Still not enough support for mesothelioma sufferers, warns leading asbestos solicitor
Leading national law firm Irwin Mitchell has welcomed Government plans to improve access to benefits for sufferers of the asbestos-related disease, Mesothelioma.
However, Adrian Budgen, asbestos solicitor and Head of Industrial Disease Unit, has warned that if it becomes law, the Child Maintenance and Other Payments Bill 2007, will not be enough to provide the necessary support for sufferers of Mesothelioma.
Currently, only those who developed Mesothelioma as a result of being exposed to asbestos while at work are able to receive automatic payouts under the Pneumoconiosis etc (Workers Compensation) Act 1979.
But the new bill that had its second reading in Parliament today is looking to extend these automatic payments to Mesothelioma sufferers even if they were not at work when they were exposed.
This would include sufferers who were exposed to the dust-laden overalls of a relative or those who lived near an asbestos-producing factory.
Adrian Budgen said The new provisions would be good news for sufferers of Mesothelioma but the payments made would be less than a civil court would award in a claim for damages and might still be insufficient to provide the care and support needed in many cases.
He said Everyone who develops Mesothelioma should seek specialist legal advice as a first port of call “ whether they are making a legal claim for compensation or applying for Industrial Industries Disablement Benefit.
He added: The bill is looking to close a significant loophole that has left countless Mesothelioma sufferers unable to claim benefits and lump-sum payments that are essential to get the care and support they need.
If it becomes law, the bill will make it easier for a lot of people to access immediate financial support, yet even this is unlikely to be sufficient. Payments are calculated according to a tariff and do not take peoples personal circumstances into account. In many cases, people are entitled to a lot more than the lump sum payments by pursuing a compensation claim against those that caused the exposure.
Mr Budgen continued It is imperative that anyone who develops an industrial disease such as Mesothelioma seeks legal advice to work out exactly what is available to them “ taking the incorrect initial approach could prejudice any later claim.
Former Work and Pensions Secretary John Hutton, who originally introduced the new provisions has lent his support to the plight of people suffering from Mesothelioma said : No amount of money will ever make up for the suffering and loss to individuals and families caused by Mesothelioma, but no one should have to worry that they or their family will have to wait years before they see a penny of compensation. Especially as in many of these cases people do not have years to wait.
Thats why the Government is committed to ensuring that everyone with mesothelioma can receive compensation, irrespective of their employment history. This legislation would mean that once diagnosed, every sufferer should receive a substantial payment within six weeks of making a claim.
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