February 11, 2015

Welcome increase of payments to mesothelioma sufferers


Mesothelioma is an aggressive asbestos related cancer that can develop decades after an individual was exposed to asbestos. By then, their employers will frequently have gone out of business and they may experience difficulty in tracking down their employers insurers.

Anyone diagnosed with mesothelioma after July 2012 who found themselves in this position would have been able to make a claim to the Government's fund of last resort. This would have paid them 80% of the average compensation payable to someone of that age.

When the scheme was introduced it was criticised for only paying out 80% of average settlements. It has now been announced that for anyone diagnosed with mesothelioma on or after 10 February 2015 this figure will increase to 100% of the average payout.

Helen Childs, a leading asbestos lawyer and head of our Industrial Diseases team, has welcomed the news. However, she urges anyone diagnosed with mesothelioma or any other asbestos related illness to seek legal advice, or run the risk of being undercompensated.

Helen says, "The Government's decision to increase the payments to mesothelioma sufferers is welcome. However, the scheme falls far short of a comprehensive safety net for people suffering from asbestos-related illnesses. It only applies to individuals with mesothelioma, leaving those with lung cancer or asbestosis uncompensated.

“In addition, the figures it bases the average payouts on fall a long way short of the normal settlements for someone making a civil claim, leaving desperately ill people and their families tens of thousands of pounds out of pocket.

“Mesothelioma sufferers who make a claim under the scheme are also required to repay all benefits they have received out of their settlement monies. In a normal civil claim it would be unusual for all benefits to be deductible, and the difference usually runs into thousands of pounds. While no amount of compensation can compensate those afflicted with asbestos related illnesses, anyone diagnosed with an asbestos related illness should seek legal advice from a specialist lawyer who can guide them through the minefield of the claims and the benefits system and ensure they receive the maximum compensation in the shortest time."

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