European Compensation Systems For Asbestos Claims

European Compensation Systems For Asbestos Claims

In Europe the order of compensating is the same for all occupational diseases, including asbestos related ones. Such cases are covered by insurance and victims of asbestos exposure get payments from their employers’ insurers. However, the Netherlands decided to develop their own system for processing asbestos claims. It is called a derogatory compensational approach.

This system came in force in 2000 in the Netherlands. Its purpose was to speed up processing of claims from workers who were diagnosed with mesothelioma as a result of contacting with asbestos at work. The insurance for occupational diseases (and other injuries) exists in the country, but this specific approach touches only mesothelioma cases. A worker himself or family members living with him can file a claim for getting compensation. If a mesothelioma victim died, his beneficiaries can also get compensation for his case. The compensation is paid to a beneficiary by order for priority: spouse, children, etc. There are a lot of pitfalls in the system. For example, in order to get a compensation for the deceased person whose employer doesn’t exist anymore, a claim must have been filed by the person during the lifetime. Otherwise beneficiaries will be unable to get the compensation in full. Only material damage for survivors whose employers are bankrupt or simply do not operate anymore will be compensated.

The Instituut Asbestslachtoffers (IAS) that is translated as the Institute for Asbestos Victims is responsible for controlling the functioning of this system. In its turn, this institute is managed by the Committee of Asbestos Victims together with major employers, insurers and profile unions.

Practically the IAS acts as a mediator between asbestos exposure victims and their employers who are obliged to pay compensations. In order to accept asbestos claims the IAS must make a conclusion regarding the responsibility of employers to compensate damages due to exposing workers to risk of exposure.

The use of this system is more beneficial for employers than processing such claims in the court. First of all, they know beforehand how much they must pay in each case. Secondly, the time and cost of the entire process is much less than a lawsuit. Such system implies no right for victim to request compensation in trial, but it gives guaranteed payment of fixed amount.

The compensation includes payments for moral damage, material expenses and funeral expenses. The first one (moral damage) is always fixed and is €52,701. Material damage is €2,636 and funeral expenses are also €2,636. The latter two amounts may vary depending on real expenses. These figures are for the claimants whose employers still operate. If the company doesn’t exist, only claimants with mesothelioma can request such compensation and it will be fixed – €16,476

As a rule it takes up to six months to pay the full amount of compensation for asbestos claims. The number of claims per year is 200 – 300 in the Netherlands. In approximately 50% of cases employers were obliged to pay the compensation.

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