California Asbestos Trust Funds
Mesothelioma and Asbestos Trust Funds in California
California mesothelioma settlements and compensations are a type of financial reparation issued to individuals exposed to asbestos due to an entity's operations. These entities include and are not limited to businesses, cooperations, and companies that engage in mining, production, and distribution of asbestos, asbestos minerals, and asbestos-containing products. Due to the health risks associated with asbestos exposure, liable entities issue compensation to offer financial aid to asbestos exposure victims. Mesothelioma compensation may be issued through settlements, verdicts, or asbestos trust funds.
An asbestos trust fund is one of several ways mesothelioma compensations are dispensed to mesothelioma victims. These trust funds are established when negligent asbestos entities file for bankruptcy.
Due to California's industrial history, the state has recorded more asbestos-related mortalities (including mesothelioma) than any other state. As far back as the second world war, California recorded the nation's highest rates of shipyard asbestos exposure. Furthermore, numerous asbestos mines and processing plants were established at different asbestos deposits in California during asbestos peck use. These industries further increased the rate of asbestos exposure in the state. Asbestos is classified as a carcinogen (cancer-causing substance), and being exposed to this substance increases the risk of developing numerous asbestos-related diseases. These diseases include and are not limited to asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma.
After the toxicity of asbestos was discovered, several claims and lawsuits were filed against numerous asbestos entities in the state. To reduce or eliminate their liabilities, most of these entities created and funded trust funds to issue compensation to individuals exposed to asbestos as a result of their operations. These trust funds are referred to as "asbestos trust funds". Generally, an asbestos trust fund mainly serves two purposes:
- Holding an asbestos entity responsible for its actions
- Issuing compensation to qualified asbestos exposure victims.
California Asbestos Trust Funds
California asbestos trust funds are created by companies that may have gone bankrupt to set aside money for individuals with asbestos-related diseases. Provided these individuals meet specific criteria, they may be able to receive substantial compensation through different asbestos trust funds. Claimants are advised to hire a mesothelioma lawyer or firm as these legal professionals are aware of the intricacies of an asbestos litigation process.
Who is Eligible to File an Asbestos Trust Fund Claim in California?
Generally, individuals that are eligible to file an asbestos trust fund claim in California include:
- Workers exposed to asbestos by their employers
- Workers who made use of asbestos-containing materials during their employment
- Household members of asbestos exposure victims who are liable to secondhand exposure
- Individuals who exposed to asbestos due to environmental factors
- Living relatives or representatives of a dead asbestos exposure victim.
What are My Mesothelioma Compensation Options in California
In California, claimants receive mesothelioma compensation through an asbestos trust fund, a settlement, or verdicts derived from mesothelioma lawsuits. As previously stated, asbestos trust funds are set up by negligent asbestos companies who have filed for bankruptcy. These negligent asbestos companies use asbestos trust funds to set aside large sums of money to pay out present and future asbestos claims. When a claimant wins a claim against an asbestos trust fund, they are paid mesothelioma compensation through the trust fund.
In cases where parties of asbestos litigation concurrently agree to settle and dismiss an asbestos lawsuit outside court, mesothelioma compensations are paid as settlements. On the other hand, verdicts are issued in court by a judge or jury. A verdict of a mesothelioma lawsuit stands as the court's final decision concerning an asbestos lawsuit. When the verdict is in the plaintiff's (the claimant's) favor, they would be awarded a mesothelioma compensation which the defendant (an asbestos company) would be ordered to pay by the court.
Obtaining Compensation From Mesothelioma Trust Funds in California
Mesothelioma patients may file claims against more than one mesothelioma trust fund. However, for each claim to be approved, the claimant would need to meet the requirements of each asbestos trust fund they filed a lawsuit against. These requirements range from being diagnosed with a particular type of asbestos-related illness, being an employee, or being exposed to asbestos-containing products.
Aside from the requirements set by an asbestos trust fund, claimants must file claims before the California statutes of the limitations for taking civil action for asbestos exposure expires.
How Much Money is Left in California Asbestos Trust Funds?
In the United States, around $30 billion is estimated to still be available in several asbestos trust funds that over 100 bankrupt asbestos companies have set up. This ensures that future claimants that meet any trust fund requirements can receive mesothelioma compensation through these asbestos trust funds.
How Do Trust Fund Payment Percentages Work?
