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60 seconds with mesothelioma and asbestos claims solicitor Annabelle Neilson

Annabelle qualified as a solicitor in September 2009 and joined Boyes Turner’s mesothelioma and asbestos claims team in December 2009. Annabelle represents claimants who have developed an asbestos-related disease such as mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, asbestosis and pleural thickening.

“Annabelle is held in great esteem by our family for all she has done for us throughout this traumatic time in our lives. Our thanks to her will never be enough.”

  • Who can bring an asbestos claim?

Anyone who has received a diagnosis of an asbestos-related disease such as mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, asbestosis or pleural thickening should look into making a claim for compensation. There is a long latency period from the time of exposure to asbestos dust to the time of diagnosis of an asbestos disease, which can be anywhere from 10-50 years.

  • Why should I instruct a specialist firm of solicitors?

Mesothelioma and asbestos-disease claims are complex and often require immediate, skilled attention, owing to the life-limiting nature of these conditions. As specialist mesothelioma and asbestos claims solicitors, Boyes Turner’s industrial disease team are highly experienced in dealing with these types of claim and the defendant representatives. We use our expertise to ensure that the claim is progressed swiftly and sensitively, sparing our clients and their families unnecessary delay in receiving their compensation.

  • Am I entitled to any benefits?

There are a number of benefits which you may be entitled to receive following a diagnosis of mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease. These include Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit, Pneumoconiosis etc (Workers’ Compensation) Act 1979 lump sum payments, Diffuse Mesothelioma Scheme 2008 lump sum payments, Diffuse Mesothelioma Scheme 2014 lump sum payments, attendance allowance, war veterans’ pension and constant attendance allowance. We can assist you in making applications for benefits which can help with the cost of treatment and any care which you may require.

  • How long will a claim take?

The length of each claim will vary and can largely depend upon the position taken by the defendants and whether or not they decide to defend the claim. We act quickly and proactively to minimise the duration of any compensation claim. We work with the asbestos masters and the asbestos and mesothelioma claims procedure in the High Court to ensure the swift progression of all our claims. We regularly achieve lifetime settlements, sometimes within six weeks from instruction, and we have secured interim payments of £50,000 within two weeks of receiving instructions to alleviate our clients’ financial hardship whilst the full value of the claim is investigated. Take a look at some of the mesothelioma and asbestos disease claims which we have settled on behalf of our clients.

  • How much will it cost?

We provide an initial consultation free of charge. At that meeting we advise our clients fully about their options, and then we discuss and agree together how best to fund the claim. We offer Conditional Fee Agreements (CFAs, also known as ‘no win, no fee’).

  • I have an asbestos-related disease. What should I do next?

Email Annabelle on idclaims@boyesturner.com and she will discuss with you the best course of action to achieve the best and quickest settlement of your claim.

Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme and veterans

The Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme (DMPS) was enacted in 2014 allowing mesothelioma victims to claim a lump sum payment from the Government where the negligent employer company or other organisation which caused the mesothelioma is no longer trading or its insurer cannot be traced; i.e. there is no defendant to pursue. Where armed forces veterans were exposed to asbestos before 1987 they are statute barred from pursuing a civil claim against the Ministry of Defence (MOD), leaving them also in a position of having no one to pursue.

Are veterans entitled to claim a payment from the DMPS?

The DMPS states that a mesothelioma victim is unable to claim a payment from the scheme where there is an entitlement to a payment from a MOD scheme such as the War Pensions Scheme (WPS).

So, what can veterans do?

On 16 December 2015 the MOD changed the rules of the WPS to allow mesothelioma victims to have the choice of receiving their WPS in regular, small payments (as in the original scheme) or as a one-off tax-free lump sum. The one-off tax-free lump sum was introduced to redress the imbalance between the WPS and the DMPS/civil compensation. The WPS was previously only paid as regular, small payments which ceased on the death of the mesothelioma victim. This meant that war veterans would often receive a fraction of what their civil counterparts would receive through the DMPS or a claim for compensation.

