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Asbestos and Mesothelioma
Asbestos-related illnesses are disorders of the lung and pleura caused by the inhalation of asbestos fibres.
Asbestos-related diseases can vary in severity from non-malignant disorders such as asbestosis to malignant Mesothelioma, an aggressive lung cancer which has a prognosis of just one to two years.
These conditions are almost exclusively linked to asbestos exposure which, for many individuals, will have been contracted through the course of past or present work. The dangers posed by asbestos exposure have been known for many years, so employers are liable to pay compensation to those employees whom they have failed to protect as is their legal duty.
Our specialist asbestos-related disease lawyers provide immediate representation and sympathetic support for victims of asbestos exposure. We are familiar with the symptoms you will be experiencing and the issues that you and your loved ones will be facing. We understand all the legal difficulties for someone with this debilitating disease and can help you access much-needed compensation.
If you or a member of your family has suffered from an asbestos-related illness, call us for a free consultation on 01733 888888.
Types of asbestos-related illnesses
Mesothelioma is a tumour most commonly occurring in the lining of the lungs. The tumour can appear anything from 10 to 50 years after exposure to asbestos. It is tragically a terminal disease.
The Pleura is the lining of the lung. Fibrosis of the pleura can create a thickening of the lining which, if extensive, may cause breathlessness during activity and chest expansion will also be reduced. Investigation is by x-ray and lung function tests. The condition does not affect life expectancy.
These raised areas of transparent fibrous tissue can be seen lining the pleura. They are caused by regular exposure to asbestos fibres, but do not generally cause impairment of the lungs. Pleural Plaques have no effect on life expectancy. As the law currently stands, no compensation claim can be made if solely suffering from Pleural Plaques.
Asbestosis can develop as a result of prolonged exposure to asbestos, usually more than 20 years. Symptoms include progressive shortness of breath, clubbing of fingertips and abnormal chest sounds. The sufferer will have been exposed to heavy amounts of asbestos fibres before contracting this condition. Investigation is by means of a combination of chest x-ray, high resolution CT scan and pulmonary function tests. The condition progresses slowly, and it can be very distressing, but thankfully few patients die from asbestosis.
People suffering from asbestosis or exposure to a level of fibres likely to cause asbestosis, may develop lung cancer. Sufferers who have also smoked are more likely to develop the disease. Deaths from asbestos-induced lung cancer are approximately twice as common as mesothelioma.
Asbestos compensation claims
Millions of people were exposed to asbestos at work from the 1930s to the 1970s, as its use in the construction, aircraft and engineering industries was widespread. Many employers knew about the dangers of asbestos but did not adequately protect their employees, employees’ families or local residents from being exposed to asbestos fibres.
As a result of being exposed to asbestos in the workplace, you are entitled to claim compensation for asbestosis, Mesothelioma or asbestos-induced lung cancer if you or a member of your family developed the asbestos-related disease or cancer.
If you were exposed to asbestos fibres while not at work or in a workplace, for example from exposure to asbestos fibres on the work clothes of a family member, or if you lived near a factory where asbestos was regularly used, you are also entitled to claim compensation for Mesothelioma.
If the employer or the company is no longer operating, you can still claim compensation through its insurance company by restoring the company or by bringing a Mesothelioma claim under the Government’s Scheme via the Pneumoconiosis (Workmen’s Compensation) Act 1979.
We believe every client affected by asbestos exposure has the right to seek compensation to make life easier in very difficult circumstances.
Causes of asbestos-related illnesses
Asbestos was first used in the industry because of its fire retardant, insulating and corrosion protecting properties. Eventually people began to link the use of asbestos with a number of diseases. Some of them, like Mesothelioma, are fatal.
Asbestos occurs naturally in the environment and this very low level exposure will not cause illness. It is when someone is exposed to a high level of asbestos fibres that diseases such as Mesothelioma occur.
It is now recognised that continuous exposure to high levels of asbestos fibres, either at work or in the home, does indeed have health dangers associated with it and many people who have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease are able to claim asbestos compensation.
There are three main kinds of asbestos fibres:
- Chrysotile – white
- Crocidolite – blue
- Amosite – brown
It is the thin fibres of these types of asbestos that are inhaled when disturbed and work their way into the body.
Many people were exposed to asbestos fibres through working for more than one employer. Equally, the Courts have held that it may be impossible to identify which exposure, and therefore which employer, has caused the victim’s illness. However, if we can prove that exposure to asbestos increased the risk of developing an asbestos-related disease, a claim can be pursued against any of the employers who failed in their duty of care.
