NEW QUEENSLAND laws could ensure general damages claims survive the deaths of asbestos victims as part of the state’s first legal officer’s plan to provide stronger support for their families.
Changes to the Succession Act 1981 and the Limitation of Actions Act 1974 will ensure families of asbestos victims get “a fair go”, said Queensland Attorney General and Minister for Justice Rod Welford. “If a person suffering from an asbestos-related disease dies before their claim for compensation is finalised, their family will be able to still pursue the change,” said Welford.
Welford argues the change will stop defendants in Supreme Court cases from trying to drag out proceedings until the victim has died. “It will also ensure that families — who suffer enormously caring for their loved ones — have an opportunity of receiving some future financial support,” he said.
The requirement that court action be brought within three years of the date from which asbestos exposure occurred will be removed under Welford’s plan. “This is a common sense change that recognises that people suffering from asbestos -related diseases may not become aware of their problem until many years after contact,” he said.
It is estimated that diagnoses of dust-related diseases will peak between 2015 and 2025, according to a statement by the Attorney General. Experts suggest that many sufferers are not diagnosed until 20 or 30 years after exposure.
Changes to the Limitations of Actions Act 1974will allow courts to extend the time for claims to one year after a person discovers they are an asbestos victim, no matter how long since the exposure took place.