In 2005, the South Australian Government enacted the Dust Diseases Act. This assists those suffering mesothelioma and other asbestos conditions pursue their rights though the Courts.
This legislation has a specific objective to “ensure residents of [South Australia] who claim rights of action for, or in relation to, dust diseases, have access to procedures that are expeditions and unencumbered by unnecessary formalities of an evidentiary or procedural kind.” In plain English, this objective means that legal claims are to be dealt with as quickly as possible and that Court formalities should not be the reason why claims slow down. The legislation also contains a number of other provisions to assist those pursue their rights.
Other South Australian legislation preserves the bulk of the value of the claim even if the sufferer of mesothelioma dies prior to their claim being settled or determined as long as proceedings were commenced in the mesothelioma sufferers lifetime. New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland all have similar legislation.
So it is critical that if someone is suffering mesothelioma, proceedings are commenced on their behalf before their death in order to preserve a large component of the claim.
We have experienced some tragic stories when, for example, a widow rings us up and says something like “My husband passed away from mesothelioma last week. He was too sick to make a claim but told me to go for it after he died”. In such circumstances, often the widow has “lost” somewhere in the order of $100,000 – $200,000 simply because proceedings were not commenced prior to her husbands death. This scenario is terrible but it does happen all too often. So it is most important that if you are diagnosed with mesothelioma, irrespective of how “well” or sick you are, get legal advice immediately.