One of the best ways for mesothelioma sufferers to help offset the cost of their treatment is with the use of trust funds available to them that have been created by companies that either worked with the mesothelioma-causing mineral asbestos or supplied it to other manufacturers. These trust funds are a way for companies to avoid litigation and costs of class action suits, while still providing some form of compensation to those who worked for them and developed mesothelioma as a result. Many of the companies that worked with and mined asbestos in the early part of the 20th century were convinced that it posed no threat to their workers, but very little effort was made to look into the possible health risks of the material. Because of its superior function as a insulator and the fact that is was extremely lightweight and heat-resistant, this "miracle" material was widely used in both industrial and military applications without much thought to what the constantly airborne asbestos fibers would do to workers who inhaled them on a regular basis. By the latter part of the 1930s, concerns were already being raised by military medical personnel about the use of the asbestos, but many companies did not want to hear it, and the mineral was used well in to the 1950s and 1960s, when its effects on health became too obvious to ignore. At that time, regulations about its use began to come into force, and its shipping and production in the United States began to rapidly decrease. At the same time, cases of mesothelioma - a malignant form of cancer in the heart, lungs or abdomen - began to develop in those who had worked closely with asbestos, and they began to demand compensation for their suffering. As a result, a number of trust funds were created.
The first commercial trust fund created was the Manville Trust, a fund started by the Johns-Manville Corporation, which used asbestos in roofing and insulation products. This trust was meant to function as a way for those who worked for the company to receive compensation if they developed mesothelioma, and the bulk of the company's equity was sunk into the fund in order to provide a significant monetary base. In order to access the fund, a mesothelioma patient had to show that they were employed by the company and that their cancer likely came as a result of their exposure during the time they worked for Johns-Manville. While the trust fund is still in operation, the amount of money that it pays out per case has declined sharply and is now less than 10% of the original amount being offered. The criteria to be considered for a payout under this trust fund is relatively low, but the amount paid out is often far less than deserved.
Other available trust funds have cropped up over the years, but businesses are under no obligation to create these funds. Often, they will do so as a way to avoid legal battles while still denying responsibility for any wrongdoing, and many patients will choose to use these funds instead of taking their matter to court. As a result of the scattered nature of these funds, the federal government is trying to pass what is known as the FAIR Bill in Congress, which would require any company that mined, shipped or used asbestos to contribute to a central trust fund that would be used expressly for the purpose of compensating mesothelioma sufferers. So far, the bill has not been successful in making it through Congress, and there are concerns about how difficult it will be to access the money in the fund, as well as the backlog of cases such a massive trust fund would start with - it could take years for some patients to receive any compensation. Still, it is a step in the right direction to see that the federal government not only recognizes the need for an available trust fund, but that companies who put their workers at risk should be bound to compensate them for the mesothelioma they have now developed.
To learn more about available trust funds for mesothelioma sufferers, as well as the efforts undertaken by the government to bring a single fund into existence, fill out the form below for a free information packet. While no definitive cure has yet been found for mesothelioma, hope is on the horizon, and compensation settlements can help fund new research and treatment techniques.