Victims of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases have won an important High Court victory against insurers.
In years past, insurers would pay compensation for mesothelioma victims on the presumption that their liability arose at the time when a worker was actually exposed to asbestos. However, two years ago, the Court of Appeal ruled that the victims’ liability occurred when the disease actually developed – which can take 40 years or more rather than at the time of exposure. As a result, insurers stopped paying on a time of exposure basis and argued they were not liable because the risk cover they provided 40 years ago was no longer in force.
This summer a 9 week legal battle ensued where Colin Wynter QC, argued for three families battling insurers to recover compensation for asbestos exposure. “It cannot be right to say that a man injured today is not actually injured until tomorrow. said Wynter. Wynter also represented employers who would face the threat of compensation claims against them for asbestos exposure if their insurers did not apply compensation at the time of exposure.
The judge ruled on six test cases saying, that the workers can make claims against their employers’ historic insurers despite the fact that there is no proof of when the life threatening tumors develop. He said: For the purposes of these policies, injury is sustained when it is caused and disease is contracted when it is caused, and the policies fall to be so construed.