Mesothelioma is the most well known of the diseases caused by asbestos.

Unlike other asbestos diseases, mesothelioma can be caused by very small exposures to asbestos dust.  It generally takes 20-30 years after the exposure to asbestos to develop mesothelioma.

There are about 700 cases of mesothelioma diagnosed annually in Australia.  Almost all people who contract mesothelioma are able to obtain compensation for their condition.

What is Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a cancer of the mesothelial lining, a thin layer of membrane that covers many organs in the human body.

Mesothelioma can occur in a number of different parts of the human body.  By far the most common site is the pleural cavity, the membrane around the lungs.  This is known as pleural mesothelioma.  Less common is peritoneal mesothelioma which occurs in the peritoneum,  the membrane that covers the abdominal organs.

What causes Mesothelioma?

The only known cause of mesothelioma in Australia is inhalation of asbestos fibres.  Mesothelioma generally develops between 20 and 30 years after exposure, although it can be as little as seven years and as long as 50 years.

Up until the mid 1980’s asbestos was used in an extremely wide variety of products. People in many industries (everything from brewers to waterside workers) were routinely exposed to asbestos, often without being aware.

There are several different types of asbestos fibre. Common names for the types of asbestos fibres are blue asbestos, brown asbestos and white asbestos. While blue and brown asbestos are more likely to cause mesothelioma, any form of asbestos can cause the disease.

There is no known level of exposure to asbestos at which there is no risk of developing mesothelioma.  However, the greater the exposure the greater the risk.

Common Law Claims for Compensation

If you have mesothelioma, your primary claim for compensation in a court is known as a common law claim for damages.

A common law claim may be brought against your former employer, or against a manufacturers of the asbestos products, such as James Hardie or Wunderlich, you were exposed to. If your former employer no longer exists,  their workers’ compensation insurer  will be liable.  Claims can also be brought against others who owed you a duty of care, such as the occupier or a property in which you were exposed.

You do not need to sue in relation to all of your exposure to asbestos as long as the exposure you sue on is not trivial. You are entitled to damages, even if part of your exposure occurred overseas. We will sit with you at your home, in hospital or at our offices and take a detailed history in relation to your work and exposure to asbestos to determine who you should sue.

The court will do everything possible to finish your mesothelioma claim in your lifetime. However, if you do die before your claim is finalised then (provided the claim was filed in court in your lifetime) your estate can continue your claim.

How much are common law claims worth?

If you are successful in your claim you will be awarded lump sum payout.  The lump sum is comprised of various “heads of damage”.  Heads of damage for which people with mesothelioma are typically compensated include:

  • damages for pain and suffering and loss of expectation of life;
  • an amount for the commercial cost of care provided by your friends and family,
  • damages for ‘out of pocket expenses’ – medical and other expenses that you incur as a result of the disease (this head may not be payable if these expenses are paid by the Dust Diseases Authority).
  • depending on your circumstances, an amount for the commercial cost of replacing services you provided to a dependant such as young children or a sick or elderly child, spouse or parent.
  • loss of earnings and superannuation if the disease stopped you working.

Most common law mesothelioma claims resolve for between $350,000 and $500,000 clear in your hand (after all costs and disbursements are paid) plus any amounts for medical expenses, economic loss and replacement services.

How long do claims take?

A common law claim for a person suffering from mesothelioma usually takes between 3 to 6 months to finalise. Claims can run quicker if necessary and have on occasions been completed in as little as a few days.  All courts that deal with mesothelioma claims have special processes and procedures that promote early settlement, and the quick resolution of mesothelioma matters.

In mesothelioma claims, we act on a full no win no fee basis which means we will not be paid unless you win your claim. More information about our fees is set out on our fee policy page.

Other Forms of Compensation for Mesothelioma

Depending on how and where you were exposed to asbestos, you may be entitled to compensation in addition to a common law claim.  In some states, the rights to common law compensation has been limited or replaced with a statutory scheme.

If you were exposed in more than one State, you are entitled to obtain compensation in the most beneficial way possible.

Segelov Taylor can ensure you make the correct application, and maximise the compensation paid.

The main other forms for compensation are set out below.

