Mesothelioma untraced compensation scheme review
The Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme (DMPS) has just published its second annual review. The mesothelioma scheme was set up two years ago to allow the victims of mesothelioma exposed to asbestos at work to get compensation, even where the employer exposing them to asbestos had gone out of business and insurers could not be found. It also allows certain dependants of the mesothelioma victim to get compensation where they have already died from the disease; usually just their wife or husband. You still have to show that the employer caused the disease through negligent asbestos exposure. The scheme applies where mesothelioma was diagnosed on/after 25 July 2012.
The review found:
- the large majority of applicants, 92 per cent, were men, fitting the general pattern of asbestos disease (mostly male dominated occupations were exposed).
- the applicants’ average age was 65-79 years. This is also fairly typical for asbestos disease. Most victims were exposed to asbestos as young men in their 20s or 30s, but mesothelioma typically takes about 40 years to develop from asbestos exposure.
- 375 compensation applications were made in 2015/16 (a slight decrease on 2014/15);
- 240 (65 per cent) compensation applications were successful;
- 50 (16 per cent) compensation applications were unsuccessful;
- 40 applications are still pending a decision and
- 20 applications were withdrawn.
- £36.5million was paid out directly to applicants;
- the average award was just over £135,000. This is higher than the average of £122,000 in 2014/15, mainly because of the increase in the set amounts payable. These increased in February 2015 from 80 per cent to 100 per cent of average civil mesothelioma compensation;
- here have been no complaints, (which is quite impressive);
- there is no data on how quickly Gallagher Bassett (the scheme’s administrators) take to decide whether applications are accepted, but 95% of compensation applicants were paid within the target date; 6 weeks from accepting the application.
The scheme has its drawbacks and limitations, but it is clearly working well. The 240 mesothelioma victims/ dependants who received compensation from the scheme last year were 240 people who would have gone uncompensated but for the scheme. That can only be a good thing.
I myself have dealt with two applications under the mesothelioma scheme during the past year. Both of them I’m pleased to say were successful. What happened with them illustrates how the scheme can work in practice.
My own recent cases under the mesothelioma scheme
Ex-painter/decorator from Chatham
Mrs C was the widow of a retired painter/decorator from Chatham, Kent. He was exposed to asbestos from repairing asbestos-based corrugated roofs, downpipes, gutters and soffits. He had already died by the time we were instructed, but his widow was entitled to apply under the mesothelioma scheme. We recovered for her £134,918 (before deductible DWP benefits)- the set sum for a 77 year old. The time from submission of the application to its acceptance was just over 5 weeks (even after dealing with a request for further evidence) and time for payment from acceptance was only 1 week. This certainly compares very favourably to civil claims where admission and payment usually take much longer. The payment included a contribution to legal costs. However the whole payment was made direct to the applicant. This saves time, but does mean we have to bill the client direct to pay us out of the award, something we never normally do in civil mesothelioma claims.
Ex-carpenter/joiner from Sheppey
Mr P was a retired carpenter/joiner from Sheerness/Sheppey, Kent, exposed to asbestos on building sites in the 1960s and 70s. At 81 he was still very much alive when he instructed us, but sadly dying of mesothelioma. He was a widower and his next of kin were his adult children. This meant that any application under the scheme had to be made during his life time or it would lapse. This case was a bit more tricky as there was quite a lot of work required to confirm the identity of the employing companies and then further work to try to find their insurers. If we had found them they would have been the ones to deal with the claim. The time from submission of the application to its acceptance was rather longer than the first case- nearly 10 weeks; mainly because they raised more queries requiring us to provide further evidence that we’d made reasonable efforts to trace the first employer’s insurers. The payment was £123,874.00 before deductions. Payment was made was made within about 2 weeks of their accepting the claim. Sadly very shortly after that the client died. The money was passed onto his family.
Jeremy Horton specialises in mesothelioma and other asbestos disease compensation claims. If you would like to ask Jeremy a question about an asbestos disease claim please contact him for free advice on 01622 680415 or at JeremyHorton@brachers.co.uk.