5 December 2011
A Court of Appeal ruling in October 2010 will be considered in the Supreme Court this week which is likely to be of great significance for people suffering from the devastating and fatal asbestos-related cancer, mesothelioma
, and their families.
They are hoping for clarification following the 2010 CA ruling
which left sufferers of mesothelioma facing confusion and uncertainty over who can be compensated. In the “Employers’ Liability Trigger Litigation” in 2008 the High Court confirmed the law, which has stood for decades, that an insurance policy bought by an employer at the time somebody was employed had to pay out on claims against the company. Insurers sought to overturn that ruling in the Court of Appeal to say the relevant policy which has to pay the victim is the one in place at the “time of injury”.
The 2010 ruling meant that only some sufferers could recover damages for the injuries they sustained at work decades ago.
This week’s proceedings will centre on the question of when liability is "triggered" - either at the time of exposure to asbestos or at the onset of symptoms. The effect of relying on insurance at the “time of injury” is devastating for asbestos victims as mesothelioma often does not develop until decades after the exposure to asbestos. Often the disease manifests after the employer has gone out of business, meaning there is no insurance in place at the “time of injury”.
The Court of Appeal ruling left many grey areas. The judgment drew a distinction between specific words used in historic insurance policies such as “injury sustained” or “disease contracted” to distinguish between different policies and argue that some have to pay out and some do not. This left a mass of uncertainty for asbestos victims who worked for companies decades ago and cannot be expected to know the specific wording used in an insurance policy.
Specialist asbestos and mesothelioma claims lawyer, Daniel Easton, said:
“This judgment could affect hundreds, if not thousands, of mesothelioma victims and the fact these cases are being fought at all is poor reflection on the insurance industry. There is no question that when companies purchased employers liability insurance in the 60's and 70's they did so with the sole purpose of protecting their employees. Those same employees now risk losing out to a cynical industry which appears to have little regard for asbestos victims.
There has been a huge amount of uncertainty for our clients with this lengthy litigation spanning over three years. During that time, many mesothelioma victims will have died not knowing whether their families will be financially supported in the long term. The legal fees spent on this case could have compensated victims many times over. The Supreme Court simply must see sense and make a clear positive ruling to put an end to this farcical saga.”
Leigh Day: asbestos and mesothelioma lawyers
Leigh Day has a team of specialist mesothelioma claims lawyers who have successfully obtained millions of pounds in compensation for people who have contracted mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos in the workplace. We only represent claimants and do not act for insurance companies. Daniel Easton, partner and head of the industrial diseases team, has been recognised as a leader in the areas of asbestos compensation claims by both major legal directories. Chambers guide to the legal profession recently described him as being considered ‘outstandingly knowledgeable’ by the Bar, and ‘compassionate’ and ‘responsive’ by clients.
If you would like to talk to one of our lawyers about a possible claim for compensation relating to asbestos, asbestosis, pleural plaques or mesothelioma please contact us on 020 7650 1200 for a free initial consultation.
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