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Asbestos related illness – claiming compensation

Up and down the country, every day, people are being diagnosed with asbestos-related illnesses even though the use of asbestos in its most dangerous forms has been illegal for decades with all types eventually banned by law in 1999.

It’s a shocking fact that asbestos currently kills around 5,000 workers a year – that’s more than the number killed on our roads – as a result of inhaling asbestos fibres sometimes decades earlier.

And asbestos is still all around us. It can be present today in any building built or refurbished before 2000 and is regularly found in our homes, offices, shops and schools.

What damage does asbestos do? 

Asbestos was used widely in the UK for decades up until the 1980s, particularly in building work after World War II. It was used in everything from insulation around pipes and boilers to ceiling tiles, corrugated roofing sheets to asbestos gloves, blankets and mitts.  It was even used as fake snow for Christmas decorations.

Although all asbestos is dangerous, some forms are more dangerous than others. When disturbed or damaged, if the fibres are inhaled, they can lead to serious illness.

Asbestos can cause several serious illnesses which usually take many years to develop before producing any symptoms. These include:

  • Mesothelioma – a cancer which affects the thin layer of tissue that covers many of the internal organs, most commonly the lungs;
  • Asbestos-related lung cancer;
  • Asbestosis – a serious scarring condition of the lungs;
  • Pleural thickening – thickening and swelling of the lining of the lungs. 

The cancer mesothelioma is virtually always caused by exposure to asbestos and even minimal exposure to asbestos can result in mesothelioma. By the time it is diagnosed, it is usually fatal.  There were 2,595 mesothelioma deaths in 2016 alone. 

Compensation 

How much compensation you can claim depends on what type of asbestos-related illness you have as well as your personal circumstances, and is calculated taking into account a number of factors including:

  • The severity of your illness;
  • How your quality of life is affected;
  • Loss of income – now and in the future;
  • Any care and equipment costs, including end of life care;
  • The practical and financial impact upon your family and dependents; and
  • In the case of the illness being fatal, the funeral costs.

Where a person has died, the victim’s spouse or children (if under 18) can also claim ‘bereavement damages’. 

Procedure

We can help you bring a claim against one or more of your former employers if you have been diagnosed with an illness caused by asbestos exposure.

If you are diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness, it may be that you might not know when or where you were exposed to asbestos. Alternatively, it may be that you worked for several employers who all exposed you to asbestos.  We can check your employment history with HM Revenue & Customs, going back several decades if necessary, to ensure that the claim is addressed to the correct defendant or defendants.

Asbestos-related disease can take 20 to 60 years to develop. Therefore, employers may have ceased trading or had no insurance.  They may have had insurance but the insurer is now insolvent.  We will conduct checks against each relevant employer to determine whether they held insurance and to identify their insurers.  In most cases, if an insurer is insolvent, we can determine if another insurer is dealing with claims under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

Sometimes, it may not be possible to identify a defendant or insurer that we can claim from. Fortunately, however, even where there is effectively no one to claim from, a statutory award can still be claimed from the government and we can advise you on what to do in relation to this. 

In relation to mesothelioma claims, time can be short, and so there is a fast track procedure in the Court which aims for cases to be dealt with quickly. 

Diagnosed with an asbestos-related health condition? What you need to know.

It’s crucial to act quickly and find a personal injury lawyer experienced in dealing with asbestos-related illnesses to help you. It can be a bewildering time, not least because you may not even know when you were exposed to the asbestos.

A specialist lawyer can go through your work history with you to pin down when, where and how you were exposed and then pursue a claim for compensation on your behalf.

Wards Solicitors’ Richard Green is a member of the Personal Injury Team. His areas of specialism include asbestos related illnesses including:

  • Acting on behalf of the widow of a gentleman who was exposed to asbestos at work during the 1960s, 70s and 80s and who later died from mesothelioma, including extensive communications with the Coroner’s Court, pathologist and Attorney-General’s office.
  • Acting for a claimant who was dying from asbestosis caused by working in factories and plants in the Bristol area during the 1960s and 70s. The case involved particularly complex issues of medical causation, loss of mental capacity, Lasting Power of Attorney and end of life care. This included liaison with other departments and frequent home visits to advise and take instructions, as well as helping ensuring appropriate support was in place for the claimant.
  • Acting for the family of a gentleman who had received a provisional damages award in his lifetime for asbestosis, but who later died as a result of a heart attack precipitated by the asbestosis.
  • Acting on behalf of a Claimant who suffered asbestosis as a result of his work helping to build the Hinkley Point A power station.

If you or your family would like expert help and legal advice on asbestos related illness, please contact Wards Solicitors’ Richard Green on 01275 858515 or pop into one of our 11 local offices.

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UPDATE

Wards Solicitors LLP are working and available for existing cases as well as for new business and new clients.  Our eleven branches remain closed to the public but our lawyers are still working away to ensure that we continue to provide excellent client service. While we are currently unable to offer face to face client meetings, this is under regular review.  Our prime concern is the safety of our clients and our staff.

For enquiries:

  • Please email or telephone your usual lawyer or team; or
  • Please telephone the branch most convenient to you between 9am and 5:30pm, or email info@wards.uk.com at any time. Emails to this address are being regularly monitored and forwarded to the correct person and we will respond to you as soon as possible.

It may take a little longer than usual for our phones to be answered so please bear with us.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you.

Wards Solicitors LLP