The government is introducing a scheme to compensate people who have contracted mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos at work but are unable to claim damages from their employer.
Mesothelioma is an aggressive strain of cancer that can take up to 50 years to take effect, but once diagnosed, a victim’s life expectancy is just eight to nine months. Asbestos was used widely in industry before being banned in 1999. Thousands of workers spent years being exposed to the harmful substance for several hours a day.
There have been several cases in recent years of people developing the disease yet being unable to claim compensation because they cannot trace the liable employer.
More than 300 people a year are unable to claim damages because the company involved has either gone out of business or the insurance records from the time have been lost.
The government has now set up a £350m fund to compensate those victims who cannot claim damages from their previous employers. It is expected that it will compensate 300 eligible victims per year until 2024. Victims, or their dependents, will receive a lump sum of £115,000 on average.
The fund is being paid for by companies currently providing employer liability insurance.
Work and Pensions Minister Mike Penning said: “This scheme represents a major breakthrough for the many victims of this terrible disease – who have been failed by successive governments and the insurance industry for decades. It will end an injustice that has left many tragic victims and their families high and dry.”
The legislation needed to introduce the scheme is now being put before parliament and is expected to be in place by the summer.
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