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New support for future mesothelioma victims
The Government and the Association of British Insurers (ABI) have announced a new support scheme for newly diagnosed victims of mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma is a cancer of the lining of internal organs, notably the lungs, and almost always arises from exposure to asbestos. The long time that mesothelioma takes to develop means that some workers were negligently exposed to asbestos at work but their employers are no longer in existence to make a claim against.
From 25th July, around 3,000 mesothelioma victims across the UK who are unable to claim compensation because they cannot trace a liable employer or employers’ liability insurer will become eligible to make a claim for compensation. Payments could reach £300 million over the first 10 years.
The scheme will come into force subject to primary legislation and membership will be compulsory for all employers’ liability insurers. However, Ministers and the ABI have agreed anyone diagnosed with mesothelioma from 25th July 2012 will be eligible to make a claim.
New measures to speed up the process of receiving compensation for all mesothelioma victims are also being introduced. These include:
- a levy on current employers’ liability insurers to fund the scheme at an estimated cost of £25-£35 million a year;
- changes to speed up the process of getting support to all mesothelioma sufferers, including:
- an online portal for all mesothelioma sufferers to register claims and for the parties involved to exchange information in a secure electronic way in order to settle claims more quickly.
- changes to the Civil Procedure Rules to support the use of a mesothelioma pre-action protocol to ensure that evidence is disclosed early.
- improvements in providing the information held by the Government needed to support claims, including standardised medical diagnosis, employment schedules from HM Revenue and Customs and information on state benefits from the Department for Work and Pensions;
- addressing the civil litigation costs for all mesothelioma claims, to reflect the faster claims process and in line with the Government’s wider reforms.