Does this mean that veterans will receive the same award as a civilian making a compensation claim?

In short, no. The WPS will pay £140,000 as a lump sum to mesothelioma victims making a claim. This means that in most cases the WPS payment is likely to under compensate mesothelioma victims. The amount is just below that paid for 75-year-olds under the DMPS.

What if someone has died from mesothelioma before a WPS claim has been made? Can their widows/dependents still claim?

In this situation a payment under the WPS will no longer be available. Instead, eligible widows and civil partners may apply for a War Widow’s Pension.

What if I have an asbestos-related disease other than mesothelioma?

The lump sum payment under the WPS is only available to those diagnosed with mesothelioma.

Who can help veterans make WPS applications?

Help is available for veterans from Mesothelioma UK who have a dedicated benefits advisor as a part of their armed forces service and work closely with Armed Forces UK. The Royal British Legion also provide help and support. Boyes Turner’s mesothelioma and asbestos claims team can help veterans with applications under the WPS.

If you or a family member are suffering from mesothelioma or other asbestos-related disease, email us at IDclaims@boyesturner.com for a free initial conversation. 

Susan Brown awarded membership of exclusive Legal 500 Hall of Fame

Congratulations to Susan Brown, partner and clinical negligence team leader, from all at Boyes Turner, for her recent induction into the Legal 500 Hall of Fame.

Susan has long been recognised by all the major legal directories as one of the UK’s leading clinical negligence lawyers, but membership of the Legal 500 Hall of Fame is awarded exclusively to partners whose expertise places them at the pinnacle of the profession and who are constantly praised by their clients for continued excellence.

Susan’s immense experience and excellent judgement in high value child brain injury and maternal injury cases resulting from birth trauma and neonatal negligence regularly results in multi-million pound compensation awards for her clients. Her professionalism and incisive astuteness have earned her the respect and admiration of her colleagues, Counsel, medical experts and opponents, but it is her compassion for the injured children and her empathetic understanding of the devastating physical, emotional and financial impact of caring for a severely disabled child which results in such close and loyal relationships with her client families.

She has dedicated her career to making a lasting difference to the lives of severely disabled children and their families. We are delighted that Susan’s outstanding expertise and commitment to achieving the best possible results for her clients have been recognised in the Legal 500 Hall of Fame.

Read more about Susan Brown and the other partners who have been recognised in the Legal 500 Hall of Fame here.

Funding for child prosthetics

In March 2018 the government announced that they will be renewing their £1.5m pledge to provide sports prosthetic limbs for children. The Department of Health initially made the funding available in the wake of the 2016 Paralympics with the Secretary of State for Health affirming his belief that every child should be able to participate in sport. Since then, over 200 children have been granted government funded specialist sports prostheses under the scheme.

There are currently an estimated 2,000 children in the UK who are without limbs, for a variety of reasons. Some are born with congenital deformities, and some suffer amputations as a result of deadly, but often treatable, conditions, such as meningitis and septicaemia.  

Amputation, or in some cases, multiple amputations, can have a profound impact on a child. Their challenges will continue throughout their lives as they undergo regular bone trimming operations as their body continues to grow and change. Keeping up physically with school, coping with the difficulties of social integration with able bodied peers, adjusting to more independent living at university and entering the world of work will all bring new demands and challenges. Day to day pain or blistering at the amputation stump site from their prosthetic limb will add further strain. They will probably need psychological support. In addition to the physical difficulties that they will face with mobility and independence, they will also incur increased costs.

An effective prosthesis for a child can help them to feel confident returning to school, enabling them to continue with their education, interact with their peers in the classroom and the playground and, with the help of specialist sports prosthetics, such as running blades, they can participate on the sports field.

