Asbestos Claims Process FAQ
What is asbestos? Why is asbestos dangerous?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral mined from the earth that is remarkably fireproof and durable. For decades, asbestos fibers were used in brake linings, insulation, roofing shingles, floor and ceiling tiles, cement pipes, and many other construction and industrial materials. Unfortunately, asbestos would degrade and separate into flexible fibers, which would be ingested and accumulated in the body. Asbestos exposure has been linked to asbestosis, pleural disease, certain cancers, and most notably, mesothelioma. Asbestos-related diseases typically do not present until many years–or even decades–after exposure.
How do I know if I have been exposed to asbestos?
Though most asbestos products were banned beginning in the late 1980s, many individuals age 50 and older were exposed to asbestos either at home, school, work, or in the military.
Is compensation available for my asbestos exposure?
Because asbestos suppliers and manufacturers knew of the dangers of asbestos from the 1920s but did not warn of the dangers nor stop using it, many were sued and held responsible for the diseases and death that resulted. Several dozen companies were bankrupted by these lawsuits. As part of the bankruptcy process, substantial sums of money (billions) for future claimants were set-aside in bankruptcy trusts.
Detailed claim requirements control who can make successful trust claims. At the same time, some viable asbestos-involved companies are still in business and pay compensation to claimants with mesothelioma and terminal lung cancer. Because asbestos litigation is very expensive, the bankruptcy trust claims process is the only viable method of obtaining money compensation for all non-cancer claims and most cancer claims.
How do I know if I have an asbestos-related disease?
A chest X-ray is a common method of diagnosing asbestos-related disease. Expert physicians certified by NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) read chest X-rays and determine the existence and level of lung disease related to asbestos exposure. These special X-ray reports are called “B-reads.” A positive B-read is an indication of asbestos-related disease. For cancer, a biopsy and resulting pathology or cytology report are also needed.
How much exposure do I need to make an asbestos claim?
Generally, a successful trust claimant must prove five (5) years of exposure to asbestos prior to Nov. 30, 1980. The best proof of exposure is work experience at one or more of the thousands of qualified work sites known to have exposed workers to asbestos. But qualifying exposure can also be proven through “shade-tree” mechanical work, home renovations, military service, etc. Norris Injury Lawyers can evaluate your work history for possible qualifying exposure to asbestos.
What is required for a successful claim?
- Qualifying workplace exposure to asbestos,
- Chest x-ray with positive B-read (showing bilateral asbestosis or pleural disease),
- Causation letter from a board-certified physician,
- Pathology report for asbestos-related malignancy OR physical exam from the doctor writing the causation letter for non-cancer claimants, and
- Affidavits documenting work history and exposure to asbestos products OR coworker affidavits for deceased claimants.
At Norris Injury Lawyers, our asbestos attorneys have years of experience protecting the rights of asbestos exposure victims and their families across the country. If you or a loved one is suffering from an asbestos-related illness, cancer, or mesothelioma, our 24/7 team is ready to assist you. Your time to file an asbestos exposure claim is limited—don’t wait to get help. Dial (800) 477-7510 or complete our free online form now.
How much compensation am I entitled to? Is it worth the effort?
The value of a successful claim varies widely depending on the severity of the injury. Claimants diagnosed with mesothelioma can recover several hundred thousand dollars or more–some as high as several million dollars. Those diagnosed with lung or other cancers can recover substantial money compensation depending factors such as the level of proof, the number of exposure locations, and whether the claimant was a smoker or non-smoker.
Claimants with less serious injuries such as asbestosis or pleural disease can still recover several thousand dollars depending on the details of their claims. Norris Injury Lawyers will let you know if we believe a claim is not economical to pursue. If a claim is worth our time, it is probably worth your time!
Who decides what my claim is worth?
Trust examiners analyze claims and determine if claimants qualify for compensation. Different trusts have different rules for determining value and claim values can change from year to year. Trusts make offers to claimants but do not negotiate. The offer made by the trust is either accepted or not accepted. In most cases, non-cancer claimants can file again in the unfortunate event of a future cancer diagnosis.
What will I be asked to do? How can I help prove my case?
We will need your help to create an accurate work history timeline. We may ask you to provide the names of co-workers at one or more of your work locations. We will need a recent chest x-ray. And you may need to be examined by a doctor willing to write a causation letter linking your exposure to your injury. If you have qualifying work history and proof of injury, we will ask you to sign affidavits documenting your exposure. When/if you are offered money, you will sign releases to settle your claims. Our asbestos lawyers may also ask you to complete a family survey and provide a copy of a simple will.
Will I have to go to court?
It depends. For claimants who do not have mesothelioma, claims are generally resolved through the asbestos bankruptcy trust claims process. Each trust is administered based on a set of rules and guidelines that must be followed to qualify for payment from the trust. We assist claimants in gathering the evidence necessary to win trust claims. Most mesothelioma cases and a few lung cancer cases are filed and handled as lawsuits AND bankruptcy trust claims, but all non-cancer injuries and most cancer claims are processed ONLY through the bankruptcy trust process. And even a filed lawsuit does not always mean the case and claimant will end up in a courtroom.
How long does the asbestos claims process take?
The trust claims process can take several years. First, we have to gather work history, medical records, and causation letters. Then we have to analyze your work history and prepare and secure your signature on work history affidavits. After our analysis is complete, we submit all of the proof to the various trusts. Some trust administrators handle claims and make offers quickly, while others are very slow. Moreover, settlements will not come all at once, so it is likely that settlements will come over time. It is possible for new trusts to be opened as time passes, which makes future claims possible.
Also, in the unfortunate event that a non-cancer claimant is diagnosed with cancer, most trusts allow new claims to be filed for higher compensation amounts based on the new cancer diagnosis. If you are ever diagnosed with any type of cancer, you should notify Norris Injury Lawyers.
What if the victim is deceased?
Claims for deceased victims are possible. Compensation to surviving family members is allowed but there are specific proof requirements. Co-workers must sometimes be identified and contacted to provide the proof necessary for a successful claim. Proceeds for deceased victims are distributed to heirs according to state law.