Recent Changes in Asbestos Trusts in the United States
In order to better serve our clients, your dedicated Texas asbestos lawyers at Hotze Runkle are constantly researching and investigating asbestos-related news. One of the more alarming announcements recently made by the Department of Justice (DOJ) is their desire to make it more difficult for asbestos trusts to operate.
This could, ultimately, affect the ability of asbestos victims and their families to seek and obtain compensation from the parties responsible for their pain and suffering.
About Asbestos Trust Funds
In an effort to protect future mesothelioma victims, bankruptcy courts forced companies responsible for asbestos exposure to create trust funds. These trusts began to emerge in the 1980s and were meant to ensure that companies which had gone bankrupt were able to provide financial compensation to victims of their negligent use of asbestos.
As per a Government Accountability Office report from 2011, 60 asbestos trusts were created from 1998 to 2017, with a combined payout of $17 billion to 3.3 million individuals. These funds are the means by which a victim of asbestos exposure and their family can deal with costs of medical care and other damages.
As per the Center for Disease Control, between 1999 and 2013, approximately 12,000 to 15,000 Americans died each year from asbestos-related disease. The median payout for mesothelioma claim is $46,000 but compensation can vary widely from case to case.
Individuals struggling from asbestos exposure face medical expenses and loss of wages while families must deal with funeral costs and other damages.
Current Administration Could Cause Payout Delays
The current administration claims that there are flaws in the current trust fund system and that there are many false claims being made through asbestos trusts. They believe that there is a lack of safeguards protecting against these entities and that many fraudulent claims are being made without adequate evidence.
Over the past two months, the Department of Justice has issued statements that all companies creating trusts must first provide documents with the names of victims and reward amounts as part of a civil investigation. The DOJ is interested in finding any families who have received any sort of asbestos-related payout so that they can repay Medicare for any care the victim received.
Defense lawyers claim that the system is too lenient with evidence when filing a claim and that too many claims are being made against multiple parties. However, because asbestos exposure can occur across multiple sites and at more than one workplace throughout an individual’s occupational history, multiple companies/parties may be responsible.
Asbestos Making a Dangerous Comeback
Although the health hazards caused by asbestos have been proven and the material has been banned in many areas of the world, there have been recent discussions about allowing companies to once again use the substance in the United States. Despite causing health issues, including asbestos-related diseases and mesothelioma, the Environmental Protection Agency has proposed that there be no limitation on the use of asbestos.
The new rule goes that the manufacturers must alert the EPA and seek approval if they are trying to use asbestos in products.
Despite all the pain and suffering many victims and families have suffered as a direct result of asbestos-related diseases and mesothelioma, it appears that the substance is going to making a dangerous comeback.
Getting the Compensation You Deserve
Companies that have filed for bankruptcy are protected from lawsuits, so it is important to have the added protection and legal experience of the Texas asbestos lawyers of Hotze Runkle to help you navigate your claim.
If you suspect that you may have been exposed to asbestos or are beginning to deal with symptoms of asbestos-related illnesses, seek medical care immediately. Make sure to keep a log of all your medical visits and expenses, as well as a detailed account of your occupational history and the state’s in which you may have faced exposure.