. Gather information to build up your claim

Once you’ve settled on a lawyer, your lawyer will guide you in gathering relevant information. This information gathering includes collecting data related to your diagnosis, medical records, employment records, and evidence of asbestos presence.

3. Submitting the claim

Once all data has been gathered, it is time to submit the claim to the trust fund for review. There are two types of reviews:

  • Expedited Review: An expedited review is a quick one as it involves a fixed payment.
  • Individual Review: An individual review takes much longer than an expedited one. This type of review is for special cases like a claim involving a minor. It also has a varied payment amount rather than a fixed one.

It is necessary to file a claim as soon as you get a diagnosis, as most states within the U.S. have a statute of limitations. Most asbestos claims are supposed to be filed within that statute within two to three years of the diagnosis.

What is the FACT Act?

Federal governments are responsible for overlooking asbestos trust funds and how they distribute financial rewards. The Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act is a law that monitors the disbursement of funds. The FACT Act received criticism from victims’ lawyers for publicizing claimants’ information; therefore, by 2017, it was declared dysfunctional.

Conclusion

Get a proper diagnosis if you believe you have been exposed to asbestos or suffer from an asbestos-related illness. If the presence of an asbestos-related disease or mesothelioma is confirmed, consult a legal advisor and file a claim as soon as possible. The sooner you start the process, the quicker you’d be able to get financial compensation.