Victims of deadly disease face losses

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Hundreds of victims of asbestos-related diseases could miss out on the compensation they deserve under Government proposals, if a Sheffield lawyer’s fears prove true.

The Ministry of Justice says its planned reforms would result in mesothelioma victims and their families being able to settle claims more quickly with the insurers of employers responsible for exposing them to asbestos.

However, David Cass, from the Sheffield office of specialist law firm John Pickering & Partners believes hundreds of sufferers will be denied true access to justice.

“Although some proposals may appear superficially in favour of claimants, for many more victims and their families, the changes will have the opposite effect,” says Mr Cass.

“The Government is trying to over-simplify yet another area of law to the advantage of nobody but the insurance industry which pays out in the vast majority of these cases.

“Unfortunately, most asbestos disease cases are not simple and the people making the claims are going to suffer even more.

“Many people will go under-compensated.”

More than 2,000 people die each year in England and Wales from the asbestos related lung cancer, mesothelioma.

Mr Cass says the Government’s proposals are designed to help people with simple, uncontested claims, which tend to be settled quite quickly already under the present system, which also allows for a fast track court procedure.

The Government’s proposals allow claimants to seek an out of court settlement without using a solicitor, however, Mr Cass warns people may be tempted to accept the first figure offered, rather than fighting for the amount they actually deserve.