Trust funds provide a way for asbestos exposure victims to receive compensation.
There is an established process for claiming asbestos trust fund money.
Trust funds are created by asbestos companies that filed for bankruptcy.
Mesothelioma victims may be eligible to file claims against one or more trust funds.
Asbestos trust funds may be an option for some mesothelioma patients. A trust fund claim can help those with asbestos-related diseases recover compensation for the negligence of companies that used asbestos. Asbestos trust funds may form when an asbestos company files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
As part of bankruptcy proceedings, the company may go through reorganization. This process may involve setting money aside in a trust fund. These trusts provide compensation for current and future asbestos claims filed against the company.
Today, there are about 65 active trust funds. In total, these trust funds have more than $30 billion available for victims of asbestos exposure.
What Is a Mesothelioma Trust Fund?
- Money set aside by asbestos companies as part of Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings
- Victims of asbestos exposure may file a claim against a trust fund
- Sometimes referred to as an “asbestos trust fund” or an “asbestos bankruptcy trust”
Individuals with mesothelioma are often awarded the highest payouts from asbestos trust funds. However, claimants with asbestosis, lung cancer or another asbestos-related disease may also be eligible for compensation.
How Much Are Asbestos Trust Fund Payouts?
Compensation amounts from asbestos trust funds vary between each trust. An individual’s specific claim may also affect their payout.
To ensure fair compensation, each trust is overseen by a board of trustees. When determining asbestos trust fund awards, administrators of the trust consider:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Treatment-related costs
- Travel and lodging for treatment
Trust fund compensation amounts also consider the pain and suffering of patients and their families.
The actual payouts from mesothelioma trust funds are a percentage of a total compensation amount. This is the payment percentage. Trust fund administrators will determine what each claimant is entitled to, and the claimant is paid a set percentage of that amount.
Example: United States Gypsum Asbestos Trust
The United States Gypsum Asbestos Trust has a current payment percentage of 19.2%. That means if an asbestos victim is awarded $100,000, they would be paid $19,200 from the trust.
Over time, the trust administrators may adjust the payment percentage to ensure funds for future claims.
Most trust funds don’t fully pay out a claim due to funding limitations. Trust funds pay a percentage of the claim in order to ensure money is available for future mesothelioma trust fund claims. Claimants can seek additional compensation by filing a lawsuit or additional claim.
Filing an Asbestos Trust Fund Claim
Before filing a trust claim, mesothelioma patients and their loved ones should talk to an experienced lawyer. A mesothelioma attorney can help patients better understand all their legal options for compensation.
In some cases, claimants may file multiple asbestos trust fund claims. A claimant may also file a trust fund claim and mesothelioma lawsuit at the same time. However, filing a claim and a lawsuit may impact the amount of compensation received from each.
It is crucial to work with an asbestos law firm to ensure claimants choose the best option for their case.
Asbestos Trust Fund Eligibility
To file an asbestos trust fund claim, individuals must meet the specific trust’s criteria. Each trust fund may have slightly different requirements to file a claim.
What Do Claimants Need to File a Trust Fund Claim?
- Proof asbestos exposure occurred from working at a particular job site during a certain period of time
- Proof asbestos exposure occurred while using specific products
- Documentation of diagnosis, including X-rays and biopsies
A mesothelioma lawyer can provide the specific eligibility requirements for each trust fund. If a claimant meets the criteria, a lawyer can also help gather the required documents for the claim.
Documents may include:
- Proof of employment
- Military service records
- Medical records
Some cases may require a physician’s statement confirming the asbestos disease diagnosis.
Legal Deadlines for Asbestos Trust Funds
Claimants have to file an asbestos trust fund claim within a legal deadline. This is known as the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations for asbestos trust fund claims is unique to each trust fund. Factors that impact these deadlines can include the date of diagnosis or death.
Filing the Claim for Review
After mesothelioma lawyers gather the evidence and documentation, they submit the appropriate files for review by the trust fund’s administrators. Reviews can be done on an expedited, individual or extraordinary basis.
- Claims are processed after particular criteria has been met and before other individual claims
- Claims are reviewed in a shorter process
- Claimants may receive compensation faster
- Expedited claims have a standard amount of compensation allowed
- Claimants do not meet the additional criteria for an expedited review
- Administrators review the claim in much more detail
- Payout may be more or less than the compensation available with an expedited review
- Special cases where the claim meets criteria for expedited review but is treated as an individual review
- Claimant typically must meet particular employment criteria (e.g., duration of employment at a specific company)
- Payouts may be higher than with an expedited review
Payment of the Claim
After administrators determine the claim meets the requirements for compensation, the claim may be liquidated. This means a specific amount will be assigned to the claim and paid out to the claimant.
