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The "No Fault" Scheme
The Workers' Compensation (Dust Diseases) Act 1942 provides compensation for the following diseases: Aluminosis, Asbestosis, Asbestos induced carcinoma, Asbestos related pleural disease (ARPD), Bagassosis, Berylliosis, Byssinosis, Farmers' Lung, Hard Metal Pneumoconiosis, Mesothelioma, Silicosis, and Silico-tuberculosis.
The Board also has discretionary powers to award compensation to a person who has been disabled by an occupational lung disease not listed in the Act. However, the occupational lung disease must have been caused by exposure to a dust that is known to be a contributing factor to any of the above diseases.
The compensation is "no-fault" which means the worker does not have to prove that the employer was guilty of negligence or breach of statutory duty. The Dust Diseases Board will not order an employer to pay the workers legal costs, and workers are not legally represented when they apply for dust diseases compensation. If you have an occupational lung disease there are many good reasons for applying for compensation. In particular, if you make your application and you then die of a dust disease, your family may be eligible for a very generous death benefit.
Claims for Damages at Common Law
Claims for common law damages for injuries arising from dust diseases are dealt with by the Dust Diseases Tribunal. The Dust Diseases Tribunal is established by the Dust Diseases Tribunal Act 1989. It is a specialist court created to deal with claims in tort for negligence relating to death or personal injury resulting from specified dust diseases and other dust-related conditions. After the Tribunal was established a number of fast track mechanisms were put in place. Procedural provisions in the Act, the Supreme Court Rules (which apply to the Tribunal), together with effective case management, allow claims made by seriously ill plaintiffs to be heard sometimes days or even hours after a Statement of Claim has been lodged.
Legal representation is permitted in the Dust Diseases Tribunal and, if the worker obtains a verdict in his or her favour, the Court will generally order the employer to pay a portion of the worker's costs.
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