Dust diseases compensation can be obtained through two avenues, but victims should act as soon as they are aware of a problem. The RMB Compensation division explains.
You may not know you have contracted and suffer from a dust disease until years after exposure.
Unlike a motor vehicle accident or specific work accident, where one incident results in a clearly defined injury, dust diseases are associated with and contracted by the inhalation of microscopic dust particles and fibres. These can take time, sometimes many years, to manifest into recognised symptoms.
Often, the development of a dust disease can be traced back to the nature of an individual’s current or former employement, with exposure to elements such as asbestos dust and fibre, silica dust, gases and fumes being the root cause of the condition.
Where inhalation of those elements during the course of employement has been the cause of the condition, individuals are entitled to claim compensation via two avenues:
1. the Dust Disease Authority (DDA) pursuant to the Workers Compensation (Dust Diseases) Act.
2. the Dust Disease Tribunal (DDT).
The compensation available through those two systems are:
1. Dust Disease Authority
When a claim is made with the DDA, the victim will be medically assessed and asked to provide a statement concerning their employement history and past exposure to various forms of dust, fibres, powders and gases.
The DDA will approve the claim and commence payments for medical expenses associated with treatment of the condition, income loss payments and in some instances provide domestic maintenance services such as yard and lawn care.
The DDA is a “no fault-based system”. Therefore, the DDA does not consider the employer’s negligence or unsafe work system which may have led to the increased dust exposure.
2. Dust Disease Tribunal
The DDT has been established to hear and decide common law claims associated with the development of dust diseases. Claims in the DDT focus on the negligence of the employer and can be worth as significant more in value, as the claim is calculated considering the victim’s pain and suffering, their reduced life expectancy and the amount of care required to be provided to the victim by their family.
The exact processes to be undertaken in the DDA and DDT will differ depending on the diagnosis of the victim. Therefore, it is essential that legal advice be sought to navigate the claims process and ensure maximum compensation payments are received.
Further the victim is not required to elect between one avenue or the other. Both can and should be investigated concurrently.
The compensation team at RMB Lawyers have the knowledge, expertise and experience to assist individuals suffering from dust diseases and occupational lung diseases with their compensation claims. The conditions which are eligible for compensation and which RMB Lawyers often assist with include Asbestosis, Mesothelioma, Silicosis, Farmer’s Lung, Talcosis, Byssinosis, Aluminosis, Berylliosis, Asbestos-induced Carcinoma, Asbestos-related Pleural Diseases (ARPD) and Hard Metal Pneumoconiosis.
While the gases, particles, dust and fibres themselves may not be visible, the expression, “out of sight, out of mind” should be avoided when looking to pursue a dust diseases claim against a former employer. This is because of the reduced life expectancy associated with the dust disease diagnosis.
Considering the diminished life span of the victim, the compensation process is accelerated in an attempt to ensure the benefits are received within the victim’s lifetime. RMB Lawyers also understand and appreciate the affect dust disease conditions have on a victim and a family, therefore we ensure matters are completed with the utmost compassion and efficiency to reduce unnecessary stress at an already difficult time.