Injured stonemasons better compensated through individual litigation
06 April 2020
Shine Lawyers’ dust disease expert, Roger Singh, says workers suffering from silicosis will receive a better and quicker outcome by taking individual legal action against their employer rather than joining a planned class action.
Mr Singh has urged stonemasons diagnosed with the deadly lung disease who hope to gain swift and significant compensation to be cautious about involving themselves in the proposed class action against manufacturers of engineered stone.
The national special counsel, who has pioneered legal claims for affected stonemasons, said the most appropriate course of action for silicosis sufferers is to take legal action directly against their employers.
There may be people who are not technically "workers" under the various State Workers Compensation systems who may have rights against manufacturers and suppliers, and in this instance however, they ought to bring an individual action to ensure they are compensated for their own loss and damage.
“The best option for injured workers in silicosis cases is to bring individual claims in this instance and not a class action,” Mr Singh said.
“An individual claim is tailored for a particular person’s needs and if their life expectancy is reduced by reason of exposure then a claim can be fast-tracked for early resolution.
“Individual actions are a quick and effective form of litigation.”
The Shine Lawyers’ national special counsel for dust disease said the law recognises the employer owes the worker a duty of care.
“When the duty of care has been breached by the employer it gives the worker a very strong claim to recover compensation for the pain and suffering and resulted in losses, including income losses because many of these workers cannot work again,” he said.
“Quicker and more significant compensation can be claimed via individual actions.” Mr Singh acts for a dozen silicosis clients nationwide and has been campaigning for the past year for stricter workplace regulations to keep workers safe. He has proposed a strict licensing regime for engineered stone businesses and written to federal Industrial Relations Minister Kelly O’Dwyer, as well as all the relevant ministers in each state and territory, urging a coordinated national approach.
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