There are two ways of claiming compensation. You can either obtain benefits from the government or you may sue your employer for the time you worked when you were exposed to the risks. You should talk to your healthcare team, a local Benefits Adviser, Citizens Advice Bureau or an Asbestos Diseases Support Group to find out how to go about claiming compensation.
Mesothelioma Compensation Claims - Government Funded Benefits
Industrial Industries Disablement Benefit is the main benefit to which sufferers of asbestos related illnesses are entitled. You will receive a weekly allowance if you can prove that you have been exposed to asbestos in the line of work and that you are suffering from mesothelioma. You may not have been in direct contact with asbestos but you may have inhaled the fibres in the air.
Unfortunately, if you were self-employed when you were exposed to the asbestos, then this benefit will not apply to you.
To obtain the appropriate benefit application forms you should phone the Department for Work and Pensions Benefit Enquiry Line on 0800 882 200. Your benefit will be backdated to the time you made your phone-call so it is wise not to delay. Keep copies of all correspondence you have sent and received from your Social Security Agency or the Department for Work and Pensions. This includes making a note of the names of people you spoke to over the phone and the times, dates and details of any conversations you had. You should also keep a note of your National Insurance number.
If you contracted mesothelioma as a result of working in the armed forces then you may be able to make a compensation claim with The War Pensions Agency and you can get more information from the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency Helpline (0800 169 22 77) if you think this is appropriate.
Mesothelioma Compensation Claims - Employers Compensation
If you are suffering from mesothelioma as a result of working in an asbestos environment then you should think about seeking legal advice from a solicitor. You may be able to bring a civil law personal injury claim for compensation from your employer.
However, before choosing a solicitor you should check whether or not they are experienced in dealing with such claims. Ask how many similar cases they have handled, how many have made it to court, what their success rate has been like in the previous three years. Check that your proposed solicitor holds membership of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL). You should also enquire as to who will pay for your insurance policy, whether you will have to pay any fees and additional expenses you may be responsible for such as court costs and court fees. Ask your prospective solicitor if they work on a no win/no fee basis and how often you will get progress reports on your case. Also enquire at to how long you should expect the case to last and how soon court action will commence.
To stand the best chance of a successful compensation claim you need to be able to prove that it is most likely you got mesothelioma as a consequence of your occupation and that your employer was negligent. This is not always easy but your legal team will advise you how best to go about this.
If your employer no longer exists then you may be able to claim against their insurers and you may even be able to sue your former employer for breaking health and safety regulations.
You need to be aware that you can only make a claim within three years of first discovering you had an injury as a result of contact with asbestos.
In some cases you may not be able to make a claim because the employer no longer exists and their insurer no longer provides cover. Or, your solicitor may advise you that you don't have a strong enough case to claim damages.
If this applies to you you may still be able to claim compensation under the Pneumoconiosis Worker's Compensation Act of 1979. This provides a lump sum alongside the Industrial Industries Disablement Benefit paid by the government.
Support for Claimants with Mesothelioma
There are many asbestos support organizations who can aid you in your fight for compensation and who will guide you through the whole process, as will the Occupational and Environmental Disease Association (OEDA), ph 020 83608490 and the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL)
Costs Involved in Mesothelioma Compensation Claims
It should not cost you a great deal of money to persue a claim for personal injury after contact with asbestos. Most solicitors these days offer free initial interviews and at this interview will tell you whether your case is worth persuing as will as funding options. Some solicitors will even work on a no win/no fee basis. if this is the case for you then you will probably have to pay a one off charge which will be repaid to you if your claim is successful. This charge is an insurance cost which protects you against having to pay the other sides costs if you lose your claim or if the case is dropped.
You may even discover that you won't have any costs if you have trade union membership or hold legal expenses insurance cover.
Compensation can also be claimed by relatives of someone who has died from mesothelioma. Therefore, if you are thinking of taking a claim against a company for exposing your family member to asbestos causing mesothelioma then you may be compensated for the deceased person's pain, suffering and any financial loss incurred as a result of their illness.
If you need to find a reputable solicitor to help you start proceedings you can find a list of reputable and experienced solicitors through The Law Society or through your trade union representatives.
Mesothelioma Compensation Claims- Other Financial Help and Benefits
If you are suffering from mesothelioma and are unable to work you are entitled to claim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for up to 28 weeks from your employer.
If after 28 weeks you are still not fit to work you may be entitled to Incapacity Benefit. Your local benefits adviser will be able to talk you through the various levels of Incapacity Benefit available and help you fill out the appropriate forms.
For people who are self-employed, so long as you have paid your proper National Insurance contributions, then you are entitled to the same benefits as anyone who has worked for an employer.
If you are unemployed and unable to work you will be unable to claim Job Seeker's Allowance but you may still be entitled to a lower rate of Incapacity Benefit.
Those who don't qualify for Incapacity Benefit may still be able to claim Income Support so speak to your local benefits adviser to find out which benefits you can get.
It is important you get a medical certificate from your doctor if you are too ill to work. This will cover the period that you are ill and if you are admitted to hospital remember to ask for a certificate to cover the time you were there.
In order to make any benefit claims you will possibly have to take a medical test to show you are unfit for work.
If you are under 65 you may be able to claim Disability Living Allowance or Attendance Allowance if you are over 65. Your local Social Security Office will be able to provide the forms you need to make the claims.
For people suffering from conditions such as mesothelioma, there is a fast-track system in place. However, in order to qualify, you need to ask your doctor or a specialist nurse to complete a form for either benefit. Again your local Benefits Adviser will be able to inform you as to what you can claim for and how to get the appropriate forms.
In addition to the above benefits you may also be entitled to tax credits such as Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit, from the Inland Revenue.Your social worker, Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB), the Department for Work and Pensions or the Tax Credits Helpline (0845 300 3900) can all provide you with further information.
Mesothelioma Compensation Claims - Information on Benefits and Financial Help
Two booklets are available from the Benefits Agency (IB1 and SD1) which outline the benefits you may be able to claim if you are suffering from mesothelioma. Copies are also available from your local Social Security Office and the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB). Information is also available from the Benefit Enquiry Line on 0800 882 200 or the Department for Work and Pensions website at www.dwp.gov.uk
Your social worker can also advise you about benefits and grants you may be entitled to. Grants are available for people suffering from cancer from Macmillan Cancer Support and they also have a financial advice helpline. Help With The Cost of Cancer is a booklet published by Macmillan Cancer Support and is worth having a look at.
A Guide to Grants for Individuals in Need, also published by Macmillan Cancer Support, lists trusts and organizations that offer financial support.
Mesothelioma Compensation Claims - Direct Payments
If you are suffering from mesothelioma your local authority may agree to make payments directly to you if you need access to social services. This allows you to organize the particular services you require for yourself instead of local social services organizing and paying for them.
Information is available from your local social security office or from the Department of Health.
Mesothelioma Compensation Claims and Work Issues
If you are suffering from mesothelioma you should speak to your employer if you need to take time off work for mesothelioma treatments and recuperation. In some cases you may be able to return to work and either work fewer hours or jobshare.
If you don't feel that returning to employment is an option then you may be able to take early retirement.
Mesothelioma Compensation Claims and Coroner's Inquest
Should your mesothelioma prove terminal the doctor who signs your death certificate must inform a coroner. The coroner will then decide whether a post-mortem examination is required and an inquest will be held. Your death certificate will not be released to your family until after the inquest has taken place.
If you have decided you want to make a claim for compensation but you don't live long enough to do so, you should either ask your family or someone responsible to organize for legal representation to be present at your inquest.
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