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Bankrupt asbestos companies were forced to establish trust funds as a way to ensure that they could compensate fairly the injured workers who would seek compensation in the future. Drugwatch can help you file a trust fund claim.
Beginning in the 1970s, lawsuits against companies that exposed their workers to the toxic mineral asbestos flooded the U.S. court system, and the number of claims grew at a rapid pace.
By 2002, some 730,000 people had filed asbestos-related lawsuits against companies that knowingly exposed their workforce to asbestos. One result was nearly $49 billion in compensation for plaintiffs or family members. Another was that man asbestos-related companies were driven into bankruptcy. As part of bankruptcy, these companies were ordered to set up trust funds.
Someone with mesothelioma – a rare and particularly deadly asbestos-caused cancer – can garner compensation through the legal system via a lawsuit verdict or settlement or through a claim with one of these asbestos trusts. The Patient Advocates at Drugwatch know all about the realities of asbestos exposure and mesothelioma and can help find a qualified mesothelioma lawyer. Regardless, occupational exposure to asbestos is a vital piece of information in these cases.
Once touted as a miracle material for its unmatched natural resistance to heat, fire, chemical and electric damage, asbestos was incorporated into thousands of products spanning a wide range of industries and occupations.
It later came to light that regularly inhaling airborne asbestos fibers, an unfortunate and often unavoidable consequence, can lead to the development of serious respiratory illnesses later in life, including asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma (a rare cancer of the lungs' protective lining caused exclusively by asbestos exposure).
There are several ways people with mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses can recover compensation for their pain and suffering. Because every claim is different, the amount of compensation can vary from a small amount to millions of dollars.
Filing a lawsuit can lead to a settlement or a jury verdict. In some cases, your attorney can help you file a claim through an asbestos bankruptcy trust. If you are an injured American veteran, you may have to file a claim through the Veterans Administration.
|Generally, a mesothelioma lawsuit will cover:|
|Lost wages||Travel expenses for medical treatment|
|Support for you and your loved ones||Medical expenses|
|Physical and mental distress||Funeral expenses|
The financial toll of asbestos-related lawsuits drove nearly 100 companies to file for bankruptcy in recent decades. As a condition of reorganization to emerge from bankruptcy, many of these companies were ordered to establish personal injury trusts so they can continue to compensate those injured as a result of their past negligence.
Once a trust is created for a company, claimants can no longer file lawsuits against it. Instead, compensation can only be attained by filing a claim with the trustees, who operate the trust to benefit future claimants. The first asbestos trust was set up in 1988 by Johns Manville. Since then, millions of claims were filed with the more than 60 trusts, and nearly $20 billion has been paid to claimants.
|Some of the Largest Asbestos Trusts|
|Company||Amount in Trust|
|USG Corp.||$4 billion|
|W.R. Grace & Co.||$3 billion|
|Johns Manville||$2.5 billion|
|Armstrong World Industries||$2.1 billion|
|Owen Corning Fireboard||$1.6 billion|
|Kaiser Aluminum||$1.2 billion|
There are important distinctions between filing a claim with an asbestos personal injury trust and filing a lawsuit, so it is wise to hire an attorney who is experienced in dealing with asbestos trust funds. Your attorney can help organize your medical records and the evidence of your asbestos-related injury and submit it to the trust.
The protocol for filing an asbestos trust claim may be slightly different for each trust, but the majority of trusts share the same five-step process.
When filing a claim with an asbestos personal injury trust, the first step is to identify one or more appropriate trusts according to your work history. You can only file claims with trusts set up on behalf of a company that exposed you to asbestos, whether that company produced, manufactured or simply used asbestos-containing products. Trusts refer to these companies as debtors.
According to Section 524(g) of the bankruptcy code, there is no limit to the number of debtors you can file a trust claim against. Further, there is no limit to the total amount of compensation you can receive from the trusts. Claimants frequently file claims with several asbestos trusts and recover money from multiple sources.
Asbestos trust claimants typically have two options when deciding how their claim will be processed: expedited review and individual review.
In the expedited review process, claims are paid quickly and at a set value. The trust assigns a fixed payout for each asbestos-related disease, with more serious conditions valued higher than others. Trusts typically publish the scheduled value for each condition in a document called the Trust Distribution Procedure (TDP).
Not all claimants will qualify for expedited review. You will need to support your claim with sufficient evidence, such as proof of your work history and any medical documents pertaining to your diagnosis. After collecting this evidence, you will send it to the claim-processing facility for review.
