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Do Asbestos Claims Fall Under Employer’s Liability Insurance?

Asbestos related diseases cause approximately 5,000 deaths every year. Mesothelioma is an asbestos related cancer which affects people who have inhaled asbestos fibres decades ago.

A recent case heard at Supreme Court level has opened the gates for thousands of mesothelioma sufferers and their families to claim compensation.

For the past 2 years there has been some uncertainty for sufferers of the rare, asbestos related cancer, Mesothelioma. In 2008, the High Court ruled that it would be the responsibility of the employer’s liability insurers, on risk at the time of the mesothelioma sufferer’s employment to pay compensation to mesothelioma victims.

However, 2 years later the matter was considered by the Court of Appeal where it was decided that in some cases, the liability of the insurers would only be triggered when the tumour started to develop which is usually around 10 years prior to the onset of symptoms. In the majority of cases, this occurs decades after mesothelioma sufferers had been exposed to asbestos. Mesothelioma has a long latency period. This means that sufferers may have inhaled asbestos fibres decades ago but the symptoms only come to light on average around 20 to 40 years later. In many cases, the companies for which mesothelioma sufferers worked for no longer exist and this ruling would leave mesothelioma victims unable to pursue claims.

Approximately 2,500 people are diagnosed with the asbestos related cancer, mesothelioma every year. Mesothelioma is an asbestos related disease, which can develop as a result of a sufferer inhaling only one asbestos fibre. When a person is diagnosed with mesothelioma, they should look to instruct specialist asbestos disease lawyers, who will need to act quickly to obtain asbestos disease compensation on their behalf. A main part of the asbestos disease lawyer’s initial enquiries involves obtaining details of the insurers for companies who no longer trade and for whom the mesothelioma sufferer worked.

The ruling by the Court of Appeal had caused much confusion and uncertainty for the sufferers of the asbestos related cancer and their families. It also caused a delay in providing victims with the compensation that they deserved.

Mesothelioma victims, their families and asbestos disease lawyers had been eagerly awaiting the decision of the UK Supreme Court in the hope that mesothelioma compensation could be awarded rightfully to the sufferers and their families. In early 2012, the matter was heard in the UK Supreme Court. The Supreme Court ruled that the High Court’s decision in 2008 was indeed correct and the insurers from the time of the victim’s employment would be liable for any claims and not from when the tumour developed.

The family of a gentleman who had sadly passed away due to mesothelioma in 2003 had initiated the challenge along with the trade union, Unite. The Association of British Insurers (ABI) confirmed that it was a small group of insurers who had initiated the action in the first place. The ABI confirmed that they welcomed the decision of the Supreme Court and they have confirmed that their members are committed to paying mesothelioma compensation to victims of the illness as quickly as possible.

Unfortunately, there are many victims of mesothelioma who when awaiting the result, sadly passed before the decision was made. Their families however, will be able to pursue claims for mesothelioma compensation on their behalf now that the position has now been clarified. Due to the long latency period of the asbestos related disease, mesothelioma, the number of people affected by it will continue to rise over the next few years. Diagnosis of mesothelioma is not expected to reach a peak level until 2020. The recent ruling will provide reassurance to those diagnosed and their families that they will be able to pursue the compensation they deserve.

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