Changes in Asbestos-Related Cancer Compensation

From April, families of the victims of Mesothelioma who are unable to trace a liable employer will be able to apply for compensation, worth on average £123,000 under the Mesothelioma Act 2014.

What is Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is an extremely aggressive cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. The most common type is Pleural Mesothelioma, affecting around 90% of suffers. Pleural Mesothelioma is cancer of the mesothelial cells, which are the cells that make up the membrane (lining) that covers the outer surface of the lungs.

A further 10% of victims are diagnosed with Peritoneum Mesothelioma which affects the peritoneum (the lining of the lower digestive tract). Most patients diagnosed with Mesothelioma are terminal and die within three years. One of the reasons for the low recovery rate is the person is usually in the advanced stages of the disease when it is discovered.

Around 2000 people are diagnosed with Mesothelioma cancer every year and this number is set to increase over the next 30 years.

The law

At present, victims of Mesothelioma cancer are entitled to state benefits and can pursue a claim against the employers who negligently exposed them to asbestos. However, this particular type of cancer can take between 40 to 60 years to develop after the initial exposure to the substance. Therefore, injustice often occurs because the employer has gone out of business or has died. If this is the case victims can claim compensation from the insurance companies who provided the employer’s liability insurance. However, the insurance company has often proved difficult to trace due to lost or incomplete records.

The change in law will enable compensation to be claimed when this is the case.

Claiming compensation

To qualify for compensation applicants must show all of the following:

• They were diagnosed on or after 25th July 2012
• They are unable to trace former employers and/or that employers’ insurers
• Their former employer negligently exposed them to asbestos
• They have not already received compensation

It is important to note that this is a fund available only after all other efforts to trace former employers and their insurers have been exhausted. Payments under the Act will be on average only 80% of what is normally awarded by the courts when a personal injury claim is successful.

If you have any questions about this new award please contact one of our team who can advise you.