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Asbestos Trust Funds

Mesothelioma and Asbestos Trust Funds in the United States

Asbestos is a naturally occurring trisilicate mineral. The earliest use of asbestos was in building materials, and it is currently used for commercial, industrial, and residential purposes in the united states. The flame-retardant and insulating properties of asbestos make it especially useful. However, due to the increasing number of specific diseases linked to the use and mining of asbestos, the U.S government passed federal legislation to limit asbestos use and exposure. The earliest law was the occupational safety and health act (OSHA) of 1970; the federal government imposed safety standards regarding the use of asbestos materials in the workplace.

In 1973 the U.S court of Appeals upheld a product liability judgment against a manufacturer of asbestos. This was the first decision that held asbestos manufacturers liable for workers' injuries due to exposure to asbestos products. This led to many personal injury lawsuits and US mesothelioma settlements, as attorneys were able to show that asbestos manufacturers concealed information regarding the dangers of exposure to asbestos products.

The clean air act required the EPA to regulate emissions of hazardous air pollutants. This law was the first to identify asbestos as a dangerous air contaminant. It allowed the agency to prohibit the sale of certain asbestos-containing items.

The increasing number of lawsuits against asbestos companies led to the creation of trusts. The first trust created in the U.S was the John Manville trust. Founded in 1988, john Manville was one of the first manufacturers of asbestos and had a long history of hiding asbestos dangers.

Asbestos personal injury trusts are established following the enactment of the federal bankruptcy code. It was implemented to offer compensation plans to settle the interests of present and future asbestos claimants.

What is a Mesothelioma Trust Fund in the United States?

A mesothelioma trust fund establishment is a court-supervised trust established to resolve asbestos claims originating directly or indirectly from exposure to asbestos or asbestos-containing products, including a trust established under the United States bankruptcy laws or Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

Who is Eligible to File an Asbestos Trust Fund Claim in the U.S?

Those who have developed mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease after being exposed to asbestos are typically qualified to pursue an asbestos claim.

Employees exposed to asbestos by their employment, workers who utilized asbestos-containing goods, household members exposed secondhand, those exposed environmentally, and family members who lost a loved one to asbestos exposure are eligible to file a trust fund claim.

United States Asbestos Trust Funds

Asbestos trust funds established in the United States were created by companies who have filed for bankruptcy under the federal bankruptcy code due to lawsuits and claims against the institution. By filing for bankruptcy, the companies can stay in business through asset reorganization and, at the same time, settle claims and lawsuits by providing financial compensation to victims of asbestos-related diseases that they are liable for.

What are My Mesothelioma Compensation Options in the U.S?

A person diagnosed with mesothelioma or a similar ailment due to asbestos exposure has many legal alternatives. If a company has gone bankrupt since the victim was exposed to asbestos, the claim will almost certainly be reimbursed from an asbestos trust fund. Negotiations between both parties' attorneys will almost always result in a mutually acceptable settlement amount being paid to the claimant. A victim might also choose to pursue a lawsuit against a company that is not bankrupt or against a trust fund to get more money than paid out by claims. Veterans who contracted mesothelioma while serving in the military are likely eligible for benefits. Other compensation options include social security insurance and personal insurance.

Obtaining Compensation From Mesothelioma Trust Funds in the U.S.

To obtain compensation from claims or lawsuits, a mesothelioma or asbestos exposure victim must show documented proof of exposure to asbestos by a company that has created a trust fund and evidence of asbestos disease or ailment. The purpose of compensation is to:

  • Pay for therapy and related costs, such as transportation to and from appointments.
  • Make up for lost income and future earnings.
  • Ensure financial security for patients and their families.

The monetary value assigned to the asbestos trust fund claim is called liquidation. Claims approved through an expedited review procedure have a fixed value that cannot be changed for unique situations.

How Much Money is Left in Asbestos Trust Funds?

