A test case will begin on 2nd june 2008 in the High Court in London to determine whether victims of mesothelioma, an asbestos related cancer, can recover compensation.
The nine week hearing at Court concerns the point of time when the liability of insurance companies is "triggered" in cases of mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is an aggressive and fatal lung cancer which can take up to forty years or more to develop after exposure to asbestos.
According to HSE statistics, around two thousand people in the UK die from mesothelioma every year and it is anticipated that this number will increase over the coming decade.
The insurance industry is arguing that their liability in these cases is triggered when the cancer develops and not at the time of negligent exposure to asbestos. As mesothelioma can take forty years or more to develop, it is often the case that a victim’s employer no longer exists. If this insurance industry challenge succeeds, victims will be left without compensation.
The test case is supported by Britain’s largest trade union, Unite. Joint General Secretary, Derek Simpson, said:-
"What’s at stake here is millions of pounds which should be used to compensate asbestos victims and not pocketed by the insurance industry. It is a sickening scenario and we will fight every step of the way to see that insurers are not allowed to pass the buck and dodge their liabilities"
Whatever the decision of the Court, it is anticipated that there will be an appeal and that this case will eventually end up in the House of Lords.
If you are anyone you know has suffered an injury, contact us now on Freephone 0800 988 0777 for specialist claim advice.
Pattinson & Brewer never acts for employers or insurance companies. We are committed to acting for those who suffer injuries or diseases.