Asbestos Bankruptcies

James F. Humphreys & Associates, L.C. has represented thousands of people with asbestos-related diseases. In many cases, we can obtain compensation for an injured person or his or her estate by suing the company that manufactured or sold asbestos-containing products that caused exposure, or the company that operated a job site where exposure occurred. Sometimes it is possible to sue the company that employed the injured person, although the ability to sue an employer varies from state to state.  But what happens when an otherwise viable defendant goes bankrupt? Here are some important facts to know about asbestos bankruptcies. 

Photo by Melinda Gimpel on Unsplash

Bankruptcy usually prevents companies from being sued. In many cases, however, a bankruptcy trust is established to pay current and future claims using insurance proceeds and other assets. In these situations, claims can be filed with the bankruptcy trust. Awards from bankruptcy trusts can provide a significant contribution to compensation received from regular lawsuits against solvent asbestos companies. 

Over the years, about 100 companies established bankruptcy trusts, but some of these trusts have exhausted their assets and no longer pay claims. More than 40 companies currently have bankruptcy trusts that pay qualifying claims, but not every person with an asbestos-related disease will be able to recover from every trust.  Every trust has its own eligibility requirements which have to be satisfied in order to obtain an award.

Although every asbestos bankruptcy trust has its own eligibility criteria, they typically require some proof of a person’s exposure to an asbestos-containing product manufactured or marketed by the bankrupt company, and some proof that the injured person has an asbestos-related disease such as lung cancer or mesothelioma.

Trusts usually pay more money for more serious diseases. In other words, claims for mesothelioma receive higher awards than claims for lung cancer, and claims for lung cancer receive higher awards than claims for non-malignant diseases such as asbestosis.

The amounts paid for a given disease vary from trust to trust, depending on the assets available to the trust, as well as the number and severity of claims which the trust anticipates that it will have to pay.

In some cases, the amount of money paid by a trust for a given disease will vary over the life of the trust, because the number and severity of claims submitted for payment may turn out to be different than what was expected when the trust was originally set up.   Investments made by the trust may also yield a different return than anticipated.

The time within which you may file a claim also varies from trust to trust, although many of them require you to file a claim within two years of when you have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease. 

Experienced counsel, such as those who work with James F. Humphreys & Associates, L.C.  will submit your claim to various bankruptcy trusts that seem appropriate given your work history. For example, if a bankrupt company made asbestos-containing pipe insulation, but you never worked with or around pipe insulation, that bankruptcy would not be a good fit for you.

Bankruptcy claims can be an important source of compensation for injured persons or their estates who can successfully navigate through the maze of varying eligibility requirements. Experienced counsel, such as those working with James F. Humphreys & Associates, L.C., can help you maximize your compensation for an asbestos-related disease because they are familiar with the existing trusts and what has to be established to obtain a recovery.

In addition, familiarity with what asbestos products were used at your job sites and other workers who may have been exposed at those sites can be very helpful in helping you to meet your exposure requirements.

James F. Humphreys & Associates, L.C. has represented thousands of people injured by asbestos exposures across scores of worksites in West Virginia and other states. If you or a loved one has been seriously injured by exposure to asbestos or some other toxic substance, please contact us for a free initial consultation at 304-347-5050 (local) or 877-341-2595 (toll-free). You may also contact us through our website,  http://www.jfhumphreys.com. 

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