There are over 60 active asbestos trust funds, with a total value of $30 billion available for future claims. Since the late 1980s, these trusts have paid about $20 billion to claimants. This sum includes $15 billion in payments made between 2006 and 2012.

New claims are unlikely to surface for several decades because asbestos-related illnesses have such a long latency period.

Trusts are formed via lengthy estimating processes. These hearings establish the amount of money set aside for existing and future asbestos claims. Management measures are in place to guarantee that the funds endure long enough to reimburse future claims. Claimants often receive a percentage of their claim's value to ensure adequate money for future claims. This keeps finances from running out too quickly.

How Do Trust Fund Payment Percentages Work in the U.S?

Payment percentages determine the total compensation value awarded to a claimant after successful claims. Each trust has a trust distribution percentage that governs the administration of trust claims that meet the criteria set by the trust fund and are paid as a percentage scheduled value agreed by the trust fund. Most trusts cannot pay the total value of the claim; this is to ensure that the funds retain enough assets to compensate all present and future claimants.

Payment percentages vary across funds and are reviewed from time to time by the fund's trustees. Payment percentages can range from 1.1% to 50%, with a median value of 25%. For example, a trust with a scheduled disease value of $100000 for a specified disease such as mesothelioma that applies a payment percentage of 44% means that a claimant will receive a value of $44000.

The trustees adjust the payment schedule periodically, up or down, based on assets available in the fund to serve future claims. If the claimant accepts the claim offer, the money is paid; else, if it is rejected, the claimant may enter an alternate dispute resolution. If the dispute is not resolved through alternate dispute resolution, the claimant may file a lawsuit against the fund.

Filing an Asbestos Trust Fund Claim

To file a claim claimant must collect evidence and show proof of asbestos diagnosis. Claimants must also show a history of exposure, how the exposure occurred, and which company is responsible for the exposure. the next step is to gather evidence to prove that said companies were complicit in exposure; this will involve interviewing witnesses and family members

A claimant can submit supporting documents electronically or manually; the claimant might ask for an expedited review or individual review of the filed claim. Claims enter the trust processing system and are assigned a number based on the time of the request and the priority based on the type of claim filed.

The claim is then reviewed by the board's trustees and is subjected to internal and external audits. Deficit claims are returned to the claimant for additional information and evidence, and approved claims undergo a quality assurance review.

After administrators determine that the claim meets the requirement for compensation, the claim is liquidated, and the claimant receives a financial offer from the trust.

Filing Limitations for a Mesothelioma Trust Fund Claim in the U.S

The statute of limitation determines the time limit an individual has to file a claim.

For personal injury lawsuits like mesothelioma claims, the statute of limitations begins at diagnosis, and for wrongful death lawsuits, it starts at the moment of death.

Filing time limitations in the U.S vary from one state to another and by type of claim. North Dakota has the highest time limit to file a personal injury claim (6 years). Kentucky, Louisiana, and California have the shortest time limit of just one year. Maryland, Massachusetts, and Michigan have the highest time limit of 3 years to file a claim for wrongful death claims.

Other factors that contribute to filing limitations include:

  • Type of claim: Various periods may apply to various sorts of claims. For example, a trust fund claim's limits may differ from a personal injury claim.
  • The state where an individual was exposed may be the best location to file. Furthermore, the start and end dates of claimants exposure may impact the statute of limitations for your claim.
  • In addition, the state where the asbestos product manufacturer is responsible for your exposure is sometimes the best place to submit your claim.

How are Asbestos Bankruptcy Trusts Created in the U.S?

Asbestos bankruptcy trusts are created when an organization files for chapter 11. The company will undergo reorganization and, during this process, set aside some money in a trust to be used to settle litigations both in the present and in the future bankruptcy.

When a company files for chapter 11 bankruptcy with the U.S bankruptcy court of appropriate jurisdiction, that court will preside over the debtor company's reorganization. In a situation where a debtor company faces asbestos-related liability in the form of lawsuits and claims, United States trustees and bankruptcy administrators will focus on issues specific to the trust.

