The latest figures released from the Office of National Statistics reveal shocking mortality rates for mesothelioma victims in England and Wales between 2006 and 2010. The results were published after requests were made by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) to release the information under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
The statistics revealed alarmingly high mortality rates in the North East of England and Barrow in Furness in Cumbria, which has the second highest mortality rate in the country at 8.4 per 100,000 people.
In March 2009 Andrew Dismore MP published a private members bill calling for the creation of an Employers’ Liability Insurance Bureau (ELIB), which would serve a similar purpose to sufferers of industrial disease as the Motor Insurance Bureau does to persons injured in road traffic accidents.
Hopes for ELIB were dashed in October 2009 however, when the bill failed to get a second reading in the House of Commons. In March 2011 the Department of Work and Pensions stated that plans for ELIB had not been dropped – but since then they appear to have stalled. Recent statistics reveal that the national average for mesothelioma mortality is as high as 2.5 per 100,000 people, with many sufferers remaining uncompensated.
Mesothelioma is a form of Cancer, caused by exposure to Asbestos, very often in the workplace. There is always a significant period of time between being exposed to Asbestos and any of the symptoms becoming apparent. This delay often results in difficulties for Claimants in identifying the Insurers of the employer where they were exposed to the Asbestos.
The purpose of ELIB was to create a Scheme to address this issue. It would ensure that any Claimant who had been exposed to Asbestos and suffered illness as a result would receive compensation.
To date, all that the Association of British Insurers have been prepared to agree is the introduction of the Employer’s Liability Tracing Office, which is a database to assist Claimants in attempting to track down Insurance Policies. It falls a long way short however, of a fund of last resort to compensate those people where insurance cannot be identified.
Mesothelioma is an extremely aggressive form of Cancer and the majority of those exposed to Asbestos were exposed in the course of their work through no fault whatsoever of their own.
Surely it cannot be right that in 2012 a fund of last resort exists to compensate those who have suffered a minor whiplash injury in a road traffic accident, but no such similar Scheme exists to compensate workers who have suffered life changing illness through simply doing their job.
By Nick Molyneux, Industrial Disease Lawyer