Pennsylvania Asbestos Trust Funds
Mesothelioma and Asbestos Trust Funds in Pennsylvania
Mesothelioma compensations are payments made to asbestos exposure victims, their representatives, or family members for damages due to asbestos exposure. Asbestos exposure is often the result of negligence actions taken by employers or asbestos entities. A Pennsylvania mesothelioma settlement may come from either an asbestos trust fund, a court verdict, or a settlement.
An asbestos trust fund is one of several ways that asbestos exposure victims can receive mesothelioma compensation. Asbestos trust funds are typically set up by asbestos companies that have filed for bankruptcy. Bankrupt asbestos companies use these trust funds to reserve money for future claims made against them.
Mesothelioma is a type of cancer caused by inhalation or ingestion of asbestos fibers. Mesothelioma is characterized by inflammation and scarring along the lining of several internal organs such as the lungs, abdomen, and heart. Late latency is one of the attributes of mesothelioma as it can take up to 10 - 15 years for its symptoms to emerge, and these symptoms can often be mistaken for less severe illnesses, which breed complications during early diagnosis.
Pennsylvania is ranked among the top states for mesothelioma and other asbestos-related deaths. This is because of the state's industrial history and the number of natural asbestos deposits present in the state. Between 1999 to 2015, 2,476 Pennsylvania residents were diagnosed with mesothelioma. Additionally, Delaware county was recorded as having one of the highest numbers of malignant mesothelioma cases in the entire country.
Due to the high cost of mesothelioma treatments, claims may be filed against an asbestos trust fund by an asbestos exposure victim to receive mesothelioma compensation.
An asbestos trust fund is a source of financial compensation set up by an asbestos company during its bankruptcy proceeding to compensate qualified asbestos exposure victims.
Who is Eligible to File an Asbestos Trust Fund Claim in Pennsylvania?
In Pennsylvania, individuals diagnosed with mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases are generally eligible to file an asbestos trust fund claim. However, these individuals would need to prove that the trust fund's company caused their asbestos exposures. These asbestos exposures may be due to the company's operations or an asbestos-containing product they produced. Other eligible persons include:
- Workers who made use of asbestos-containing products or were exposed to asbestos during their employment
- Family members of asbestos exposure victims who are liable to secondhand exposure
- Individuals who live close to asbestos deposits or mining sites
- The surviving relatives of asbestos exposure victims
What are My Mesothelioma Compensation Options in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, there are several options to obtain mesothelioma compensation. Claimants may file a mesothelioma lawsuit against the companies or companies responsible for their exposure to asbestos, file a worker compensation claim, or file an asbestos trust fund claim.
There are mainly two types of mesothelioma lawsuits; a personal injury claim and a wrongful death claim. Both types of mesothelioma lawsuits would require a claimant to prove that they were exposed to asbestos as a consequence of a company or company's negligent actions. Alternatively, claimants may prove that they were exposed to asbestos-containing products the defendant (an asbestos company) produced. However, the use case of these types of mesothelioma lawsuits differentiates them. While asbestos exposure victims or their representatives file personal injury lawsuits, wrongful death lawsuits are filed by the living family of a dead asbestos exposure victim.
Generally, most employers in Pennsylvania are required to provide worker's compensation coverage for their employees. Worker's compensation claims are filed through the workers' compensation system by employees exposed to asbestos as a result of their jobs.
Lastly, an asbestos trust claim is filed against asbestos trust funds created by asbestos companies during their bankruptcy proceeding. These trusts are established to set aside funds for present and future claims. Mesothelioma compensation is provided to asbestos exposure victims through these trusts, provided they are eligible.
Obtaining Compensation From Mesothelioma Trust Funds in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, compensation may be obtained from mesothelioma trust funds by filing claims against these trust funds. Claimants are allowed to file claims against different trust funds. However, a claimant has to meet the criteria of each mesothelioma trust fund for their claim to be approved and to receive compensation through these trust funds subsequently. These criteria differ by mesothelioma trust fund and range from having a particular medical diagnosis to exposure to a particular asbestos-containing product.
Claimants must also file their claim against relevant mesothelioma trust funds before the state statutes of limitation for filing claims expires. Consulting with a mesothelioma attorney or firm is paramount to obtaining compensation from a mesothelioma trust fund. This is primarily because of the intricate processes involved in filing a mesothelioma claim. A mesothelioma attorney or firm can guide claimants through these processes and provide assistance.
How Much Money is Left in Pennsylvania Asbestos Trust Funds?
