A recent ruling by the UK Supreme Court has been welcomed by the families of victims of the asbestos related cancer, mesothelioma.
A small group of insurers had successfully argued in the Court of Appeal that liability to compensate the victims of mesothelioma should only arise where symptoms developed during the period of the insurance policy. As symptoms typically develop between 30 and 50 years after the exposure to asbestos has taken place, this would leave many victims without compensation. In a significant number of cases the employer responsible for causing the fatal illness has ceased trading and therefore has no insurance by the time the symptoms develop. In such cases the victims would simply have no one to bring a claim against.
The new Supreme Court ruling reverses the Court of Appeal decision. The Supreme Court has clarified the law so that the insurers on cover at the time the negligent exposure took place are liable if an employee subsequently goes on to develop the illness. The decision therefore allows claims to be pursued ever where the employer has ceased trading provided their insurers can be identified and traced.
The recent introduction of the Employers Liability Tracing Office and cooperation between Claimants’ lawyers through the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers has made tracing employers’ liability insurers easier over the years. Victims’ families should not, therefore, be put off making a claim even if the employer is no longer in existence.
Anyone who feels they may be affected by the ruling or who has developed mesothelioma, or any asbestos related illness, should feel free to contact us for further advice, without any obligation.