Some claimants, on the other hand, prefer to file for an individual review. Although this method takes significantly longer for the trust to process, it allows claimants to receive individual consideration for their case. Your unique situation determines your award from the trust, which may or may not result in a higher payment than the fixed rates of the expedited review process.
Individual review is required when claimants fail to meet the medical or exposure criteria of the expedited review process. It may also be required for certain situations, such as a diagnosis of asbestos-related lung cancer in a claimant with a history of smoking.
Once the trust receives all applicable documents, your claim is placed in a processing queue and the review process begins. Approximately six months before your claim enters the review phase, the trust will request any recent updates on your health status or any additional evidence of asbestos exposure. When the trust is confident that your information is accurate and up-to-date, it will begin to review the evidence submitted for your case.
In claims filed for expedited review, the trust will ensure that the claimant’s medical and exposure evidence meet the requirements laid out in the TDP. To make sure that claimants with similar diseases are compensated fairly and equally, trusts have established disease levels for each asbestos-related condition. Mesothelioma always appears as a separate disease level, but other disease levels may vary from trust to trust.
|Factors the trust takes into consideration for determining this value include:|
|Level VII||Lung cancer with evidence of asbestos-related nonmalignant disease in both lungs (typically asbestosis)|
|Level VI||Lung cancer without evidence of asbestos-related nonmalignant disease in both lungs|
|Level V||Other cancers with evidence of asbestos-related nonmalignant disease in both lungs|
|Level IV||Severe asbestosis|
|Level III||Asbestosis/pleural disease with significantly restricted lung function|
|Level II||Asbestosis/pleural disease without significantly restricted lung function|
|Level I||Other asbestos disease|
Each asbestos disease level has its own set of medical and exposure criteria that must be met. In addition, you will need to prove that your condition meets an appropriate latency requirement, which is a clear indication that your disease is asbestos-related. In most cases, you will need to show that your condition arose no less than 10 years after your first documented exposure to asbestos.Unlike the requirements of some legal jurisdictions, you do not need to provide evidence for the amount of asbestos dust you inhaled in order to receive compensation from an asbestos trust. You do, however, need to furnish credible proof that you worked with or around the debtor’s asbestos products in a time when asbestos was in use.
If you meet the medical and occupational requirements laid out by the trust, your claim will be recognized as valid and advanced to the next step, liquidation.
In this step, a monetary value is assigned to your claim. If you filed for expedited review, your claim will be liquidated according to the scheduled value of your disease level set forth in the trust’s TDP, regardless of your individual circumstances.
Individual review claims are typically assigned a value based on past awards from similar cases in the legal tort system.
Once your claim is liquidated, the trust will provide you with an offer. You may choose to accept the offer and enter your claim into the payment queue, or you can refuse and have your claim entered into alternative dispute resolution (ADR) to come to an agreement. In some cases, you have the right to file a lawsuit against the trust in the court system.
|Factors the trust takes into consideration for determining this value include:|
|The number of dependents you have|
|The settlement and verdict history of your law firm|
You will receive payment for your claim based on the date you were entered into the payment queue. Awards are given on a first-in, first-out basis, but most claims cannot afford to pay every claim in full. To ensure that there is enough compensation available for future claimants, trusts discount awards by a rate known as the payment percentage.
To determine your actual award, the trust will multiply the liquidated value of your claim by the set payment percentage. So if your claim was liquidated at $100,000 with a payment percentage of 20 percent, for example, your actual award would be $20,000. Payment percentages will vary from trust to trust and are usually adjusted over time.
Claimants are also responsible for paying attorney fees for the award. While this also varies, the fee is typically 25 percent of your compensation.
Because of exposure to asbestos on Navy ships, proving grounds and military bases, U.S. military veterans experience some of the highest rates of mesothelioma and asbestos-related disease. Veterans exposed to asbestos while on active duty in the military are entitled to assistance from the Veterans Administration. Two types of assistance are available – disability compensation and health-care benefits.
Disability compensation is based on a veteran’s disability rating. The rating is measured from 0 to 100 percent. In the case of mesothelioma, the rating is always 100 percent. In order to apply, veterans must submit proof that they were exposed to asbestos while on active duty.
Health care benefits for veterans with an asbestos-related illness are based on proof that the illness is service-related or the veteran’s income level. Spouses and dependent family members of veterans with mesothelioma or other asbestos-related illness may also be entitled to benefits.
Veterans also make up a group of people who often seek information about filing a lawsuit related to how they were exposed to asbestos. Compensation from lawsuit verdicts and settlements is a specialized process. Veterans who consider pursuing such compensation should seek to hire a qualified mesothelioma attorney, one with experience handling asbestos-related claims.