Filing a claim and getting compensation for an asbestos-related disease can be an uphill battle. Even worse, many times people are already dealing with medical bills and other expenses related to the condition.
Now along with this already complicated and time-consuming process, some lawmakers are trying to pass the FACT Act which will make it even more difficult.
While this piece of legislation is opposed by many in the Senate and President Obama, it has already passed the House and it could have serious implications for people that are trying to recover compensation for mesothelioma.
Let’s take a closer look at what the FACT Act is, why proponents are pushing for it, and what it will mean for Mesothelioma patients.
What is the FACT Act?
The Fact Act is the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act. It’s part of a larger piece of legislation
that is intended to reform certain parts of the asbestos claims process through transparency. The primary concern of those who support the bill is the prevention of fraud.
According to the lawmakers that support the FACT Act, there is a significant problem with fraudulent claims against asbestos trusts. To prevent these and in a claimed effort to protect the real victims of asbestos exposure, proponents of the bill believe that the following measures are needed:
- The requirement of quarterly reports from asbestos trusts
- Access to information from trusts for any corporation that is a defendant in an asbestos claim
- A public database that contains trust information on payments made and claimant information
- Additional requirements for claimants that are seeking compensation
Proponents of the FACT Act claim that fraud and abuse have run rampant in the asbestos trusts. In this, they believe that fraudulent claimants are slowing down the system and taking money away from people that have truly suffered the effects of asbestos exposure.
For those that support the FACT Act, the belief is that increased transparency from trusts will make for an environment where fraud is less likely, and that it will preserve the funds of asbestos trusts for those who really need it.
Essentially, their position is that if the fraud and abuse is allowed to continue, the trust funds will run out of money, and that will leave future claimants without the compensation that is rightfully theirs.
Impact on Mesothelioma Patients
While the stated goals of the FACT Act sound reasonable, there are many who have concerns about how this legislation will affect the victims of asbestos exposure. In fact, many of the bill’s opponents believe that it is an attempt to discourage victims from seeking the compensation that they deserve.
The following are among the many concerns of the FACT Act’s opponents:
- Identity Theft: The database would include information like partial Social Security numbers and medical history. Some fear that this would expose claimants to an increased risk of identity theft.
- Postponed Payments: The additional requirements will mean that victims will have to wait longer for payments. For diseases as severe as mesothelioma, victims may not have time to spare.
- More Difficult to Receive Payments: By adding new requirements to the process, it will make it harder for victims to receive the compensation that they need.
- Unfairly Targets Veterans: With veterans accounting for about 30% of mesothelioma claims, opponents also believe that it unfairly impacts people that have served in the military.
Is the act likely to pass?
As it stands now, it appears that the FACT Act is unlikely to pass. As mentioned above, it was passed by the House of Representatives, but there is strong opposition in the Senate and President Obama has stated that he would veto the bill if it makes it to his desk.
However, it is something you should know about if you or someone you love suffers from Mesothelioma.
To learn more about your rights as a victim of asbestos exposure, contact our lawyers at Landry & Swarr. Our firm has a wealth of experience and knowledge concerning asbestos exposure and the legal rights of victims so we can help you get the money you & your loved ones deserve.