Asbestos Trust Funds Explained
When a person suffers from mesothelioma or other diseases due to asbestos exposure, they have many options for claiming compensation. One of these is an asbestos trust fund.
What are these funds, though, and how does someone suffering from a terminal illness file a claim with one? A Boston asbestos attorney from The Law Offices of Michael P. Joyce, P.C., can answer these questions, determine which trust fund could be appropriate for you, and help you through the entire process of seeking compensation.
Contact us by phone or online now for a free and confidential discussion about your potential claim and your best options.
What Is an Asbestos Trust Fund?
Asbestos trust funds are established through a Chapter 11 bankruptcy. This is a form of bankruptcy that applies to businesses and requires companies to restructure their finances in a way that allows them to continue doing business while repaying their debt.
Companies that are successful in their Chapter 11 bankruptcy case are immune from lawsuits. Although the companies that create the trusts a trustee will manage them and determine the amount of compensation paid to individuals that file claims.
Individuals suffering from mesothelioma are often able to file a claim against more than one trust. The process typically requires the person to provide a mesothelioma diagnosis, a statement from a doctor, and a summary of the asbestos exposure.
Filing a claim against an asbestos trust fund is a complex process. A Boston asbestos lawyer understands which mesothelioma fund to file your claim against, and can guide you through the entire process.
How Do You File a Mesothelioma Fund Claim?
Filing a mesothelioma claim against a trust fund is often very complicated. One of the most complicated parts of filing a mesothelioma claim is collecting the evidence to prove your entitlement to compensation.
There are many types of evidence you may need before filing a claim, such as:
- Your diagnosis – Before filing a claim against a trust, you will need medical documentation stating that you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another disease as a result of asbestos exposure. Pathology reports, X-rays, and biopsies can all serve as evidence of your diagnosis.
- Physician statement – Your doctor will also have to prepare a written statement confirming that you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another disease resulting from exposure to asbestos.
- Exposure location – You will also need evidence showing the company’s products exposed you to asbestos. This evidence can include affidavits from witnesses, employment records, and invoices, for example.
- Asbestos exposure – Other evidence you will need includes medical documentation establishing the extent of the asbestos exposure and how it contributed to your illness.
A Boston asbestos attorney at The Law Offices of Michael P. Joyce, P.C., can advise you on all the evidence you will need and help you gather it.
Can You File a Lawsuit Against a Bankrupt Asbestos Company?
Many companies that were responsible for exposing people to asbestos have gone bankrupt. Bankruptcy protects those companies from lawsuits being filed against them. This means that if you developed an illness due to asbestos exposure from a bankrupt company, you cannot file a lawsuit directly against them.
However, the law has recognized that these companies should be held liable by anyone that suffered as a result of their negligent actions. The legal system ordered these companies to create trust funds to provide compensation to people suffering from mesothelioma and other illness due to asbestos exposure.
A claim against an asbestos trust fund can provide compensation to workers and other individuals who experienced harm after being exposed to asbestos.
You may even be able to file a claim with more than one asbestos trust fund. You may also be able to file a lawsuit against any company that has not filed for bankruptcy and is still solvent. An experienced Boston mesothelioma attorney at The Law Offices of Michael P. Joyce, P.C., can advise you of your legal options for claiming compensation.
Do Asbestos Trusts Have Money to Pay All Claims in Full?
The compensation obtained from an asbestos trust will vary depending on the type of illness you developed. Mesothelioma trusts typically pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation, according to Mealey’s Asbestos Bankruptcy report.
Unfortunately, asbestos trusts do not have unlimited funds, so they don’t have enough money to fully pay all current and future claims. The trust will establish a payment schedule and each trust will create its own schedule that assigns values to different types of asbestos injuries. Compensation will depend on the type of asbestos disease and the severity of the disease.
How Do Asbestos Trust Funds Decide How Much to Pay on a Claim?
When filing an asbestos-related claim against a trust fund, it’s natural to wonder how much compensation they may provide. The amount of compensation available will depend on the trust you’re filing the claim against and the specifics of your claim.
To determine how much compensation you are awarded through a trust, an administrator will examine:
- Your medical costs
- Income you have lost as a result
- Travel costs
- Pain and suffering you have endured
Due to the fact that most trusts do not have enough money to pay out in full on all present and future claims, typically the trust will pay out a certain percentage of the total amount of compensation awarded.
Each trust fund will pay out a different percentage, but a trust will always pay out the same percentage on claims. For example, the US Gypsum Asbestos Trust pays out 25 percent on most claims. This means that if you file a claim against them and are awarded $100,000, you will receive $25,000. The percentage the trust pays typically varies over time.
Do You Need a Lawyer to File an Asbestos Trust Claim?
If you are planning on filing a claim with an asbestos trust fund, you may do this on your own. However, this is not recommended.
