FAQs About Asbestos Compensation Funds
Asbestos compensation funds, also known as asbestos trust funds or asbestos bankruptcy trusts, are funds created when corporations that have exposed people to asbestos declare bankruptcy. If you have mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, you may be eligible for compensation from one or more asbestos compensation funds.
What Is an Asbestos Compensation Fund?
Some corporations, most notably the Johns Manville Company, have faced so many asbestos lawsuits, that they sought the protection of bankruptcy. Asbestos compensation funds are created and funded when corporations file for bankruptcy under Chapter 11, which allows them to reorganize and stay in business. U.S. Bankruptcy Code Section 524(g) mandates that these companies create asbestos trust funds to ensure that money is available to compensate future victims of asbestos-related diseases caused by their negligence.
The bankruptcy court works with corporations and asbestos attorneys to ensure that money is set aside in each asbestos compensation fund to cover all anticipated future claimants, to the extent possible based on each company’s assets. Since asbestos diseases can take decades to come to light, the asbestos compensation funds may continue operating for several more decades.
Can I File a Lawsuit Against a Company That Has an Asbestos Compensation Fund?
When negligent corporations file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, they get protection from future lawsuits. You can, however, file a claim against that corporation’s asbestos bankruptcy trust fund.
How Much Money Do Asbestos Compensation Funds Have?
Currently, over $32 billion in assets is held by more than 50 asbestos compensation funds. The money in the funds is invested so, even as victims of asbestos-related diseases continue to be paid every year, the amount of funds available has risen over the past several years.
Who Is Eligible to Receive Compensation From an Asbestos Bankruptcy Fund?
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, lung cancer caused by asbestos, or another asbestos disease, you are eligible for compensation. If one or more of the corporations that negligently exposed you to asbestos has an asbestos compensation fund, you may file a claim with that fund.
How Do I File a Claim With an Asbestos Trust Fund?
To file a claim and receive compensation from an asbestos compensation fund, you will first need a verified diagnosis with an asbestos-related illness. You will also need to document when and where you were exposed to asbestos by the company that created the compensation fund.
The specific process for filing your claim with an asbestos compensation fund is set out on the fund’s website. The documentation required for each fund is the same, so you won’t have to start back at zero if you file more than one asbestos trust fund claim.
How Much Compensation Can I Expect to Receive?
Asbestos compensation funds maintain schedules of payment that depend on the seriousness of your illness. If you are represented by an attorney, that attorney may negotiate a higher amount for you, based on your particular circumstances. The average payment for claimants with mesothelioma, the most serious asbestos disease(s) is around $260,000, but some can collect several times that amount.
Some funds have calculated that they will not have enough money left to pay out to all future victims if they pay current claimants 100% of what they are owed. It is not uncommon for asbestos compensation funds to pay out as little as 25% of the money they owe to claimants. Thus, if you were awarded $200,000, you might receive anywhere from $50,000 (if the asbestos compensation fund has a payment percentage of 25%) to the full $200,000, if the fund is paying out 100% of its claims.
What Is Expedited Review?
Claimants who are very seriously ill can opt for an expedited review of their asbestos compensation fund claim. If you choose expedited review, your award will be based on a set payment schedule based on your illness and the amount will not be negotiable. The expedited process can, however, bring financial relief more quickly to people suffering from a life-threatening asbestos disease, such as mesothelioma.
What Is True Up?
If you have received a payment from an asbestos compensation fund, you will never be asked to pay any portion of that back. If, however, an asbestos trust fund discovers that it is paying out less than it projected, that fund may adjust its payment percentage upward. If you were paid only a percentage of your claim, you may be eligible for additional compensation. This adjustment process is called trueing up.
How Long Does it Take to Receive Funds From an Asbestos Compensation Fund?
It can take from a few months to over a year to process your claim under the normal (not expedited) review process. Once you have agreed on the amount of your award, it generally takes about two months to receive payment from an asbestos compensation fund.
Do I Need a Lawyer to File a Claim for Compensation From an Asbestos Trust Fund?
You can file your claim against an asbestos compensation fund on your own. However, you get compensation more quickly and probably from more trust funds, with assistance from an experienced asbestos attorney, who can make sure that your documentation is completed correctly. In addition, your lawyer may be able to negotiate a higher compensation for your injuries.
If you have additional questions about asbestos compensation funds or asbestos lawsuits, contact Kazan Law to speak about your case with a member of our experienced and compassionate staff.