Are Mesothelioma Compensation Amounts Unfair to Companies and Communities?
For the past couple of years, mesothelioma compensation amounts have come under scrutiny. The bone of contention is the so-called “double-dipping” practice which, some claim, is relatively common in asbestos-related litigation.
Mesothelioma compensationMesothelioma compensation amounts are not in themselves unfair, as they provide fair compensation for a personal injury that is, in most cases, debilitating and life-threatening. There is no way of removing asbestos fibers from your lungs; there has always been, however, an obligation for employers to provide a safe workplace environment for their employees. For their failure to protect workers who often pay with their lives, companies should be, indeed, made to pay correct compensation amounts.
The toll these rewards may take on businesses and communities is not caused by individual plaintiffs who use legal avenues to pursue their right; it might, however, be due to unfair practices such as double-dipping.
Find out more about mesothelioma compensation: https://www.elglaw.com/mesothelioma-compensation/
What is "double-dipping"?Double-dipping is the practice sometimes employed by plaintiffs' attorneys, especially in mesothelioma cases, of filing compensation claims with asbestos trust funds and at the same time filing claims in the courts on behalf of the same victim. Sometimes the practice even involves filing claims with two separate asbestos trusts.
Defendant companies create asbestos trust funds by filing for bankruptcy under federal law. Once they file under Chapter 11, these companies have to set up trust funds to award compensation for all present and future successful claimants. More than 60 such trust funds exist now in the US, and together they manage some $37 billion.
With the practice of filing with bankruptcy funds and tort litigation, plaintiffs who suffer from asbestos-related conditions can have their attorneys seek compensation from two sources for the same injury.
However, it is not the practice itself that is under fire, but the fact that, because the trust fund settlements are not transparent, some attorneys tend not to reveal the trust settlements the plaintiffs have received. Sometimes even mislead juries to inflate the mesothelioma compensation amount the plaintiff is awarded in court.
What is the dispute?Double-dipping is meant to bring maximum compensation to plaintiffs, but it works at the expense of public funds or the expense of trust funds themselves, thus decreasing the chances of other plaintiffs to recover damages if the funds are lowered. In other words, in a snowball effect, if award funds are granted to double-dippers there will be less left for future claimants.
The effects can also be felt economically on a general level, as this would trigger less money for investments, therefore less development, and fewer jobs. Also, as many claims are directed against cities involved in construction projects that worked with asbestos, cities themselves could see their funding lowered by these practices. Also, cities are sometimes forced to enter litigation as defendants in cases where the insurance companies initially contracted to handle torts are now out of business.
Over time, the demand for more transparent practices in asbestos-related trust claims has increased.
Why should the compensation process be more transparent?The Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act was introduced in 2016 to try and balance out the double-dipping practices by requiring U.S. asbestos trusts to file quarterly reports disclosing payouts to successful claimants. This procedure would not prevent further claims, but make the process of filing claims and awarding settlements more transparent to protect businesses and the public administration better.
The mechanism suggested (and adopted in several states) is to have plaintiffs file claims with the asbestos trusts before going to court. Also, to allow the legal system access to payment information so that, once the plaintiff has gone through the trust claim and reached litigation, the jury could correctly assess the harm done and mesothelioma compensation amounts still owed. The FACT bill would eliminate duplication of applications and cut down on fraudulent claims.
One last reason to consider for transparency is that plaintiffs lose nothing by going transparent. Asbestos trusts do roll out significant awards for asbestos-related conditions, starting upwards of $250,000 and up to well over $1,000,000.
Learn more about asbestos trust transparency laws: https://www.elglaw.com/faq/are-trust-transparency-laws-beneficial-for-asbestos-plaintiffs/