To obtain the benefit of the bankruptcy code, and before the trust is approved, the trust established by the bankruptcy plan will have to show that it will increase in value and be in a financial position to pay present and future demands that will involve substantial claims.

Why Were Asbestos Trusts Created?

The significant and unpredictable asbestos-related liabilities due to the number of persons exposed to asbestos by asbestos companies and the number of asbestos-related lawsuits led to the creation of asbestos trusts by filing for bankruptcy. Filing for bankruptcy halts civil action against a defaulting company for the duration of the bankruptcy period. After a company has successfully created an asbestos trust fund, it enables it to stay in business and remain profitable. In addition, asbestos trust funds help provide vital financial compensation to claimants battling illnesses due to exposure to asbestos products.

How Asbestos Trust Fund Claims Compare to Other Mesothelioma Claims

Claims from trust funds are a much larger financial compensation when compared to other mesothelioma claims. Although, it might take longer to process claims and get monetary compensation from trust funds. Trust fund payments also cover other expenses associated with mesothelioma diagnoses like travel expenses, doctor consultations, and legal fees. In contrast, other claims like veteran benefits or worker's compensation do not consider specific expenses associated with mesothelioma.

List of U.S Companies with Asbestos Trust Funds

  • A&I Corporation Asbestos Bodily Injury Trust is located in Princeton, New jersey
  • ABB Lummus Global Inc. 524(g) Asbestos Personal Injury Trust
  • and Asbestos Settlement Trust
  • Amatex Asbestos Disease Trust Fund
  • APG Asbestos Trust
  • API, Inc. Asbestos Settlement Trust
  • Armstrong World Industries Asbestos Personal Injury Settlement Trust
  • ARTRA Asbestos Trust
  • ASARCO LLC Asbestos Personal Injury Settlement Trust
  • Babcock & Wilcox Asbestos Trust
  • Bartells Asbestos Settlement Trust
  • Bondex Trust
  • Brauer Asbestos Trust
  • Burns & Roe Asbestos Personal Injury Settlement
  • C.E. Thurston & Sons, Inc. Asbestos Trust
  • Celotex Asbestos Settlement Trust
  • Christy Refractories Asbestos Personal Injury Trust
  • Combustion Engineering Asbestos Personal Injury Trust
  • Congoleum Plan Trust
  • DII Industries LLC Asbestos Personal Injury Trust
  • Durabla Asbestos Trust
  • EaglePicher Industries Personal Injury Settlement Trust
  • Federal-Mogul Asbestos Personal Injury Trust – Ferodo Subfund
  • Federal-Mogul Asbestos Personal Injury Trust – Flexitallic Subfund
  • Federal-Mogul Asbestos Personal Injury Trust – Turner & Newall Subfund
  • Flintkote Company and Flintkote Mines Limited Asbestos Personal Injury Trust
  • Forty-Eight Insulations Qualified Settlement Trust
  • Yarway Asbestos Personal Injury Trust
  • Plant Insulation Company Asbestos Settlement Trust
  • Pittsburgh Corning Corporation Asbestos Personal Injury Trust

What is the Average Asbestos Trust Fund Payout?

According to a report by the Rand Institute for civil justice, the median asbestos trust fund payout is about $41,000. It is common practice to file multiple claims to multiple trusts, which significantly increases each claimant's payout. After filing multiple claims, a claimant can recover as much as $1 million to $1.4 million.

Claimants can file up to 10 different claims to 10 different funds, which will significantly affect the payout from one victim to another. Other factors like the extent of exposure and severity of the disease can also affect compensation from a trust fund.

Obtaining Financial Assistance to Help with Mesothelioma Treatment

Several governments and non-governmental organizations offer financial assistance to victims of mesothelioma.

