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What is mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a devastating cancer that affects the lining of the lungs and abdomen, typically caused by long-term exposure to asbestos.

Widely used across Australia for insulation, construction materials and roofing, asbestos was banned in 2003 due to its harmful effects. However, this came too late for many who lived and worked around asbestos, as mesothelioma can develop decades after exposure.

If you’re suffering from asbestos-related mesothelioma, a compensation claim can provide essential financial support for you and your family. You could receive a substantial lump sum settlement to cover your lost income, medical bills and other expenses.

What are the symptoms of mesothelioma?

Common symptoms of mesothelioma include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest or abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Excessive sweating (particularly at night)
  • Sudden unexplained weight loss
  • Loss of energy
  • Painful coughing
  • Unusual lumps under your chest or abdomen skin

It’s crucial to see a specialist doctor immediately if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms or have been exposed to asbestos. Even if the exposure was decades ago, you’re still at risk of developing mesothelioma.

Can I make a compensation claim for mesothelioma?

Yes, if you’ve developed mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure, you may be eligible for compensation.

There are two main types of claims you can pursue: a ‘statutory claim’ or a ‘common law damages claim’.

Below, we’ll provide an overview of both. We’ll also discuss ‘dependency claims’, which allow the dependents of a mesothelioma patient to seek compensation after their passing.

Statutory compensation claims

If you were exposed to asbestos at work, you may have a statutory compensation claim.

Each state in Australia has its own compensation scheme for asbestos-related diseases, including mesothelioma. In states like Victoria and Queensland, you can typically make a mesothelioma claim through the regular workers compensation scheme. However, in states such as NSW, you’ll need to go through a dedicated dust diseases body.

The only exception is if you were working for the commonwealth or one of a few private companies (such as Telstra or Australia Post) at the time of your exposure. In such cases, you would likely have a claim under the Comcare scheme instead.

How much compensation can I get?

While most injured workers receive weekly payments, those with mesothelioma may be eligible for a lump sum settlement instead.

The exact amount depends on factors like your:

  • Age
  • Life expectancy
  • Degree of impairment

It’s important to note that your compensation may be capped by your state’s ‘maximum compensation’ limit, which is the highest amount you can be awarded for a single mesothelioma claim. This limit varies between states and is adjusted annually to account for inflation.

For instance, in Queensland, the current maximum compensation limit is $380,580. While in Tasmania, it stands at $362,077.

Common law damages claims

While statutory claims only provide basic compensation, common law damages claims can offer significant lump sum payouts for those affected by mesothelioma.

Your eligibility depends on the circumstances of your case and the state where you were exposed.

StateEligibility
NSW, VIC, QLD, WAYou can claim common law damages in addition to your statutory compensation claim. Depending on your state, you may need to apply to the court or fulfil other criteria before starting your claim.
TASNo common law damages available unless the exposure occurred outside Tasmania or not as a result of employment.
ComcareYou must choose between a common law damages or a statutory compensation claim.

How to make a common law damages claim

To make a successful mesothelioma claim, you will generally need to meet four criteria:

  1. Diagnosis: You must be diagnosed with mesothelioma by a medical professional.
  2. Asbestos Exposure: You need a history of exposure to asbestos at work, home, or another location.
  3. Traceable Source: You must trace your asbestos exposure to specific employers or manufacturers.
  4. Causation: Your mesothelioma must be substantially caused by that asbestos exposure.

If you’re in WA, you must also meet a minimum percentage of impairment before claiming.

How much compensation can I get?

You’ll receive a lump sum payout to cover:

  • Pain and suffering (the negative impact of the injury on your life).
  • Professional care costs (both past and future).
  • Support from loved ones (both past and future).
  • Loss of capacity to care for a child or other dependent.
  • Lost income and superannuation (both past and future).
  • Hospital fees, treatment costs and other out of pocket expenses (both past and future).

Dependency claims

Many states allow ‘dependency claims’, meaning that after a person passes away from mesothelioma, their financial dependents may be entitled to compensation.

While the exact rules vary between states, you usually need to prove two facts:

  1. The deceased would still be entitled to compensation if they were alive, and
  2. You meet your state’s definition of a ‘dependent’, such as a spouse or child.

A successful claim can result in:

  • A lump sum death payment
  • Weekly payments for dependent children
  • Coverage for funeral expenses

Do time limits apply to my claim?

Generally speaking, no time limits apply to mesothelioma claims in NSW, Queensland, Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the ACT. Likewise, time limits do not usually apply to Comcare mesothelioma claims.

However, in South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia, you must file your claim within three years of discovering your mesothelioma.

If you’re outside this time limit, there are still options available — just speak to a lawyer immediately. Our team have extensive experience handling mesothelioma claims in all states and can apply for an extension on your behalf. Over the years, we have successfully resolved hundreds of delayed claims.

How long will my claim take?

The length of your claim hinges on several factors, including when your exposure happened and whether multiple parties are responsible.

Due to mesothelioma’s aggressive nature, most states have instituted special procedures to expedite claims, with resolutions often occurring within 2 – 6 months.

For instance, in NSW, all mesothelioma claims adhere to an accelerated timetable within the Dust Diseases Tribunal.

If you’re gravely ill, you can apply for ‘urgent case management’, meaning your claim will be removed from the usual tribunal procedures and heard as quickly as possible.

How do I start my compensation claim?

Starting your mesothelioma claim may feel overwhelming, but these three steps will get you on the path to compensation:

  1. Get a formal diagnosis: if you haven’t seen a doctor about your condition, it’s crucial to get a formal diagnosis before filing a claim. Not only will a doctor ensure you get the treatment you need, but medical reports are also essential evidence for your claim.
  2. Gather evidence: strong evidence is vital for mesothelioma claims. Collect medical reports, witness statements, and expert testimonies to trace the source of the exposure and demonstrate the impact of the injury on your life.
  3. File your claim: if you’re making a statutory compensation claim, you’ll need to file your claim with the relevant scheme:
NSWDust Diseases Care
ACTDefault Insurance Fund
NTNT WorkSafe
QLDWorkCover Queensland
SAReturnToWorkSA
TASWorkSafe Tasmania
VICWorkSafe Victoria
WAWorkCover WA
CommonwealthComcare

If you’re considering a common law damages claim, we advise consulting a lawyer first. In a free consultation, we’ll outline your options and entitlements. Should you choose to proceed with your claim, you’re covered by our genuine No Win No Fee guarantee.

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How we can help you

Our specialist lawyers have over 25 years’ experience helping Australians win mesothelioma and asbestos-related claims. We understand the unique requirements for mesothelioma claims in each state and will use this knowledge to expedite your case, so you receive your compensation faster.

Throughout the claims process, you’ll have access to our national network of medical and liability experts. Strong evidence is essential to prove asbestos exposure and identify all responsible parties. Without this evidence, you may not receive the compensation you deserve.

Best of all, your claim is covered by our No Win No Fee guarantee, so there’s nothing to pay until we win your case. If we’re unsuccessful, you will never receive a bill from us.

Call today for free advice on your mesothelioma claim. Our lawyers are always on standby to answer your questions.

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