The Government have announced that from April 2016 lump sum compensation will be offered to armed forces veterans diagnosed with asbestos-related cancer.
This means that armed forces veterans diagnosed with mesothelioma caused by asbestos exposure during their military service will, for the first time, be able to claim a lump sum of compensation of £140,000. This one-off payment (or option of regular smaller payments) would be in place of a war pension, which is approximately £31,000 a year. The larger compensation will be available to veterans diagnosed with asbestos related cancer from Wednesday 16 December 2015.
Defence Minister, Mark Lancaster, told the Commons: “Currently the necessary legislative changes will come into force from April 11 2016, however I am keen to look at options to bring this timeframe forward.”
In November 2015, Slater and Gordon practice development leader, Dominic Smith, blogged on the Prime Minister’s pledge to review how armed force veterans are compensated for asbestos-related diseases. Under current laws, the amount of asbestos compensation that armed forces personnel can claim differs from civilians. Some veterans cannot claim at all.
According to research by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, in the next few decades over 2,500 Royal Navy veterans will die from mesothelioma.
Up until 1987 there is a statute that enforces crown immunity; this means that in the past we have regularly been contacted by clients diagnosed with an asbestos related disease but, if their exposure was pre-1987 and whilst serving in HM armed forces, they can’t make a civil claim or a claim for IIDB or the WCA payment. They can currently only claim a war pension, which is paid on a different basis and often incomparable.
The sad thing is that asbestos was used in so many different ways by the military from equipment to housing to fire prevention. I’ve long felt that there was cold comfort in the war pension when the only defendant was HM forces.
I would be delighted if the Government sees fit to rectify this and put those who served in the armed forces on a more equal footing.
Slater and Gordon Lawyers have a specialist team of asbestos compensation solicitors that deal with asbestos claims on a No Win No Fee basis. For a free consultation call freephone 0800 884 0275 or contact us online and we’ll be happy to help you.