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Asbestos petition calls for greater justice for WA victims

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Leading law firm Slater and Gordon has urged Western Australians to get online and sign a petition to support crucial legal changes for asbestos victims and their families.

The change.org petition titled ‘Support the passage of the Asbestos Diseases Compensation Bill 2013’ was published online by the Asbestos Diseases Society Australia (WA), and calls for legislative reform to bring WA into line with other Australian states.

Asbestos lawyer Laine McDonald said Western Australia had one of the world’s highest rates of asbestos-related diseases, and sadly, more than 200 victims died in this State every year.

“WA has certainly fallen behind the nation when it comes to bringing justice to asbestos victims, which is concerning given the number of Western Australians of all ages and from all walks of life who have been exposed to asbestos,” she said.

“Western Australian asbestos victims need two legislative changes which would give Western Australians the same kind of justice offered to victims in other states.

“Firstly, currently in Western Australia, asbestosis sufferers can only claim common law compensation once. This means if they go on to develop a fatal disease, like mesothelioma, they are not able to be compensated for that deadly condition (if they have already received compensation for asbestosis).

“This leaves victims with a heart-breaking dilemma. They must gamble on whether to claim now and forfeit any chance of compensation for a terminal disease; or do nothing and run the risk of missing out on compensation for their current asbestosis.

“The proposed legislation would allow victims to receive interim or ‘provisional damages’ for their first illness and make a further claim if they develop a more serious illness later.”

Ms McDonald said the second area of legislative reform related to what was known as ‘Sullivan v Gordon damages’ which would allow asbestos victims to be compensated for the care costs of anyone they look after, when they’re no longer able to care for them.

“Asbestos victims who care for their young child, elderly parent or partner with a disability, for example, are currently missing out under Western Australian law because they cannot be compensated for their ‘domestic services’,” she said.

“The proposed legislation [Asbestos Diseases Compensation Bill 2013] would mean victims can claim for the commercial cost of replacing the care that they would normally have provided if they hadn’t become ill or passed away.

“This petition aims to encourage all members of parliament from all sides of politics to support these legal reforms and bring about some common-sense changes for sick and vulnerable Western Australians.”

To help deliver these landmark reforms, sign the petition here: https://goo.gl/wRtcfu, and share on social networks.