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Industrial disease specialist welcomes new help for asbestos victims
The Government's decision to award a one-off payment to sufferers of pleural plaques has been welcomed by industrial disease specialist Bridget Collier - but she says the decision not to overturn the controversial ruling preventing them from claiming compensation is still disappointing.
Miss Collier, partner in charge of the industrial disease department at Fentons Solicitors LLP, said the announcement on Thursday (25 February) was a "disappointing but not entirely surprising" outcome for those people suffering from the asbestos-related condition.
"The decision to make a one-off payment came as no great surprise, nor did the figure of £5,000 announced by Mr Straw," said Miss Collier, a senior litigator with the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) and co-ordinator for APIL's northwest region. "But we are still disappointed, as this one-off payment will be of no consolation to the thousands who have been denied the right to claim compensation to which they should be entitled, and who now face an uncertain future."
While Miss Collier said the decision on awarding compensation to sufferers with pleural plaques - a scarring of the lining of the lungs - was long overdue, she did welcome the new measures announced to help all sufferers of asbestos-related illness.
"We are delighted that the Government is to establish a working group to help speed up mesothelioma claims," said Miss Collier. "The proposal to streamline the process even further and reduce the shocking disparity in compensation paid to sufferers before and after death can only be a good thing."
Miss Collier, who was among the campaigners hoping the Government would follow the lead of the Scottish Parliament and overturn the controversial House of Lords ruling which prevented pleural plaques sufferers from receiving compensation, also welcomed the announcement of a consultation into an Employers' Liability Tracing Office.
"The ELTO would manage an electronic database of employers' liability insurance policies, making it much simpler for insurers to be identified and therefore for victims to make claims," she said.
"For those that are still unable to trace an insurer, the proposed Employers' Liability Insurance Bureau would offer a fund of last resort. However while this is a welcome proposal, we strongly believe the ELIB can only be worthwhile if it applies to all employers' liability claimants, not just those affected by asbestos."
Miss Collier, who also praised proposals to make payments under existing schemes more level, said she was particularly pleased with the announced plans to invest in research.
"The Government's plan to invest £3million in research into asbestos-related diseases is a welcome if overdue start," she said. "But this will have to be supported long-term into the future by successive Governments if it is to be of any tangible help to the thousands of victims of asbestos in the UK."
It is estimated that between a third and a half of all workers exposed to asbestos during their working lives will develop pleural plaques. Before the Court of Appeal stopped compensation payments, sufferers were entitled to compensation of up to £15,000.
How can Fentons Solicitors help?
Fentons has a specialist department experienced in handling claims for victims of industrial illness and asbestos-related diseases.
If you think that you have a case or require further information contact Fentons on 0800 0191 297 or fill in the online claims questionnaire.
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