The specialist injury team at Boyes Turner are experienced in helping individuals who have experienced avoidable limb loss. We understand the need for early rehabilitation, physical and psychological support, and the importance of good prosthetic provision, for people of all ages. We are experts at achieving high value compensation awards which ensure that our clients’ needs are properly met. Our education colleagues work closely with our younger amputee clients and their families to ensure that appropriate therapy provision and support in school is in place to help the disabled child get back on their feet and reach their goals.

We appreciate that not everyone who has experienced limb loss has a claim for compensation and welcome the news that government funding will continue for specialist sports prostheses for amputee children to enable them to participate fully in society.

If you are caring for a child who has suffered an amputation as a result of negligence we might be able to help contact our specialist solicitors on mednegclaims@boyesturner.com.

60 Seconds with... Julie Marsh shares her experience with brain injury claims cases

During Boyes Turner’s campaign to raise awareness of brain injuries, we talked to Julie Marsh, a senior associate - solicitor in the clinical negligence group, about her experience of handling claims arising from delayed diagnosis and treatment of craniopharyngioma (a type of brain tumour).

What information do you need from an individual who has concerns about delays in the diagnosis and  treatment of a brain tumour? 

I need details about the timing of the onset of symptoms, when the symptoms were first noticed and what those symptoms were.  If the patient is a child, their family might be the first to notice that something is wrong, such as a change in behaviour, difficulties with walking or with vision. It is very important that I understand how the symptoms progressed over time, whether they deteriorated or stayed relatively stable, and over how long a period of time leading, finally, to a diagnosis.

It also helps to know when, and following which medical investigations, the diagnosis was made. Various different medical investigations can take place before a brain tumour is diagnosed.  

I need to understand what treatment has been received since the diagnosis, whether further treatment will be needed in future and what information, if any, the patient or their family have been given about the long term prognosis.

Can you investigate a case even if an individual is still having treatment?

Yes.  There are good reasons for contacting a solicitor as soon as you can after suffering any severe injury through medical negligence.

There are time limits associated with bringing claims. These vary depending on the patient’s age and the severity of their brain injury.

The sooner we can establish liability, the sooner we can obtain interim payments to help pay for care, specialist equipment, therapies and other costs arising out of the negligently caused injury and to ease the financial hardship that often arises following brain injury, often long before the case is finally concluded.

It is, however, important to have a clear diagnosis of a brain tumour, as the type of tumour will determine how the tumour has developed over time and its rate of growth – some cancers grow more quickly than others - and this is relevant to the claim.  

An ongoing investigation should not affect the provision of any treatment. In one of my cases, the client’s family approached me shortly after the diagnosis of brain tumour had been made. My client needed ongoing medical reviews and went on to have proton beam therapy and further surgery to treat the brain tumour. In the meantime, we were able to establish liability for the claim.

 How are claims arising from delayed diagnosis and treatment of brain tumour funded?

This type of claim is usually funded by way of a Conditional Fee Agreement (sometimes called a ‘No Win, No Fee Agreement’) backed by after-the-event insurance. This means that there are no upfront costs to the client to get the investigation underway and that the client will not be liable for any legal costs if the investigation is unsuccessful. In a successful claim, the Defendant pays the majority of the legal costs.  

We always discuss the funding arrangements for bringing a claim with a client at the outset, so that they understand the terms of the agreement and are entirely comfortable with them before any action is taken.  

Where a claim, even if successful on its merits, will not be financially viable for the claimant, I let them know at the outset.

How do you investigate whether a GP or the hospital acted negligently?

We investigate the treatment that the patient received from their GP or their hospital doctors by reviewing their medical records, detailing the recollections of the patient and their family in witness statements, and then obtaining the opinion of medical experts on the standard of the care that was given.

In cases involving a brain tumour, presentation can include issues with vision or with balance and coordination, and if the child has been assessed by a specialist, then it would be necessary to review the records from that assessment as well.

How do you calculate the level of compensation in a case arising from delay in diagnosis of craniopharyngioma? 

The valuation of any claim is entirely tailored to the individual client, the impact of their injury on their life and their personal circumstances. Here again, we work with experts, such as occupational therapists or visual rehabilitation experts, according to the client’s needs, to explore and quantify the injury that has been caused by the negligent delay.

