UK Asbestos Laws Suffering From Loophole that Causes Compensation Denials

A recent report of out of the United Kingdom has found that a loophole in the asbestos laws have led to thousands of workers sickened by asbestos exposure being denied financial compensation by former employers.

One example in the story, which was published by the BBC, outlined the situation of Bob Charman, a 64-year-old former construction worker who was diagnosed with mesothelioma last year.

“We would saw [asbestos] and file it and the dust would fly around… you’d put a hanky round your face like a bandit,” Charman said of his memories being exposed to asbestos on the job. “We didn’t have masks and respirators.”

However, when Charman sought compensation from his employer, he was not able to properly track down and identify the insurance company that the company had coverage with at the time of his employment. As a result, he was not allowed to qualify for any type of insurance compensation.

Tracking down the records needed to prove an insurance company’s association with an employer for compensation case can be difficult at times. Many older employees have lost track of their records in the decades since they worked with an employer, while many companies have also misplaced many of their older records as the result of moves or reorganizations.

The problem was addressed somewhat in 1999 when employees in the UK were required to retain all of their records for 60 years, essentially guaranteeing they would have a record of their employer’s insurer should they ever need to reference it. However, because mesothelioma can develop decades after being exposed to asbestos, many claimants had moved to a new employer by the time the law went into effect.

In the last year the UK government has attempted to have insurance companies establish “funds of last resort” individuals who are not able to trace their claims back to a company’s original insurer, the insurance industry argued that doing so would raise rates and hurt current companies they are currently serving. No UK insurer has yet established it own “fund of last resort,” according to the BBC.

With no adjustment to the technicality, the BBC also reported that only 45 percent of the 15,000 inquiries by claimants looking to successfully locate the proper insurance company was successful in 2009. In such cases, claimants can apply for government funded compensation instead, but the money they often receive noticeably less money than an insurance company would be able to provide.

For those who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer that can be linked to asbestos exposure caused by a product or former employer, financial compensation may be a possibility. To avoid getting caught up in any misunderstandings or loopholes that could deny you the money you deserve, contact an experienced mesothelioma attorney to learn more about your rights.