To ensure that an asbestos trust fund does not run out of money to pay out future claims, most trusts use a "payment percentage" system for compensating claimants. Instead of paying the total value of an approved claim, most asbestos trust funds pay out a fixed percentage of an agreed claim value.
These fixed payment percentages are not inclusive across all asbestos trusts. Instead, these percentages differ by asbestos trust funds. Some asbestos trust funds may offer low payment percentages between 5% to 15%, while others may have as much as 100%. For example, if an asbestos trust fund provides a 30% payment percentage and a claim against the trust is liquidated at $100,000, the mesothelioma compensation paid to the claimant would be valued at $30,000.
Payment percentages offered by asbestos trust funds are prone to fluctuations. However, these fluctuations predominantly favor claimants. In cases where an asbestos trust fund's payment percentage increases, the trust will make more payments to prior claimants to offset the difference. However, when a trust decreases its payment percentage, previous claimants are not liable to pay back the difference.
Filing an Asbestos Trust Fund Claim in California
Filing an asbestos trust fund claim in California is a multi-step process. A claimant would first need to meet the trust fund requirements, gather relevant evidence to support their claim, submit their claim, and lastly, have their claim reviewed and approved by the trustee of an asbestos trust fund. Claimants are advised to seek professional counsel when filing an asbestos trust fund claim.
The first step any prospective claimant must take in filing an asbestos trust fund claim is to find one or more asbestos trust funds from which they are eligible to receive mesothelioma compensation. Generally, asbestos trust funds have a set of criteria that qualifies a claimant to receive compensation from the trust fund. These criteria are usually made available to the public through trust fund websites. Some of the most common requirements of asbestos trust funds include:
- The time and place where the claimant was exposed to asbestos or asbestos-containing materials.
- A professional diagnosis from qualified medical personnel that proves the claimant has an asbestos-related disease.
- Proof and information on the asbestos product the claimant was exposed to.
- Evidence that the claimant is within the California statute of limitation for filing a claim.
After ensuring that they meet the criteria of the trust fund they wish to file a claim against, claimants are advised to work with an attorney to gather evidence to support their claim. Some of the most requested evidence include:
- Proof of asbestos-related medical diagnoses in the form of medical reports such as imaging scans and pathology reports.
- A written statement that confirms the claimant's asbestos-related diagnosis, signed by a qualified medical personnel such as an oncologist.
- Evidence of asbestos exposure such as witness affidavits, invoices, and employment records
- Medical documentation about the degree of involvement asbestos exposure had in developing the claimant's disease.
Depending on the method utilized by an asbestos trust fund, a claim can be submitted electronically through the asbestos trust fund website or could be printed and mailed. All other required documentation must be submitted along with a claim. After which, the claim would be reviewed. Generally, there are two ways in which an asbestos trust claim can be reviewed by a trustee (trust administrator):
- Expedited review: This method of reviewing claims is typically faster than individual reviews. It involves allegations being grouped based on similarities, such as similar diagnoses provided by claimants. These grouped claims are reviewed almost simultaneously, allowing trust administrators to review claims more quickly. This method of reviewing claims is also associated with a fixed compensation amount across grouped claimants and faster dispensation of payments.
- Individual review: This method of reviewing asbestos trust fund claims is relatively slower than the expedited review method. As the name implies, in this method, claims are reviewed individually. Furthermore, the compensation amount paid to claimants is not fixed. Rather, several factors are taken into consideration to determine the compensation amount. These factors include and are not limited to the extent of a claimant's disease and the number of dependents they have.
Filing Limitations for a Mesothelioma Trust Fund Claim in California
A major filing limitation for California's mesothelioma trust fund claim is the statute of limitation for filing a claim against an asbestos trust fund. Per section 340.2 of the CCP, claimants are given a year to file a claim against an asbestos trust fund from either the death of their loved one due to asbestos exposure or their asbestos illness diagnosis.
How are Asbestos Bankruptcy Trusts Created in California?
In California, asbestos bankruptcy trusts are created by filing a case under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code, also known as a reorganization bankruptcy. Under a chapter 11 bankruptcy, companies are protected from lawsuits, and all claims brought against the company are handled by their trust fund.
Reorganization bankruptcy allows an asbestos company to remain in business or shut down, provided they establish a trust fund. The company would need to present a business plan in court, including an initial funding quotation for their trust fund. After which, a judge may approve or deny their plan. On approval, a trustee would be designated by the court.
