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Jennifer Seavor, one of our specialist asbestos disease solicitors, has recently settled a claim for Mr L who was diagnosed with asbestosis.

Exposed to asbestos as an electrician

Mr L had worked as an electrician from 1952 until his retirement in 2004, having started as an apprentice and then upon qualifying, continuing in the trade for the remainder of his working life. Mr L worked for seven different companies during this period for varying lengths of time.

Mr L worked at a number of sites at various locations throughout the country. He frequently worked alongside other tradesmen who were using asbestos products. In particular he regularly worked at power stations, oil refineries and other large industrial premises. Whilst he did not use asbestos himself, due to the nature of the work he was doing, he was often exposed to asbestos dust that was in the atmosphere at the premises where he was working.

Asbestosis diagnosis

It was not until December 2012 that Mr L began to notice symptoms of breathlessness. He went to his GP who referred him to hospital for a chest x-ray and subsequently a CT scan. The scans showed some change at his lung bases, consistent with mild fibrosis. He had lung function tests which showed a restriction in his breathing capacity.

Jennifer visited Mr L at home and took a detailed statement of evidence from him. He was able to give a very good and detailed recollection of his working life due to keeping diaries and records of his employers and the various contracts he had worked on over the years.

Making an asbestosis claim

Supportive medical evidence from an asbestos specialist was obtained, confirming that Mr L had developed asbestosis. The expert was of the opinion that Mr L had 20% respiratory disability with 10% being due to his asbestosis. He was also at risk of developing other asbestos related conditions in the future such as mesothelioma and lung cancer

Claiming from multiple employers

Jennifer did a significant amount of work to try and trace Mr L’s former employers. Several had ceased trading or were in liquidation and Jennifer had to try and trace their former employer liability insurers. The investigations revealed 12 insurers with an interest in Mr L’s claim, each liable for a different proportion of his claim, depending on the length of time he had worked at each company. In addition there were three periods for which insurers could not be traced.

The evidence was then presented to the insurers and after much negotiation terms of settlement were eventually agreed out of Court. The insurers agreed that Mr L’s claim was worth £35,000 however due to the periods for which insurers could not be traced Mr L had to take a discount but the net amount payable was £31,974.76.

Claim settled on a provisional damages basis

Importantly, Mr L also decided to settle his claim on a provisional damages basis. This means that if Mr L’s condition deteriorates or he develops another asbestos related disease in the future, such as mesothelioma or lung cancer, he will be able to re-open his case and claim further compensation from the defendants. This was a very important element of the claim for Mr L as he is the primary carer for his wife who is ill. They do not have any children therefore Mr L was concerned that if his condition deteriorates, that his wife is well catered for in respect of the care she may require. 

In addition Mr L’s brother-in-law had sadly in the past died from lung cancer, which may have been asbestos related. He had however made a claim for pleural plaques years earlier and settled his claim on a full and final basis. Sadly, this prevented his family from claiming any further compensation.

Jennifer is very pleased to have settled the claim for Mr L. She said:
 

"Mr L’s claim has been difficult because of the number of defendants involved and then the number of insurers.  Each company had several insurers with periods of cover during Mr L’s employment.  This made the matter complex and took time to gain the agreement of all of the defendants.  However, helpfully Mr L had a very good recollection of his working life.  It was excellent to see that he had kept contemporaneous records of his employment history and the contracts he had worked on over the years.  This certainly made the claim easier in terms of proving his work and exposure.”