FAQ – Legal Compensation and Health Insurance
Legal compensation and healthcare are two of a patient's most valuable resources. Learn the most frequently asked questions about mesothelioma resources.
Mesothelioma Lawsuits & Legal Questions
Q: Did asbestos companies know how dangerous asbestos is?
Asbestos has been used for hundreds (if not thousands) of years, and unfortunately most companies using asbestos products in the 20th century were aware of how dangerous it was. The lack of proper testing being done on asbestos prior to its adoption and widespread use allowed these companies to hide the dangers of asbestos. Nearly all of these companies now admit fault in the case of asbestos-related illness and have tried to make amends to the victims by providing financial settlements and trust fund deposits.
Q: What is an asbestos trust fund?
As companies saw the increased risk for being sued for having used a toxic substance like asbestos, many of them filed for bankruptcy and were required by the courts to form trust funds to compensate future victims of their negligence. Without the formation of these asbestos trust funds, future victims would have been left with no compensation options from these bankrupt asbestos companies because once a company files for bankruptcy, it is insulated from any future lawsuits. Over the past few decades, these trust funds have accumulated more than 40 billion dollars.
Q: How does a patient access a trust fund?
Because most patients with mesothelioma don’t know what company’s products they were exposed to, it is necessary to hire an attorney that is able to do the research necessary to identify those asbestos manufacturing companies for you. To file a claim against the trust funds, patients and family members will need to enlist the services of a mesothelioma attorney.
Q: Does it take long to process a trust fund claim?
Many lawyers who regularly deal with mesothelioma cases are able to reach a settlement quickly. Many trust fund payments can be received in as little as 3-6 months. Also, many mesothelioma lawyers also sit on the board of directors at these trust funds which means they are able to get their claims expedited.
Q: What is a payment percentage?
A payment percentage is the percentage of the claim value. Every trust has a board of trustees who invest the capital in the fund to make sure there are funds available for mesothelioma patients. These trust managers also set the payment percentage of their respective trust. For example, a payment percentage of 20% for a particular trust means a patient will receive 20% of the estimated value of their claim. The purpose of these percentages is to prevent asbestos trusts from running out of funds. Some trust funds pay 100% of the claim value, while others that are not as well funded, or have already been significantly depleted, pay less than 10% of the claim value.
Q: What if a patient can’t afford a lawyer?
No patient should forgo seeking legal help because they don’t believe they can afford to pay an attorney. Top mesothelioma lawyers work on a “contingency basis” only, meaning the patient does not have to pay any money to the lawyer until a recovery is made. After a claim is paid, the legal team will be paid a percentage of the total as their fee for all the work required to handle a mesothelioma suit and/or trust fund filing. Therefore, the client never has to worry about having to pay their attorney out of pocket for anything associated with their case.
Q: What if a veteran doesn’t want to sue the government/military?
Veterans are loyal to the country they served and are never asked to file a lawsuit against the military. In fact, all cases involving military exposure are still brought against the asbestos manufacturers that sold asbestos to the military, not the armed forces.
Q: What if a patient doesn’t have the ability to travel?
The top legal firms handling mesothelioma cases are specially trained to meet the needs of their clients. They will travel to their clients, collect all the information they need, and work on their client’s behalf. As a client, you can simply focus on your treatment while your legal team handles everything related to your case.
Q: What if there isn’t a mesothelioma law firm near me?
Many mesothelioma law firms have national practices, meaning they are able to handle cases regardless of where the client lives or was exposed to asbestos. And because no law firm can have an office in every part of the country, national mesothelioma law firms come to you, often visiting with their clients in the client’s home. Hiring a national mesothelioma law firm means you never have to leave the comfort of your own living room to meet with your attorney.
Q: Can a family member of an asbestos victim file a claim after the death of a loved one?
The family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit and still file with the asbestos trust funds in cases where the mesothelioma patient didn’t hire a lawyer before passing away, as long as the time limit to file, called the Statute of Limitations (SOL) hasn’t expired.
Q: Can a patient still file if they can’t remember which companies exposed them to asbestos?
Most patients can’t remember all the asbestos products they were exposed to, and even fewer know what company made them. Mesothelioma attorneys are different than your average personal injury attorney, in that they specialize in investigating a patients background, determining what asbestos products they were exposed to, and what manufacturing company made it. And seasoned mesothelioma law firms have amassed large databases of information about asbestos companies, what they manufactured, and who they have sold it to.
Q: Where should a patient file a lawsuit?
A lawsuit will usually be filed in the state in which the exposure occurred or where the company responsible for the asbestos exposure is located. In most cases, the suit will be filed in the jurisdiction that has laws most favorable to the patient and not the asbestos companies. It is up to the legal team to determine which jurisdiction will get their client the most compensation in the shortest amount of time.
Q: What happens if a patient dies before the case is resolved?
If a patient dies before a case is resolved, the case usually transitions seamlessly to the patients next of kin. After they pass away, their estate is able to continue pursuing the case. In addition to the claim of exposure causing disease, the estate would then pursue a wrongful death lawsuit.
Q: Can a patient still sue if they file other claims such as VA benefits, worker’s comp, social security disability, etc.?
Yes. Victims of mesothelioma can file legal claims against negligent asbestos-producing companies regardless of any other current or future claims. However, before explaining your exposure history to another agency or organization, consult with your attorney first so your lawyer knows exactly what you plan to say about your exposure history.
Q: Can a patient still claim their employer health plan if they work less hours, quit their job, or are fired?
The Consolidated Omnibus Reconciliation Act or “COBRA” allows employees to retain their health insurance with a previous company after quitting, being fired, or being laid off. This program allows workers to maintain their current health coverage in the case of life change.
Q: What are a patient’s options if they cannot get healthcare coverage?
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, most patients can get healthcare coverage. For patients that cannot, or are unable to afford it, there are public options such as Medicare (for senior citizens) and Medicaid (for low income citizens) to consider. These public options have limitations and anyone considering these options should consult with their doctor about all available options. In addition, patients can visit the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid for more information about these programs.
Q: Can the type of coverage a patient has limit their ability to choose a specialist?
Certain insurance types may limit the in-network specialists available to patients. These plans may also limit patients to certain procedures. Its because of the high cost of mesothelioma treatment that many patients file a legal claim. Legal settlements help pay for treatment and ensure that patients get the best available specialist to treat them.
Q: Can a patient be dropped by their insurance company after diagnosis?
Patients cannot be removed from their insurance carrier after diagnosis, except in rare circumstances. However, certain patients may see a rise in insurance premium payments.