In brain tumour cases we sometimes have to account for the fact that some degree of brain injury may well have occurred as a result of the tumour, even if it had been diagnosed correctly at an earlier time. It takes considerable expertise to ascertain what difference the delay in diagnosis made, in terms of the injury itself and the impact it will have on the client, (such as loss of vision), and their ability to function independently in future life. We then have to translate that into the financial cost of meeting their additional needs for care, aids and equipment, specialist education (SEN) in the case of a child, and so on, along with any future loss of earnings arising from reduced ability to work.

Why do you think it’s important for cases like this to be investigated?

The consequences of any delay in treatment can be devastating for the individual and their family, whether  physically, psychologically, educationally or financially. Through interim payments and compensation settlements we can alleviate our client’s financial hardship, facilitate rehabilitation and therapies, and restore a degree of independence. 

If you or a member of your family have suffered from a brain injury as a result of medical negligence contact our specialist solicitors on mednegclaims@boyesturner.com.

Brain Injury from Subarachnoid Haemorrhage

When subarachnoid haemorrhage (SAH) occurs, usually without warning, fast action is needed to admit the sufferer to hospital for live-saving surgery. National guidelines set an accepted deadline of 48 hours from incident to surgery. Delays lead to severe brain damage, disability and death.

Effects of brain injury from SAH

A subarachnoid haemorrhage causes damage to the brain, both from the dramatic reduction in blood supply (and oxygen) which follows the rupture of a blood vessel and from the pressure on the brain caused by the aneurysm or tumour which caused the haemorrhage and the bleeding into the subarachnoid space.

A patient with SAH remains at risk of further complications following their initial haemorrhage:

  • Rebleeding can occur soon after the first haemorrhage when the healed aneurysm ruptures again, exposing the patient to a high risk of permanent disability or death. This complication can be prevented by surgical repair to the aneurysm immediately after the first SAH.
     
  • Cerebral ischaemia from vasospasm - narrowing of the blood vessels in spasm - reduces the  blood supply to the brain, leading to increasing drowsiness and coma. The risk of secondary cerebral ischaemia can be reduced by medication given after the initial SAH.
     
  • Hydrocephalus - a build-up of fluid on the brain – can cause brain damage from increased intra-cranial pressure. Patients with hydrocephalus may experience headaches, vomiting, blurred vision and difficulty walking. Hydrocephalus is common after SAH has disrupted the production and drainage of CSF and may need treatment with a lumbar puncture or the temporary insertion of a shunt to facilitate drainage of the excess fluid from the brain. 

Patients who survive a subarachnoid haemorrhage may be left with long term effects from the damage to their brain. Depending on the severity and location within the brain of their SAH, they may have:

  • epilepsy (in 5% of SAH survivors )
  • cognitive dysfunction causing difficulties with memory, planning and concentration, which can affect even the simplest of tasks
  • extreme tiredness
  • headaches
  • problems with sleeping
  • weakness and loss of sensation in their arms and legs
  • difficulty distinguishing between hot and cold, which affects their ability to shower and carry out other activities safely
  • impairment to their sense of smell and taste
  • visual impairment, such as blurred or double vision, blind spots or black spots
  • difficulty understanding speech
  • emotional and psychological problems, ranging from depression to PTSD

How Boyes Turner can help

Where surgical treatment of SAH has been unacceptably delayed leading to additional severe brain injury and consequent disability, our experienced specialist brain injury team work hard to ensure that the full extent of our client’s additional injury and the impact on their life is properly assessed, rehabilitated, and compensated.

We work with trusted medical experts to assess whether the standard of care that the individual received from ambulance, accident and emergency and neurosurgical teams met acceptable standards for this emergency condition and whether early opportunities to identify and reduce the patient’s risk of cerebral aneurysm rupture were acted upon by those responsible for their earlier healthcare.

