Medical needs are the first priority for anybody diagnosed with mesothelioma – or any other asbestos-related disease. But they also need to address the financial impact of their illness. In most cases, they are debilitated and unable to work, and in some cases they are considered terminal. Many seek compensation either through litigation or by filing claims with trusts set up by companies that sought bankruptcy protection following years of asbestos claims. Last month several U.S. senators introduced a proposed law to provide oversight of how these trusts are administered.
Senators Say PROTECT Asbestos Victims Act Would Help Mesothelioma Victims
Shortly after asbestos was linked to mesothelioma and other serious illnesses, victims started coming forward. It became clear that companies whose products contained asbestos had been aware of the mineral’s risks but chosen to ignore it in favor of reaping big profits. Victims of this callous disregard began filing (and winning) lawsuits against the companies, which were eventually so depleted that they filed for bankruptcy protection. To ensure that future victims were able to get the compensation they deserved, the asbestos bankruptcy trust system was established in 1994, facilitating the filing of claims and disbursement of funds.
The asbestos bankruptcy trust system has allowed mesothelioma victims to choose between pursuing litigation against companies without a trust and filing an asbestos bankruptcy trust claim. These claims generally provide lower amounts of compensation but the process is easier and faster. But Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC), John Cornyn (R-TX) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) say that the system needs oversight to ensure that victims continue to receive fair and just compensation and to eliminate fraud and abuse.
Reforms Would Allow Fraud Investigations of Mesothelioma Claims
The proposed law, if passed, would represent a significant shift in the way that asbestos litigation and claims proceed. It would create the ability for the U.S. Trustee Program of the Department of Justice to investigate fraud and make it a crime to knowingly submit a false claim. It will also mandate compliance with subpoenas from state courts regarding trust payments and that they report information to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to ensure proper reimbursement.
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma and you would like information on the asbestos bankruptcy trusts, the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net can help. Contact us today at 1-800-692-8608.