Make an asbestosis claim

What is asbestosis?

Asbestosis is a very specific condition that refers to fibrosis of the lungs caused from breathing in asbestos fibres over many years. The term asbestosis is often misused to describe almost any asbestos related condition which can be confusing.

It is usually individuals who have had significant exposure to asbestos, over several years, who go on to develop asbestosis. The effects normally appear 20 years or more after exposure. It can cause breathlessness and may become more severe over time.

Symptoms of asbestosis:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Persistent cough
  • Wheezing
  • Extreme tiredness (fatigue)
  • Pain in the chest or shoulder
  • In more advanced cases, swollen fingertips

Complications of asbestosis:

People with asbestosis also have a higher risk of developing other serious conditions, such as:

  • pleural thickening
  • mesothelioma
  • lung cancer

Asbestos exposure

In order to prove a claim for asbestosis the history of asbestos exposure needs to be moderate to heavy for many years. An asbestosis claim can be proven where there is a work history of asbestos exposure, in general terms - 1 year of heavy exposure to asbestos or 5-10 years of moderate exposure. As a general rule the greater the level of exposure, the greater the extent of the asbestosis.

Is compensation for asbestosis available?

When someone is diagnosed with asbestosis then legal advice should be sought to consider if a claim for compensation can be made.

When there is a death as a result of asbestosis then it is important that the local coroner is notified and that a post mortem takes place. The lung tissue samples can be analysed for asbestos bodies which can, together with exposure history, prove an asbestosis claim. It is important that the tissue samples are preserved until the conclusion of the legal claim.

How much will it cost to bring a claim?

We provide an initial consultation free of charge. At that meeting we can discuss and agree together how to fund an asbestosis compensation claim. In the majority of cases, we can offer Conditional Fee Agreements (CFAs or “no win, no fee”).

What should you do next?

In order to secure a successful claim, we will need to present evidence of asbestos exposure and the impact on your health as well as showing the failure by your employer (or company/other body if you weren’t employed) to protect you.

Below is a list of the steps we will take in an asbestosis case :

  1. Obtain a medical report stating that you are suffering from an asbestos-related disease. This report needs to be produced by a reputed respiratory disease expert who is accustomed to producing medicolegal reports for the court (not just any medical professional)
  2. Establish the exposure to asbestos occurred at a specific workplace or due to proximity to a particular asbestos-related industry.
  3. Demonstrate that your employer (or other defendant) was aware of the risks and could have foreseen that there was a high probability that you could develop symptoms of asbestos-related disease. This should not be too difficult to prove since a lot of types of asbestos have been under restrictions since the 1970s, the last type was banned in 1999.
  4. Prove that the defendant failed to follow regulations around the use of asbestos either by not informing you about the dangers or by not providing the correct training or equipment.

Asbestos related disease claims are  one of the more complex and challenging areas of personal injury law. We have helped recover over £3.5 million in compensation in the past 12 months for those with asbestos related diseases.

The team has long standing relationships with many agencies and charities that help people with asbestos related diseases, and their families receive as much assistance and support as possible during a very difficult time.

Available benefits

Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit

If you have asbestosis and believe the disease was caused by your employment then you are entitled to apply for IIDB, a weekly payment from the government.

Pneumoconiosis etc (Workers Compensation) Act 1979

A lump sum payment under the Pneumoconiosis etc (Workers Compensation) Act 1979 can also be made where the asbestosis was caused by asbestos exposure at work. This is provided that no compensation from a civil claim in respect of the disease has already been received. The award is generally made where the employer has ceased trading and no insurer can be traced.

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General asbestos claims FAQs

  • How long do I have to make an asbestos claim?

    For people with an asbestos related disease there is usually no problem in bringing a claim, even though the exposure occurred a long time ago. This is because you have three years from the date it can reasonably have been expected that you “knew or ought to have known” that your condition may be associated with your asbestos exposure, within which to issue court proceedings. If someone dies within three years of this date then the personal Will representative for the estate has three years from the date of death within which to issue court proceedings. However, there are some circumstances where exceptions can be made, so please do contact us so that we can advise you appropriately.

  • What can I claim for?

    This will vary from case to case and will depend on the type of disease you are suffering from, the medical treatment that you may require and any losses incurred.

    The claim amount may be made up of the following:

    • An amount for the disease itself. Any care that you have received in the past and any that you may need in the future, whether that is paid or unpaid. We can also include a claim for costs incurred by a hospice (both visits to the home by hospice nurses and residential care).
    • Any loss of income that you have suffered and any that you may suffer in the future.
    • The cost of the requirement of additional services such as DIY, gardening, window cleaning etc, (Whether those services are paid for or provided by a friend or family member).
    • A claim on behalf of dependants (such as a spouse, child or other family member) for services provided, care provided or financial dependency.
    • Out of pocket expenses such as aids and equipment, travel, private medical costs and alternative treatment costs.
  • What are the steps to make an asbestos claim?

