Pleural plaques fixed payments available – but no compensation yet


People exposed to asbestos who have since developed the asbestos-related disease pleural plaques still have no sign of being able to claim compensation.

However the government has agreed to offer an extra-statutory payment of £5,000 for people with pleural plaques who had begun compensation claim cases before the Law Lords’ ruling in October 2007 which effectively said that, even though caused by exposure to asbestos, pleural plaques is not a condition that sufferers are entitled to claim compensation for. Criteria for eligibility under the scheme has now been published.

The government is contemplating taking steps to assist people with asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma and is consulting in respect of setting up an Employers’ Liability Tracing Office to track down relevant insurers so those diagnosed with mesothelioma can attempt to claim compensation. There is also discussion regarding the creation of an Employers’ Liability Insurance Bureau (ELIB) for those asbestos disease sufferers who cannot trace the insurance records they need to claim compensation for mesothelioma and other asbestos-related disease.

Simpson Millar wholeheartedly support the creation of both the government funded Tracing Office and ELIB.

Asbestos exposure is a hazard to your health – image

But for those diagnosed with pleural plaques the story isn't so good. This statement was released on behalf of the Ministry of Justice:

"On the basis of medical evidence received during the course of this review, including reports from the Chief Medical Officer for England and the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council, we are unable to conclude that the Law Lords’ decision should be overturned at this time."

"The medical evidence is clear that while pleural plaques are a marker of exposure to asbestos, they are generally symptomless, are not harmful and do not become harmful. Any increased risk of a person with pleural plaques developing an asbestos-related disease arises because of that person’s exposure to asbestos rather than because of the plaques themselves. However, if new medical or other significant evidence were to emerge, the government would obviously reassess the situation."

"We do however acknowledge that a particular grievance is felt by individuals who had already begun a legal claim for compensation for pleural plaques at the time of the House of Lords’ decision in October 2007, who had an understandable expectation that their claim would result in compensation. The government has therefore decided to make extra-statutory payments of £5,000 to individuals in this limited category."

"Whilst payments for mesothelioma sufferers and their dependents has been increased and the government has committed to expanding research into asbestos-related disease, it seems that those diagnosed with pleural plaques will have to wait and see if they will be able to claim compensation for their own exposure to asbestos. "

"Many solicitors, trade unions, insurers, the judiciary and civil servants are attempting to introduce measures which would make the asbestos disease compensation claim procedure far faster and more effective."

Secretary of State Jack Straw said: "We are firmly committed to supporting people with asbestos-related diseases and intend to build on and extend the measures which we have already introduced in this area."

"To that end the government will work to increase medical research into asbestos-related diseases, speed up and simplify claims procedures for mesothelioma sufferers, increase interim payments for mesothelioma sufferers and their dependents, and improve the tracing of past insurance policies needed to make claims. We have already published a consultation on establishing an Employers’ Liability Insurance Bureau which would serve as a fund of last resort so that all who develop mesothelioma receive full compensation."

"In addition, we will make extra-statutory payments to those who had begun but not resolved a legal claim for compensation for pleural plaques prior to the House of Lords’ decision in 2007."

Simpson Millar's Pleural Plaques Solicitors are currently dealing with the issue of compensation under this scheme. Useful links

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