Just and fair compensation scheme for sufferers of dust diseases

  • Civil Liability (Provisional Damages for Dust Diseases) Bill 2024 introduced into State Parliament
  • Proposed reforms to provide dust disease sufferers access to just and fair compensation

Western Australians diagnosed with diseases caused by exposure to asbestos or silica will now have the green light to seek improved compensation outcomes under landmark legislation introduced today.

Attorney General John Quigley introduced the Civil Liability Amendment (Provisional Damages for Dust Diseases) Bill 2024 into State Parliament today.

The introduction of the Bill is an important step towards ensuring those who suffer from these insidious and often fatal diseases are given fair and just access to compensation.

As the law currently stands, people who suffer personal injury as a result of exposure to asbestos or silica dust are awarded damages on the basis of the ‘once and for all’ rule. This means that if the person develops a new disease from the same cause, such as mesothelioma, they cannot seek further damages at a later date.

The new provisional damages regime will result in improved compensation outcomes, allowing people diagnosed with dust disease to seek subsequent damages awards under certain circumstances.

The mining of asbestos was banned in the 1980s and the manufacture of asbestos was banned in Australia in 2001, however the diagnosis of asbestos related disease continues.

Across Australia, there is an emerging trend of cases of silica-related diseases, namely accelerated silicosis. The risks posed by silica exposure have been nationally recognised, leading to a unanimous decision by all Work Health and Safety Ministers in Australia to prohibit the use, supply and manufacture of all engineered stone.

As stated by Premier Roger Cook:

“The introduction of a provisional damages regime demonstrates my Government’s commitment to providing access to just and fair compensation to dust disease sufferers.

“There is continued concern in the community and from governments across Australia in relation to the risk of exposure to asbestos and silica dust. Most recently, we have seen the risks faced by those involved in the engineered stone products sector, heightening the urgency of reform in this area.

“Our reforms will improve compensation outcomes for plaintiffs who suffer from dust diseases caused by the inhalation of asbestos or silica dust.”

As stated by Attorney General John Quigley:

“The current ‘once and for all’ rule disadvantages people who have a non-malignant dust-related disease, such as asbestosis or simple silicosis, but go on to develop a more serious form of disease, such as mesothelioma or lung cancer.

“The proposed provisional damages regime modifies the ‘once and for all’ rule in certain circumstances. For example, people will not be restricted in the number of claims that can be made for further damages, provided that such claims relate to the development of a different injury or disease which was expressly identified at the time of the initial judgment.”

Comments attributed to Melita Markey, CEO, Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia:

“The Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia (ADSA) is grateful for the care and compassion the Cook Government and the Attorney General have shown to asbestos diseases and silicosis sufferers today.

“The Government has listened to the ADSA by introducing provisional damages which will significantly reduce the burden on sufferers and their families as they battle these incurable diseases.”

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