Compensation Trust Funds (“Trusts”) have been established by a number of former asbestos companies to deal with their liabilities in place of court litigation. There is over $35 billion in these Trusts, and at present there are more than 30 different Trusts that can be accessed by the victims of asbestos related disease.
These Trusts specifically apply to Canadians, who can make claims for significant amounts of compensation based on their exposure to asbestos products manufactured by the companies that created these Trusts. There are hundreds of “approved sites” in Canada where the Trusts admit their products were present, and will accept claims for people who worked at those sites. Over the past decade there have been thousands of Canadians who have made successful claims against these Trusts.
Some other features of these Trust claims are1:
- There is no court case - claims are decided quickly on an administrative basis.
- Legal fees are only payable if claims succeed, so there is no risk of a claimant having to pay any costs or expenses if the claims are not successful. Legal fees usually range from 25% to 33% of any amounts recovered from the Trusts2.
- The information that a client needs to provide is not burdensome. The process is designed to be easy for the client and not time consuming.
- Clients can receive compensation from many different Trusts, depending on their work history and the products they used and places they worked. The damages vary from Trust to Trust, and can be up to $100,000 from some Trusts, with other Trusts paying smaller amounts.
- Some of the Trusts will accept mesothelioma claims and pay compensation to everyone who has this disease, regardless of how they were exposed.
- Claims can be made by people exposed away from work who do not have workers' compensation coverage. The types of exposure that are allowed include:
- People exposed via home renovation,
- People exposed when washing the clothing of another person who worked with asbestos, or by living in the home of someone who worked with asbestos,
- Self employed people,
- The family of people who have died from mesothelioma or lung cancer.
- If you elect to pursue a claim through the WCB in your province and receive compensation for your claim from the WCB, you cannot make a claim against the Trusts. For this reason if you are looking for compensation, speaking to a lawyer about which route is best for you and your family sooner rather than later may help you make your decision.
- If you are concerned about the cost of retaining a lawyer for advice, see if you can get a free consultation from a lawyer experienced in Asbestos Trust Claims. Most lawyers who specialize in this work will take your case on a “contingency fee basis”. What that means is that the lawyer will represent you and make all the necessary filings and arguments, but will be paid out of any of the money you are awarded through the suit (think of the television commercials we see about personal injury law in the United States). The fees may seem high (possibly between 25% and 33% of what you are awarded), but because the awards can be significantly higher than those received through workers' compensation board claims, you may decide that this route works best for you and your family.