Socialist Worker

Court victory for asbestos victims

Issue No. 2129

Asbestos cancer victims and their families have won an important test case over compensation for their illness.

Six cases were brought against insurance firms that were disputing details of their liability for asbestos-related claims.

Employers take out policies to insure them against the cost of legal action by staff injured at work. But insurance firms had questioned which policy should be paid out—the time of the asbestos exposure, or the time the worker fell ill.

The insurance firms had argued that the policy in place at the time the cancer develops was the one that a compensation claim should be brought against, rather than the policy in place when the worker was first employed by the firm.

They did this because most current insurance schemes have exemptions for asbestos.

This leaves the victim with only the employer to pursue for compensation – but as the disease takes so long to develop, many firms have ceased to exist.

Merseyside gas worker Charles O’Farrell died in 2003 from asbestos-related cancer.

His daughter, Maureen Edwards, said, “My dad would have been proud that we have finally achieved justice for him.

“But he would have been disgusted by the lengths the insurers went to to get out of paying.”


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Tue 25 Nov 2008, 18:29 GMT
Issue No. 2129
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