There are over 100 active asbestos trust funds with an estimated worth of $30 billion. About $18 billion have already been issued to qualifying claimants within the past 40years. One of Pennsylvania's most funded asbestos trust funds is "Pittsburgh Corning" estimated to be worth about $3.4 billion.
How Do Trust Fund Payment Percentages Work in Pennsylvania?
An asbestos trust fund payment percentage is a fixed percentage used by each trust fund in their payment schedule to determine the percentage of a claim a claimant is entitled to. For example, if a claim is liquidated at $400,000 and a trust fund has a 20% payment percentage, the claimant would be entitled to $80,000. Generally, asbestos trust fund payment percentages are employed to ensure continued mesothelioma compensation payouts.
Asbestos trust fund payment percentages are prone to changes. These changes are influenced by the number of claims a trust fund is estimated to receive vs. the actual amount of claims it receives within a particular time frame. Asbestos exposure victims are urged to file a claim with liable trust funds as soon as they are diagnosed. If the payment percentage used by an asbestos trust fund increases, additional payments are issued to previous claimants to offset the difference. However, claimants are not liable to pay back any amount of prior mesothelioma compensation if a trust fund reduces its payment percentages.
Filing an Asbestos Trust Fund Claim in Pennsylvania
Filing an asbestos trust fund claim is a multiple-step process. A claimant would first need to meet the asbestos trust fund criteria. These criteria are individually set by each asbestos trust fund and may differ by the trust fund. A claimant must meet the requirements of any asbestos trust fund they wish to file a claim against for the claim to be approved. Most asbestos trust funds outline criteria claimants need to qualify for mesothelioma compensation through their trust on their official website. Examples of such criteria include proof of an asbestos-related diagnosis, place of asbestos exposure, and details on the asbestos product the claimant was exposed to (cause of exposure).
Next, a claimant would need to gather evidence to support their claim. Claimants are advised to work with a mesothelioma attorney or firm as they provide claimants with the required assistance in gathering required evidence. Examples of such evidence include:
- Medical diagnoses that collaborate with a claimant's asbestos-related illness. This can be in the form of pathology reports, x-rays, biopsy results, and imaging scans.
- Physician statement signed by a qualified physician, for example, a doctor or oncologist. These statements must also verify the claimant's medical diagnosis.
- Evidence of asbestos exposure. These may include witness testimony and the claimant's employment history.
- Proof of future hardship that details expected hardship a claimant may face due to their aforementioned asbestos-related illness.
After a claimant has gathered all relevant evidence to support their claim, they may file a claim against the asbestos trust fund. Depending on the method used by the trust, claims may be submitted either electronically through their website or via mail. Claims form can be requested beforehand through the trust website, via mail, or an in-person visit to the trust address.
When a claim is filed against an asbestos trust fund, the trustee reviews the claim for approval. Claims are reviewed in mainly two ways:
- Expedited review: In this mode of reviewing claims, claims are grouped based on their similar characteristics. An example of such characteristics includes similar diagnoses across claims. Due to these groupings, claims are reviewed more quickly by trustees. Furthermore, compensation payment amounts are usually fixed according to these groupings. Payments are also typically received faster in comparison to individual reviews.
- Individual review: As implied, this mode of reviewing claims involves claims being individually reviewed which typically takes longer than an expedited review. This is mainly due to more factors being considered, such as the severity of a claimant's illness and the number of dependents they have. Unlike expedited reviews, payment amounts are not fixed and are dependent on several factors.
If a claim subsequently gets approved, it would be liquidated. Based on the trust fund payment percentage, the claimant would then receive financial compensation. Claimants should work with an experienced mesothelioma attorney or firm to strengthen their case and increase the likelihood of being approved.
Filing Limitations for a Mesothelioma Trust Fund Claim in Pennsylvania
One of Pennsylvania's most significant filing limitations is the state's two-year statute of limitation for filing a mesothelioma trust fund claim. Claim for the wrongful death of a loved one, personal injury, or product liability must be filed within two years after being diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness or death of a loved one.
How are Asbestos Bankruptcy Trusts Created in Pennsylvania?
Generally, asbestos bankruptcy trusts are created when asbestos companies file for bankruptcy under Chapter 11 of the United State Bankruptcy Code. A chapter 11 bankruptcy is also referred to as "reorganization" bankruptcy. During a chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding, companies are required to submit a plan detailing the amount of money their trust would be funded with. After which, the plans are reviewed by a judge to determine the amount needed for both current and future mesothelioma claims. Estimates, evidence, and expert testimonies are all taken into consideration for the court to approve the plan. If a plan is approved, the funds would be transferred to the asbestos fund and a trustee would be appointed by the court as the trust administrator.
