The recent figures released by the Health and Safety Executive show that 6 electricians, 3 plumbers and 6 builders die every week from previous exposure to asbestos. It is estimated that the deadly substance is now responsible for 400 deaths a year.
An increase in asbestos claims has been seen within our own Industrial Disease team including claims arising from environmental exposure and other non-manual employments. The insurance industry continued to campaign to avoid paying compensation for asbestos victims. For the past 20 years, insurers have paid compensation to victims of pleural plaques. Last year, however, the House of Lords reversed this decision finding in favour of the employers, a decision welcome by insurers who subsequently avoided payouts of around £1.4 bn in compensation.
A test case run between the insurers and employers listed in the High Court on the 31 July after a 9 week hearing. The case known as the "trigger issue" test case concerns a legal challenge that could deprive a number of mesothelioma victims of compensation. The decision will affect not only the ability of asbestos victims and their families to recover compensation but it could also extend to other forms of occupational disease. The Trial Judge indicated that the decision will be delivered in November/December of this year although any decision is likely to be further appealed to the Court of Appeal, possibly the House of Lords, this will delay further payments of compensation.
The battleground for Claimants who pursue claims for damages after diagnosis of an asbestos related decision is likely to continue for the foreseeable future and anyone diagnosed with an asbestos condition should seek immediate legal advice.
The decision in relation to the pleural plaques compensation is currently under review by the Government and Scotland is considering reversing the House of Lords decision and further information is still awaited.
Further Information – Asbestos related illnesses and diseases