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The sharp rise in the number of people dying from mesothelioma and the grave and upsetting ways in which people die from this terminal illness have perhaps been the two main contributors which have brought about wider media attention of this asbestos-related condition.
Alongside these two factors is also the new Mesothelioma Bill that the government has been working on for the last few years. Despite the media focus and the government bill, campaigners argue that there is still not enough being done to bring about more awareness of this disease which is often triggered through employer negligence.
The bill itself has brought out a new wave of controversy in terms of people who are eligible for compensation and also the alleged collusion between the government and insurance companies.
The government has proposed that parts of the Legal Aid, Punishing and Sentencing of Offenders Act 2013 (known as LASPO) will contain two sections (44 and 46) these sections mean that if you are pursuing a compensation case then you will not be allowed to recover the success fee paid to your solicitor or an after-the-event insurance policy from July 2014. The government says these sections should be applied to mesothelioma claim cases also.
There have been many oppositions to this including claimant lawyers; trade unions and mesothelioma victim support groups. However, the government defendant lawyers and the insurance companies are all in favour of the sections of the act being applied to mesothelioma claims.
The government carried out an analysis and highlighted that claimants would be better off as a result of not having to pay for an After The Event insurance policy and that a 10% increase in compensation would be more than the cost of success fees. The select committee said this was conjecture from the government and not enough time had passed to be able to predict what the financial impact would be. It suggested the government undertake a separate review of mesothelioma claims and their outcomes.
Last week, following legal action brought about by the Asbestos Victims’ Support Group Forum UK against Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, the government was found to have acted unlawfully when undertaking the review. The lobbying group said that the review was such that it could be described as being written ‘on the back of a fag packet’. Mr. Justice William Davis who was presiding over the case said: “The issue is whether the Lord Chancellor conducted a proper review of the likely effect of the LASPO reforms on mesothelioma claims… I conclude that he did not.”
The main cause of mesothelioma is the exposure to asbestos. The deadly substance was used in many industrial settings in the mid part of the last century and the dangers of it only came to light towards the end. Since then, there have been numerous measures and laws implemented so that workplaces do not expose their workers to asbestos or that very strict procedures are adhered to that have been set down by the Health and Safety Executive to limit exposure.
The onset of the symptoms of mesothelioma does not appear often up until four decades following original exposure. Victims will suffer from weight loss; chronic coughing and chest pain, all of which make the condition extremely uncomfortable for those suffering from it. The nature of the disease in terms of life expectancy is usually six to nine months following diagnosis, which inevitably causes a great deal of distress for both sufferers and their families.
At the moment, there is a degree of uncertainty as to how many people will suffer from mesothelioma in the future. It is thought that the numbers will continue to rise up until 2020. According to Cancer Research UK, there were 2,570 people who received a mesothelioma diagnosis in 2011 and in 2012, there were 2,429 people who died from the illness.
At Jefferies, we specialise in industrial disease claims which encompass a wide range of different illnesses and disease which can be contracted due to employer negligence. As well as mesothelioma there are a number of other asbestos-related diseases including pleural thickening and asbestosis. We often work on a no win no fee basis. Contact our team of injury lawyers to find out about making a claim for compensation.
Published on 11th February 2015.