Asbestos Trusts Protect Workplace-Exposed Victims, Too
July 7, 2017
Commercials on TV informing the public about asbestos related illnesses have become so common that we barely even notice them anymore. But the reality of asbestos related illnesses, such as mesothelioma, is that they are devastating to the victims and their families. There are two main sources of recourse for people who have developed health problems after asbestos exposure: civil court cases and asbestos trusts. The trusts are designed so that victims can still be compensated even if the company that exposed them to harm has since gone bankrupt. Now, new regulations are popping up across the country, potentially limiting awards from workers’ compensation asbestos cases.
What is asbestos, and why is it dangerous?
Asbestos is actually a group of six highly heat and fire resistant minerals: chrysotile, amosite, crocidolite, tremolite, actinolite and anthophyllite. These minerals have historically been used for building material and fire protection. Chrysotile is the most widely used asbestos commercially, due to its flexible nature. This flexibility also has a significant downside—it makes chrysotile the easiest asbestos mineral for humans to accidentally inhale, as well as the most likely to cause cancers, and immediate and/or long term lung problems. Aside from mesothelioma, asbestos can also lead to asbestosis, pleural plaques, pleural effusion, pleural thickening, pleurisy, pleural scarring, and small and non-small cell lung cancers. Asbestos represents a significant portion of workers’ compensation claims, since occupational cancers are the leading cause of work-related mortality.
Trusts vs. civil claims for asbestos-related injuries
Once asbestos related illness and lawsuits began to explode in the 1960s, companies were concerned about their liability to pay victims, regardless of how long had passed or whether the culpable business was even still extant. The trusts were developed in order to ensure that victims would receive fair compensation even in those extremities. Civil claims through the legal system remain the primary method for injured parties to gain compensation from companies that are still in operation.
Protecting workers through legal channels
The issue with the current compensation model is that it allows for some unscrupulous parties to refrain from disclosing that they have filed for payment from a bankrupt company, while also filing for payment from a solvent one. The argument goes that revealing that the claimant has or will shortly receive a financial settlement from an asbestos trust could significantly alter the jury’s decision on whether and how much financial compensation should be offered in the case in front of them.
However, for workers whose health, economic futures, and lives have been curtailed by asbestos exposure, these rulings are being seen as a way to prevent them from receiving their due. More and more states are moving forward with legislation to make disclosure of prior or pending trust claims compulsory, ensuring that more workers’ compensation funds are available to all workers who have been affected. This is why it is critical to work closely with an experienced Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyer who is familiar with the current legal landscape, in order to make sure your interests are best served.
Our trusted Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyers ta Larry Pitt & Associates are here to defend people who have been injured through the neglect or malfeasance of others. Please fill out our contact form or call 888.PITT.LAW to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys. We proudly serve clients in and around Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia Counties.