Scottish Pleural Plaques Compensation Bill To Overturn House Of Lords Ruling
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The Scottish government has amended its proposed bill on pleural plaques, a
condition caused by exposure to asbestos, to ensure that all symptomless victims
can claim for damages, including those with asymptomatic asbestosis or pleural
The bill seeks to overturn the House Of Lords' decision in October 2007 that
pleural plaques is not a disease, which left thousands of sufferers ineligible
for compensation. Previously pleural plaques sufferers were able to seek awards
of up to £15,000. This ruling is thought to have saved the insurance industry
around £1.4 billion and has led to sustained pressure from some MPs, campaign
groups and unions, who believe that the workers should be compensated for a
medical condition that was sustained through no fault of their own.
Pleural plaques are areas of fibrosis or scars on the lung tissue on the
inner surface of the ribcage and diaphragm caused by long term to exposure to
asbestos. While the disease itself is usually benign, around one in seven people
affected by pleural plaques will go on to develop mesothelioma, the aggressive
form of lung cancer almost always caused by occupational exposure to asbestos.
Mesothelioma causes thickening of the lining of lungs and will eventually
lead to tumours developing; unfortunately it is untreatable and is always fatal.
The prognosis for those who develop the disease is very poor, with roughly a
two-year life expectancy after diagnosis.
Symptoms may not appear for 20 to 50 years after exposure to asbestos.
Consequently there have been a rising number of mesothelioma claims over the
last few years, as those exposed to asbestos when there was no health and safety
guidance on handling asbestos are now developing the disease. It is thought that
the number of mesthelioma cases will peak in 2020 with over 10,000 dying from
The insurance industry has been shocked by the bill and reacted angrily. If
the bill becomes law, pleural plaques claims could run into millions of pounds
in Scotland alone and could put additional pressure on the English Government to
look again at the House of Lords decision. However, it is the insurance
industry's contention that pleural plaques is a symptomless disease and does not
necessarily lead to asbestos related diseases.
Nick Starling, Director of General Insurance and Health at the ABI, said:
"There is medical agreement, as today's Bill confirms, that pleural plaques are
symptomless, do not impact on a person's health and do not develop into asbestos
related diseases. To compensate for pleural plaques would fly in the face of
accepted medical opinion, the Law Lords ruling and common sense."
Asbestos campaigners welcomed the decision, with Community Safety Minister,
Fergus Ewing commenting, "We should not turn our back on these people. That is
why the Scottish Government has taken urgent steps to overrule the House of
Lords judgement and ensure that people with pleural plaques can continue to
raise an action for damages."
If you or someone you know has mesothelioma, it is important that they seek
the immediate assistance of an experienced claims solicitor so that you can
bring the claim to court as soon as possible and that money is made available
during the lifetime of the injured party.
About the Author
http://www.1stclaims.co.uk is run by a non-practising Personal Injury
Solicitor with over 14 years personal injury claims experience. We deal in a
range of claims, including
personal injury claims and compensation.
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2008-09-07 20:24:15 in Legal Articles