The Minister for Work and Pensions – Mike Penning – has announced a Government scheme which will enable workers to make mesothelioma compensation claims when their former employer has gone out of business.
At present, workers who contract mesothelioma cancer due to asbestos exposure can only make mesothelioma compensation claims if their former employer – or the insurance company that provided employer liability insurance at the time – is still trading.
If the employer/insurance company is no longer in existence, claimants have the option of claiming compensation for mesothelioma cancer through an existing Government program, which limits settlements to £20,000 and which can involve a stressful process.
This situation according to Mr Penning is an “injustice” which has left “many tragic victims and their families high and dry”, and now the Government is aiming to pass the Mesothelioma Bill through parliament so that the situation can be addressed in the first half of 2014.
Under the new proposals, it will be necessary to show that a claimant has contracted mesothelioma cancer through the negligence of an employer, and that the employer is no longer trading; however, a database of employer liability insurance policies being set up by the insurance industry will make this process quicker.
Furthermore, mesothelioma compensation claims will now be settled at 75 percent of the average civil claim settlement (currently £115,000) depending on an individual´s personal circumstance – a “major breakthrough for the many victims of this terrible disease” according to Mr Penning.
However, the proposals have been criticised by several cancer support groups, as they only address mesothelioma compensation claims and not other asbestos-related diseases. There has also been disappointment that the “cut-off” date of 25th July 2012 (the earliest that claimants were diagnosed with the disease) will make many long-term sufferers ineligible for compensation under the new scheme.
Note: It is estimated that 2,400 people die annually from mesothelioma cancer and, due to the length of time that the disease takes to manifest, the rate of fatalities due to mesothelioma cancer could increase over the next two decades. If you have any questions about claiming compensation for mesothelioma cancer for yourself or on behalf of a loved one, you should speak with a solicitor at the first possible opportunity.