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Niece raises awareness of Mesothelioma Payment Scheme

15th January 2015

A happy family man, who enjoyed the pub, motorbikes, football and loved his dog, Reggie, is how Simone Lucas describes her Uncle, who passed away in May of last year, after being diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease.

Terry Lucas, who was a widower with three adult children had lived in Bromley for most of his adult life and chose to move to Eastbourne after his wife, Janice, sadly passed away.

Simone says that her uncle began to complain of pains in his chest approximately four to six months before December 2013. Terry, who was still working at this time, suffered a sudden pain when lifting doors and thought at first he may have pulled a muscle in his chest. When it didn’t get better, he decided to see his doctor and he was sent for an x-ray and blood tests.

A week later Terry was advised by medical staff that he should have further tests. He had a CT scan and needle biopsy, and was diagnosed with mesothelioma, just prior to December 2013. 

Simone comments: “It was a huge shock for the whole family. My Dad and Uncle were extremely close and my parents had been very supportive of Terry when his wife, Janice, passed away.

“Terry had been devastated and moving to Eastbourne marked a new chapter in his life. He had met Linda and was enjoying life again; it felt like he was moving on.

“He was incredibly strong, despite the diagnosis and was willing to fight, so much so he agreed to try a trial drug to see if this would give him more time, but unfortunately his body was not strong enough to cope,” explains Simone.

Simone says that Terry was unable to continue to work and was very concerned as to how he would manage financially.

The family contacted Moore Blatch solicitors to see if there may be help available for Terry and to find out when he had become exposed to asbestos.

Nicky Howe of Moore Blatch, who represented Terry, discovered after investigations that as a qualified carpenter, Terry had become exposed to asbestos during the course of his job. Terry had worked as part of a team on a number of shop conversions and had used asbestos materials regularly, including insulation boards that were used to fire proof doors. Also, Terry would regularly do Artex work on ceilings, which were known to contain asbestos.

“Whilst identifying how Terry had become exposed was relatively straightforward, locating former employers or their insurers can sometimes prove more difficult and in some circumstances the company and insurer may no longer exist,” explains Nicky.

The long awaited Mesothelioma Payment Scheme was finally introduced last year and was put in place specifically to help people where an insurer or employer could not be traced. The new legislation placed a levy on insurers and created a fund which would allow payments to people that were eligible, like Terry.

The first payments made under the scheme were in July of last year with Moore Blatch amongst the first firms to successfully conclude claims under the scheme. Sadly, Terry passed away before his claim was concluded, but as this had been started prior to his death, it was possible to continue on behalf of his estate.  

Based on Moore Blatch’s experience of the process, they want anyone thinking of claiming to be aware of the following:

  • The right of someone who does not have a spouse or partner to claim under the scheme is usually extinguished on his/her death.  For anyone in this situation it is crucial that an application is made as soon as possible.

  • It is possible to receive a payment under the scheme and then, if the employer’s insurers are identified later, to make a claim for damages through a solicitor.  This would be for the remaining balance of damages, taking into account the money already received under the Mesothelioma Payment Scheme.

  • All welfare benefits and lump sum payments (for example Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit and a payment under the Pneumoconiosis (Workers’ Compensation) Act) received will be deducted from a payment under the scheme.  As most benefits are weekly payments, the longer the delay in making an application, the larger the deduction from a scheme payment. This is another reason why an application under the scheme should be made as soon as possible.

Simone concludes: “It’s incredibly important that awareness of the scheme is raised, as it can help many families who would otherwise be left with no compensation, facing considerable financial hardship. Whilst money can never replace the lost time with a loved one, it can help many families to cope at an already difficult time.”

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