Once liability is established, we secure early interim payments to get rehabilitation and therapies underway, and to help pay for care, home adaptations and specialist equipment. We recognise the need for early intervention to optimise recovery from brain injury. Where our client was the major breadwinner, early interim payments can sometimes be obtained to ease the financial hardship that comes with being unable to return to work following a serious brain injury.

We then work with a range of experts, according to the circumstances of each individual’s case, including care and case managers, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech and language therapists and psychologists to assess the extent and lifelong impact of the individual’s brain injury and loss of function and to value their consequent needs. Our clients’ settlements are structured to provide optimum security and flexibility through tailor-made combinations of lump sum and index-linked annual payments (PPOs).

In cases where negligent medical care of a patient with SAH has led to their death, we support the deceased’s dependent family members in securing compensation for their loss.

If you are caring for someone who is suffering from the results of a delay in treatment of a subarachnoid haemorrhage due to medical negligence contact one of our brain injury solicitors - email mednegclaims@boyesturner.com.

Subarachnoid haemorrhage - a medical emergency

Subarachnoid haemorrhage (SAH) is a medical emergency. Fast admission to hospital for surgery is critical as any delay in surgical treatment can result in severe brain injury or death. Mortality and morbidity rates are high: 30% of people who suffer a SAH die within 24 hours; overall, around half of all cases of SAH result in death; and those who survive can experience long-term disability from brain damage. Getting It Right First Time’s (GIRFT) recent report into cranial neurosurgery highlighted surgery for SAH as one of the most time-critical procedures undertaken by cranial neurosurgeons. It is also one of the areas in which the GIRFT team found that critical delays in admission for surgery are putting patients’ lives at risk.

What is subarachnoid haemorrhage (SAH)?

A subarachnoid haemorrhage (SAH) is a type of stroke caused by bleeding into the subarachnoid space between the membranes on the surface of the brain. It is often, but not always, caused by a cerebral (brain) aneurysm – a bulge in a weakened area of a blood vessel – which ruptures and bleeds into the area surrounding the brain. SAH often occurs without warning but can sometimes follow activity which involves physical effort or straining.

Cerebral aneurysms are often symptomless until they rupture but can sometimes be detected before rupture if the patient starts experiencing symptoms, such as visual problems, pain on one side of the face or around the eye or persistent headaches, from pressure on the brain caused by the (unruptured) bulge in the blood vessel. If an aneurysm is detected before it ruptures, surgery is often recommended to prevent rupture leading to SAH.

Cerebral aneurysms are hard to predict or prevent but the following may increase an individual’s  risk: 

  • smoking
  • high blood pressure
  • excessive alcohol consumption
  • a family history of the condition
  • other rare conditions including autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD)

Less common causes of SAH include:

  • abnormal development of blood vessels 
  • brain tumour (either cancerous or benign) causing damage to the blood vessels
  • brain infection, e.g. encephalitis
  • rare conditions which narrow or block the brain’s arteries
  • vasculitis – inflammation of the brain’s blood vessels, e.g. from infection

The symptoms of SAH:

  • sudden, agonising headache – often described as a blinding pain unlike anything experienced before, as if hit on the head
  • neck stiffness
  • nausea and vomiting
  • sensitivity to light (photophobia)
  • blurred or double vision
  • stroke-like symptoms – e.g. slurred speech or weakness on one side of the body
  • loss of consciousness or convulsions (fits)

What is the treatment for SAH?

If someone is suspected to have suffered an SAH they need to be admitted to hospital as an emergency. On admission to hospital the diagnosis of SAH will be confirmed by a CT scan. If the CT scan is negative but the patient’s symptoms suggest they have had an SAH, a lumbar puncture might be carried out to check the cerebro-spinal fluid (CSF) for evidence of bleeding into the brain.

