People diagnosed with mesothelioma will likely have rights to make a claim at common law and, if exposed to asbestos while employed in NSW, also make a statutory claim for compensation with the Dust Diseases Authority.
Over the last 12 months new first and second line treatments have shown promise for people with mesothelioma. These treatments are however expensive and, for most people, cost prohibitive. If your claim is accepted by the Dust Diseases Authority (DDA) then the DDA will pay the cost of the treatments. If you cannot claim from the DDA you will be able to seek the cost of treatment in common law proceedings.
Common law proceedings are a claim in court against your former employer, an occupier of a building in which you were exposed to asbestos or a manufacturer of asbestos products. In New South Wales, common law claims are brought in a specialist Court, the Dust Diseases Tribunal of New South Wales. This Court was established in 1989 and has specialist judges and rules of evidence to allow claims to run quickly. Since 2005 claims in the Dust Diseases Tribunal have been subject to the Claims Resolution Procedure which requires compulsory mediation before a matter can come before the court. Most cases settle at mediation without ever reaching court. Claims in the Dust Diseases Tribunal are run on an expedited basis and normally taking three to six months to complete.
A person suffering from mesothelioma who is not working at the time of their diagnosis will generally receive damages in the range of $350,000.00 – $400,000.00 after costs plus the cost of future medical expenses if they are not covered by the DDA. Medical expenses will normally be in the range of $50,000.00 – $150,000.00. Claims can be made for new treatments such as Avastin and Keytruda (immunotherapy). A Court will award costs of reasonable medical expenses. If evidence is put before the court that such treatment has been prescribed or is likely to be prescribed by your treating oncologist, then this test would be satisfied.
It is important that a claim is filed in your lifetime. If you die before your claim is finalised, then your estate can continue your claim at full value provided proceedings were commenced in your lifetime.
In addition to a claim at common law if you were exposed to asbestos while a worker in New South Wales (i.e. not self-employed or a Commonwealth worker) then you will also be entitled to bring a claim with the DDA. The DDA is a statutory authority that provides weekly compensation as well as paying all medical, hospital, pharmaceutical, nursing care and other expenses because of your condition of mesothelioma. An application to the DDA is an administrative process and requires you to complete an application form. You will then be contacted by an industrial history officer who will take a statement in relation to your exposure to asbestos. Your industrial history statement along with your medical records will be placed before a Medical Assessment Panel who will assess your claim.
Segelov Taylor has expertise in bringing claims on behalf of persons suffering from mesothelioma. Both Tanya Segelov and David Taylor have acted for hundreds of sufferers of mesothelioma including the late asbestos campaigner Bernie Banton. If you have any questions in relation to compensation for mesothelioma, please email or call our office on 02 8880 0500. We will come and see you at your home or in hospital and provide advice to you. We act on a ‘no win no fee’ basis for all mesothelioma claims.