Lawyers React To Announcement To Help Mesothelioma Sufferers
Leading lawyers working with many victims of asbestos-related diseases say that, while today’s Government announcement of a scheme to help mesothelioma sufferers is a positive step forward, it unfairly discriminates against people with other industrial illnesses.
Lord Freud, a Minister in the Department for Work and Pensions, today announced a scheme to pay compensation in cases where employer’s liability insurance cannot be traced.
But asbestos law experts at Irwin Mitchell say the scheme is limited and too many people will miss out as it only applies to claimants suffering from the asbestos-related cancer, mesothelioma excluding people suffering other asbestos-related diseases such as asbestosis, pleural thickening and asbestos-related lung cancer. It also excludes people affected by other workplace injuries and illness such as industrial deafness.
Government statistics show that every year 300 people are affected by mesothelioma but cannot trace their employer’s insurer, but the new scheme will also only apply to any sufferer diagnosed from today (25 July 2012) – further excluding all those diagnosed previously.
Irwin Mitchell has also expressed concern that victims diagnosed within the next few months will more than likely not see any benefit of the scheme before they die as new legislation is likely to take some time to be introduced.
Adrian Budgen, head of the asbestos-related disease team at Irwin Mitchell, said: “While this is good news for some and a positive step forward, it could be devastating news for others and we are extremely disappointed that this scheme only covers one form of illness related to asbestos, and only those that are diagnosed with mesothelioma from today.
“Today’s announcement means that many sufferers, through no fault of their own, will not be able to benefit from the scheme and their access to justice will be severely impaired. It is massively unjust that the scheme should discriminate between which illnesses people are suffering from and when they became ill – it is creating a healthcare lottery and it just isn’t fair that someone diagnosed only yesterday would be excluded.”
“For years, we have repeatedly called for the Government to introduce a scheme to cover situations when employer’s liability insurers cannot be traced. While it is encouraging that the current administration has taken this step forward, we strongly believe that the scheme announced today falls well short of what victims of workplace injury and illness deserve.
“Our specialist team has worked on many cases where sufferers and the families of those who have lost loved ones to mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases are unable to get the support they need.”
Asbestos diseases can, on average, take up to 30 to 40 years to develop after first exposure to asbestos meaning many employers are no longer in business, making it difficult to trace the employers at the time of exposure.
Budgen added: “There is still no definitive time frame for these proposals to come into force and it could take months and even years to implement the legislation needed. Every day is precious for mesothelioma victims and this is something that should have been put in place a long time ago.
“Newly diagnosed victims of mesothelioma need certainty now that their families will be supported in the future, so we would urge the Government to act quickly to implement this so victims and their families have one less thing to worry about as they come to terms with a heart-breaking diagnosis.”
Our expert mesothelioma solicitors will provide you with free initial advice on your compensation claim if you or a loved on has been diagnosed with mesothelioma caused by asbestos exposure. See our Asbestos-Related Disease Claims Guide for more information.