If an asbestos company is denied reorganization, it may be forced to file a chapter 7 bankruptcy, also known as liquidation bankruptcy. A chapter 7 bankruptcy encompasses all of a company's assets being sold. After which, the money gotten from these asset sales would be used to compensate different unpaid creditors and claimants of the company by a court.
Why Were Asbestos Trusts Created in California?
In California, an asbestos trust serves as a means that bankrupt asbestos companies can set aside money to pay future asbestos claims. Asbestos trusts also help protect the rights of asbestos exposure victims in receiving adequate compensation. These compensations are typically paid by liable asbestos companies who are responsible for their asbestos exposure.
How Asbestos Trust Fund Claims Compare to Other Mesothelioma Claims
Although an asbestos trust fund claim can be regarded as a mesothelioma claim, there are other types of mesothelioma claims. An asbestos trust funds claim is a mesothelioma claim that encompasses filing a claim against an asbestos trust, rather than taking legal action against an asbestos company.
Another type of mesothelioma claim involves claimants taking legal action against asbestos companies. These asbestos companies are typically involved in the manufacturing or the distribution of asbestos or asbestos-containing materials. Generally, these companies may have played a role in exposing the plaintiff to asbestos which contributed to their development of asbestos-related diseases.
There are generally two types of asbestos lawsuits which include:
- Personal injury lawsuits: This mesothelioma claim involves asbestos exposure victims or their representatives taking legal action against an asbestos company.
- Wrongful death lawsuits: provided an asbestos exposure victim dies without compensation from liable asbestos companies, a wrongful death lawsuit can be filed on their behalf by the loved ones they left behind.
List of California Companies with Asbestos Trust Funds
California companies with asbestos trust funds include and are not limited to:
- J.T. Thorpe Incorporated
- Thorpe Holding Company
- Thorpe Technologie, Incorporated
- Kaiser Aluminium & Chemical Corporation
- Thorpe Insulation Corporation
- Pacific Insulation Corporation.
What is the Average Asbestos Trust Fund Payout in California?
On average, asbestos trust funds payout is around $180,000. Furthermore, asbestos trust fund payouts range between $7000 to $1.2 million. Several factors can directly determine an asbestos trust fund payout amount. These factors include:
- The payment percentage currently utilized by the asbestos trust fund
- The type of a claimant's diagnosed asbestos-related disease.
- The asbestos trust fund utilizes the initial payments schedule.
Other Ways of Obtaining Financial Assistance to Help with Mesothelioma Treatment in California
Due to the high cost associated with mesothelioma treatment, obtaining financial assistance is often necessary. Besides asbestos trust fund claims, financial assistance for mesothelioma treatments may be obtained through:
- Mesothelioma insurance claims: Asbestos exposure victims can obtain financial assistance for mesothelioma treatment through insurance claims such as Medicare, Medicaid, and their private insurance. Medicare is a federal government health care coverage program for persons above 65 and younger individuals who have certain disabilities. Medicaid is a federal and state-sponsored public health program for low-income families and individuals.
- Housing and travel grants: In cases where a mesothelioma treatment specialist is not close to where an individual lives, housing, and travel grants can be used to cover out-of-pocket costs. These costs include cab fares, flight tickets, hotel expenses, and gas prices. Qualifying applicants may access these grants through cancer organizations such as the mesothelioma applied research center (MESO Foundation).
- Veteran claims: These types of claims are filed with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and it is used to seek disability compensation, health care coverage, or other forms of benefit.
Do You Need an Attorney to File a Mesothelioma Trust Fund Claim?
Although claimants are not required to have an attorney to file a mesothelioma trust fund claim, they are advised to hire one. An attorney, particularly a mesothelioma attorney provides claimants with legal expertise and experience from past cases that can be adequately utilized to determine the most beneficial option a claimant has.
Filing a mesothelioma trust fund claim involves complex processes. A mesothelioma attorney can help a claimant navigate through these processes as well as gather evidence and all necessary documentation needed to build a strong case. An attorney can also assist claimants in filling out claim forms gotten from trust funds while ensuring all information provided by the claimant is accurate.
Claimants can find attornies by performing an advanced attorney search through the Attorney Search Portal maintained by the California State Bar. The portal also doubles as a license lookup portal and can be used to verify an attorney's license. Note that, when searching through the attorney search portal under "Cert. Legal Specialty," the option "workers' compensation law" should be selected. Selecting worker compensation law ensures that the search result is filtered to personal injury attornies.
