If you are a current or former Commonwealth employee or current or former member of the Australian Defence Force you have the following entitlements if your asbestos conditions are attributable to your employment by the Commonwealth or the Australian Defence Force.
Entitlements under the Commonwealth Safety Rehabilitation & Compensation Act, 1988
You may be entitled to a lump sum for permanent impairment, weekly payments of compensation for any work related incapacity, medical expenses and possibly compensation for pain and suffering.
Should you die from an asbestos related condition, a dependant may have a right to lodge a claim under the Commonwealth Safety Rehabilitation & Compensation Act, 1988. Your dependant would have to show dependence upon you. There may also be a sum to cover funeral expenses. Amounts may also be payable to your dependent children.
Entitlements under the Veterans’ Entitlements Act, 1986
In certain circumstances, ex-members of the Australian Defence Force may have entitlements under the Veterans’ Entitlements Act, 1986. These entitlements result in a pension and not a lump sum. You do not need to prove the Commonwealth was at fault to receive payment under either the Commonwealth Safety Rehabilitation & Compensation Act, 1988 or the Veterans’ Entitlement Act, 1986.
If you make a common law claim for the same asbestos condition for which you have been accepted by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, then there could be an effect on your Veterans’ Affairs pension. It could also affect treatment expenses that the Department of Veterans’ Affairs has paid in relation to that asbestos condition. Every case is considered separately.
Negligence action for damages
Where exposure to asbestos occurred prior to 30 November 1988 you may sue for negligence at common law. You are not restricted by the operation of the Commonwealth Safety Rehabilitation & Compensation Act, 1988. Proceedings against the Commonwealth are commenced in the District Court of South Australia and in other State Courts.
To ensure your rights are protected in relation to the Commonwealth claims, it is particularly important to seek legal advice before deciding whether or how to claim.
It is also important that legal advice is sought by current or former Commonwealth employees before any decision is made about the type of compensation to pursue.