If SAH is diagnosed or suspected, the patient will be transferred to a hospital offering cranial neurosurgery. If the haemorrhage has been caused by a brain aneurysm, surgical repair and prevention of further bleeding may take place, either by clipping – a surgical procedure involving craniotomy in which the blood vessel is clipped to prevent further bleeding - or coiling, in which platinum coils are fed into the aneurysm via a catheter inserted into a blood vessel in the patient’s groin or leg. Both procedures take place under general anaesthetic.

Medication may also be given:

  • To prevent secondary cerebral ischaemia – a complication of SAH in which brain damage occurs from reduced blood supply to the brain
  • To prevent seizures
  • To reduce sickness and vomiting

How common is SAH?

Around 6,000 people a year are admitted to hospitals in England with a subarachnoid haemorrhage. SAH is the cause of one in every 20 strokes in the UK. It can happen to people of all ages but is most common between the age of 45 and 70. Slightly more women suffer from SAH than men.

Deficiencies in medical treatment of SAH

Subarachnoid haemorrhage is a medical emergency. The recent GIRFT report into cranial neurosurgery described treatment of SAH as “one of the most time-critical procedures undertaken by cranial neurosurgeons, where bleeding from a ruptured cerebral aneurysm can cause rapid and extensive brain damage”. With SAH mortality rates of 30% within 24 hours and around half of all SAH cases leading to fatality, even a short delay in admission for surgery can be fatal. The longer the delay in treating SAH, the greater the risk of severe brain damage or death.

In 2013, the National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death (NCEPOD) recommended that the nationally-agreed standard of 48 hours from diagnosis for surgical treatment of all bleeding brain aneurysms should be met consistently and comprehensively by all health care professionals treating these patients. In doing so it recommended a move towards seven day service provision.

In June 2018, the cranial neurosurgery GIRFT team found that 10% of patients do not receive surgery for subarachnoid haemorrhage within the target of 48 hours from diagnosis. Issues raised in the report about delays in throughput and patient pathways across cranial neurosurgery nationwide, such as lack of available theatres and beds, were thought to contribute to the SAH treatment delays, with the day-of-the-week of the patient’s admission disproportionately affecting the timing of their treatment. Despite the NCEPOD’s recommendation for seven-day service provision, SAH patients receiving treatment within the 48 hour target fell to 74% for patients admitted on a Friday and 58% for those admitted on a Saturday, compared with 83% for other days of the week. 

At Boyes Turner we are highly experienced in acting for brain injured and severely disabled clients whose injury arose in whole or in part from negligent delays in their medical treatment. These cases are complex and are often contested. They require specialist handling to disentangle the extent and impact of the negligently caused injury from the patient’s outcome if correct medical treatment had been given. We work hard to secure early admissions of liability, interim payments, and ultimately the best settlements for our clients which will meet their needs for care, therapies, specialist equipment and adapted accommodation. 

Boyes Turner welcome the findings and recommendations of the GIRFT team’s report into cranial neurosurgery in the hope that genuine improvements in healthcare will reduce the number of patients unnecessarily harmed by delays in treatment for SAH. Meanwhile, we will continue to work to protect the interests of those who have already been harmed or bereaved as a result of negligent healthcare. 

If you have suffered disability or bereavement from delayed medical treatment please contact our specialist lawyers - email them at mednegclaims@boyesturner.com.

Mesothelioma asbestos and the Johnson & Johnson baby powder cases

Over the past couple of months Johnson & Johnson, a company synonymous with baby skin care products, with tag lines such as “clinically proven to be as mild as water”, have come under significant scrutiny following a $117m award of compensation for mesothelioma, after it was revealed through trial documentation that Johnson’s talc baby powder contained asbestos.

The decision to award damages in this case was made by a jury in New Brunswick, New Jersey. The claim was made against the company Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc, together with Imerys Talc America Inc. According to reports, following consideration of confidential documentation from Johnsons’ company documents, the jury awarded the claimant $37m in compensation for his asbestos cancer mesothelioma. They also awarded $80m in punitive damages.  Punitive damages are awarded where compensation alone is seen to be inadequate and as a deterrent for any similar future practice by the company. 

