A SUPREME COURT ruling will enable thousands of people to make insurance claims on behalf of family members who died as a result of exposure to asbestos.
Each year 2,500 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma, the cancer caused by inhaling asbestos fibres, and cases can go as far back as the 1940s because the length of time it takes for symptoms of the disease to appear.
The key change made by the UK Supreme Court now defines insurance liability as based on when exposure occurred, not when the symptoms developed. In making the ruling Judge Lord Clark said: “The negligent exposure of an employee to asbestos during the [insurance] policy period has a sufficient causal link with subsequently arising mesothelioma to trigger the insurer's obligation."
David Bott, Managing Partner at personal injury law firm Bott & Co, has been campaigning for justice on behalf of families who have lost loved ones to mesothelioma and welcomes this ruling. “The Supreme Court have clarified that the insurer at the time of exposure is liable, and this means insurance companies can no longer shirk their responsibilities to the families of mesothelioma victims.
“The numbers of people affected by this disease will continue to rise over the next five years and hundreds of sufferers across the country had previously been unable to get the compensation due to them to help them through the last days of their lives.”
At a time when the government is determined to push through reforms to the personal injury sector that favour insurance companies at the expense of injured people, this highlights the importance of retaining a no-win no-fee system to enable families to employ legal representation when they otherwise could not afford to.
Government proposals to change the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (LASPO) bill will see the end of no-win no-fee legal services and will result in claimants losing their 100% compensation entitlement. David Bott said the government were showing signs of ‘recklessness’ in ‘tilting the playing field even further away from injured people in favour of big business and insurance companies.’
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