Most people with mesothelioma can make a claim at common law. A common law claim is a claim in court for lump sum compensation. A claim is commenced by filing a Statement of Claim in court.
All States have developed specialised processes to deal with mesothelioma claims. In New South Wales claims are filed in the Dust Diseases Tribunal, a specialist court which has special rules of evidence and procedure to expedite claims. In other States, claims are brought in special lists in the Supreme Court or District Court to ensure that the needs of people with mesothelioma are addressed.
Most claims are brought against a former employer, manufacturer of asbestos products or an occupier of a building. If the employer no longer exists a claim can be made against the employer’s workers’ compensation insurer.
In all States matters proceed to a pre-trial or court appointed settlement conference or a mediation to see if the matter can be resolved prior to the hearing.
Most claims settle at mediation or after mediation but before the trial. If a matter proceeds to hearing, then in most jurisdictions evidence in chief can be given by way of Affidavit. If you are not well enough to travel, then your evidence will be taken at your home or hospital.
The courts will do everything possible to finish a claim in your lifetime. However, if you die before your claim is finished then provided the claim was filed in court in your lifetime, the claim can be continued by your estate at full value.
If you were exposed to asbestos during the course of employment in New South Wales, then you can make a claim at common law as well as receive a pension and have your medical and other expenses paid by the Dust Diseases Authority.