The case in question was Steven and Kendra Lanzo v Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc and Imerys Talc America Inc.  The claimants were represented by American mesothelioma law firm, Kazan Law, who advocate for the rights of asbestos victims. 

During the trial, confidential company documents were disclosed which revealed that the companies were aware that Johnson’s talc baby powder contained asbestos. Consequently, the jury found that Johnson & Johnson should stop selling Johnson’s talc baby powder and should replace the talc with cornstarch. 

The documents showed that Johnson & Johnson were aware since the 1960s that the talc used in its baby powder contained asbestos and that it could cause cancer. 

The talcum powder itself is not considered to be the cause of the mesothelioma, but the fact that it is contaminated with amphibole asbestos tremolite. Talcum powder and tremolite are substances created by the same geologic process, therefore, the materials are frequently found in the same areas.

The Johnson’s Baby UK website reassures its consumers that their baby powder does not contain asbestos. The website states, “Johnson’s® baby powder does not contain asbestos, a substance classified as cancer causing. The talc used in all our global production is carefully selected and processed to be asbestos free, which is confirmed by regular testing to confirm purity. Like all our products, Johnson’s baby powder contains only ingredients that have been fully evaluated by scientific and medical experts to ensure they are safe to use”. 

The link between mesothelioma and talcum powder remains controversial and Johnson & Johnson are expected to appeal the decision. The company has previously come under scrutiny for links between ovarian cancer and talcum powder, although large studies such as the Nurses’ Health Study (2010) and the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Cohort (2014) have found no causal link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer. However, these studies did not stop a jury in Missouri yesterday awarding $4.7 bn in damages to 22 women who alleged they had developed ovarian cancer after using their baby powder. Johnson & Johnson is set to appeal the decision.

Talcum powder is a controversial product and many midwives do not recommend the use of talcum powder, owing to the risk that it may be contributing to the growing number of children diagnosed with asthma. 

We will watch out for further developments in the asbestos talcum powder cases and await with interest the outcome of any appeal and any further documentation which Johnson & Johnson may produce.

Whether or not talcum powder poses an asbestos risk and a risk of mesothelioma appears from, the evidence, to be uncertain. What is clear is that talc can be contaminated with tremolite as a consequence of the natural process of its creation but the company maintains its position that the talc used in these products is asbestos free. 

What is certain is that the prolific use of asbestos in the past means that this is unlikely to be the last consumer product that we encounter which used to contain asbestos.

If you or a family member are suffering from mesothelioma or other asbestos-related disease, email us at IDclaims@boyesturner.com for a free initial conversation. 

HSE reveals workplace fatal injury statistics

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the independent workplace safety regulator which protects employees from harm by enforcing employer accountability for unsafe working environments, has published its annual report, Workplace Fatal Injuries in Great Britain 2018.

Which sector has the most fatal workplace injuries?

The provisional statistics reveal a slight increase in workplace deaths in 2017/2018 compared to the previous year. 144 workers were fatally injured. The construction industry recorded the largest number of fatal injuries overall - 38 construction workers were killed. The waste and recycling and agricultural sectors had the highest fatal injury rates per 100,000 workers.

Fatal injuries to workers whilst travelling on a public highway or whilst commuting, travelling by sea or air, whilst on duty in the armed forces or through natural causes unrelated to work were excluded from the HSE report as these are regulated by the police and other authorities. Deaths from asbestos-related mesothelioma were also excluded, forming the subject of a separate report.

What are the most common causes of fatal injury in the workplace?

The HSE reported that the most common causes of death, across all industries, were due to:

  • falling from heights
  • being struck by moving vehicles
  • being struck by moving objects
  • being trapped by something collapsing or overturning
  • contact with moving machinery

Other causes included:

  • being injured by an animal
  • slipping, tripping or falling on the same level
  • drowning or asphyxiation
  • contact with electricity
  • exposure to fire

The UK consistently has one of the lowest rates of workplace fatal injury in Europe, but at nearly three ‘entirely preventable’ deaths a week, Craig Foyle, President of the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), described the number of fatalities as ‘unacceptable’, particularly given the additional numbers of serious injuries not covered by this report and the huge emotional and financial impact on the bereaved families.  

