It is welcome news that mesothelioma sufferers unable to trace their employer’s insurer will get 100% of the average court settlement through the Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme.
People suffering from the aggressive and terminal cancer can apply from this week (February 9, 2015) to receive 100% of the average compensation award for civil claims made.
The payment tariff had previously been set at 80% of average payments when the scheme was launched under the Mesothelioma Act 2014.
However, the increased limit for payments will not be backdate for people who have already benefited from the scheme – and other restrictions and limits remain in place. The Act only concerns those people diagnosed after July 25, 2012, with the asbestos-related lung cancer mesothelioma, and the scheme does not cover other serious asbestos-related diseases like lung cancer caused by asbestos dust, asbestosis and pleural thickening when sufferers are unable to trace an employer or insurance company.
Mark Harper, minister for disabled people at the Department for Work and Pensions, said the move to 100 per cent payments follows monitoring of the scheme and the fact that fewer claimants than anticipated have used it.
In a written ministerial statement, Mr Harper said: “I made it clear through the passage of the Mesothelioma Act that I planned to monitor the scheme to gauge the extent that the assumptions made when it was being set up had been borne out in practice and would also consider the impact on the insurance companies who pay for it.”
The scheme was created to provide financial support for mesothelioma sufferers and dependants when compensation cannot be claimed because it has proven impossible to trace former employers or an insurance company. It was predicted that the scheme would help about 3,500 victims and their families.
The increase to 100 per cent is good news, but the scheme still fails many mesothelioma sufferers who do not fall within the schemes limitations. It is also important to remember that it is not enough for a victim to simply show that they have mesothelioma. As part of the update to the scheme Mr Harper said further hurdles have been agreed with the insurance industry, including a new stipulation that victims have to show that legally they would have had a good case if the employer or its insurer could have been traced.