News Article from the Safety and Health Practitioner The official magazine of IOSH
Mesothelioma victims entitled to £123,000, DWP announces
Thousands of sufferers of mesothelioma will be able to claim an average of £123,000 in compensation, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has announced The Government has increased this from the initial £115,000 that was debated in the House of Commons in January after making savings in the administration costs of the scheme.
Mesothelioma often takes 40 to 50 years to present symptoms after exposure to asbestos. It has resulted in over 300 people each year struggling to find a relevant party to sue for damages as companies become insolvent, or insurance records go missing.
The Mesothelioma Act was passed in January and allowed the creation of the new support package, funded by insurance firms, to pay over 800 eligible people in 2014 and 300 every year after that until 2024.
Those who were diagnosed with the fatal asbestos-induced cancer after 25 July 2012 will be eligible for the scheme.
The DWP estimates that around 3,500 victims of the aggressive cancer or their families can apply for compensation from next month (April) and will receive a payment of around £123,000 from July this year, as part of a £380m package.
Work and Pensions minister Mike Penning, said: “This will end years of injustice for mesothelioma victims and their families – who have had to endure this terrible disease with little hope of any compensation from the insurance industry.
“We have made it an absolute priority to bring in the scheme as soon as legislation will allow, so I am pleased to announce that victims will be able to apply for payments from next month.”
The scheme entitles claimants to 80 per cent of the average settlement paid out in civil actions relating to mesothelioma.
In addition to the payments, the scheme will also pay £7,000 towards legal fees paid directly to the applicant rather than lawyers.
The DWP states that the scheme has been designed to accept direct applications from applicants, to enable people to apply without the aid of a solicitor, and in those cases the individual will retain the £7,000 in legal fees.
Any benefits of lump sum payments received from the government previously in respect of the disease will be deducted from the final payment.
The claims handling company Gallagher Bassett has been appointed to run the compensation scheme.
The Government has responded to its consultation on measures to help victims of mesothelioma. Justice Minister, Lord Faulks, said the Ministry of Justice would work with victims groups and insurers representing employers to explore new ways to improve the legal process for handling claims for compensation from mesothelioma sufferers or their relatives.
He said: ” This terrible condition can destroy lives in a devastatingly short time and we want to do what we can to help mesothelioma sufferers and their families. We are now working to establish the best way to get claims settled fairly quickly.
“The response, published today, follows the consultation last year on improving the compensation claims process for mesothelioma victims.”