Dust Diseases Authority

The Dust Diseases Authority (the DDA) is a NSW government body that provides compensation if you  develop a dust disease, including mesothelioma, as a consequence of employment in NSW.  Payments by the DDA are in addition to amounts recoverable under a common law claim for compensation.  The DDA will pay you (and after your death, any surviving dependant) a pension, and will cover all medical and other reasonable expenses.  They also pay any dependant a lump sum on death as well as pay your estate funeral expenses of up to $15,000.00.

Workcover Queensland

Workcover Queensland is a Queensland government body that provides compensation if you  develop a dust disease, including mesothelioma, as a consequence of employment in Queensland.  Where mesothelioma arises from exposure to asbestos in employment in Queensland, such an application is required before a  a common law claim for compensation can be made.  Workcover Queensland makes payment on a scale set by law.  The amount payable reduces as the claimant becomes older.

Worksafe Tasmania

Worksafe Tasmania  is a Tasmanian government body that provides compensation if you  develop a dust disease, including mesothelioma, as a consequence of employment in Tasmania.  Where mesothelioma arises from exposure to asbestos in employment in Tasmania, no common law claim for compensation can be made and the only compensation is that paid by Worksafe.   It is important to note that if you have exposure while employed in a different state as well as Tasmania, or have exposure not as a result of employment (such as home renovation) a Common Law claim may be available in addition to the Worksafe amount.

Comcare / Department of Veteran’s Affairs

If you were exposed to asbestos as a Commonwealth employee, or as a member of the armed services you can make an application for compensation through Comcare or the Department of Veteran’s Affairs.  This compensation is sought as an alternative to a common law claim, and means that a common law claim cannot be pursued.  Generally the amount paid by Comcare or the Department of Veteran’s Affair’s is less than amount that would be obtained in a common law claim.

It is important to obtain legal advice before making the election between Comcare/DVA and a common law claim.

If you make a common law claim a dependant may be able to make a “Dependency Claim” on Comcare/DVA after your death.

Accident Compensation Act – New Zealand

If your only exposure to asbestos was in New Zealand, the only compensation available is under the Accident Compensation Act which abolished common law claims for New Zealand exposures.  However a common law claim will still be available to New Zealanders (and others) who were exposed to asbestos in Australia even if they now live in New Zealand, or were also exposed in New Zealand.

Our expertise

Segelov Taylor is a specialist firm in acting for people with mesothelioma.

Our principal, Tanya Segelov, has more than 25 years experience in mesothelioma claims and is responsible for many of the developments in the law around Australia. We act for people with mesothelioma is all states of Australia, as well as people overseas who were exposed to asbestos in Australia.

In mesothelioma claims, we act on a full no win no fee basis which means we will not be paid unless you win your claim. More information about our fees is set out on our fee policy page.

Information videos

Free Case Assessment

We offer a free initial case assessment in all dust diseases matters.

We will obtain preliminary information from you and advise you whether we believe you are likely to have a claim for compensation.  We will also provide some indicative advice as to the likely value of any claim, and our costs in the event you were to instruct us.

The case assessment may be by phone, via video conference (such as Zoom or Teams) or in person. There is no cost associated with this case assessment, nor any obligation to instruct us in your matter.

To arrange your free case assessment please complete the form below or contact us by phone or email.

Case Assessment form

Contact us

We are able to be contacted by phone, email, web chat or video conferencing.  We have offices in Melbourne and Sydney, and regularly see clients who are to unwell to travel in their homes or hospital (although this is limited at present due to Covid-19).  We act for people with asbestos diseases in every State in Australia as well people living overseas.

Common Questions

Compensation Information Kit

Segelov Taylor Lawyers provides an  information kit about compensation options for people with mesothelioma.

The kit contains information about the processes for obtaining compensation, likely costs and the amount of compensation available.  As the law chnages depending on which state a person was exposed to asbestos in, information about every state is provided.   The kit also provides information about how to work out where a person may have been exposed to asbestos.

We can send the kit by mail or email.  If you have any questions about the kit please contact us on 1800 430 855.

There is no cost for requesting the kit.  All details provided will remain confidential.

Please complete the form  to request a Mesothelioma Compensation Information Kit, delivered via email or post.