Inversely, if an asbestos company is unable to afford reorganization and the establishment of a trust fund, it may be forced to file a chapter 7 bankruptcy also known as liquidation bankruptcy. During the company's liquidation, its assets are sold and the funds are used to pay claims against the company and its creditors.
How Pennsylvania Asbestos Trust Fund Claims Compare to Other Mesothelioma Claims
Generally, mesothelioma claims are legal means through which asbestos exposure victims are compensated by liable asbestos companies. There are mainly three different types of mesothelioma claims which include an asbestos trust fund claim, a personal injury claim, and a wrongful death claim. While asbestos trust funds claims are filed against asbestos entities' trust funds, other types of mesothelioma claims are filed directly against asbestos entities.
Due to the number of claims brought against different asbestos entities when asbestos exposure was linked to the development of certain illnesses, most asbestos entities were forced to establish a trust. Asbestos trust fund claims are filed against these asbestos trusts by qualified asbestos exposure victims to access adequate compensation for their asbestos exposure.
Personal injury claims are claims directly filed against asbestos entities by asbestos exposure victims or their representatives to seek compensation for these entities' role in their asbestos exposure. Wrongful death claims on the other hand are filed by the surviving family members of asbestos exposure victims who died due to asbestos exposure without receiving compensation. Generally, these types of mesothelioma claims are aimed to seek compensation through settlement or a court-issued verdict.
All three forms of mesothelioma claims serve similar purposes. However, the average compensation obtained from mesothelioma claims is $180,000 while those obtained through settlements and court verdicts range between $1 million to $2.4 million.
List of Pennsylvania Companies with Asbestos Trust Funds
Some Pennsylvania companies with asbestos trust funds include and are not limited to:
- The DII Industries LLC
- The ACandS Incorporation
- Amatex Corporation
- H.K. Porter Corporation Limited
- Hercules Chemical Incorporated
- Pittsburgh Corning Corporation
- Skinner Engine Corporation.
- United Gilsonite Laboratories
What is the Average Asbestos Trust Fund Payout?
Although a state average can not be determined, the general average asbestos trust fund payout is about $180,000. Generally, asbestos trust fund's payout amounts are influenced by different factors and may vary between $7000 to $1.2 million by asbestos trust funds. Some of these influencing factors include the asbestos trust funds' current payment percentage and the severity of a claimant's illness.
Obtaining Financial Assistance to Help with Mesothelioma Treatment in Pennsylvania
Due to the high cost associated with mesothelioma treatment, obtaining financial assistance to help with treatments is often ideal and paramount. Mesothelioma treatment can cost as much as $500,000 not including travel costs and living expenses. Financial assistance is available through insurance claims, housing and travel grants, asbestos fund claims, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits, and mesothelioma lawsuits.
Furthermore, several world-leading cancer organizations also provide aid to asbestos exposure victims. These organizations include the American Cancer Society, the National Cancer Institute, the Cancer Research Institute, and Cancer Care to name a few. Asbestos exposure victims can reach out to these organizations to request financial assistance. Alternatively, they can contact a social worker to locate local groups that offer financial assistance.
Do You Need an Attorney to File a Mesothelioma Trust Fund Claim in Pennsylvania?
Claimants do not need an attorney to file a mesothelioma trust fund claim. However, they are advised to hire one. Because the submission process of a mesothelioma trust fund claim is often complex. A mesothelioma attorney can provide a claimant with much-needed guidance and help in navigating them through these complex processes. Experienced mesothelioma attorneys also have an expert understanding of how different trust funds work and can help to identify a claimant's options.
The Pennsylvania Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) may be used by claimants to find an attorney. Using the LRS involves a three-step process. Firstly an inquirer would need to fill out an online form by providing some personal information such as their name, address details, and contact information. Step two involves selecting the categories of law that relate most to the inquirer's request or a description of their legal problem, their preferred county, and language. Lastly, the inquirer would be provided a list of different attorneys to choose from.
Trust Fund Claim vs. Mesothelioma Lawsuit in Pennsylvania
As previously mentioned, asbestos trust claims are legal means through which asbestos exposure victims can access compensation by filing a claim against an asbestos trust fund. Most asbestos trust funds have a list of criteria claimants need to meet to qualify for a mesothelioma claim. A common criterion is being exposed to a particular product. Other criteria mostly relate to factors surrounding a claimant's exposure to asbestos or their medical diagnoses.
