There has been a tremendous amount of talk about the idea of instituting a mesothelioma and asbestos trust fund from which mesothelioma victims would be paid. The proposal outlines a system that would eliminate costly and time-consuming litigation and replace it with a trust that would be funded by the companies that have been deemed responsible for asbestos exposure that caused mesothelioma and other diseases. Proponents of the system point to several advantages of these trust funds, but there are many legitimate questions.
Advantages of Asbestos Trust Funds
Those who are in favor of establishing asbestos trust funds have several reasons that they want this method of providing compensation to mesothelioma victims to be standardized.
These reasons include the fact that it would require the responsible companies to accept their liability for the damage that has been done, as well as the fact that a standardized compensation system would be put in place wherein all mesothelioma patients would be paid the same amount rather than having those with a more skilled asbestos lawyer representing them earning higher awards due to their specialized knowledge.
Proponents also point to the fact that attorneys’s fees and court fees would be minimized or eliminated, allowing the victims to retain a higher percentage of their compensation.
Disadvantages of Mesothelioma Trust Funds
Though there are many distinct advantages to a standardized payment system that would be funded by the asbestos companies, there are a number of very real concerns that mesothelioma victims’ advocates have about the proposed mesothelioma trust funds.
One of the biggest worries is that the funds will be underfunded, in large part because of the fact that nobody can estimate how many people will be diagnosed with mesothelioma or asbestos-related diseases.
Another concern is that the current proposals being considered for the establishment of mesothelioma trust funds leaves disallows compensation to those that were exposed through environmental exposure. Trust funds would eliminate compensation to those that were exposed as a result of their exposure to loved ones who worked with asbestos.
Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Trust Funds
What is an asbestos trust fund?
Trust funds are special funds that have been set in place as part of bankruptcy reorganization proceedings. The funds are established by asbestos companies for the benefit of mesothelioma victims. The funds pay mesothelioma victims for the damage caused to them while protecting the asbestos company’s assets. The funds are also known as asbestos bankruptcy trusts and mesothelioma compensation funds.
Have all asbestos companies set up these trust funds?
Not all, but many of them have. There are approximately sixty different trust funds that have been established, representing almost two thirds of the companies that have been the subject of asbestos litigation.
Do the asbestos companies decide who gets paid out of the funds?
No. The funds are administered by a neutral third party that is tasked with determining eligibility of claims and distributing compensation. The trust administrators have an established set of guidelines that they follow to determine both who is eligible and how much the compensation for a specific claim will be.
Can I file a claim with a fund at the same time that I file a lawsuit?
The answer to that is determined by what state you are filing your lawsuit in as well as a number of other issues. In many situations filing both at once will diminish the amount of compensation that you will be entitled to. A qualified mesothelioma attorney will be able to advise you based on the specifics of your case.
Can I file a claim with more than one trust fund if I was exposed to asbestos by more than one company?
The trust funds are often established with clauses that prohibit paying a claim if the amount that it would normally be providing has already been paid by another party. These overlaps can sometimes work against the mesothelioma victim. It is important to consult with a qualified mesothelioma attorney to ensure that you are filing your claim in a way that will maximize the amount that you receive.
How much will a mesothelioma trust fund pay?
The amount is determined by a number of variables, including your age, how severe your illness is and how the fund has been set up. Each fund is established with its own guidelines and compensation schedule.
How much time do I have to file a claim?
The trust funds are working with a finite amount of money: once it has been exhausted, mesothelioma victims impacted by the particular company will not be able to file a claim. That is why it is so important to file a claim as quickly as possible.