Asbestos victims must get higher compensation payouts, say Manchester law firm ahead of Parliament debate

By Danielle Wainwright

A bill to see victims of asbestos-related cancers receiving higher compensation payouts will be debated in Parliament next week after an impassioned plea from a Manchester law firm.

Specialist lawyers at Irwin Mitchell in Manchester wrote to MPs of all parties for support to see terminal patients suffering from the effects of deadly asbestos receiving a ‘fairer’ settlement.

Victims currently only receive 75% of average compensation payments which means they could miss out on a staggering £43,000.

The lawyers, along with campaigners from the Forum of Asbestos Victims Support Groups UK, are urging the government to agree a last-minute amendment raising this payment to 80%.

Geraldine Coombs, a specialist asbestos lawyer at Irwin Mitchell who has represented many victims, said: “It takes decades from the initial exposure to asbestos for symptoms of a related illness to appear, but once they do the consequences are devastating for those families affected.

“In some situations it is impossible to find evidence of victims’ employers’ insurance records where firms have ceased to exist many years ago and many asbestos victims will be left high and dry by the technicalities in the proposals.”

The funds provided give victims and their families some financial security as well as paying for care, aid and equipment during the final stages of the illness.

It’s understood that the 75% figure is to prevent the insurers passing on the costs to businesses in the form of higher premiums for employers’ liability insurance.

Ms Coombs added: “Obviously, receiving 75% of the average compensation is better than nothing but by only providing victims and their families with a fraction of the typical amount means mesothelioma victims will miss out on tens of thousands of pounds.

“This also doesn’t take into account that no two cases are alike and the individual circumstances of each person and their family are completely different.

“It is particularly hard to understand when the Financial Services Compensation Scheme provides 90% compensation.

“Mesothelioma cases by their very nature are complex, often going back 40-50 years and involving very detailed investigations.

“Mesothelioma victims have faced many legal challenges in recent years, this is yet another one. What they really deserve is full and fair financial security for their families.”

Picture courtesy of Yale Rosen/Pulmonary Pathology via Flickr, with thanks

For more on this story and many others, follow Mancunian Matters on Twitter and Facebook.

Related Articles