On 1st September 2014, the Mesothelioma Act came into force which established the Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme. The scheme is Government funded (with an annual levy being paid by insurers) and allows Claimant’s a route of obtaining compensation where the relevant employer/ insurer cannot be identified or traced.
Symptoms of mesothelioma can take years, even decades, to develop. They include shortness of breath, chest pain, the development of a cough and a hoarse voice. Experts say that sufferers can live for an average of just nine months following diagnosis of this deadly disease. Naturally, victims and their families are relying on securing compensation to cover the costs of care and treatment resulting from this deadly illness.
The question is, is the scheme really as favourable to a potential claimant as it may seem?
The answer is no. If victims of mesothelioma come forward and make a direct application under the scheme they could miss out on up to £30,000 of financial support for them and their nearest and dearest. The Department of Works and Pensions have announced that since coming into force, the scheme has paid out over £15million already. The Government are also calling that more direct applications should be made – without seeking legal advice to avoid incurring legal costs. In doing so, applicants are putting themselves at risk of gaining only 80 per cent of the compensation that they would be entitled to if a judge was to make an assessment. What the Government fail to mention is that seeking legal assistance could help identify and trace the relevant employer, even where it appears that they cannot be traced at the outset – meaning that the compensation a victim is entitled to is significantly greater.
More worryingly, making a direct application under the scheme could result in claimants losing out full stop. The reason for this is that the scheme itself only pays compensation if the claimant can show that legally they would have been entitled to compensation if the employer/insurer could have been traced: this means that negligence on the part of the claimant’s employer still needs to be established. The fear is that, without the correct legal assistance, many will lose out and fail to jump over this hurdle – with legal assistance; there is a significantly greater chance that negligence will be established.
The nature of mesothelioma and the effects it has on sufferers and their families is heart breaking and they should receive the amount of compensation they deserve – the only way this can be achieved is by seeking specialist advice. Here at Farleys, we have a team of specialist solicitors who have a wealth of expertise in pursuing mesothelioma claims – for a free initial claim assessment please call 0845 050 1958 or email us to begin your claim today.