During the Queen’s annual speech, she highlighted the introduction of the Mesthelioma Bill. This bill would provide sufferers of Mesothelioma with a means to gain access to compensation for their illness even in cases where the original employer or their insurer is not known. The Bill offers something similar to the scheme run by the Motor Insurer’s Bureau, which is considered an insurer of last resort, but critics have come out against the bill saying that claimants should receive the full amount of money that they are owed and not 70% as planned.
Mesothelioma is a potentially deadly disease that is contracted by those that have worked with or come into contact with asbestos. This cheap building material was used extensively in the 20th Century and employers continued to use the material even once the dangers were first brought to light. As a result, many individuals have suffered long and debilitating illness and many have died. In some cases it has proven possible to claim compensation but this isn’t always an option.
Any living victim, or relatives of those that have died, can claim compensation for mesothelioma and other asbestos related diseases from their former employer or their insurance company. The total amount of compensation that is typically awarded varies greatly dependent on the level of negligence displayed by the organisation, the extent of the individual’s illness and other factors such as their age. Some victims can expect to receive tens of thousands of pounds if they are successful in their claims.
Problems, however, can arise for those victims that are unable to locate their former employer. It can take 20 years or more for the extent of the illness to become known and, in some cases, it may be as long as 40 years. Many construction businesses and related organisations from the 1980s are no longer in business and this makes it very difficult for a claimant to be able to submit a compensation claim case. This is where the government’s proposed Mesothelioma Bill should pick up the slack and enable all victims to enjoy some means of claiming compensation.
Under the terms of the Bill, claimants will be able to claim compensation even if the employer or insurer is not known or no longer in business. The act means that insurance companies that offer employer’s liability insurance will be charged a new tax and this money will be used to pay victims that have nobody else to claim from. However, the current proposals mean that victims would receive only 70% of the compensation they are actually owed.
Critics point to the fact that an average claim totals £65,000 and that losing 30% of this money would mean that a person loses £19,500 which is obviously a significant sum of money. Supports will point to the fact that £45,500 is better the current zero figure that they are able to claim but if a person is judged to be owed £65,000 in compensation then surely they should receive the full £65,000? That is the question that many want answered.
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