Plans To Improve Support For Those Affected By Mesothelioma
The government’s plan to unveil new proposals which will potentially help thousands of mesothelioma sufferers exposed to asbestos at work who cannot trace their employer’s insurer has been welcomed by specialist lawyers at Irwin Mitchell.
Justice minister Jonathan Djanogly has announced ministers are working with insurers and other stakeholders on proposals, set to be confirmed in July, which are designed to help those seeking compensation to make a legal claim if they are unable to locate the details of the insurer which covered their employer.
The news came as Mr Djanogly also revealed that sufferers of mesothelioma will remain exempt from reforms to the no-win, no-fee system until a review into the changes is concluded.
Irwin Mitchell’s asbestos-related disease experts have campaigned for the introduction of an Employers’ Liability Insurance Bureau, which would operate in a similar way to the existing Motor Insurers’ Bureau and provide support to victims whose employers were either uninsured or their insurers untraceable, for a number of years.
Adrian Budgen, national head of asbestos litigation at the firm, said: “Our team has worked on many cases where sufferers and the families of those who have lost loved ones to mesothelioma are unable to get the support they deserve.
“It is massively unjust when you view this issue in line with the Motor Insurers’ Bureau, which has been in operation for 40 years and helped many victims of uninsured drivers to gain the vital funds they need for rehabilitation. Society expects people to work but it does not expect them to drive, so it is a worrying inequality that road users can get access to help that workers cannot.
“Because of this, the Government’s suggestion that it is finally looking to address this issue is a huge step forward and we, alongside so many families, will be eagerly awaiting the announcement on this issue as July approaches.
“However, we would urge ministers to carefully consider the introduction of a new scheme and get it right first time by making it available more widely than just mesothelioma victims. Otherwise, the launch will just feel like a missed opportunity to so many people affected by other industrial diseases and workplace injury.”
Adrian added Mr Djanogly’s confirmation that asbestos sufferers will be initially exempt from legal reforms was also a step in the right direction, but called for further examination of the issue.
He outlined: “While this is welcome news, it still only appears to be an interim exemption and means that mesothelioma victims may still be forced to pay legal costs out of their damages in the future.
“In so many cases, victims do not live long enough to see the conclusion of their legal case and compensation received can often be vital to guaranteeing their families get the vital financial security that they need.
“It remains hugely concerning that innocent victims should see the funds they are entitled to eroded, particularly when they are suffering due to negligence on the part of their employers.”