Clydeside Action on Asbestos, which is fighting for pay-outs for thousands of workers who contracted fatal mesothelioma, has accused insurance companies of using "underhand tactics" to have compensation claims thrown out of court.
It claims insurers – citing a previous civil case involving sex abuse – say that if victims do not take up their damages case for the lesser condition of pleural plaques within three years of diagnosis, they no longer have the right to claim for other developments, such as mesothelioma.
This risks "time-barring" hundreds of cancer claims or forcing people to settle for a fraction of what they should be due, the campaign group said.
Asbestos-related cancer sufferers now face the choice of accepting a payment of about £3000 or £4000 in compensation for developing pleural plaques – a symptomless thickening of the lungs which is often a precursor of mesothelioma – or ending up with nothing if they fight on.
Ian Hamilton, 70, of Paisley, is one of those whose compensation case is still going through the courts.
He believes he contracted mesothelioma during his years working as an electrician in the shipyards on the Clyde.
Phyllis Craig, senior welfare officer at Clydeside Action on Asbestos, said insurers are "heartless". She said: "This callous attack on weak and dying asbestos victims is just the latest in a long list of underhand tactics employed by the insurers."