Following the passing of the Mesothelioma Bill earlier this year, sufferers of the fatal incurable cancer who have been unsuccessful in either tracing their former employer or their insurers could be eligible from July onwards to apply for the Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme (DMPS), a further way of obtaining Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB).

The ‘2008’ Scheme

Currently, one way of making a mesothelioma claim for Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit is under the 2008 scheme, which, if successful, awards a one-off payment of between £13,295 to £85,580 based on the age of the victim when the disease was diagnosed. Eligibility to claim under the 2008 scheme is open to those who:

• Are not entitled to a payment under the 1979 Pneumoconiosis Act.
• Have not been given a payment from an employer, a civil claim or elsewhere.
• Are not entitled to compensation from a Ministry of Defence scheme.

Exposure to asbestos must have happened within the UK, and includes a number of other criteria to be met, by which exposure to asbestos occurred, such as:

• ‘Secondary exposure’ from a relative – e.g. by handling or washing contaminated work-clothes or overalls.
• ‘Environmental exposure’ – e.g. by living near a factory which used or uses asbestos fibres.
• ‘Unspecified exposure’ within the UK.

A claim must be made within 12 months of a confirmed diagnosis or if the dependant of a victim, within 12 months of their passing.

The Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme (DMPS) – 2014

The introduction of DMPS allows an opportunity for those mesothelioma suffers to make a claim but who have been unable to track down an employer and / or their insurer of the workplace where the victim believes they were exposed to asbestos, and which eventually led to the contracting of mesothelioma disease.

Also, in a number of instances, a victims can pass away before a long running dispute with former employers / and or insurers is resolved over whether an insurance policy was in place at the time of the original exposure to asbestos. A common trait of mesothelioma is a gestation period of between 15 to 50 years from initial exposure to confirmed diagnosis before asbestosis symptoms appear, by which time the cancer is at an advanced stage and victims may only have a life expectancy of between 3 – 4 months to one year.

Who is eligible to claim?

Although victims who suffer with other asbestosis conditions are not eligible to claim, it is estimated that around 3,500 previously excluded victims will now be able to apply. The aim is to provide a more prompt resolution and payment of their claim for benefit but all of the following stringent rules must apply for a victim to be eligible for payment:

• Confirmed diagnosis of diffuse mesothelioma took place on or after 25 July 2012.
• Mesothelioma was caused by exposure to asbestos when working in the UK.
• The employer or their insurers of the workplace where exposure took place are unable to be traced.
• A prior civil claim has not been made against any employer or insurer, and damages or a specified payment for  mesothelioma have not been previously received and are not currently eligible for a specified payment.

A claim for DMPS can be made by a dependant and if a victim has previously claimed from the 2008 scheme or under the 1979 Pneumoconiosis Act. A payment received from the 2008 scheme or the Pneumoconiosis Act will be deducted from the amount awarded from DMPS. In addition, a claim from the 2008 scheme can still be made even if the DMPS claim is unsuccessful.

A fully completed application should be assessed within two weeks, and if successful, a further 6 weeks to process the claim from the date of submitting a completed application to receiving a scheme payment.

It should be noted that the final payment tariff is awaiting Parliamentary approval, but the tariff  will be available when payments begin be made from July 2014.