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Asbestos Victims Are Dying Before They Can Receive Their Compensation

People living in Australia, suffering from mesothelioma, a disease caused by asbestos poisoning are passing away before their claims for compensation are being heard. One Sydney Judge believes this is due to a cost saving measure which was implemented in 2005.
The judge has spoken out and urged the New South Wales government to make rapid changes to the way the cases are handled in order to prevent further anguish to those victims who are already sick. If changes are not made to the rules more people will either become too sick to be able to give full evidence or they will die.
The new system was introduced because of the huge legal costs which were amounting due to handling the number of asbestos related cases. In addition the funds for compensation were around $1.5 billion dollars less than what was needed. In order to cut down legal fees and reduce costs the government introduced a claims timetable and made mediation the way in which the claims were to be handled and solved. A review of how well this new system was working showed that legal costs had been reduced for both the defendant and the plaintiff which was considered to be positive. However the system failed by the amount of time it took to actually solve the cases, meaning that some victims never saw the money that they were entitled to and which could have enriched they lives during the final period.
Now cases can be referred to a judge if it looks like the victim is likely to pass away before the case is resolved according to the timetable. However this process is also not working quickly enough with some victims applying under this scheme dying only a couple of weeks before they are removed from the timetabled process. The judge, in speaking out against this process said that there is a serious problem if victims are only reviewed within the final few weeks of their lives. In these cases the victim is often in extremely poor health and deteriorating fast, making it very unlikely that their case will be solved within their life time. There have been calls to review the process to see if there is any way in which it can be sped up to avoid these types of situations. Many have also commented that the previous system used before the new timetabled version was put into place was more effective at solving the cases quickly. However due to the high legal costs to the defendant through the old system, it may not be financially viable to return to it.
Overall the message is clear. Victims in these cases need to have their claims for compensation resolved before they die. It is important that this happens to ensure not only the financial well being of the victims in the last stages of their life but also the financial position of their families.
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