The amount a claimant receives depends on:
- The amount of money in the fund
- The expenses claimed in a specific case
- The payment percentage of the trust fund
Reports estimate from 2006 through 2012, the entire trust system paid more than $15 billion to asbestos claimants. This money from asbestos trust funds helps mesothelioma patients with expenses related to medical costs, travel for treatment and pain and suffering.
Who Manages Asbestos Trust Funds?
Asbestos trust funds are not managed by the asbestos companies that fund them. These trust funds are managed by boards of trustees who ensure the funds make payments to victims of asbestos exposure. The trustees are also responsible for making sure the trust is adequately funded for future claimants.
List of Asbestos Trust Funds
More than 115 asbestos companies have filed for bankruptcy since the early 1980s. As a result, there are more than 65 asbestos trust funds.
Each trust has different total amounts, payment percentages and eligibility requirements.
United States Gypsum Asbestos Personal Injury Settlement Trust
- $3.96 billion in initial assets
- Current payment percentage: 19.2%
The United States Gypsum Asbestos Trust was created in 2006 after the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. For more than five decades, the United States Gypsum Corporation manufactured a variety of building materials. Some of these products contained asbestos. Their products exposed factory workers, construction workers and nearby residents to asbestos.
Pittsburgh Corning Corporation Asbestos Personal Injury Trust
- $3.41 billion in initial assets
- Current payment percentage: 30.1%
The Pittsburgh Corning Corporation (PCC) Asbestos Trust was created as part of the 16-year bankruptcy proceedings of PCC. Among other products, the company manufactured Unibestos, a pipe insulation product containing amosite asbestos.
Owens Corning/Fibreboard Asbestos Personal Injury Trust
- $3.4 billion in initial assets
- Current payment percentage: 6.7 – 7.8%
The Owens Corning Fibreboard Asbestos Personal Injury Trust was formed in October 2006 as a result of bankruptcy proceedings for Owens Corning and its subsidiary, Fibreboard. The companies are known for creating fiberglass, home insulation and other asbestos products. In the 1980s, Owens Corning employed more than 29,000 people.
As a result, thousands of people were potentially exposed to asbestos on the job. In addition to the asbestos personal injury trust, there is also a sub-fund related to asbestos exposure from the company’s subsidiary. The two trusts have separate funds and payment percentages. The combined total of initial assets is listed above.
W.R. Grace and Co. Asbestos Personal Injury Trust
- $2.98 billion in initial assets
- Current payment percentage: 35%
W.R. Grace and Co. was a huge manufacturer and distributor of asbestos products, including cement and adhesives. The company was later found to be a polluter of asbestos at many of its facilities, leading to the creation of a Superfund Site in Libby, Montana. Following many asbestos lawsuits against the company, they filed for bankruptcy in 2001.
Other Large Asbestos Trust Funds
- DII Industries: $2.5 billion in initial assets
- Armstrong World Industries: $2 billion in initial assets
- Western Asbestos (Western MacArthur): $2 billion in initial assets
- Babcock & Wilcox: $1.8 billion in initial assets
- Owens Corning Fibreboard Subfund: $1.5 billion in initial assets
*Owens Corning has a sub-fund for asbestos victims from its subsidiary, Fibreboard.
Mesothelioma patients and their loved ones should contact a mesothelioma law firm in order to discuss eligibility. Depending on their individual case, an asbestos attorney can help claimants file an asbestos trust fund claim or mesothelioma lawsuit.
Asbestos Trust Fund Claims vs. Lawsuits
Trust funds are just one of many compensation options that may be available to those with asbestos-related illnesses. In addition to a trust fund, some mesothelioma patients and their family members may file a mesothelioma lawsuit.
There may be a negative impact from an asbestos victim filing an asbestos trust fund claim and a lawsuit. To ensure the largest award possible, claimants should work with an attorney specializing in mesothelioma.
What About VA Benefits and Asbestos Trust Funds?
If the asbestos exposure occurred due to military service, pursuing veterans’ benefits may also be an option for financial compensation. The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers compensation options for veterans and others for surviving dependents.
A mesothelioma lawyer can assist mesothelioma patients and their loved ones in determining the best compensation options for them.