The veteran's administration provides eligible veterans with treatment for the service disability benefits. Individuals who served in countries in the middle east and south Asia and were exposed to asbestos in old buildings can seek foe benefits for illnesses caused by asbestos.

  • Medicaid is a jointly funded federal and state insurance program that provides part-time nursing assistants, home care aide services, medical supplies, and equipment to families and dependent children.
  • Medicare is a federal health insurance program for all individuals, including the elderly. The program covers screening for several types of cancer, including mesothelioma, and a lot of other health and medical payments on behalf of victims.

Do You Need an Attorney to File a Mesothelioma Trust Fund Claim?

It is not required by law to have a lawyer file a mesothelioma trust fund claim, although it is highly recommended. The filing procedure is complicated, and a mesothelioma lawyer can ensure that a claimant has all of the necessary documents and proof to bring the case forward.

Experienced attorneys are familiar with how various trust funds operate and can assist a claimant in determining which monies they are qualified to collect. Mesothelioma lawyers provide no-cost, no-obligation consultations. Most attorneys collect fees after compensation by the trust fund, so there is no downside to using an attorney.

Trust Fund Claim vs. Mesothelioma Lawsuit in the U.S

Asbestos-related lawsuits are the longest-running mass litigation in the U.S court system. An individual seeking to get financial compensation as a result of an asbestos-related disease should seek the advice of an attorney before deciding to either file a lawsuit or claim a trust fund.

Successful lawsuits usually have a higher payout than claims, although lawsuits can be longer and more complicated since participants can appeal a lawsuit judgment. Various factors can affect the choice between filing a lawsuit and filing a claim on a trust fund.

Can Asbestos Trust Fund Claims Impact Mesothelioma Lawsuits?

Trust fund allegations may influence lawsuits. For mesothelioma claims, most countries provide "setoffs". If a person is granted compensation and receives payments from a lawsuit's court awards, the firm can deduct the amount of any first trust fund contribution from claims.

Claimants are permitted to pursue both trust fund and asbestos fund cases concurrently, albeit this may affect the amount of money they receive from either. During a disagreement, certain courts will look for any trust fund claims forms that have been submitted.

Also, applying for claims alongside a lawsuit can increase the overall time taken for a claimant to receive financial compensation from either process.

U.S Asbestos Trust Fund Laws

The asbestos compensation act of 2000 gives the guidelines for establishing a fund. It suggests the personnel and officials needed to manage an asbestos trust fund, such as its administrator, the trustee(appointed by the administrator), the medical director, and the medical advisory committee. This act also gives the legal and medical requirements for applying for claims from a fund while giving rules for managing and maintaining funds resources.

U.S Mesothelioma Compensation Disclosure Laws

The Furthering Asbestos Claims Transparency Act, or FACT Act, was one of the most severe threats to persons who had been wrongfully damaged by asbestos exposure. The bill was never voted on in Congress; hence it died. The bill essentially would force asbestos trust funds to make public information concerning compensation figures.

Sixteen states have adopted a law similar to this bill in their asbestos transparency laws.

These states include Georgia, Ohio, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Arizona, Tennesse, Utah, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Michigan, and Mississippi.

Most of these states give a time limit of 30-180 days to plaintiffs to give information about claims that have been filed and settled and claims that will possibly be filed in the future.

These disclosure laws were enacted to prevent duplicity of claims and trust fund fraud.

Are Asbestos Trust Fund Payments Taxable?

Most asbestos trust fund compensations are not taxable. Compensation is usually based on emotional, financial, or physical "suffering" and as long as payments are related to asbestos-related disease treatment and diagnosis, regardless of whether the money comes from lawsuits or claims process, they will likely not be taxed. However, specific types of payments that contribute to the total amount are taxable. Examples of taxable payments include:

  1. Punitive damage: These are awarded against companies in a situation of particularly negligent behavior on the defendant's part. As a general rule, all punitive damages awarded are taxed without exception. They are taxed because they are related to the company's behavior and not the claimant's injuries.
  2. Interest: Any interest earned while payment from the fund is being processed is usually subjected to tax. This usually happens when individuals choose to receive payment in installments.

