New £300 million compensation fund for mesothelioma victims – cause for celebration, or not?
Posted by Andrew Clarke on 23rd August 2012
It can take many years before a person exposed to asbestos suffers any ill effects. In the case of mesothelioma victims, it can be as much as 40 years between exposure and the onset of mesothelioma symptoms. This presents the dying asbestos claimant and his family with the double challenge of proving an entitlement to compensation for mesothelioma and tracking down who is liable to pay. It is a sad fact that all too often asbestos claimants and their families fall at this second hurdle and receive no compensation. There is currently no safety net, even for the most deserving of cases with the strongest of claims –and surely mesothelioma victims of asbestos must rank among those.
Back in 2010 hope was on the horizon. The government announced it was persuaded that an employers’ liability insurance bureau should be formed in order to help those who are unable to trace an old employer or their Insurer. There would be a compensation fund of last resort to ensure that some individuals who are unable to trace EL insurance records would receive compensation. A consultation began on the creation of a compensation fund to assist these individuals- typically asbestos and other industrial illness claimants- who are left uncompensated due to former employers going out of business and their insurance records being lost in the mists of time.
On 25 July the government finally unveiled plans to implement a new scheme from summer 2014 onwards. This should have been cause for celebration, but many Claimants will be left disappointed due to the proposed compensation scheme’s limitations namely:
Only mesothelioma sufferers will benefit under the scheme. Those suffering other asbestos related conditions (or other industrial diseases) are excluded.
Only those diagnosed with mesothelioma on or after 25 July 2012 qualify.
The government will need to legislate in order to implement this asbestos compensation scheme and welfare minister, Lord Freud, estimates it will be summer 2014 before the first compensation payments are made to claimants.
The compensation scheme obviously represents welcome news for asbestos claimants diagnosed with mesothelioma after 25 July 2012. Sadly the two year wait until the scheme is up and running will mean few newly diagnosed mesothelioma sufferers live long enough to receive their compensation personally. However, it may be some comfort to know that post death claims can be made on behalf of the Estates of these victims by their loved ones. However, for other asbestos illness sufferers (which UNISON estimate are equal in number to mesothelioma victims) victims will go uncompensated despite there usually being an Insurer out there somewhere, who is liable to pay. If you or your family have been a victim of mesothelioma or other asbestos disease please contact us for specialist advice and assistance on a no win no fee basis.