A significant number of asbestos companies have turned to Chapter 11 bankruptcy to protect themselves from lawsuits when they do not have sufficient funding to compensate victims who have developed mesothelioma and other health conditions related to asbestos exposure. As such, to obtain compensation, many mesothelioma victims file claims against trust funds that have been established by asbestos companies during the bankruptcy process. However, if an asbestos company has not filed for bankruptcy, victims may have an opportunity to file a lawsuit against the company.
Both trust funds and lawsuits have their advantages and disadvantages. One disadvantage of asbestos trust funds is that there may be a limit on how much a mesothelioma victim can receive. However, because funds are limited, mesothelioma claimants are often only able to receive a percentage of the amount of compensation they are entitled to. The purpose behind this system is to save funds for future mesothelioma claims so that all claimants receive at least some compensation, even if the amount does not seem fair.
One disadvantage to mesothelioma lawsuits is that there is no guarantee a mesothelioma victim will receive compensation. With a lawsuit, an asbestos company has an opportunity to fight a plaintiff’s claims to get a case dismissed so that a plaintiff is awarded no compensation at all. Since every case is different, and there are numerous asbestos companies, filing a lawsuit may be the only way to seek and obtain compensation from a particular company, especially when that company has not filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Without bankruptcy, an asbestos company cannot establish a trust fund to be used to pay out asbestos-related claims.
Both asbestos trust fund claims and lawsuits have time limitations, and a mesothelioma victim must file a claim within a particular time-frame. All states have different laws, so whether a person still has time to file a claim will depend on where the person lived at the time he or she was exposed to asbestos and/or at the time the person was diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related illness. However, many asbestos trust funds apply their own statute of limitations (many are three years), so even if time has run out to file a lawsuit, there still may be time to file an asbestos trust fund claim.
Whether a mesothelioma victim seeks compensation by filing claims against asbestos trusts or by filing a lawsuit will depend upon the individual facts of a person’s case. If an asbestos company does not have an established trust fund, filing a lawsuit may be the only way to seek compensation from that particular company. The decision to file claims against an asbestos trust versus filing a lawsuit is a matter that mesothelioma victims should discuss with a qualified lawyer.