Recovery of costs of care in asbestos disease claims
Posted on 12th October 2017
In claims involving disabling or terminal asbestos diseases, such as mesothelioma or advanced asbestosis, it is common for victims to need care and assistance, which is usually provided by family members or friends.
The care involved can range from dispensing medication, helping with washing, dressing and toileting, attending medical appointments with the injured person, to assisting with mobility, sometimes round the clock. Naturally, when the need for care lasts months or even years, often increasing in intensity, ensuring that the victim’s needs are met can easily take its toll on the providers.
In cases of long-standing or terminal illness, it is not uncommon for the injured person to attend a care centre for “respite care” or, in the case of a terminal illness, to receive care in a hospice towards the end of their life.
It has long been established that the claimant can include in his/her claim an amount to compensate the family and friends for the gratuitous care which they provided, albeit at rates discounted from the full commercial rates. However, what is sometimes overlooked is that the costs incurred by a hospice or other charity or voluntary organisation providing care in the final weeks of the victim’s life can also be recovered in a claim. The principle of recovery of hospice care costs was established in the case of Drake v. Foster Wheeler Ltd  EWHC 2004 (QB).
If the costs of hospice care were charged fully to the sufferer or their estate then it would be possible to claim this in full from the Defendant. However, a hospice, for charitable reasons, imposes no charge to a family for palliative care but there is no reason an estate cannot recover on trust for a hospice, that portion of their overall costs of providing the care which is donated, excluding any NHS funding element. The same principle must apply to the costs of care provided by other charitable or voluntary organisations.
All that is needed to prove this head of loss is a statement from a Director or Finance Officer of the organisation, stating how they are funded and the proportion given by way of gratuitous donation. If the hospice or care centre can set out the daily or weekly costs of care then the element funded by donation can be calculated and recovered within a claim.
Recovering care costs for asbestos diseases
Recovery within the civil compensation claim of costs of care provided gratuitously can go some way to compensating family and friends of those with serious or terminal asbestos diseases, for the tremendous care they provide, often in very difficult and distressing circumstances.
For professional but charitable organisations such as hospices, recovery of part of their costs of providing the much –needed care can help ensure their financial viability and ability to continue providing their invaluable services to those in need. As claimant lawyers we need to ensure we do not overlook this.