Industrial Illness Lawyer Speaks Out
A leading industrial illness lawyer says a newly-announced Government consultation process to help asbestos victims claim damages for diseases as a result of their job is an unnecessary delay in helping people who need it most.
Plans have been laid out to set up an electronic database to help thousands of people track their employer or former employer's insurance policies.
Many who develop diseases, such as from exposure to asbestos, do not see symptoms appear for many years, thus making it difficult to track old liability insurance policies or in some cases when a company has ceased trading.
Department for Work and Pensions minister Lord McKenzie said: "We want to set up a better tracing service with a dedicated database to help them track down these policies, and a fund of last resort if all else fails."
But Adrian Budgen, head of the asbestos related illness team at law firm Irwin Mitchell, said: “This is a small step forward but, after years of campaigning on the ELIB issue by asbestos victims, support groups and their lawyers, you have to wonder why yet another consultation is necessary.
“Victims and their families need help now, not further discussions. A similar bureau has existed for years in the motor industry and it works. Surely victims of asbestos, the biggest occupational killer of all time, deserve a similar fund of last resort to provide for their needs while they are still alive and for their families after they have died a premature death from an illness that was entirely preventable and caused by their employer’s negligence.
“While this consultation takes place, more and more people will be given the devastating news that they are dying from a terminal cancer caused by asbestos exposure as much as 40 or 50 years ago. They may be unable to claim the compensation they are rightfully entitled to if their employers’ insurer cannot be traced. That cannot be fair or just, and this issue needs a solution now.”