Asbestos World Watch 30 Dec 2008

In WHYALLA, SOUTH AUSTRALIA, AUSTRALIA, on November 13, 2008, the new office of the Whyalla Asbestos Victims group was opened in ABC Village. Surrounded by much fanfare, the opening of the new office was ushered in by a speech from the Deputy Mayor, Eddie Hughes, and an appearance by Councillor Merton Hodge. The future looks bright for the new location designed to remain at its current location for at least the next three years. As of the opening, the Whayalla Asbestos Victims group had been serving over 100 victims of asbestos in the area, but now with a more centralized permanent structure to invite people in, the group hopes to aid more silent sufferers around Whyalla. The purpose of the group is to give asbestos sufferers a chance to meet with others and to get moral support for their fight against the asbestos disease ravaging their body and soul. In LONDON, a High Court decision ruled that insurers had to pay from the time of asbestos exposure and not from the time of the diagnosis. This resulted in millions of pounds being owed by insurers to thousands of Britons who have asbestos related diseases.

The difference in time between exposure and the manifestation of symptoms of an asbestos related disease can be decades, but once a diagnosis is made, the patient’s life expectancy drops to between one and two years, with the average sufferer living just 14 months after diagnosis. The November 2008 High Court ruling overturns a Court of Appeals decision in 2006 which called for insurers to begin paying after a diagnosis was made rather than when the person was exposed. This decision was made on the grounds that their coverage plans from 40 years in the past was no longer in effect. Prior to the Court of Appeals case in 2006, the insurers had always paid from the time of exposure onward. This High Court ruling returns the insurers’ liability to what it had been before the Court of Appeals case in 2006, and now thousands of victims of asbestos and their families can claim the insurance money they are due without the long process through the courts they have had to take between 2006 and 2008.