A mesothelioma lawsuit also allows asbestos exposure victims to seek compensation from companies whose negligent operations or products exposed them to asbestos. However, mesothelioma lawsuits are directly filed against these companies. After which compensations may be paid through settlements or as a result of court verdicts. Depending on a claimant's situation, there are two different types of mesothelioma lawsuits namely a personal injury and a wrongful death lawsuit. A personal injury lawsuit is filed by the claimants themselves. By contrast, a wrongful death lawsuit is filed by the surviving family members of an asbestos exposure victim who died without receiving compensation.
Can Asbestos Trust Fund Claims Impact Mesothelioma Lawsuits?
Yes, in Pennsylvania, an asbestos trust fund claim can impact the settlement or compensation amount a claimant receives from an asbestos trust fund claim. This is mainly due to the state's mesothelioma compensation disclosure laws. Under these laws, defendants are allowed to review past mesothelioma compensation a plaintiff has received or could receive. This could influence the defendant's settlements and mesothelioma compensation offer.
Pennsylvania Asbestos Trust Fund Laws
Some of Pennsylvania's most common asbestos trusts fund laws include the Fairness in Claims and Transparency (FaCT) Act and Section 5524 of the Judiciary and Judicial Procedure. The FaCT Act is the state mesothelioma compensation disclosure law that requires certain information about an individual's past and present asbestos trust fund claims are disclosed. Section 5524 of the Judiciary and Judicial Procedure is the state's statute of limitation for filing an asbestos trust fund claim.
Pennsylvania Mesothelioma Compensation Disclosure Laws
Per Pennsylvania Fairness in Claims and Transparency (FaCT) Act, claimants are required to file statements listing all asbestos trust funds they have filed claims against, received payments, or could receive future payments from. These statements are to be filed with a court and served to all parties 90 days before an asbestos action trial or by court order. Furthermore, in the statement, the claimant must disclose when each claim was submitted, their current statutes, and the amount of compensation they received or could receive. The asbestos trust funds responses, any relevant request the claimant had made during the claim process, and contingencies that could affect the compensation amount in the future must also be listed in their statements.
It is important to note that the FaCT act is supported by penalties listed in the consolidated statutes of Pennsylvania, Section 4904. Under section 4904, it is a second-degree misdemeanor to rely on false information in the aforementioned statements or provide false information with the intent to mislead. Claimants may also be charged with a third-degree misdemeanor for providing false information in their statements. Additionally, a claimant may be fined at least $1000.
Are Asbestos Trust Fund Payments Taxable?
Asbestos trust fund payments are typically not taxable. Compensations received for medical expenses for personal injury or sickness are nontaxable under Section 104 of the IRS Tax Code. Furthermore, no Pennsylvania state law requires the taxation of asbestos trust funds payments. Claimants are advised to consult with a tax expert, a mesothelioma attorney, or a firm for expert options on asbestos trust fund payment taxes.
Can a Family Member File an Asbestos Trust Fund Claim?
Yes, surviving family members of asbestos exposure victims who were yet to receive compensation before their death can file an asbestos trust fund claim. Alternatively, they may also be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against asbestos entities that do not have an asbestos trust fund. It is important to consult with a mesothelioma attorney or firm to determine the most viable and profitable option.
How Long Do I Have to File an Asbestos Trust Fund Claim?
Per section 5524 of Pennsylvania Judiciary and Judicial Procedure, the statute of limitation for filing an asbestos trust fund claim is two (2) years. Statute of limitation is a term used to describe a period of limitation for taking actions of any kind.
How are Asbestos Trust Fund Claim Values Calculated?
Once a claim is submitted along with all supporting evidence, the claim would be reviewed by the trust fund's trustee to determine the claim value. As previously mentioned, claims are reviewed either on an individual or expedited basis. After which, a value would be assigned to the claim taking into consideration the evidence submitted by the claimant. Once a claim has been assigned a value by the trustee, the claim payout amount is then reduced based on the trust fund payment percentage.
How Soon Will I Receive Payment From an Asbestos Trust Fund?
Some asbestos trust funds start paying approved claims against their trust fund within 90 days while others may take between three (3) to six (6) months. Given that, no two asbestos trust fund claims are the same, the time frame in which payments are made to claimants differs by case. Different factors can determine how soon payments are received by claimants. These factors include:
- The complexity of a case: The complexity of a claimant's asbestos exposure such as having multiple companies named a claim could affect the duration of the legal process.
- The asbestos trust fund size: For the most part, more claims are filed against larger asbestos trust funds. These claims can easily be overwhelming for trustees, leading to a backlog of several unreviewed claims. As a consequence of these backlogs the duration in which new claims are reviewed and approved for payment increases.