A report from the House of Commons Justice Select Committee released recently confirms that the Government previously made a secret deal with the insurance industry to save them billions of pounds at the expense of the terminally ill.
Mesothelioma is a terminal disease which develops decades after being exposed to as little as one fibre of asbestos. Once Mesothelioma has been diagnosed victims typically have months to live as opposed to years. They normally require urgent legal advice to obtain compensation and benefits to assist them and their familes during the necessary care period.
Conservative Minister Shailesh Vara was recently quoted as saying that “there is no reason why a mesothelioma claim should be treated differently to any other claim” with the government believing that it would be quite reasonable for someone diagnosed with the terminal illness of mesothelioma, who are typically given just months to live, to shop around for legal advice to find the best deal offered to bring their claim forward.
The Government also believes that some of the cost of bringing this claim forward should be borne by the victim and not the Defendant or their insurer who negligently exposed the victim to asbestos which has ultimately cut their life short.
The Justice Select Committee have lambasted the government for their lack of transparency towards mesothelioma victims. The Association of British Insurers have been shown to of had secret meetings with the government to agree their agenda, which the government have then implemented without consulting with the people affected by this terminal condition. This was deemed to give the insurance industry an unfair advantage.
A Mesothelioma Fund has been put in place to compensate people that have been exposed to asbestos and developed mesothelioma where the details of the relevant insurer are not discoverable. The insurance industry has saved billions of pounds by agreeing to pay only 80% of the full value of the claim in instances where the appropriate insurer’s details are un-locatable.
The Government has also been criticised for not enacting the Third Party (Rights Against Insurers) Act 2010 which was passed in 2010. This Act allows Mesothelioma victims and potential claimants to bring claims directly against the employers liability insurers of a company where that company no longer exists. It would give victims a chance of getting the full 100% of their compensation.
The Government now wishes to treat Mesothelioma claims with the same process as any other personal injury claim where the terminally ill would have to contribute to the legal costs of their case from their own damages. This cost was previously payable by the insurer on risk for the period of exposure however due to this agreement made between the insurance industry and the government it is intended to pass this cost on to the victims of Mesothelioma.
The Committee stated that “the Coalition have not been open or transparent and their approach has been unsatisfactory on a number of counts”
The Government did not disclose the agreement which they secretly reached with the insurance industry, which leads to further speculation that they are assisting the insurance industry as opposed to sufferers of Mesothelioma.
Dean Cruickshanks, Specialist asbestos solicitor at Wolferstans Solicitors and Accredited Asbestos Disease Specialist by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) says “ It has long been thought the Insurance Industry and the Government have been in some secret collusion to save them money which should be paid to these poor people suffering from mesothelioma. This now appears to be the case. These victims have a very limited life expectancy during which time they will suffer excruciating pain and breathlessness. They will require almost constant care for which we can help provide and fund, but barriers put in place by this collusion will only be of detriment to the sufferers.”
More people are killed as a result of being exposed to asbestos than in car accidents. Asbestos related illnesses generally do not arise until between 20 and 50 years after exposure to the asbestos fibres occurred. It is due to this delay that many insurers’ details are lost or not properly recorded and despite employers paying the appropriate premiums for the cover, the insurers are still able to avoid the cost of compensating the victims of this condition.
If you, or someone in your family has been exposed to asbestos previously and have now been diagnosed with an asbestos related condition such as Mesothelioma, Asbestosis, Pleural Thickening or Lung Cancer then it is essential that an asbestos specialist firm of solicitors are instructed in order to assist with locating the correct insurance company to ensure that people who are unfortunate enough to have been exposed to asbestos in their working life are fully compensated.
At Wolferstans solicitors we have over 35 years worth of experience in handling these matters and run all claims on a No Win No Fee basis. We provide support and care and ensure that the process is smooth and swift from start to finish. Contact the specialist asbestos team today on 01752 663295 for a no cost consultation where we can advise you of the options available.