Asbestos Victims’ Privacy in Danger if FACT Act 2017 Passes
A new bill was approved by the U.S. House Judiciary Committee earlier this month that could damage the asbestos claims process and prevent victims of asbestos-related diseases from ever seeing any sort of monetary compensation before they pass. The Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act of 2017 is not a new proposal, and for years those advocating for victims of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases have been successful in stopping this bill in its tracks.
If this bill is passed, asbestos trusts would be required to file quarterly reports for each payout. Personal information from those seeking compensation would be available in databases and easily accessible by anyone in the public. This causes great concern for advocacy groups for asbestos victims who claim that not only would this slow down the asbestos compensation process, it would directly make victims susceptible to identity theft as they would now be required to provide work histories, compensation amounts, and even partial social security numbers.
Advocacy groups are especially concerned that the FACT Act specifically targets veterans, who account for a large percentage of mesothelioma victims because of their line of work in shipyards, mining, construction, demolition, and more. Those opposed to the bill believe that it would delay claims because of the costly reporting requirements and the fact that sensitive personal information must be given. Once diagnosed with fatal cancer such as mesothelioma, victims are not given much time as the prognosis is grim. Many victims could die before receiving any compensation since the entire process itself will slow down. Another concern is that veterans will accept a lower payment to expedite the process or they might not even file a claim at all if such personal information must be given.
Billions of dollars for asbestos trusts have been established by U.S. Bankruptcy laws so that companies can pay their victims and still move forward with their business. Asbestos trust representatives are concerned about the tens of thousands of dollars it will potentially cost to continually compile these reports. This money will have to come out of the money that is set aside to pay those who have been injured by asbestos and deserve compensation.
This Republication-backed bill has passed in the House of Representatives before, but has always failed in the Senate. However, the Senate is now controlled by Republicans and if the bill reaches the President, it could pass.
At Goldberg, Persky & White, P.C., we understand that financial compensation for the injuries suffered by asbestos cannot completely restore what is lost. However, with mounting medical bills often left behind prematurely to family members, asbestos compensation can help alleviate some of those pressures. If you believe you’ve been injured by asbestos and are now suffering, contact us today. There is no cost or obligation for us to review your potential lawsuit.
Let your elected officials know you do not support H.R. 906 “Furthering Asbestos Claims Transparency Act.” Call them today to tell them to protect asbestos victims’ rights to prompt compensation and privacy. Find your representatives and congressional leaders.
Lydia Wheeler and Christina Marcos, “House Passes Bill to Reform Asbestos Lawsuits,” The Hill (January 8, 2016). [Link]
Asbestos and the Military, History, Exposure & Assistance [Link]
H.R. 906 – Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act of 2017, 115th Congress, 1st Session [Link]