There are many cases of personal injury compensation raised annually which involve a diagnosis of mesothelioma, the rare almost always terminal cancer, and in some cases the victims are not able to trace their employers or their employer’s insurer at the time they were exposed to the dangerous asbestos which caused the disease. In these cases, the government makes the payment and as of last month this payment has been increased to 100% of the average court settlement.
The Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme exists to provide victims of the disease with a fund they can access when their employers can’t be found as in most cases mesothelioma develops many years after the exposure to the dangerous asbestos. Until February the government had a set tariff of 80% of the average payments settled in court but the increase has finally been made standard.
The change to the Scheme has been approved by the Minister for Disabled People at the Department of Work and Pensions who stated the change was due monitoring of the scheme. The scheme has been designed to allow approximately 3,500 victims of mesothelioma of their families apply for compensation in the instance that their employer can’t be traced. The victims also need to legally demonstrate they would have a good case if the employer could be found to be considered eligible for the scheme.
Whilst many mesothelioma campaigners are pleased with this change there is general disappointment that the extra payments are not being backdated for claimants who have already received their payment. Many people, including the president of APIL, have highlighted that this change is positive but it still doesn’t explain why the government didn’t offer 100% in the first place.
Asbestos: A Tragic Legacy
The latest statistics suggest as many as 2,100 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma every year in the UK and in many cases this is solely down to exposure to asbestos, which was used as a key building material, as a form of insulation, for many years. Almost every case of mesothelioma is terminal and in the majority of the cases the victim sadly dies within twelve months of their diagnosis.
Treatment of mesothelioma can be extremely expensive and the long term impact the disease has on the sufferer and their family cannot be quantified which is why compensation is a necessity in cases where the employer was to blame in the inhalation or exposure to the asbestos. In many cases it is people who work or formerly worked in the construction industry who suffer with the disease but it also effect people from many sectors where exposure to asbestos may have come through building works in the area without the necessary safety protection in place.
The legacy of asbestos is a truly tragic one and it is one which is effecting more and more people each year as diagnoses of mesothelioma continue. The change to the government compensation scheme should help ensure more sufferers and their families have some support throughout their illness and afterwards.