Mesothelioma Trust Funds
Because of the number of cases of mesothelioma that have developed over the last few decades, a number of companies have established trust funds to compensate those people who have contracted the disease as a result of occupational exposure to asbestos. The number of available trust funds is slowly growing, as more companies are being taken to task for not implementing proper safety procedures.
Many companies still insist that they bear no responsibility for the development of mesothelioma in their former workers and deny any link between this form of cancer and their practices. While legislation has helped to limit the number of new cases of mesothelioma and other diseases by banning asbestos, the substance has already left millions of American workers with illnesses that were a direct result of company negligence and a lack of safety standards.
Now, efforts are being undertaken to ensure that those affected can receive some form of compensation, and one of the most popular forms of this compensation is the trust fund. The trust funds available are not yet particularly robust, but a number of initiatives are underway to assist those who have been harmed by exposure to asbestos.
The first company to create a trust fund for its workers was Johns-Manville Corporation. In 1988, the Manville Trust was established to compensate those workers who developed mesothelioma as a result of the asbestos they inhaled while making insulation and roofing material for the company. The majority of the company's equity was placed into this fund, and its goal is to provide monetary compensation for its employees. To be considered for money from the fund, a person must show when he or she worked for the company and for how long. The patient must also provide details about his or her diagnosis.
Even then, the amount of money that may be received is often not enough to cover medical bills. In fact, the Manville trust has reduced the amount it pays out to victims several times. This is something seen with other available trust funds as well. They either have low standards to qualify for compensation, along with correspondingly low payments, or they have such a strict burden of proof that even those who have been severely affected by asbestos exposure are unable to receive a settlement.
The Fairness in Asbestos Injury Resolution Bill
To combat these kinds of issues and prevent large numbers of asbestos cases from going to court, Congress has proposed an alternate arrangement in the form of the Fairness in Asbestos Injury Resolution (FAIR) bill. This bill was drafted in 2006 with the intention of applying the model used by the Manville Trust to every asbestos-using company in the United States. Such a trust fund would not require the companies named to admit fault or guilt but to place a specified amount of money into the fund for the mesothelioma patients who worked for them. To access the fund, a worker would have to show that they not only have mesothelioma but that it came as a result of occupational exposure.
Despite repeated efforts, this bill has not yet been made law, and a number of issues hamper its progress. Two such issues are the lack of any provision for environmental exposure from a spouse who worked with asbestos and the length of time before a claim can be resolved. Nonetheless, the bill is a step in the right direction to help replace the trust funds available with something more substantial.
If you'd like to learn more about the kind of trust funds available for mesothelioma sufferers who developed the cancer as a result of occupational exposure, or the efforts being made to advance the FAIR bill, simply fill out the form on this page. The suffering caused by mesothelioma can never be fully repaid by a simple monetary solution, but compensation is a good place to start.