Asbestos Trusts Offer Vital Benefits Despite Some Gaming the System
Companies facing bankruptcy due to asbestos-related liability claims can transfer the liability to one of several asbestos personal injury trusts. These trusts award victims of asbestos-related diseases vital compensation for their injuries. However, lack of transparency and reporting allow claimants to game the system and apply for benefits from multiple trusts. This “double-dipping” depletes the pool of assets available to victims.
Asbestos Trust Basics
Asbestos personal injury trusts compensate victims of asbestos-related diseases in the event that the company responsible for the victim’s asbestos exposure becomes insolvent and files for bankruptcy. Since 1988, 60 asbestos trusts with a collective $37 billion in assets have been established. A Government Accountability Office (GAO) study of asbestos trusts found that between 1988 and 2010, these trusts paid out a total of $17.5 billion to over 3 million claimants.
Asbestos trusts develop trust distribution procedures that govern the claims, appeals and audit processes. These procedures determine a claimant’s eligibility for benefits. Trusts also file annual reports that reveal the amount of claims and pay-outs they issue. However, details about a claimant’s individual health condition are kept confidential unless litigation occurs. This opens the door for claimants to file multiple claims with different trusts for the same condition, depleting the amount of assets available for all asbestos victims.
The Furthering Asbestos Claims Transparency Act
Now, the House Committee on the Judiciary is considering a bill that would increase transparency of asbestos trust claims. Doing so would prevent claimants from filing multiple claims since trusts could look up the filer’s previous claims. The Furthering Asbestos Claims Transparency Act would require quarterly reports on claims, including details about exposure and conditions.
The law would help ensure all asbestos victims have access to essential compensation and that everyone is awarded their fair share of assets.
Asbestos: A Fatal Fiber
Asbestos is a flexible, heat and chemical resistant fiber that was frequently used in insulation, shingles, ceiling tiles, cement products and automotive parts, among other products. Though it has excellent heat-resistant properties, asbestos poses grave health risks to the people who work with and around it. Unfortunately, asbestos-related conditions often develop long after exposure to asbestos has stopped. Common diseases associated with asbestos are mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis.
Asbestos trusts help asbestos victims live full lives despite their health conditions. If you or a loved one was exposed to asbestos at work and your company has filed for bankruptcy and is unable to provide compensation, contact an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you file a claim for benefits from an asbestos trust.