Congress Seeks to Delay Compensation for Asbestos Victims
Millions of U.S. workers have been injured or killed due to asbestos exposure, whose risks were often concealed by companies more concerned with profit than the welfare of human beings. Lawmakers in the House of Representatives recently introduced the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act (FACT) of 2013, an innocuously named bill that would make it more difficult for victims of asbestos exposure to receive the compensation they desperately need and deserve. The bill’s background makes for interesting reading:
- In 1994, Congress passed legislation allowing asbestos companies to set up asbestos victim trusts to pay the present and future claims against them and to go through reorganization in bankruptcy.
- Many companies declared bankruptcy and established asbestos victim trusts.
- Declaring bankruptcy and establishing the trusts has protected the companies financially, allowing those that caused devastating harm to workers and their families to fully recover and remain financially solvent.
- Although the asbestos bankruptcy trusts appear to be for the benefit of the victims, FACT increases the burden on claimants of asbestos trusts to supply personal information and allows asbestos companies to demand information from the trusts for almost any reason, slowing down compensation to victims who are often seriously ill.
The Alliance for Justice (ALJ) has named FACT the “Delay Till They Die” Act. The bill claims to increase transparency and serve as an antidote to supposed fraud and abuse. However, the bill appears to do little more than aid companies responsible for putting hard-working individuals at risk by creating a mechanism that forces victims to wait longer for payment of their claims.
The ALJ notes that allegations of double-dipping and fraud are wildly overestimated by the proponents of the bill. Further, a RAND Corporation study found that the median payment made by trusts is very small — 25 percent of the value of the claim. If you’ve been exposed to asbestos, you need a skilled attorney to fight for the fair compensation you deserve.
If you want to know more, call us.