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    Asbestos compensation claims guide

    Even minor exposure to asbestos can have fatal consequences, those who suffer from asbestos related illnesses such as mesothelioma often have to deal with devastating effects. We have compiled a guide to help you understand the stages of claiming compensation for asbestos exposure.

    What is asbestos?

    Asbestos is a mineral which has been mined for hundreds of years and was once considered a great material to use for building, mainly due to its fireproof qualities. There are three common types of asbestos which are, white (chrysotile), brown (amosite) and blue (crocidolite).

    For many cases it is difficult to identify where someone might have been exposed to asbestos as it was once used everywhere. Between 1930 and 1980 it was a material used widely throughout buildings in the UK, schools, homes, and hospitals included.

    Asbestos in the UK – facts and statistics

    In the UK alone there are over 5,000 asbestos related disease deaths per year currently, including mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis. The number of deaths has remained fairly level for the previous ten years, this is due to the diseases taking many years to develop.

    Annual deaths had increased steeply for the last 50 years, largely as a result of asbestos exposure prior to 1980 and are now expected to drop during the next decade.

    During 2018 there was 2,446 deaths caused by mesothelioma, with a similar number of lung cancer deaths linked to previous exposure to asbestos. These have both stayed fairly consistent for the previous six years. While 503 deaths in 2018 mentioned asbestosis on the death certificate.

    More than half of all the annual deaths now occur in those aged over 75, annual deaths in this age group continue to grow while deaths in all groups below 70 are decreasing.

    What diseases can you get from exposure to asbestos?

    There are a number of illnesses which you can get from exposure to asbestos, when you inhale asbestos fibres they can cause serious illness but often many years after inhaled. Some of the most common asbestos related diseases are:

    Mesothelioma

    Mesothelioma is a form of cancer which can occur in the mesothelium. This is the membrane that lines the inner surface of the chest wall (known as the pleura), the abdomen (known as peritoneum) and the testicles.

    Mesothelioma is caused by breathing in asbestos dust, this dust causes damage to the cells of the pleura, the outer lining of the lungs and the internal chest wall. It is thought that over time this damage results in changes which can eventually turn them into cancerous cells.

    Asbestos related lung cancer

    With asbestos related lung cancer, asbestos fibres become lodged in the lung tissue and scar over time and develop into tumors. The asbestos fibres become lodged in the lung tissue and scar over time, causing irritation eventually developing into tumors.

    Lung cancer will only be caused by asbestos where the amount of exposure to asbestos dust has been very heavy. In many cases, asbestos and smoking will both be the cause of lung cancer rather than one or the other.

    Asbestosis

    Asbestosis is a long-term lung condition causes by inhaling asbestos dust. It is a form of scarring on the lungs, also known as fibrosis. The scarring leads to your lungs shrinking and hardening, making it difficult for the lungs to work effectively.

    Asbestosis can take on average 20 to 30 years from time of exposure to develop, the effects and irreversible. Studies show that in order to develop asbestosis you must have been exposed to a large quantity of asbestos dust.

    Pleural thickening

    Pleural thickening, also referred to as diffuse pleural thickening, causes a thickening and scarring (fibrosis) of either one or both lungs. However, asbestos is not the only cause of pleural thickening. Illness and infections can also cause pleural thickening by allowing fluid to build up around the lungs.

    A substantial number of cases of pleural thickening continue to be diagnosed each year, with the main cause being asbestos exposure in the workplace many years ago.

    How do asbestos claims work?

    Due to the nature of asbestos and that the risk arises not just from working in an asbestos related industry but also from exposure to asbestos fibres and dust in other environments you need to prove exposure was caused in your workplace or a public building/area. If you are one of the below you should be able to make a claim.

    • All workers exposed to asbestos at work, family members and others living with any person working in a contaminated workplace.
    • Anyone who lives in close proximity to a factory or workplace where Asbestos is used regularly.

    You can still make a claim even if the company has since gone out of business, if the employer or manufacturing company is no longer operating, an asbestos compensation claim may still be filed against the insurance company which covered the employer at the time of exposure.

    You can and should file a claim for compensation even if your related injuries are minor as they start of minor and develop to become more serious over time. The period between exposure and onset of symptoms is on average between 30 and 50 years, which means there is a high chance the symptoms will become worse over time.

    For employees who worked in multiple asbestos related workplaces at the same time, there are certain provisions in place that enable them to seek compensation for their diseases.

    Legal requirements for Asbestos claims

    You only have 3 years from the date that you first become aware of the disease and what caused it to submit a claim for compensation.

    If you are claiming compensation on behalf of a deceased loved one, the claim must be filed within 3 years of the date of death, or 3 years from the date of awareness if the asbestos link was only discovered after death.

    There are four main obstacles you will need to overcome in order to file a successful asbestos claim:

    • You will need to obtain a medical report stating that you are suffering from an asbestos related disease. This report cannot be obtained from any medical professional, but instead by a reputed respiratory disease expert.
    • You have to establish that the exposure to asbestos occurred at a specific workplace or due to proximity to a particular asbestos related industry.
    • You will need to show that your employer or the company was aware of the risks and could have foreseen that there was a high probability that you could develop symptoms of asbestos related disease. Since all workplaces were made aware of the risks of asbestos exposure from the time of discovery in the early 1990s, this should not be too difficult to prove.
    • You will have to prove that your company was negligent with regards to informing you about the dangers, putting proper precautionary measures in place or providing you with personal protective equipment. It is a known fact that many employers did nothing to inform or protect their employees or local residents, actively putting them at risk for asbestos related diseases.

    How much compensation could I receive?

    In England and Wales, personal injury compensation is divided into two categories: General Damages and Special Damages.

    General damages are designed to compensate you for the pain suffering and loss of amenity you have experienced. Loss of amenity refers to how your quality of life has been affected, while pain and suffering can both be physical and psychological. It would also include symptoms such as breathlessness, chest pain and any need for medication.

    There are guidelines which state how much compensation should be awarded for general damages in asbestos related illness compensation claims. These are split into brackets depending on the severity of the disease. For example, as a general guide:

    Severe – in more severe asbestos related illness cases, the compensation awarded for general damages could be between £30,630 and £84,380

    Mild – in mild cases of asbestos related illnesses, the compensation payout could be between £12,020 and £30,630.

    Special damages are intended to replace your actual financial losses. This can include things such as your past and future loss of earnings, the cost of medical rehabilitation, the cost of adapting your home, the cost of re-training if you cannot continue in the role or career you were working in.

    This means your special damages depend entirely on the amount of money you have lost because of the exposure that resulted in your illness. Financial losses in asbestos exposure claims can be significant, especially if your ability to work is affected, and/or you require lifelong care and assistance.

    Make a claim for compensation

    Here at Injury Lawyers UK our team of solicitors have helped hundreds of clients get the care and compensation they deserve. We work closely with you and your family to ensure that you receive the maximum amount of compensation. Call us today on 0800 285 1411 or complete the online enquiry form below and one of our team will be in touch.

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