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Sick Queensland workers missing out on asbestos compensation

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Many Queensland workers diagnosed with serious and life-threatening asbestos-related diseases are missing out on, or are having to fight for, compensation because of strict time limits.

Slater and Gordon principal lawyer Martin Rogalski said he was concerned at the number of Queensland workers diagnosed with a dust disease who were not getting compensation at a time when they needed it most.

“Queensland workers exposed to asbestos at work and who develop illnesses, like mesothelioma and asbestosis, are legally entitled to claim workers’ compensation,” Mr Rogalski said. 

“Unfortunately, some workers are not aware of their right to claim or, if they are, they may not realise they only have six months from the date they were diagnosed to apply.”

Mr Rogalski said it was heartbreaking telling a sick or dying client that their claim for compensation had been rejected because they were out of time.

“Many clients are under financial pressure because they’re unable to work and have mounting medical bills. Compensation could make a big difference to their lives and allow them to focus on what’s really important - their health and spending precious time with their families.”

Ron Lutter developed asbestosis after working for 55 years at sawmills around Queensland.

“Ron worked really hard from the age of 12 to 67 and deserved compensation for being exposed to asbestos at work,” wife Barbara Lutter said.

The 89-year-old from Toowoomba eventually had his claim accepted with the help of Slater and Gordon.

“Ron had been retired for many years and we put his lung problems down to old age. We never thought of asbestos. It didn’t dawn on us.”

A 76-year-old man who died of mesothelioma in January also had to fight to win compensation.

“He was overwhelmed when he was diagnosed and it took a while for him to understand what the condition was and how it was caused,” Mr Rogalski said.

“He lived in the Tweed Heads area in NSW, but most of his working life he was a steel worker on construction sites on the Gold Coast, where he was exposed to asbestos. 

“Had he been exposed in NSW he could have made a claim at any time, as there are no time limits. He didn’t know he only had six months to make a claim in Queensland until his family contacted Slater and Gordon. He won his case on appeal, but had already passed away.”

Mr Rogalski said he had handled several similar cases in the past 18 months.

“It’s important that Queensland workers diagnosed with a dust-related disease act quickly to maximise their compensation outcomes”.