Guide to Mesothelioma Claims
29 July 2016
Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that is caused by being exposed to asbestos fibres, usually whilst at work or by living near a facility which manufactured asbestos or used asbestos materials over a long period of time.
The UK Government have schemes to help people suffering with Mesothelioma to make a compensation claim if they were negligently exposed to asbestos by their employer.
There are currently two schemes running. They are:
- Diffuse Mesothelioma payments, known as the 2008 scheme, and
- The Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme, known as DMPS
These schemes are used only when an employer is no longer trading, which is possible due to the long period, sometimes as long as 40 years, between exposure to asbestos fibres and getting symptoms of Mesothelioma disease.
These payment schemes are also used when the employers’ insurance company that was in place at the time of your exposure cannot be tracked down, or if you were self-employed. Both of these schemes make compensation payments based on the age you were when you were diagnosed with Mesothelioma – this means that the older you get, the less compensation you will receive.
In cases where your employer is still trading or an insurance company can be traced, you would follow the usual process of making a personal injury claim, through the civil justice system.
We look at the two Government schemes below and explain how to make a personal injury claim for Mesothelioma compensation outside of the schemes.
The 2008 Scheme
This was the original scheme set up by the Government to help people diagnosed with Mesothelioma who could not get compensation from anywhere else. The compensation payments were quite small in comparison to the payments that are now awarded in the DMPS Scheme, but if you received a payment under the 2008 scheme, you may be eligible to claim under the DMPS scheme, however, any payment received under the 2008 scheme would be deducted.
For example, if you were diagnosed with Mesothelioma when you were 51 years old, you would receive £63,812 in compensation. But under DMPS, for the same age diagnosis, you would receive £230,628.
The 2008 scheme covers England, Scotland and Wales.
To make a Mesothelioma compensation claim under the 2008 scheme:
- You aren’t eligible to claim under the 1979 Pneumoconiosis Act
- You’ve not claimed compensation from your employer or anywhere else
- You aren’t getting compensated from a Ministry of Defence scheme
You must have been exposed to asbestos in the UK either by:
- Living near somewhere handling or producing asbestos products
- Contact with a family member, for example from the dust on their clothes
- Being self employed
- Your exposure can’t be traced to a specific place.
Making a Mesothelioma Claim
You have to claim within 12 months of your Mesothelioma diagnosis. Your family can also make a compensation claim for you if you die before you have chance to make a claim. This must be done within 12 months of your death.
Claims under the 2008 scheme are probably mostly completed now as the scheme covers all claims made on or after 1 October 2008 up to 24 July 2012. Therefore, you’ll probably need to make a claim under the DMPS if you are eligible.
If you claimed under the 2008 scheme, you could get a further compensation payment under the DMPS if you’re eligible.
Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme - DMPS
This scheme started for anyone diagnosed with Mesothelioma on or after 25 July 2012. With the introduction of this scheme, the amounts of compensation payments to individuals with Mesothelioma increased and are now more in line with the compensation given to people who can claim from their employer.
On the mesoscheme.org.uk website you can check your eligibility to apply for a Mesothelioma compensation payment, see the table of compensation awards depending on your age, review the questions and answers and get some general advice. You can also apply online.
Another different feature of DMPS is that you are allocated a fixed fee of £7,000 to cover your legal costs when making your claim. If you pay less than £7,000 in legal fees, you can keep the difference. However, if your legal costs are more than £7,000, you’ll pay the difference.
This payment makes sure that you can get the legal advice you need to feel comfortable with your compensation settlement.
Time Limits to Make a Claim
With the introduction of DMPS, the Government brought it in line with the time limits for making a civil personal injury claim. This means you now have 3 years from the date of your Mesothelioma diagnosis to make a clam through DMPS.
How to Make a Claim
You can complete the application form online or you could get legal advice from a specialist Industrial Disease Solicitor and they can do this for you.
Either way, you’ll need some information to complete the application. You’ll need:
- Your National Insurance Number
- Details of your employment history. This will help the people deciding on your application to have a full picture of your job history
- Evidence that you worked with your employer. This could be a contract, pay slip or P60
- The date of your diagnosis, evidence of your diagnosis and your age when you were diagnosed
- Information about any other claims you’ve made in connection to your Mesothelioma diagnosis, such as a claim made under the 2008 Scheme.
- A witness statement from someone close to you about your illness, symptoms and work history if the claim is being made after you die.
- Any documents and evidence that you’ve tried to contact your employer and their insurance company.
Mesothelioma Compensation Amounts
There are two different levels of compensation payments made within the DMPS. Which one you get depends on the date of your Mesothelioma diagnosis. You can see the two tariffs online here. If you were diagnosed on 25 July 2012 up to and including the 9 February 2015, you’ll get the first tariff and if you were diagnosed on or after 10 February 2015, you’ll get tariff two.
Making a Civil / Personal Injury Claim
If the employer that you were working for when you were exposed to asbestos fibers is still trading, you can make a personal injury claim against your employer and their insurance company who insured them at the time you were exposed to asbestos.
You have 3 years from the date of your Mesothelioma diagnosis to make a personal injury claim and you should speak to a specialist Personal Injury Solicitor with expertise in industrial disease claims.
Your Personal Injury Solicitor can gather evidence, take details of your illness and submit a claim to your employer’s insurance company.
Once the claim is submitted, there will be discussions and negotiations on the amount of compensation you should be given. This will depend on your age and a number of other factors.
At Co-op Legal Services our Personal Injury Solicitors and Litigation Lawyers offer free legal advice for victims of work related Mesothelioma and family members.