Trust Fund Claim vs. Mesothelioma Lawsuit in California
An asbestos trust fund claim and a mesothelioma lawsuit are means through which victims or their representatives can seek compensation from negligent companies who played a role in their asbestos exposure. The main difference between these two is the filing processes involved and their use case. Trust fund claims are filed against asbestos trust funds that negligent asbestos companies have created during their bankruptcy proceedings. On the other hand, mesothelioma lawsuits are legal actions taken against negligent asbestos companies.
Although trust fund claims and mesothelioma lawsuits both serve similar purposes, the compensations gotten from mesothelioma lawsuits are significantly higher than those from trust fund claims. The average compensation received through trust fund claims is about $180,000. However, the average compensation obtained through a mesothelioma lawsuit trial is $2.4 million.
Can Asbestos Trust Fund Claims Impact Mesothelioma Lawsuits?
No, Both asbestos trust fund claims and mesothelioma lawsuits may be filed simultaneously, provided multiple companies are accountable for a claimant's asbestos exposure. In so doing, claimants would be able to increase their chances of approval and maximize the compensation payment amount they could receive.
California Asbestos Trust Fund Laws
California asbestos trust fund laws are established under the Asbestos Tort Trust Transparency Act (AB597). This Act governs the procedures and documentation that claimants must follow and provide when filing an asbestos trust fund claim.
California Mesothelioma Compensation Disclosure Laws
The state of California currently has no active mesothelioma compensation disclosure laws. However, the state’s general non-disclosure laws may apply
Are Asbestos Trust Fund Payments Taxable in California?
Compensations derived from asbestos trust funds are usually tax-free. However, claimants are advised to confirm through a mesothelioma attorney or a tax expert if they owe any state or federal tax from any compensation they receive.
Can a Family Member File an Asbestos Trust Fund Claim in California?
Yes, the surviving family members of a deceased asbestos exposure victim who have not received compensation can file an asbestos trust fund claim on their behalf. If viable, further legal actions such as a wrongful death lawsuit can also be taken. It is important to consult with an attorney to determine the most effective option.
How Long Do I Have to File an Asbestos Trust Fund Claim?
Per section 340.2 of the California Code of Civil Procedure (CCP), civil actions such as an asbestos trust fund claim for injury or death of an individual must be filed within a year.
How are Asbestos Trust Fund Claim Values Calculated?
Asbestos trust fund claims are calculated based on the assigned value each type of asbestos disease has in an asbestos trust fund "schedule" and the trust fund compensation payment percentage. Asbestos trust funds typically have a fixed compensation payment percentage. This payment percentage determines the portion of an approved claim the asbestos trust fund is obligated to dispense to the claimant. As a result, claimants are only paid a portion of their claim based on the payment percentage employed by the asbestos trust fund.
The assigned value given to different asbestos-related diseases in an asbestos trust fund schedule may be determined by perceived hardship a claimant may face due to their illness. These may include the diseases treatments cost, mortality rate, and impermanence.
How Soon Will I Receive Payment From an Asbestos Trust Fund?
A claimant whose claim has been approved by an asbestos trust fund trustee can expect to receive their compensation payment within 3 to 6 months. However, this timeline (3 to 6 months) is prone to changes as cases may differ. Changes to the suggested time frame is typically due to different factors surrounding a case. These factors may include:
- The claimant's diagnoses: Diagnosis such as lung cancer and asbestosis usually have a more extended waiting period. These diagnoses that correlate to asbestos exposure need to be supported by conclusive evidence for relevant claims to be approved. As a result, these cases usually take longer (up to a year) to get finalized.
- The intricacies of a claimant case: The complexities of a claimant case, such as having multiple companies responsible for a claimant's asbestos exposure, could increase the duration of their legal processes.
- The number of asbestos trust funds a claimant has filed claims against: Provided multiple asbestos companies are responsible for an individual's exposure; a claimant could be eligible to file various claims. Filing various claims ensures that a claimant can recover significantly more significant compensation amounts. However, each asbestos trust fund has different requirements that must be met by a claimant to access compensation.
- The asbestos trust fund backlog of claims: The larger an asbestos trust fund is, the higher the chances that it has a backlog of unresolved claims. This can drastically affect the timeframe new claims are reviewed, and compensation payments are made.