The Government is currently seeking to enact a form of legislation that will be specifically aimed at compensating those who have contracted Mesothelioma as a result of their employer’s negligence or breach of statutory where the identity of the relevant employer/insurer is not known. Due to the nature of the illness, the symptoms of Mesothelioma do not show themselves until some 20 or 30 years after the exposure. Naturally, many businesses in the manufacturing industry may no longer be trading and as such, the insurers can be virtually impossible to trace.
The Mesothelioma Bill 2013-14 is currently proceeding through the House of Lords for consultation and when passed, will allow sufferers of mesothelioma who cannot trace the relevant insurance company to still pursue a claim. The Bill has a further three stages to go through until it can be given the Royal seal of approval and be enacted as an Act of Legislation in the UK. The Act, to be named the Mesothelioma Act 2013, will put in place the Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme which, provided specific criteria are met, will compensate those victims of asbestos related disease but cannot trace the relevant company.
What is Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer which is most commonly caused by exposure to Asbestos over a prolonged period of time. Many sufferers develop the disease through exposure as a result of their employment conditions; in turn this could lead to a potential negligence claim against the offending employer for damages for personal injury and other loss.
Who will be eligible for a payment under the new scheme?
Under the new scheme, a person who is diagnosed with Diffuse Mesothelioma could be eligible for compensation. The new scheme is specifically for cases where the insurers of the claimant’s previous employers either cannot be traced, or are no longer in existence. To be eligible to pursue a mesothelioma claim, the relevant employer must be shown to have to have been negligent or in breach of their statutory duty. This negligence must have caused the victim to be exposed to asbestos. First diagnosis must also have been on or after 25th July 2012 under the new rules.
Can I bring a claim if I am a Dependent of someone who has contracted Mesothelioma?
In short, yes, it is possible that a claim could be brought under the new scheme. A dependent of a person who has died with Diffuse Mesothelioma is eligible for a payment under the scheme, again, provided that certain criteria are met. Contact one of specialised Personal Injury team for a free claim evaluation.
As with any personal injury case, the amount of compensation for personal injury and other loss will be entirely dependent on each case and the degree of negligence that has been displayed by the offending employer. The new proposals have been met with a great deal of both support and criticism: the main criticism being that an applicant will only receive 70% of their compensation award. Supporters of the bill argue that this 70% award is better than no award, as is currently the position if an applicant is unable to locate their former employer.
The first diagnosis date has also been the cause of much debate regarding the new Bill as there are likely to be many hundreds of sufferers who, if their cancer was detected prior to 25th July 2012, will not be able to pursue claims via this route.
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and you think this may be as a result of your exposure to asbestos in the workplace, our specialist personal injury solicitors can help. We have helped many people to successfully make mesothelioma claims and are happy to discuss your case on a free of charge basis and without obligation. For more information or to speak to one of our experienced asbestosis solicitors, do not hesitate to contact us today.
By Nick Molyneux, Personal Injury Solicitor