Wait goes on for industrial disease victims' compensation

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Wait goes on for industrial disease victims' compensation

18th May 2012

A specialist industrial disease lawyer has called for greater urgency to redress the fact that victims of asbestos-related illnesses are still dying without compensation - two years after the Government finished consulting on plans to set up an insurance fund to help them.

Karl Tonks, head of the Employers’ Liability department at Fentons Solicitors LLP and president of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL), said it was crucial that insurers did more to ensure that the thousands of workers who have become ill through no fault of their own receive the compensation they deserve.

APIL has long-campaigned for a fund of last resort to compensate workers suffering from industrial diseases and who cannot pursue their former employers’ insurers for compensation. Karl said that the proposed Employers’ Liability Insurance Bureau would give hope to those that are still unable to trace an insurer, much like the current system for individuals injured in collisions with uninsured motorists.

“An insurance fund of last resort is urgent, and it must compensate injured workers properly,” said Karl. “Often people are exposed at work to something which makes them ill many years later, such as asbestos, and in that time insurance records are sometimes lost or destroyed.”

Mesothelioma, an asbestos-related cancer, is of particular concern as it is terminal and life expectancy is short once a diagnosis has been made. Compensation is needed to help sufferers through their final days.

“For those who were exposed to harm many years ago and are now suffering the consequences, it is luck of the draw whether they can find the insurers they need for a claim,” Karl explained. “That isn’t their fault and they should not be denied justice because of it. Insurers have taken the premiums but by mere circumstance are not serving their responsibility to people some of whom are dying as a consequence of simply turning up for work. It’s a dysfunctional system and is frankly high time that the insurers who have already taken premiums accept their responsibilities.”

The Labour Government’s consultation, Accessing Compensation, about setting up a fund of last resort ended with the change in government in May 2010.

APIL (Association of Personal Injury Lawyers) is a not-for-profit organisation whose members are dedicated to campaigning for improvements in the law to help people who are injured or become ill through no fault of their own.

Read more at: APIL