New mesothelioma victims scheme falls short
As the Government announces a new scheme for mesothelioma victims Jack Waller, from our London office, explains why it’s simply not good enough for many who have suffered historic exposure to asbestos at work…
At present more than 300 mesothelioma sufferers every year lose out on compensation because they can’t find an employer or insurer to sue.
The injustice of this has long been recognised and, after many years of pressure from lawyers, trade unions and charities, the Government has finally established a scheme – funded by insurers – to compensate those sufferers who are unable to bring a civil claim.
The announcement by the Department for Work and Pensions last week states that the scheme will be open to anyone diagnosed with mesothelioma on or after 25th July 2012 who is unable to claim compensation because they can’t trace a liable employer or employers’ liability insurer.
They estimate that this will allow around 3,000 mesothelioma victims to receive £300m in payments in the next 10 years. But they still haven’t detailed how the scheme will work in practice.
Although this is a welcome development the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) has already criticised the ‘arbitrary’ start date of the scheme. This was no doubt fought for by the insurance industry to limit its liability and protect its profits, because there seems no reason in principle why the scheme shouldn’t be open-ended.
At Pattinson and Brewer, we see this as yet another example of government bowing to pressure from corporate lobbyists, allowing insurers to profit at the expense of innocent victims of this terrible disease. Why should sufferers diagnosed before 25th July 2012 be deemed less worthy of getting the justice they deserve?
And the scheme does nothing for people diagnosed with other asbestos-related diseases (such as lung cancer, asbestosis, pleural thickening) who might also be left with no avenue for compensation, despite the fact that their lives, too, have been substantially impaired by asbestos.
The injustice continues. The fight goes on…