These claims are extremely complex, unpredictable, and time-consuming. There are a number of technical aspects that must be completed before filing your claim. There are also a number of factors that can greatly reduce the amount of compensation you can receive.
A knowledgeable and experienced Boston asbestos lawyer from The Law Offices of Michael P. Joyce, P.C., is a valuable asset when filing these claims and can help you seek the full amount of compensation available.
Each trust fund has a board of trustees that process claims and calculates the amount of compensation available. If you decide to file a claim on your own, they will not provide any assistance with filing your claim. You will have to determine on your own what the eligibility requirements are for a specific trust. You will also have to provide your work history and medical records that substantiate your asbestos claim.
Proving your claim and collecting the necessary documentation is more difficult than it may sound. Chances are that you were exposed to asbestos many decades ago, which makes collecting these documents very challenging. Additionally, if the evidence you include with your claim is deemed inappropriate by the board of trustees, they will deny your claim for compensation. An attorney will understand what type of evidence is appropriate for a claim, and what evidence is not.
A lawyer can also help you determine which way to file your claim with the asbestos trust fund. There are several ways you can do this, typically through an individual review or an expedited review.
People sometimes choose to file a trust fund claim on their own because they are worried about how they will pay an attorney. It’s important that anyone suffering from an asbestos-related disease understands that most attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. This means that the attorney does not get paid unless and until your claim for compensation is successful. At that time, they are paid a percentage of your total award. You and the attorney will agree on that percentage before your claim is even filed.
Compensation Beyond Trust Fund Claims
Although it’s possible for many people affected by asbestos exposure to file a claim against a trust fund, not all individuals are eligible for this. Fortunately, there may be other options available.
People exposed to asbestos who suffer from mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases can often file a personal injury claim against the liable party. If you are suffering from an illness you may file a lawsuit to recover medical expenses, lost income, and more. If you have lost someone to an asbestos-related disease, you may file a wrongful death claim for losses you incurred, such as the lost income your loved one contributed to the household, loss of companionship and guidance, and more.
If you developed an illness after working with asbestos in the military, you can likely claim benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. To qualify for these benefits, you must show that your illness is a direct result of working with asbestos while you were on active duty. Individuals who were dishonorably discharged are not eligible for these benefits. If you are the spouse of a veteran who has passed away due to an asbestos-related illness, you can also receive a monthly benefit known as the Dependency and Indemnity Compensation.
Many jobs require a person to work around asbestos. This is largely due to the fact that the harmful mineral is found in many building materials, such as insulation and piping. If you have developed mesothelioma or any other asbestos-related illness as a result of your employment, you may claim workers’ compensation benefits to help offset the costs of the disease. Due to the fact that mesothelioma has a long latency period, you may collect these benefits even after you’ve retired from your job.
Social Security disability insurance is also available for people that have contracted an asbestos-related illness that has left them unable to work. This program provides benefits to disabled mesothelioma patients under the age of 65. After two years of receiving Social Security disability benefits, you become eligible to receive Medicare coverage. This is often a better option than applying for early retirement benefits. This is because when you apply for Social Security disability benefits, your monthly income is calculated at the full amount. When you apply for retirement benefits, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will reduce your total monthly income.
Just like claiming other forms of compensation, there are certain eligibility requirements for mesothelioma patients who wish to collect Social Security disability benefits. To receive this compensation you must be under the age of 65, and must have enough work credits to receive Social Security retirement benefits. Like any other type of claim for compensation, you must also prove you have developed mesothelioma through medical documentation. You must have also had to stop working due to your cancer treatment.
In most cases, individuals must wait five months before receiving Social Security disability benefits. However, mesothelioma is an incredibly aggressive disease that causes a person’s health to deteriorate extremely quickly. The SSA understands this, so exceptions are made for illnesses such as mesothelioma. These exceptions allow individuals suffering from mesothelioma to qualify for a compassionate allowance, which can help you receive your benefits more quickly by expediting the claims process.
Like any other type of compensation, you must provide proof and documentation of your illness. Typically, a pathology report and a biopsy sample positively identifying mesothelioma cancer cells are enough to substantiate your Social Security disability claim.
Talk to an Asbestos Trust Fund Claim Lawyer Now
If you have developed mesothelioma or any other asbestos-related disease, it’s important to understand that there are many potential forms of compensation available. Each will have certain eligibility requirements, and you will always have to prove your case.
All of this is extremely difficult, particularly at a time when you are receiving treatment for such a serious disease. A Massachusetts asbestos lawyer at The Law Offices of Michael P. Joyce, P.C., can help you seek out the benefits you deserve from all available sources.
If you have developed a disease after asbestos exposure, call The Law Offices of Michael P. Joyce, P.C., today. Our attorneys have the necessary skills and experience to advise you on the type of claim you should file and walk you through the entire process.
Call us today to learn more about how we can help with your case. The discussion is confidential and free.