The Health and Safety Executive’s stated mission is to prevent work-related death, injury and ill health in the belief that ‘everyone has the right to come home safe and well from their job’ – a sentiment that Boyes Turner wholeheartedly support.

How can Boyes Turner help?

As specialists in personal injury, acting for individuals who have been seriously disabled in workplace accidents and the bereaved, dependent families of those who have died owing to unsafe workplace environments, we understand the emotional impact and financial implications of losing a beloved family member and major breadwinner. Where a disabling or fatal injury has occurred, we act fast to secure liability judgments or admissions and interim compensation payments to alleviate the financial hardship caused by the accident. In cases of serious injury, we can help our clients access physical and vocational rehabilitation, psychological counselling and specialist equipment, offering our client the best prospect of an early recovery and return to work. Where a return to work is not possible we ensure that our clients’ loss of earnings and pension losses are included in their claim.

If you have suffered the loss of a loved one, or a disabling injury in a workplace setting and would like to discuss a potential claim please contact us by email at piclaims@boyesturner.com.

Asbestos Court Users Meeting

On 13 June 2018, the High Court held an Asbestos Court Users Meeting. The meeting was chaired by Senior Master Fontaine with significant contributions from Master Davison, Master Eastman, Master McCloud, Master Thornett and Master Gidden.

Asbestos disease claims

When handling asbestos disease claims, we are fortunate to have dedicated Masters who oversee the swift progression of each and every case. Mesothelioma claims are prioritised and, using the dedicated asbestos list at the High Court, we are often able to progress them to trial within the lifetime of our mesothelioma clients.

Another way in which the High Court supports the needs of asbestos-related disease sufferers is by encouraging the parties’ legal representatives to make use of the ‘show cause’ procedure. By doing so, the court can identify swiftly those cases where liability is in dispute or where judgment on liability can be entered and the claim progressed quickly to an assessment of damages hearing.

The Masters

The Masters highlighted their expectation that by the first case management conference both the claimant and defendant must know where they stand in relation to a show cause hearing. If there is a simple, short point in dispute then this can be dealt with at the first 30 minute hearing. More complicated issues will require a longer hearing at a later date and the claimant and defendant are expected to provide for this in their directions.

The Masters clarified that all asbestos cases (not only mesothelioma claims) are appropriate for the show cause procedure, recognising the importance of the swift progression of any claim where an asbestos disease has been diagnosed. 

The Masters further demonstrated their commitment to the swift progress of these claims by confirming that, in the absence of compelling argument from any party for the need for cost budgeting, this is regarded as unnecessary in asbestos claims, given the potential for additional delay.

They emphasised the importance of the appointment of an expert mesothelioma and asbestos claims solicitor in these cases. Expert mesothelioma and asbestos claims solicitors understand the process and the procedure within the High Court for progressing asbestos disease claims. By instructing specialist experts and solicitors who follow these procedures, mesothelioma victims are more likely to be spared unnecessary delay in receiving their compensation. 

The Boyes Turner team

Boyes Turner’s industrial disease team are experts in asbestos-related disease cases and have an outstanding record of securing high value, lifetime, and provisional damages settlements, often succeeding where other less experienced lawyers have been unable to act.

If you or a family member are suffering from mesothelioma or other asbestos-related disease, contact is by email at IDclaims@boyesturner.com for a free initial conversation. 

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The service was personal, professional and considered. I was treated so kindly and in the end I knew that not only had I found the right organisation but also the right person.

Boyes Turner client

Get in touch

Please get in touch 0800 029 4802

Or we are happy to call you back at a time that suits you

Office open Mon - Fri: 08:30 - 18:00