Legal Issues & Compensation

Compensation Issues

Persons diagnosed with an asbestos related disease are encouraged to seek specialist legal advice. Seeking specialist legal advice will allow informed decision making regarding legal and compensation matters.

Compensation entitlements depend upon the nature of the asbestos disease, where the exposure occurred (the State or country) and whether the exposure to asbestos occurred during employment, self-employment, or in domestic situations such as undertaking home renovations or washing asbestos contaminated clothes. Jurisdictions have different compensation schemes. Strict time limits often apply, so it is important to seek advice as soon as possible.

It may be possible to make a claim even if:

  • Your exposure occurred many decades ago
  • You have left the employment where you were exposed.
  • Your employer went out of business years ago.
  • You worked for multiple employers where you may have been exposed.
  • You were self-employed or worked under contract.
  • Your exposure did not occur at work.
  • You were exposed in a number of different places.
  • You are not sure where or how your exposure occurred.
  • You are, or have been a heavy smoker.
  • You are living in a different state or country from that in which you were exposed to asbestos.
  • You believe your exposure was indirect. For example, your exposure was caused by a family
    member or friend bringing home asbestos dust on their clothes.

In Queensland, there are generally two pathways for the awarding of compensation.

Workers’ Compensation

Persons who have been employed in Queensland and have had their exposure to asbestos during employment will normally be entitled to compensation through WorkCover Queensland or a selfinsurer (some larger companies self-insure) . Compensation will generally depend on the extent of the reduction in breathing capacity. Those diagnosed with a malignant condition such as mesothelioma or asbestos related cancers may be entitled to a lump sum payment which can vary according to age. A claim with WorkCover Queensland must be lodged within six months of the diagnosis. This also
includes claims by family members who were dependant on the worker who has passed away from an asbestos related disease. An extension to this timeframe may be possible but will be at the discretion of WorkCover Queensland.

Common Law Claims

A ‘Common Law‘ claim is where an action is commenced in the Courts. These types of claims are generally commenced against employers or manufacturers of the asbestos product that was used or the cause of the illness. Typically the claim is associated with non-occupational use such as washing asbestos contaminated clothes or as a result of self-employment.

For people who have been exposed in Queensland, there is no time limit for lodging a claim for damages through the Queensland Court system. However, claims must be commenced in a person’s lifetime for full compensation to be recovered.

It is important that specialist legal advice is obtained as soon as possible after a person is diagnosed with an asbestos related disease. The Society can recommend a law firm with extensive experience in asbestos related diseases compensation matters.
Call the Society on 1800 776 412 for further information.