    We are happy to discuss the possibility of bringing a claim, without any obligation to take matters further.

    In addition to understanding how the asbestos related diagnosis came about and the impact of that diagnosis, we will ask for information about how you or your loved one came into contact with asbestos so we can start to assess your potential claim.

    Even if you haven’t worked directly with asbestos or cannot recall the circumstances of your asbestos exposure then still get in touch with us as it may well be that, after careful questioning, it becomes apparent where and when your exposure to asbestos is likely to have occurred. We have an extensive database of statements and documents involving many UK employers and companies.

    Where asbestos is considered to have potentially played a part in a death, it is important that the local coroner is notified of the death and that a post-mortem takes place. We can advise on this process. An initial interview is always provided free of charge. At that meeting we will discuss how to fund the claim. In the majority of cases, we can act under a Conditional Fee Agreement (‘no win, no fee’).

  • What benefits are available for different asbestos related diseases?

    There are various Government benefits available for those diagnosed with an asbestos related condition, including the following:

    For mesothelioma:

    • Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
    • Pneumoconiosis etc (Workers’ Compensation) Act 1979
    • Diffuse Mesothelioma Scheme 2008
    • Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme 2014

    For asbestos related lung cancer:

    • Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
    • Pneumoconiosis etc (Workers’ Compensation) Act 1979

    For benign asbestos related diseases (asbestosis and asbestos-related diffuse pleural thickening):

    • Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
    • Pneumoconiosis etc (Workers’ Compensation) Act 1979

    We are happy to advise or assist you in making any appropriate applications

  • Can I make a claim on behalf of a loved one who has died?

    It is possible to make an asbestos claim on behalf of a loved one who has died as a result of an asbestos-related disease.

    You may be entitled to claim if you were the spouse or child of someone who lost their life to this disease, or if you were financially dependent on them. The claim is brought by the personal representative of the estate.

    To make a compensation claim in these cases, you must start your claim within three years of the date of death or at the point at which a post-mortem reveals that the death was caused by asbestos exposure.

  • How should my employer have protected me against asbestos exposure?

    A lot of types of asbestos have been under restrictions since the 1970s, the last type was banned in 1999. It is therefore possible to have been exposed to asbestos whilst working on buildings that were built or refurbished before 2000 and in many other professions, we see a large number of former laggers’ or plumbers who have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease after exposure at work.

    Guidance regulations were introduced in 1970 on the use of asbestos in the workplace. These days, employers must follow strict rules set out by the Health and Safety Executive. They should:

    • Identify any asbestos present and what type it is
    • Carry out a risk assessment to see whether it is possible to do the work without asbestos exposure
    • Consider whether the work should be done by a contractor who holds a special license to handle asbestos
    • Notify the relevant authority to let them know about the work that will involve asbestos
    • Provide training and protective equipment to employees

    If your employer failed to follow regulations around the use of asbestos and you later developed an asbestos-related illness, you could be entitled to compensation.

  • Who will be paying for my asbestos claim?

    The company where you worked at the time of your asbestos exposure, or the defendant company, is liable to pay your compensation. However due to the latency period of asbestos in the body a lot of companies have ceased trading once a claim is relevant. If your former employer has gone out of business, you could still make a claim. The company is likely to have been insured to deal with claims such as this, so it will be the insurer’s responsibility to meet the compensation claim.

    In cases where the companies have gone out of business and the insurers are untraceable there are benefits and in some cases, lump sums, set up to compensate those diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases.

  • Will my asbestos case go to court?

    Our highly experienced mesothelioma and asbestos claims solicitors are recognised by Legal 500 and Chambers as experts in handling asbestos related claims. Whilst we cannot guarantee that any particular claim will settle out of court, we take great care in investigating and preparing each claim that we take on. Our clients’ claims usually settle successfully without the need for a contested trial.

    Even in non-contested cases, there will be occasions when the case is brought for shorter hearings before the court. In these cases, the lawyers for both sides present the agreed settlement to the court for the judge’s approval.

  • What if I was not exposed to asbestos at work?

    It may be that you did not come into contact with asbestos through your work. We also act for people who contracted mesothelioma through washing a loved one’s overalls, by living near to an asbestos factory or by attending a school where asbestos was disturbed. We may also be able to bring a claim on behalf of those who believe they were exposed to asbestos whilst they were self-employed.

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