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Stan* instructed us, following his diagnosis of asbestosis, an asbestos – related condition that was affecting his breathing. He now lives in New Zealand, but he worked at the Mars factory in Slough for 30 years before emigrating. We took a detailed witness statement from him, setting out his recollection of his asbestos exposure during his time at Mars. We also took a statement from one of his former work colleagues.

Exposure to asbestos

Stan was an Installation Engineer, before being promoted to Charge Hand and then to Leading Hand. His role involved electrical and maintenance work. While he did not work directly with asbestos materials himself, there was asbestos lagged pipework all around him, which was constantly being disturbed by laggers hacking the lagging off in order that repair and maintenance work could be carried out. Afterwards, they re–lagged the pipes. They tipped bags of asbestos powder into big tubs, filling the air with clouds of dust. They then mixed it with water and applied it to the new pipework.

Stan was often working only a few feet away and would get covered in dust. He was not provided with a mask and was never warned of the dangers of inhaling asbestos fibres.

He also used to sometimes disturb the asbestos lagged pipes when dragging electrical cables through the roof area. This was a very confined space, which meant that it did not take long for clouds of dust to gather.

Provisional and full and final settlements

The Defendants admitted liability at an early stage. We obtained medical evidence which supported our client’s assertion that he has asbestosis and that this was likely to have been caused by his exposure to asbestos when he worked at Mars. Our client then had to decide whether to settle his claim on a provisional or a full and final basis.

This is a very important decision for anyone making an asbestos disease claim when there is a risk that:

a) their condition could worsen in the future, or:
b) they could be diagnosed with a more serious asbestos related illness in the future.

A full and final settlement usually results in the claimant being awarded a greater sum in compensation. However, once a claim has been settled on a full and final basis, it means that the claim cannot be reopened at a later date, regardless of whether the claimant subsequently contracts another asbestos related illness or their current illness worsens.

A provisional settlement usually results in a lower award, but allows the claimant to reopen their case and claim further compensation should they subsequently contract another asbestos related illness or if their current illness deteriorates.

There are many things to weigh up when considering which award is appropriate, including the difference in value between a provisional and full and final settlement, the extent of the future risks and the age of the claimant.

Stan weighed up the options and decided that he wished to settle his case on a provisional basis, in order to give him the peace of mind of knowing that he can claim further compensation in the future should his asbestosis get worse or if he is unfortunate enough to be diagnosed with another asbestos related condition.

We are pleased to have assisted Stan with his claim and secured compensation for his current asbestos related illness, while giving him the peace of mind that his claim can be re-opened in the future if necessary.

For more information about how the mesothelioma and asbestos disease claims team can help you or your loved ones after diagnosis with an asbestos related disease, please contact the team by email on idclaims@boyesturner.com.

*Name changed for anonymity purposes