There are many asbestos manufacturing companies who have chosen to file bankruptcy due to the sheer number of mesothelioma lawsuits they face. Because the majority of these companies filed bankruptcy under Chapter 11, which reorganizes company debts, the courts required them to set up a trust fund to be used to compensate victims who were diagnosed with mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure.
What Is an Asbestos Trust Fund?
A trust is a legal account that is monitored by a third party, known as the trustee, in order to protect the assets that belong to a beneficiary. At one time, asbestos trust funds created by the courts held more than $49 billion that could be used for compensation for those who suffered asbestos-related illnesses.
A bankruptcy court determined how much each company was required to place in the trust based on testimony by witnesses, past lawsuits, and the company’s knowledge of the dangers when the worker was exposed. The first of these trusts was set up in 1987. By 2010, almost 100 companies had created trusts for asbestos-related illnesses.
Can I Still File a Lawsuit?
Because the courts set up the trusts, you may not be able to file a lawsuit against the asbestos manufacturer if they filed bankruptcy and established a trust. Instead, if you are diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness or a loved one dies of that type of illness, you must file a claim against the trust.
If you can trace your illness back to one particular company and provide proof to the trustee, you may receive a settlement check within weeks. You will need to provide medical records and evidence of the exposure.
If the amount they offer is too low, you can file an alternative dispute resolution. If that is not suitable, you may need to hire an attorney to see if you qualify for a lawsuit. In fact, mesothelioma victims could use the guidance of a lawyer to build a strong case and receive substantial compensation even if they plan to file a claim against the trust.
The amount you may receive from the trust varies with each company. In order to be sure there is enough compensation for future claims, each trust fund assigns a percentage that they will pay for each claim. The trustee will review the claim, taking into consideration your age, condition, and dependents, as well as economic and non-economic damages.
Once the trustee reviews the claim, they will liquidate it, assigning a monetary value. They will then use the percentage authorized by the court to determine your settlement amount. Currently, the average payment from a trust is $180,000.
How Much Is In the Trust?
It is estimated that there is still $37 billion in asbestos trust funds despite claims paid to victims. This is because trust fund balances are invested in order to maximize their return and keep as much of a balance as possible for future claims. The amount in each trust does vary, however, Some of the trusts established include:
- Armstrong World Industries – $2.3 billion with a payment percentage of 43 percent
- Combustion Engineering – $1.4 billion with a payment percentage of 29 percent
- DII Industries – $2.1 billion with a payment percentage of 50 percent
- Johns Manville – $742 million with a payment percentage of 5.1 percent
- Kaiser Aluminum – $1.2 billion with a payment percentage of $35 percent
- Owen Corning Fireboard – $1.6 billion with a payment percentage of 11.1 percent
- S.G. Corp. – $2 billion with a payment percentage of 28.2 percent
- R. Grace & Company – $3 billion with a payment percentage of 26 percent
If you have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness such as mesothelioma, it is important to seek compensation. On top of helping you cover your medical bills, caretaking expenses, and medical travel costs, filing a claim will also hold the companies that harmed and killed so many due to their negligence accountable.