A legal claim brought by the husband of former prison worker, Sally Knauer, resulted in a Supreme Court judgment following his wife’s death that could change future mesothelioma compensation claims for widowed spouses.
Mrs Knauer, 46, tragically passed away due to the asbestos-related illness in August 2009. During her employment at the Ministry of Justice where she worked as an administrative assistant at HM Prison Guys Marsh, she contracted mesothelioma.
Mrs Knauer was exposed to asbestos at the prison in Shaftesbury. The Ministry of Justice admitted liability for Mrs Knauer’s death in December 2013. Mr Knauer brought an asbestos compensation claim and in 2014 a High Court ruled that damages of £647,840 would be paid from the date of Mrs Knauer’s death.
The judge stated he was bound to calculate from the date of death following the approach adopted by the House of Lords in the cases of Cookson v Knowles (1979) and Graham v Dodds (1983).
What Would This Mean?
Mrs Knauer’s family would have received less compensation due to the calculation for damages being back-dated, without providing full compensation for any future financial loss. Mr Knauer appealed this decision based on the wide-ranging implications on other fatal compensation claims potentially costing the insurance industry millions in compensation.
By refusing to settle out of court, Mr Knauer received a further £52,000 in damages.
This judgment means that widows and widowers will not have their compensation reduced because the date for the trial is a long time after the death of their loved one. It will mean fairer compensation payments.
What is Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a tumour most commonly occurring in the lining of the lungs. The tumour can appear anything from ten to sixty years after exposure to asbestos.
According to Cancer Research UK, mesothelioma rates are increasing. It is only diagnosed when physical symptoms start to develop. For more information on the causes and symptoms of Mesothelioma, see Mesothelioma: Ensure You Have That Cold Checked Thoroughly.
Why is it Important to Register Your Exposure to Asbestos Today?
In the event that you are exposed to asbestos it is important that you register this exposure as soon as possible. This way, in the unfortunate event you are diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, a trace to the time, place and circumstances can be established in pursuing a future claim. One of the tragedies of being diagnosed with mesothelioma is that the diagnosis is so long after the person was exposed to asbestos that the victim may not remember.
Patrick Walsh is a personal injury lawyer specialising in industrial disease claims at Slater and Gordon in Manchester.
The Slater and Gordon chest and asbestos disease team have worked with many sufferers and families affected by mesothelioma. For a free consultation call freephone 0800 884 0275 or contact us online and we’ll be happy to help you.