How an Asbestos Trust Fund Works and Where to File

To compensate victims of asbestos exposure, bankrupted companies that sold asbestos-related products have established a trust fund for the victims who contracted deadly cancers like mesothelioma and other illnesses related to asbestos exposure. Hiring a mesothelioma attorney can help you to pursue compensation through the trust fund.

Why Asbestos Trust Funds Exist

After companies like Johns Manville filed for bankruptcy, they established trust funds to compensate for all past, present, and future victims of asbestos exposure. Johns Manville alone set up a $2.5 billion trust fund to compensate the victims exposed to their harmful products. Since the late 1980s, bankrupted asbestos manufacturing companies have distributed over $20 billion to victims of exposure. There are still billions of dollars left to claim for mesothelioma victims. Compensation is doled out to victims who have illnesses like:

  • Mesothelioma;
  • Lung cancer;
  • Asbestosis;
  • Pleural plaques;
  • Asbestos-related cancers.

Health experts express grave concern for mesothelioma victims especially because the average life expectancy hovers at only 12 to 24 months. Because of its low survival rate, mesothelioma patients often receive the highest compensation from the trust fund with compensation averaging between $1 million and $2.4 million.

Usually, compensation for mesothelioma patients gets distributed in less than a year. How much a patient receives from the trust fund will vary in most cases, but you could also receive fixed payments.

Where to File

Mesothelioma patients can file against one or more trusts, depending on the asbestos products that they were exposed to. To begin, you will have to meet the criteria. The process of filing requires that you show where the exposure happened, when it happened, proof of the diagnosis, and evidence of the products exposed to.

You have to keep in mind that a statute of limitations exists with each trust fund, which means you need to file immediately. You need to collect evidence that supports your asbestos claim, and an asbestos lawyer can help. The evidence needed includes:

  • Diagnosis;
  • Doctor’s statement;
  • Site of exposure;
  • Involvement with asbestos.

The attorney will understand the trust fund protocol and submit it accordingly. With most trust funds, you can file a claim through the company’s website. Some, however, could require that you print off a submission to file it through the mail. Hiring an attorney ensures that you have followed the guidelines and the process of approval goes smoothly.

Every trust fund will have a board of administrators who review the claims. Reviews happen in one of two ways. You have the expedited reviews and individual reviews. Expedited reviews happen much faster based on the diagnosis, and administrators will review the claim with greater haste in groups. The board usually distributes fixed payments to those with expedited reviews.

Individual reviews have the board of administrators examines each case individually. Payment usually takes longer because the circumstances aren’t as dire. They evaluate the merits of a claim with more factors for individual reviews. For example, they will look at the number of dependents and how far the asbestos-related disease has progressed. Depending on circumstances, the amount distributed from the trust fund could either be higher or lower than fixed payments.

Bottom Line

Each trust will have its own statute of limitations. Normally, this ranges from two to three years after you have received a mesothelioma diagnosis or suffered from the death of a loved one with it. Depending on state laws, if you file multiple claims, you may have to disclose that you have filed for other trust funds. It would be best to speak with a mesothelioma lawyer. They have the expertise to follow the guidelines and ensure that your claim doesn’t get rejected over failure to comply with one simple rule.