The History of Asbestos Trusts
The largest asbestos trust was also the first to be established. Johns Manville once led the country in manufacturing asbestos products and racked up huge liabilities. It began bankruptcy proceedings in 1982 after facing thousands of costly asbestos lawsuits.
In 1988, the company emerged reorganized and with the first asbestos trust, the Manville Personal Injury Settlement Trust. This represented a new strategy in coping with asbestos liabilities. The company essentially shifted liability to a new entity, the trust.
Many companies followed the example of Johns Manville, going through bankruptcy to set up a trust. Manville also led the way in how trusts pay out claims. Initially, the trust was supposed to pay claimants 100% of their claims.
There was not enough money for this, and exposure victims rushed to get their piece of the trust, causing it to become insolvent. The trust revised procedures by 1995, establishing the standard for others:
- The trust prioritizes people with severe illness.
- There are guidelines in place for resolving disputes between the trust and claimants.
- The trust created a new administrative role to protect the interests of future claimants.
After the initial failure of the Manville trust, it also stopped paying people 100% of their claims. Now, when companies establish a trust, they set a percentage to be paid. The trusts generally cannot remain solvent and pay every claimant 100% of their rightful claim.
Examples of Important Active Trusts
More than 100 companies filed for bankruptcy because of asbestos liabilities. Many of these established trust funds. These are some of the noteworthy trusts, the year established, and the initial funding amount:
United States Gypsum Asbestos Personal Injury Settlement Trust – 2006, $3.96 billion
Owens Corning Fibreboard Asbestos Personal Injury Trust – 2006, $3.42 billion
Manville Personal Injury Trust Settlement – 1998, $2.5 billion
DII Industries, LLC Asbestos Personal Injury Trust – 2005, $2.5 billion
Armstrong World Industries Asbestos Personal Injury Settlement Trust – 2006, $2.1 billion
Western Asbestos Settlement Trust – 2004, $2 billion
Babcock and Wilcox Company Asbestos Personal Injury Settlement Trust – 2006, $1.85 billion
Celotex Asbestos Settlement Trust – 1997, $1.2 billion
Combustion Engineering 524(g) Asbestos Personal Injury Trust – 2006, $1.2 billion
These are just some of the many trusts available to victims of asbestos exposure. Contact an experienced asbestos lawyer to find out to which trust you’re eligible to file.
Who Is Eligible to File a Claim with an Asbestos Trust Fund?
To file a valid claim for compensation from an asbestos trust fund, you must meet and prove certain criteria:
- Documentation showing you have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness
- A physician statement that confirms the diagnosis
- Evidence of the location at which you experienced asbestos exposure
- Medical records showing that exposure led to your illness
How Are Asbestos Trust Funds Set Up?
Many companies that used asbestos eventually filed for bankruptcy protection because of the high costs of lawsuits. Victims cannot file lawsuits against one of these bankrupt companies; instead, they must file for compensation through trust funds.
- Bankruptcy: Setting up an asbestos trust begins with a company filing for bankruptcy. Bankruptcy protects companies from lawsuits but does not exempt them from compensating victims. Bankruptcy courts require these companies to provide plans for how they will reorganize and how they will set up trust funds.
- Estimating fund amounts: Asbestos trust funds payout both current and future claims. As funds are established, the courts approve the amounts used to fund them. These must include an estimate for future needs. That estimate ensures adequate funds remain for both current and future claimants.
- Bankruptcy court approval: The decisions about trust funds must be made before a bankruptcy plan can be approved. The court allows the plaintiffs’ representatives to weigh in and help make the final decision on funding amounts. Both sides estimate how much money is needed in the trust fund. The amount should be enough to pay all existing claims as well as those made in the future.
Believe You’re Entitled to Compensation?
Call us at 1-800-692-8608 and find out whether you are eligible to receive compensation from the $30 billion in trust funds. There is a time limit and claims are reviewed and decided on a first-come, first-serve basis, so there is no time to lose in filing your claim. We can help, so contact us as soon as possible.
How Are Decisions Made for Trust Fund Claims?
The funding and compensation decisions for asbestos trust funds need to be fair. For this reason, unbiased third parties are responsible for setting up and administering the funds. They weigh several factors when settling claims:
- Trustees consider each claim on the basis of the evidence for asbestos exposure and illness.
- The amount of money in the fund is also a consideration.
- Trustees take into account the extent of a claimant’s exposure to asbestos and the severity of the resulting illness.
- Another factor in determining claim amounts is the number of future victims expected to come forward. Trustees are obligated to hold back enough money to provide for exposure victims who get sick in the future and to ensure there will be funds for them.
What Are Typical Trust Fund Compensation Amounts?
The amount of compensation that any asbestos victim can get from an asbestos or mesothelioma trust fund varies. There is no typical amount because it depends on so many individual factors. There is no guaranteed amount for anyone.
Factors under consideration in compensation decisions include:
- The illness or injury caused by asbestos exposure
- The severity and progression of the illness
- How much an individual must pay for treatment
- Whether or not the victim can work or has lost wages
- The schedule of payments already in place for the trust fund
It’s also important to understand that not everyone coming forward with a claim will receive the full amount to which they are entitled. Trust funds may only be able to offer a portion of a full claim at the time a victim files to ensure future victims get compensation.
Will There Be Enough Trust Fund Money for Future Claims?
Asbestos Funds Currently Contain about $30 Billion Dollars.
