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Written on 15th April 2020 by

We were instructed by the widow of Mr D following his premature death from lung cancer.

Although Mr D was a former smoker, the family had been told, following his death, that his lung cancer may have been caused by his previous asbestos exposure.

Mrs D instructed us to deal with the asbestos compensation claim because Mr D had made a witness statement some years ago for a former colleague’s case which we had dealt with against the same company, Halfacre and Young Limited. Mr D’s evidence of his own asbestos exposure had therefore been captured in that statement.

In the statement he had prepared for his former colleague’s case, Mr D had stated that he had worked for Halfacre and Young for almost 30 years as a plumber and that over the years he had undertaken jobs that brought him regularly into contact with asbestos. 

He described how he had come into contact with asbestos, undertaking work involving roofing, guttering and pipework and working in loft spaces in domestic properties. He removed and installed asbestos tanks and repaired and maintained pipework. He also had to install or repair asbestos flues to gas boilers, which involved using asbestos string or rope.

Mr D clearly had heavy exposure to asbestos and due to his willingness to provide a statement to assist his former colleague all those years ago, that statement enabled his own family’s claim to proceed when he succumbed to an asbestos-related disease himself.

Often people are reluctant to get involved in someone else’s claim but this claim illustrates how beneficial and invaluable that help can be. Mr D’s statement not only assisted the success of his former colleague’s claim but some years later enabled his own family to bring a claim following his own premature death. The claim would have been much harder, and possibly unable to be pursued, without Mr D’s earlier evidence on his former colleague’s case.

We approached the insurers for Halfacre and Young to initiate the claim and set about obtaining medical evidence to support the claim. Lung cancer cases can be difficult to prove, particularly where there is a smoking history but the medical expert in this case was supportive.

That expert confirmed that Mr D was extensively exposed to asbestos during his employment with Halfacre and Young. He also confirmed that Mr D was previously fit and well and very active. He saw his GP in December 2017 after experiencing some breathlessness. After investigations, he was diagnosed with lung cancer in February 2018 but sadly he deteriorated very quickly and died suddenly in March 2018.

The coroner was notified about Mr D’s death and this was when the possible link with asbestos was made and we were instructed to pursue a compensation claim. The inquest into Mr D’s death, which we attended with the family, concluded that Mr D had died from a form of lung cancer as a direct consequence of asbestos exposure, leading to a verdict of industrial disease.

The medical expert stated that Mr D’s smoking history alone would have given him a 9% risk of developing lung cancer but when combined with the risk from his asbestos exposure, the combined risk of developing lung cancer accounted for the majority of that risk. This supported the claim.

We set about valuing the claim and then entered negotiations with the insurers for Halfacre and Young, reaching an agreement all parties were happy with.

Unfortunately employers’ liability insurance could not be traced for the entirety of Mr D’s employment with Halfacre and Young so the agreed compensation will not be paid in full but that was known at the outset.

We are delighted to have assisted in bringing this difficult case to a successful conclusion and wish the family well for the future.

The case illustrates how valuable Mr D’s own evidence was, from years before his own death, and how assisting in someone else’s compensation claim by providing a statement to support their asbestos exposure can ultimately preserve your own evidence should anything happen to you in the future.