What Are Asbestos Trust Funds?

Asbestos, a toxic mineral that was once used abundantly in the creation of fireproof building materials, is still being found in a range of capacities today. Before its known toxicity, the mineral’s fire-resistant and durable traits were put to use in the construction and development of tools and building materials for decades. Eventually, workers who had been exposed to the toxic dust during employment began developing diseases like lung cancer, pleural mesothelioma, and asbestosis among others. Not long after this, researchers discovered the mineral’s carcinogenic properties, most uses of asbestos were banned, and the companies responsible for exposing their employees began receiving legal attention. Over time, companies with notable asbestos liabilities started filing for bankruptcy. To ensure that future lawsuits were taken care of, these companies set up asbestos trust funds. This is a form of financial compensation offered by the organization to employees who develop an asbestos-related condition and decide to file a legal claim.

Occupational Exposure

Laws and regulations put in place after the mineral was discovered toxic to human health put accountability in the hands of the asbestos-contaminated building owner, manager, or contractor. It’s their responsibility to establish the adequate removal of pollutants from the structure before allowing employees to work there. If this doesn’t happen, the employee gets exposed and develops an illness, they could file an occupational exposure legal claim. The responsible company can then get in legal trouble for negligence and have these claims go on their record.

This is an image representing an engineer potentially being exposed to asbestos.

Who Can File an Asbestos Trust Fund Claim?

Anyone who was exposed to asbestos while on the job and has developed lung cancer or other illness can be eligible for compensation from an asbestos trust fund. It also depends on whether the asbestos company has a trust fund set up in the first place. The person filing a claim must also be able to prove that exposure happened during their occupation with said company. There is also a statute of limitations (time limit) on how long the patient has to file. This timer usually begins after an official medical diagnosis of illness but tends to differ with each state.

This is an image representing a lung cancer claim.

Asbestos Trust Fund Claim VS Lung Cancer Lawsuit

These two legal terms are related but different. Asbestos trust fund claims are settled lawsuits with pre-planned compensation. The compensation is gathered from specific funds put in place by liable companies who went bankrupt from previous related lawsuits. A lung cancer lawsuit is more general and can involve a personal injury and wrongful death claim that doesn’t involve asbestos trust funds. If the company hasn’t gone bankrupt or had any asbestos claims in the past, they probably won’t have trust funds put in place. If the company was recently found liable, they may have to pay from current funds.

How to File a Claim for Asbestos Trust Funds

Filing a claim is a process that involves gathering a lot of time-sensitive information. An experienced asbestos attorney can help ensure this process goes smoothly, your claim is accepted, and you get the maximum payout. Steps consist of:

  1. Establishing eligibility

    Each state has a set of specific regulations regarding the statute of limitations, eligibility, and payout.

  2. Retrieving necessary information

    Here you’ll need to gather several things to build your case. These items include your medical diagnosis, exposure details, job description, interviews with employers or coworkers, among other things. A lawyer can conduct the necessary interviews for you and make sure you have all the necessary paperwork for a successful claim. They’ll also be familiar with each state’s laws and national regulations so that everything is done in accordance.

  3. Filing the claim

    The claim is filed and submitted. You must choose between two types of filing processes for asbestos trust funds: an expedited or individual review.

    • With the expedited review, eligible claims are assigned a specific value for approved asbestos diseases. The payout timeline tends to be more concise because claims are already grouped under a payout category and cannot be negotiated. The timeline is shorter, but the payout is generally lower than with an individual review. The value for expedited reviews is approximately at the 50th percentile when compared to previous settlements. Other specifics include:
      • Processed first, quicker response
      • One single payout (instead of spreading out over time)
      • Same payment amount for all like cases
      • All reviews made identically
    • An individual review allows for maximum payout because it’s more thorough. This gives the patient a chance for an individual assessment and consideration of their unique case and specifics. Details that can affect an individual review: age at diagnosis, jurisdiction, settlement history, and legal counsel. Other specifics involve:
      • Personalized review
      • More detailed and variables considered
      • Payout could be higher or lower than an expedited review
      • Automatically processed after all expedited reviews
  4. Awaiting claim review and payout proposal

    Depending on the review type chosen, the claim will be reviewed for approval.

  5. Negotiation of payout

    If you picked an individualized review, the payout amount you receive may be eligible for negotiation and an attorney can negotiate on your behalf. You automatically forfeit that option with expedited review as the payout amounts are fixed.

This is an image representing asbestos trust funds.

How Much Is the Average Payout for Asbestos Trust Funds?

On average, the value for claims from asbestos trust funds vary. It can go anywhere from $7,000 to $1.2 million across the 30 trust-claim-class combinations but the average is $180,000. It’s important to note that most trusts are running out of money and won’t have enough to fully pay every claim. To combat this, these companies set payment percentages of the amount they actually pay, the net payment. Trust claim-class reporting says that the average payment percentage offered is about 25% or $45,000 net when the percentage is taken from the $180,000 gross average.

Talk to a Lawyer

It can be complicated navigating a legal claim involving asbestos trust funds, especially if you have lung cancer or other asbestos-illness and are experiencing severe symptoms. Leave the intricate details to an experienced attorney, they’re around to represent you and streamline the process while you take a step back and deal with your injuries. Have you or a loved one developed lung cancer from occupational exposure? Request a free case evaluation from our team and figure out what’s next.