It can be comforting to know that you can rely on the money in asbestos trust funds if you do get sick decades after the exposure. It can take many years for the symptoms to become obvious and for the disease to develop and lead to a diagnosis. The funds were created to meet these future needs.
If you were exposed to asbestos, you may be lucky enough to never develop a related illness. You will always face an increased risk, though. You may need that trust fund money in the future. You will have the same right to it as those who claim it now.
Should I File a Claim or a Lawsuit?
There may be more than one company responsible for your asbestos exposure, which means you may have the opportunity to file a lawsuit against some and a claim with trust funds for others.
It is legal to do both, but know that making a claim on a trust fund can impact and possibly lessen the amount of compensation awarded in a lawsuit verdict or settlement.
Each state has its own laws that determine just how much each type of claim affects the other. An experienced mesothelioma and asbestos lawyer can help you make the best decisions regarding claims and compensation.
Recent challenges of asbestos trusts by the U.S. Department of Justice may make it more difficult to claim compensation this way. Ask your lawyer for more information.
Can I File Both a Claim and a Lawsuit?
Whether or not you can seek compensation through both actions depends on state law. Many states allow you to file claims and a lawsuit but with restrictions.
For instance, you likely will have to disclose information about claims you’ve filed before starting a lawsuit. You may also have your court award reduced based on any claims amounts you received.
What Is the FACT Act and How Does It Affect Me?
- The Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act of 2010 is a law that has not been passed.
- Asbestos victims need to be aware of FACT because there is a chance a similar bill will become law in the future.
- The law seeks to require asbestos trust funds to use a public database first proposed by the FACT Act. This database would report payouts and list personal information about claimants.
- The sponsors of the FACT Act want to prevent victims from double-dipping into asbestos trust funds.
- The FACT Act has not had enough support to pass because many lawmakers felt that putting claimants’ personal information into a public database represented a significant breach of privacy.
Whether another similar law will pass in the future is not known. If it does, it could put your privacy rights at risk.
How Do I Get Started Filing a Trust Fund Claim?
Filing a claim is the first step in getting compensation from an asbestos trust. It can be a complicated process, so the first thing you should do is hire an experienced mesothelioma lawyer.
Be prepared to give your lawyer all the information needed to get a claim started: medical records and your diagnosis of an asbestos illness, your work history, and where and when you believe you were exposed.
Your lawyer can file a claim on your behalf. You will receive a decision about any compensation you’re entitled to from the trust fund. The third-party, unbiased trustees process claims as they are received. To ensure you receive your share of the compensation, ACT TODAY.
Filing a Claim
- When you’re ready to get started on a claim, we’ll send you the information for more than twenty bankruptcy trusts.
- This information will help you understand your options for filing.
- It includes the names of available trusts, the links to the claim forms for each trust, and more.
- If you still have questions about which trusts to file with, or whether you can file with more than one, we can help you find those answers.
- Claims through trust funds are paid in the order in which they are received.
- Trustees aim to keep adequate funds for future claimants, but there are no guarantees.
- It is important to act immediately for the best chance of receiving the compensation you need.
- Even if you don’t know where you were exposed, act now and file as quickly as you can.
Fast and Easy
- We have helped many people get compensation from asbestos trusts in just ninety days.
- We know how important it is to access funds for medical expenses.
- The added stress of filing claims and trying to get the compensation is the last thing you need while fighting serious illness.
- Our caring support staff will help you through the process, step-by-step, to make your claim as smooth as possible.
Do I Have to Have Mesothelioma to Make a Claim?
You must have a diagnosis of an asbestos-related illness to make a claim through an asbestos trust. However, your illness does not have to be mesothelioma. In general, the trusts recognize eight levels and types of asbestos illness in claimants:
- Lung cancer with nonmalignant asbestos disease, typically asbestosis
- Lung cancer without nonmalignant asbestos disease
- Other cancers with evidence of nonmalignant asbestos disease
- Severe asbestosis
- Asbestosis or another plural disease with significant pulmonary disability
- Asbestosis or another plural disease without significant pulmonary disability
- Other asbestos diseases
Each level requires specific diagnostic standards for a valid claim.
What Are the Steps in the Claims Process?
There are four steps in the claims process with some minor variations depending on the trust:
- Filing the Claim and Selecting a Review Method. Based on work history, the claimant first identifies the appropriate trust or trusts and files a claim. They must also choose a review method, either individual or expedited. An individual review allows the claimant to make a case for higher compensation. The expedited review pays a fixed amount more quickly based on disease type.
- Reviewing the Claim. Once the claim is filed the trust places it in an appropriate position in the queue. The trust reviews the claim. It may deny the claim or place an expedited claim in the individual claim review process if it requires deeper review.
- Liquidating the Claim. If a trust deems a claim valid, it will then liquidate the claim, or assign it a value. Expedited reviews get set amounts based on disease level. Individual reviews require more consideration
- Paying the Claim. Once the claimant accepts the value, the claim goes into a payment queue. The claimant receives payment as a percentage of the assigned value. The percentage varies by trust fund.
Frequently Asked Questions
Page Written by Rod De Llano, Esquire
Rod De Llano was born and raised in Laredo, Texas. He graduated from Princeton University with a B.A. in Economics, and earned a law degree from the University of Texas. After working for an international law firm for several years, Rod formed a law firm dedicated to representing persons injured by exposure to asbestos products. For over 20 years, Rod has fought for persons diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis. His clients have recovered over $1 billion over the years.