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Companies in the U.S. knowingly exposed their employees and consumers to asbestos. These companies have accepted liability for the use of asbestos and offer compensation to victims in the form of trust funds.

The increased legal liability caused by extensive asbestos exposure has forced many companies to create asbestos trust funds. Through these trust funds, companies offer compensation to victims of asbestos-related diseases, like mesothelioma, caused by exposure to their asbestos-containing products.

To learn more about accessing asbestos trust funds, contact us today.

What You Need To Know About Asbestos & Mesothelioma Trust Funds

Asbestos Companies Exposed Workers: The companies required to set up these trust funds were aware of the dangers of asbestos but exposed their employees to the substance anyways. The victims of this exposure are entitled to financial compensation.

Why asbestos trust funds were created: Asbestos and mesothelioma trust funds were created to offer financial compensation to the victims of asbestos exposure and their loved ones.

Millions are getting support: Since the creation of the first asbestos-related trust fund in 1988, about 3.3 million claims have been filed. Most of those who filed received financial compensation. 

Billions Available in Compensation: The total amount of compensation paid out from these claims so far amounts to about $17.5 billion. There remains billions of dollars available for victims of asbestos exposure.

Asbestos Bankruptcy Trust Funds

Although asbestos use has declined in the U.S. over the past three decades, the number of people exposed to the mineral since its widespread use in the better part of the 20th century is staggering. An estimated 27 million to 100 million Americans have been exposed to products containing some form of asbestos since its use peaked in 1973.

There’s no question that a number of companies knowingly exposed their employees and customers to asbestos.

A 524 (g) bankruptcy  Also known as an asbestos bankruptcy,  the process allowed companies to reorganize their debts and remain in business, as long as they created trust funds for current and future victims of their asbestos poisoned products.

Filing Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

Since the 1980s, asbestos-related litigation has been a “mature tort,” a term signifying that most of the evidence against the asbestos companies has already been established in court. From the 1980s forward, the mounting number of asbestos-related lawsuits caused many companies to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Notable companies that have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy:

  • 1982 – Johns-Manville
  • 1989 – Raytech (Raybestos-Manhattan)
  • 2000 – Owens Corning
  • 2001 – W.R. Grace


A Chapter 11 bankruptcy has a specific section just for asbestos liability called 524 (g). In order for a company to reorganize under 524 (g) they are required to set up a trust to compensate current and future asbestos victims. More than 60  companies have reorganized under section 524 (g). The total amount of available assets in these trust funds is more than $37 billion.

According to the RAND Institute for Civil Justice, the largest of these companies have each created asbestos trusts valued at more than $1 billion:

    • W.R. Grace - WRG Asbestos Personal Injury Trust
    • Owens Corning - Owens Corning Fibreboard Asbestos Personal Injury Trust
    • Kaiser Aluminum - Kaiser Asbestos Personal Injury Trust
    • U.S. Gypsum Company (USG) - United States Gypsum Asbestos Personal Injury Settlement Trust
    • Armstrong World Industries - Asbestos Personal Injury Settlement Trust
    • Federal-Mogul Corporation - Federal Mogul U.S. Asbestos Personal Injury
    • Johns-Manville Corporation - Manville Personal Injury Trust Settlement

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Who is Eligible to File a Mesothelioma Trust Fund Claim?

Patients diagnosed with mesothelioma or other asbestos-related illnesses following asbestos exposure may be eligible to file a mesothelioma trust fund claim, but certain eligibility requirements must be met for victims to receive compensation or financial assistance from these funds. While most mesothelioma trust funds have similar requirements, they can vary between the funds from each business.

Common requirements to prove eligibility include proof of asbestos exposure, work history, and evidence about the asbestos products that caused the exposure. The statute of limitations for filing a claim will also be considered. The financial compensation may be awarded based on the evidence shown. 

You may be eligible to receive financial compensation if you are:

    • A victim of asbestos exposure and diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness
    • A family member of a victim who has died or is too sick to file a claim
    • A victim of secondary exposure from someone in your household

How To File An Asbestos Trust Fund Claim

During the first part of the claims process, the trust reviews a claimant’s work and medical histories to determine if their illness was caused by the company’s negligence. If the trust finds that the claimant is indeed a victim, it will pay out a predetermined amount of compensation.

Each trust fund follows a procedure called a TDP (Trust Distribution Procedure). Trust funds make payments to claimants based on certain guidelines set out by their TDP.

