February 21, 2014

Terminally ill asbestos cancer sufferers face lower compensation

A leading asbestos lawyer is warning mesothelioma sufferers to get their claims in before the summer or face potentially significant deductions from their compensation pay-outs. Helen Childs, a partner at Withy King, says there is still time for people who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and their families to instruct lawyers to pursue compensation and recover 100 per cent of their damages – but warns that this will end in the summer when the new Mesothelioma Act is due to become law.

The new Act will change the way that legal fees are recovered in successful claims.

Helen Childs, who specialises in representing people diagnosed with mesothelioma and their families, is based at Withy King. She explained: “At the moment, legal fees are paid for by the defendant’s insurance company. However, when the new laws come in, terminally ill people and bereaved families will have to use their compensation to pay towards their legal fees and other costs incurred. Insurers and others in favour of the new laws argue that this is offset by expected increases to compensation pay-outs but we believe these are likely to be insufficient to ensure claimants aren’t worse off. This will be particularly true in cases where defendant companies and their insurers refuse to settle quickly or deal with claims without going through extensive court proceedings.

“It is important that anyone whose health has been affected by asbestos takes action to claim compensation sooner rather than later to preserve their full entitlement to damages.
There are benefits and government payments available, as well as civil compensation. While we understand that no amount of money can ever be sufficient, it can help fund care and assistance so that desperately ill people do not have to worry about how they and their families will cope financially following their diagnosis.”

Mesothelioma is an aggressive, asbestos-related cancer. It is caused by exposure to asbestos dust, often decades earlier. It continues to rise in the UK, and affects over 3,000 people every year. It can affect people who have worked with asbestos, as well as family members who came into contact with it on their overalls and other clothing. It is also increasingly common in people who grew up near asbestos factories and those who were exposed to asbestos at school.

Asbestos use was so widespread from the 1950s to the 1980s that mesothelioma can affect people from all walks of life. It is a very cruel illness, and there is no cure.

For further information or advice, please contact Helen Childs on 01865 268 359.

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