Asbestos Justice welcomes the recent decision of the coalition government to award mesothelioma sufferers with 100% of the average court settlement award under the Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme.
The scheme was introduced during 2014 as a “scheme of last resort” to assist mesothelioma claimants in recovering compensation in circumstances where they are unable to locate their past employer or their insurers.
Originally, the scheme only allowed for mesothelioma sufferers to claim for 80% of the average value of a mesothelioma compensation award under a listed, online tariff which takes into account the sufferer’s age.
At the time of the scheme’s introduction, Asbestos Justice were concerned that the scheme had been introduced with the 80% cap but the recent change which will allow sufferers to claim the 100% figure from this week is certainly a step in the right direction to ensure mesothelioma sufferers recover the compensation they need.
The Minister for Disabled people, Mark Harper at the Department for Work and Pensions said that the increase follows monitoring of the progress of the scheme, which has shown that fewer claimants than anticipated have used it. In a statement he was reported to say:-
“I made it clear through the passage of the Mesothelioma Act that I planned to monitor the scheme to gauge the extent that the assumptions made when it was being set up had been borne out in practice and would also consider the impact on the insurance companies who pay for it.”
To qualify for an award, those diagnosed with the incurable asbestos related cancer must show that they would have had a reasonable prospect of winning their claim against their former employer if this was traced.
Frustratingly, the new changes will not be backdated to compensate those who were paid out under the old criteria, leaving many mesothelioma sufferers out of pocket.
James Cameron of Asbestos Justice added:-
“As the DWP have admitted that the scheme has been used far less than they anticipated, surely there are more funds in the pot to ensure past recipients of 80% awards under the scheme will be compensated fully following their diagnosis, as well as future sufferers of this terrible disease. It is frustrating that 100% mesothelioma compensation payments were not made available at the outset.
There is also still a concern in relation to the level of mesothelioma compensation awards made under the scheme. A maximum pay out will total £216,896.00 and this falls far short of a number of awards Asbestos Justice has recovered for mesothelioma sufferers over the years. For example, I recovered £455,000.00 for one of my clients after tracing the offending employer’s insurers. Had the case been run today under the scheme, without insurance being traced, in theory my client would be left significantly under-compensated. The scheme will fall short in providing full compensation for mesothelioma victims and is certainly not a fix all.”
Claimants under the scheme are able to file applications for payments online themselves. However, it is often advantageous to instruct specialist asbestos disease solicitors to assist them with the application as documentation has to be prepared to form part of the application to prove employment, confirm that no insurance has been traced and to show that the claim stood a reasonable chance of succeeding against the untraced employer.
James Cameron added:-
“The scheme allows for a £7,000.00 contribution to mesothelioma sufferers’ legal costs. If less than £7,000.00 is incurred in assisting our clients, they get to keep the balance of this £7,000.00 sum which would leave them with more funds to assist with their on-going needs.”