1. Submitting the Claim: When the a victim of exposure first submits a claim, he or she has the option of choosing an expedited review or an individual review. During an expedited review, the trust audits any supporting documentation and either approves or denies the claim. If the trust approves the claim, it makes makes a payment based on a predetermined ‘disease level.’

Disease Levels:

  • Level 8 – Mesothelioma
  • Level 7 – Lung Cancer 1
  • Level 6 – Lung Cancer 2
  • Level 5 – Other Cancer
  • Level 4 – Severe Asbestosis
  • Level 3 – Asbestosis/Pleural Disease
  • Level 2 – Asbestosis/Pleural Disease
  • Level 1 – Other Asbestos Disease

Each disease level corresponds to a certain amount of compensation that’s ultimately determined by each company’s trust. Asbestos trusts use disease levels to ensure that the limited pool of money in the trust is paid out fairly.

The most severe asbestos-related diseases usually receive the highest compensation. Asbestos-related diseases are rated from level 1 to level 8. Mesothelioma is rated the highest at level 8.

If the trust denies a claim for an expedited review, the claimant can file for an individual review. An individual review can actually be more beneficial than an expedited review because applicants can challenge the payout amount that the trust initially offered them. Claimants with mesothelioma can possibly receive more than the pre-determined amount assigned to their disease level by filing for an individual review.

2. Being Evaluated: Once a claim is submitted, it enters the trust’s processing line, which is first in, first out (FIFO). This means that claimants who file sooner are evaluated and compensated first.

The trust may request more information or check court records filed with other trusts while they review the claim. They also sometimes ask for additional documents to make sure that a false claim isn’t being filed. Taking steps to ensure that claims are legitimate helps keep money available for victims of asbestos diseases who truly deserve compensation.

3. Receiving Payment: If the claim is approved, the trust makes a payment offer, which is usually a percentage of the compensation amount allotted to each disease level. Trusts do this to ensure that they have enough money left to pay claimants in the future. Different trusts may use varying payment percentages.

If you’re a victim of occupational asbestos exposure, our team can help you understand how these percentages work and get you the compensation you deserve. Contact a member of our Patient Help Team for more information about asbestos trust funds.

Should You Use an Asbestos Lawyer When Filing an Asbestos Trust Fund Claim?

While you’re not required to have an attorney to file a claim, these claims can be complicated to navigate on your own. So, it’s always a good idea to get a lawyer involved with specific expertise in asbestos litigation. 

A mesothelioma lawyer will help you understand your legal options, relevant state laws, the review process, and more. These lawyers are familiar with the intricacies of each fund and can work with you to identify the best routes toward financial compensation. We suggest meeting with a mesothelioma law firm before starting your asbestos litigation to receive financial compensation.

Asbestos Trust Fund Compensation

Asbestos trusts must file an annual report that shows how many claims were submitted and how much compensation was paid out. According to a review published by the Government Accountability Office, as of 2011 the total amount of compensation asbestos trusts have paid out to claimants amounts to over $13.5 billion.

There is over $18 billion in available compensation that has not yet been paid out by asbestos trust funds.

The amount of asbestos-related compensation available through trust funds will actually rise in the near future by an estimated $12 billion. This increase is a result of more and more at-fault companies completing the bankruptcy process.

Asbestos Trust Fund FAQs

Is a mesothelioma attorney required to make a trust fund claim?

You’re not required to have an attorney to file a mesothelioma trust fund claim. However, since these claims can be complicated to navigate on your own, it’s always a good idea to consult with a mesothelioma law firm before you start the process.

Is there a time limit in which a mesothelioma victim can receive an asbestos trust fund payout?

Mesothelioma trust funds have statutes of limitation, which are limits on the amount of time between when a victim is diagnosed with or passed away from mesothelioma, and when they or a family member filed a claim. These limitations are generally 1-3 years but vary by state and trust. 

Do people who have asbestos-related illnesses other than mesothelioma qualify for a trust fund claim?

Individuals diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases other than mesothelioma may still qualify for a trust fund claim, but compensation varies depending on the type of asbestos-related disease diagnosed. 

Can a family member or loved one make an asbestos trust fund claim for a mesothelioma patient?

Family members who have lost a loved one to an asbestos-related disease, including mesothelioma, are eligible to file an asbestos trust fund claim. These claims may include wrongful death claims.