In an effort to escape their massive legal liabilities, many large companies that used asbestos in their products or working environments have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. In order to make sure that victims of asbestos-related diseases are compensated fairly, the U.S. Congress has determined that these companies must establish an asbestos trust fund when they file for bankruptcy protection. This ensures that future victims will be able to get the financial compensation they deserve.
History of Asbestos as a Material
Beginning in the 1800s, asbestos became widely used by a variety of manufacturers because it was cheap, flexible, and durable. It was also a material that provided insulation and was fireproof. Construction, shipbuilding, and manufacturing companies in particular began using the material in large quantities.
A hundred years ago, the industry knew asbestos was killing people. By 1940, they knew it caused cancer, and by 1960, companies were well aware of the connection between asbestos and mesothelioma. This affected a variety of companies, including those that produced products containing asbestos, or those who used asbestos in their operations. Since the link between lung disease and asbestos was clear, these companies began to be overwhelmed with lawsuits from the people they had exposed to asbestos. As a result, many of these companies felt they had no choice but to file for bankruptcy.
Establishment of Trust Funds
Many companies filing for bankruptcy hoped that they would be able to limit their asbestos liability. Thanks to section 524(g) of the bankruptcy code under Chapter 11,the legal system did not allow them to entirely escape their obligations to their victims. Companies were ordered to establish asbestos trust funds, which were to be run as separate organizations requiring new trustees, separate from the original company.
Determining Claim Eligibility
The most essential requirement necessary in order to file a claim to a trust fund is the ability to prove that the victim was exposed to a certain company or product that contained asbestos, and was diagnosed with an asbestos related disease as a result. Every trust fund is able to set its own eligibility criteria, and the best way to determine if you are eligible is to contact an experienced attorney who specializes in trust fund related claims.
If your claim is approved, the trust will make a payment offer to you and your attorney. This is typically a percentage of the full value that has been allotted to whichever lung disease that you might have. For example, when a trust was established, schedules were set for claimants with mesothelioma, different amounts established for those with asbestos lung cancer and other amounts for other asbestos diseases
If you or your loved one has been a victim of asbestos exposure, it’s important to seek the help of a trusted and experienced legal professional. You will most likely be dealing with companies who have years of experience in trying to pay as little possible to their victims. While the establishment of the trust funds does provide you some protection, having a skilled professional on your side can greatly increase your chance of receiving fair compensation.