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Insurers must pay asbestos compensation

A Merseyside lawyer has welcomed a Supreme Court ruling holding insurers responsible for compensating workers made ill through asbestos exposure.

Claire Banks, Equity Partner and Director of the Contentious Division at Maxwell Hodge Solicitors, says the government must now do more to ensure compensation for those who cannot trace the insurance companies.

She says: “For years, the insurance industry has been trying to get out of paying those sick and dying due to exposure to asbestos what is rightfully theirs.

“Now, after six years of wrangling, the Supreme Court has finally confirmed what we have known all along -- that the insurer at the time the worker was exposed should be the one to pay.”

But tracking down the insurance company responsible may still prove problematic for some, with no provision yet in place to assist those who cannot trace the company if they are no longer trading or documents have been lost or destroyed.

Claire adds: “Who compensates the people affected in cases like this? Many receive nothing. Many are suffering painful diabilitating illnesses, others are dying. They and their families are left to manage alone.

“What people must realise is that those workers have effectively subsidised the insurance companies who have taken the premiums but are not paying out.”

It is thought thousands of people will now be able to claim for compensation for asbestos-related illnesses including mesothelioma, the most prevalant work-related disease in the UK. It is a major health problem in Merseyside and the North West because of the area’s industrial past.

Claire says: “The previous government agreed that a fund of last resort would be set up to compensate those people. This has still not been done. In the meantime many die waiting.”

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