On the other hand, certain payments are not taxable. non-tax-deductible payments are:

  1. Lost wages: Compensation received as a result of lost wages on account of personal injuries accrued from the time a victim is out of work is not taxable.
  2. Medical expenses: All compensation that covers medical expenses is, as a general rule, not taxable; these include:
  • Payments for doctors visits
  • Payments for surgery chemotherapy
  • Health insurance coverage.
  • Transportation to receive medical care

Can a Family Member File an Asbestos Trust Fund Claim?

A family member can file a claim on behalf of their loved one in a wrongful death situation. Surviving family members could file a wrongful death lawsuit if a loved one died of melanoma. In some circumstances, juries may award compensation for funeral and medical expenses. Family members can also file claims if the victim is too ill to file themselves.

Family members who have been exposed to secondhand contact with asbestos materials by their loved ones who worked in asbestos manufacturing or construction company can also file a claim against the company in question.

How Long Do I Have to File an Asbestos Trust Fund Claim?

The statute of limitations determines the time restriction for filing an asbestos trust fund claim. The statute of limitation for filing claims varies from one state.

The statute of limitations for personal injury cases begins at the time of diagnosis, and for wrongful death actions, it starts at the time of death. The filing time limits in the United States differ by state and claim type. The period for filing a personal injury claim in North Dakota is the longest (6 years). The shortest time limits are 1 year in Kentucky, Louisiana, and California. Maryland, Massachusetts, and Michigan have the most prolonged time limits for wrongful death claims, at three years.

How are Asbestos Trust Fund Claim Values Calculated?

A settlement is designed to pay a person for an illness they have suffered and halt any continuing or prospective legal action relating to the damage. Asbestos trust funds take several factors into account when negotiating a settlement with plaintiffs. These factors include:

  • The type and severity of asbestos-related illness the victim suffers from
  • The time and amount of exposure suffered by the victim and also
  • The financial status of the asbestos trust

The value of the claims is based on the claimant's economic and non-economic losses.

The non-economic damages are generally known as compensation for "pain and suffering". An individual with mesothelioma, which is worse and more deadly than asbestosis, will generally get higher financial compensation than one with asbestosis.

Economic damages include medical costs and lost wages. Medical expenses can be determined based on records. The worth of lost income will be decided by how much the victim was earning when they started losing money at work due to their sickness and how much longer they would be expected to work if they were healthy. If they have to employ someone to do tasks that they used to be able to do themselves, those expenses are factored into the economic damages calculation.

How Soon Will I Receive Payment From an Asbestos Trust Fund?

Most asbestos trust fund claims are resolved within three months after filing claims, but it could take as long as one year to receive payment. The payment timeline depends on state laws in the state where the claim is filed, how many trust funds claims are made against different companies, and the attorney's expertise. This is because an experienced mesothelioma lawyer can help to negotiate settlements quickly.

Timeline for payment from an asbestos trust fund:

  • Free case review: It is important to seek a case review from a law firm; most firms offer free case reviews and collect a fee if the lawsuit or claim is won. This is a relatively quick meeting that takes a minimum of 30 minutes and a maximum time of two hours.
  • Meeting with a legal team/attorney: This is done a few days before filing initial claims. The attorney will gather evidence of work history and asbestos-related exposure and conduct interviews with witnesses and stakeholders. The process of gathering evidence will take a few weeks to build a strong case.
  • Filing lawsuit: This is a simple process and can be done electronically or manually to the various asbestos trusts
  • Discovery period: After all documentation has been submitted, time is taken to wait for a response from the trust fund. The trust will either accept the claim, review and send an offer to the claimant or reject the claim based on lack of evidence.