Luckily not everyone who was exposed to asbestos will become ill, indeed the majority will suffer no adverse effects at all. However, there are a number of diseases that can occur pleural plaques, pleural thickening, asbestosis, lung cancer and Mesothelioma.
How we can help you make an asbestos compensation claim
Our specialist solicitors have helped many clients to successfully claim compensation for asbestos-related illnesses after they were exposed to the hazardous substance through their work, living close to asbestos factories or who came into contact with loved ones who worked with asbestos.
You have to bring an asbestos compensation claim within three years of first being told that you have the disease. You can also bring a claim if your injuries are relatively minor, as it is possible to reserve the opportunity to get more damages if you develop one of the more serious conditions in later years.
There are four main hurdles to clear in order to win compensation in a Mesothelioma claim:
- A medical report by an expert in respiratory disease will be needed to prove that you are suffering from an asbestos-related disease
- Establish that the disease was caused by exposure to asbestos from a particular source, namely your employer. This can be done by producing evidence to show that you suffered from asbestos exposure, and the years when it occurred
- Many employers have known of the dangers of exposure to asbestos for more than 50 years. You will need to show that your employer could have foreseen that, at the time of the exposure, you could suffer an asbestos-related disease
- Establishing that your exposure to asbestos was caused by your employer’s negligence. Many employers did nothing to warn their employees or to protect them from the dangers
There will be NO CHARGE for meeting with us to discuss your claim. An expert asbestos claims solicitor will talk you through each requirement in more detail, and help you to understand the claims process. Where possible, we will obtain early interim payments to support you financially during the claim.
We will also assist you with the benefits available to you and involve our colleagues in other departments to help with Financial Planning, Personal Injury Trusts, Lasting Powers of Attorney and Wills.
Benefits for people affected by asbestos-related illnesses
It can be difficult to work out which benefits you may be entitled to claim so below are the main ones you should know about.
Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
If you have been diagnosed with Mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure at your work, you will be entitled to claim Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefits (IIDB). You will need to show that you worked in a job after 4 July 1948 that exposed you to asbestos at a higher level than is found in the environment at large.
You will not be eligible for Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit if you were exposed to asbestos only whilst you were self-employed.
Constant Attendance Allowance
You will be eligible for Constant Attendance Allowance if the effects of Mesothelioma mean that you need care and attention for most of the time.
You may also be able to get a one off lump sum payment if suffering from Diffuse Mesothelioma, Pneumoconiosis or diffuse pleural thickening.
Your exposure to asbestos must have occurred in the United Kingdom.
The amounts paid out are dictated by how old you are at the time of diagnosis.
Any payment received will have to be taken into account if you receive damages from a civil claim.
Claims can be made by completion of Mesothelioma payment claim form or by contacting the Barrow Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit Centre.
Claims must be made within 12 months of diagnosis. If you are a dependent claiming for a sufferer who is now deceased, then a claim needs to be made within 12 months from the date of death.
Support for family members
If you are a spouse or family member of someone who has died from Mesothelioma we can help you. You may be entitled to bring a Mesothelioma claim for compensation or wish to know what benefits you are entitled to.
Benefits for people affected to Mesothelioma
You may be eligible to claim benefits if you are the carer of someone with Mesothelioma, or other asbestos-related illness, or if you are the surviving spouse of someone who died from Mesothelioma. We know that it can be complicated to work out which benefits you are entitled to so we can provide help and assistance.
Claiming Mesothelioma compensation after death
Losing a loved one to an asbestos-related illness is hard enough without financial worries adding to your burden. You may be able to bring a claim for compensation after your spouse or family member has died but there are time limits so you may wish to speak to one of our specialist solicitors to find out if and how you can bring a claim.
Inquests following deaths from industrial diseases
When a person with an asbestos-related illness dies, the coroner is usually informed and we will arrange for a pathologist to carry out a postmortem which is a medical examination of the body. The pathologist will prepare a report which will be available to the next of kin and to certain other relatives. An inquest is then held to determine the cause of death. The usual verdict where a person was exposed to asbestos at work is that of “death from industrial disease”.
If you ask us to deal with your compensation claim, we will usually represent you and your family at the inquest to make things easier for you.
Charities dedicated to helping families affected by asbestos-related illnesses and research into the disease are: