Many asbestos victims often ask whether it is worthwhile them pursuing a legal claim following diagnosis with an asbestos related disease. In particular widowed persons sometimes do not see the point in pursuing a legal claim as they have lost their loved one regardless and a legal claim will never change that.
In this article the reasons for and benefits of pursuing a claim are explained:
In most cases asbestos exposure is suffered due to the negligence of another person or entity.
The reason for the negligence can be for a number of reasons such as:
- Ignorance of the law
- Failing to keep abreast with health and safety requirements
- Failing to provide personal protective equipment to employee’s such as face masks simply to save money
- Failing to provide extraction and ventilation equipment in the workplace to protect employee’s from the harmful effects of asbestos fibres, again often simply to save money
- Failing to educate employee’s on the dangers of working with asbestos
- Using asbestos products unnecessarily when other non-asbestos materials are available and could have or should have been used
- Failing to maintain asbestos registers
Employers in these cases have either ignored the law or simply acted in a reckless manner to save money and increase annual profits at the cost of the employee’s health.
The law places a responsibility on employers to protect employee’s and if that responsibility is breached then the employer should be held to account for its wrong doings.
Treatments, medication and aids
Once a patient has been diagnosed with an asbestos related disease they will inevitably require treatment, medication and aids.
The asbestos related disease diagnosed and the level of respiratory disability suffered will determine exactly what the patient’s requirements are.
Examples of treatments, medications and aids that could be required by an asbestos victim include:
- NHS prescriptions
- Over the counter medications
- Walking aids such as a stick, a wheel chair or a motorised scooter
- Stair lifts
- Non-NHS provided Breathing aids
- Support cushions
- Holistic treatments
- Bathing aids
The costs of these items can quickly add up and should not be paid for by an asbestos victim. A successful legal claim would cater for these costs to be repaid to the claimant.
Loss of earnings
Many asbestos victims either have to reduce their working hours or give up work due to a respiratory disability.
In cases of terminal disease such as mesothelioma or asbestos induced lung cancer the worker will not only have to give up work, but will also suffer a loss of future earnings and a loss of future pension income due to a reduced life expectancy.
In these cases the asbestos victim or his/her family following his/her passing will suffer a financial loss due to no fault of their won.
A successful legal claim would cater for these losses to be repaid to the claimant.
Financial security to a living asbestos victim means one less worry when you are already dealing with a horrible disease.
For a dying asbestos victim, peace of mind can be obtained knowing that their family will be catered for financially on their passing and that they will not need to struggle unnecessarily in their absence.
Care and assistance
Most asbestos victims will require care and assistance with their day to day living due to their respiratory disability.
In cases of terminal diseases the need for care and assistance can be constant.
Examples of care and assistance that is often provided includes:
- Assistance with dressing
- Assistance with bathing
- Running errands
- Fetching items
- Assistance going up and down stairs
- Assistance with daily chores
- Physical support
- Assistance in getting to and from medical appointments
- Psychological support
- After care following surgery
- Assistance with medication
All of these items go over and above the usual care and assistance provided by a spouse and can be very draining on the carer.
The provision of this care sometimes also prevents the carer from working resulting in a further financial loss.
A successful legal claim would claim a sum of money so that the carer is compensated for the care and assistance provided.
People suffering from asbestos related diseases are entitled to apply for government benefits such as Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefits (“IIDB”) and a Pneumoconiosis Workers Compensation Act (“PWCA”) payment.
These payments can be of great benefit to an asbestos victim and his/her family.
These benefits can be applied for regardless of whether a legal claim is being pursued, though a lawyer would always assist a claimant with these applications to remove some of the stress and to ensure the forms are completed correctly and within time.
Out of pocket expenses
All asbestos victims will incur out of pocket expenses due to their disease.
The treatments, medications, and aids discussed above are all forms of out of pocket expenses that could be incurred. Further out of pocket expenses could also include:
- Travel expenses in attending medical appointments
- Parking expenses in attending medical appointments
- Paying professionals to conduct services around the home that you are no longer capable of carrying out such as gardening, window cleaning, decorating and general DIY
- Increased heating costs
- Replacement clothing costs due to loss of weight
A successful legal claim would cater for these costs to be repaid to the claimant.
Some asbestos victims will spend time in a hospice. The costs of staying in a hospice are very high, though usually the patient will not need to contribute to this.
Most hospices are charitable organisations that rely heavily on donations.
In a legal claim, the cost of hospice care will be included in the claim and if the hospice costs claim is successful, the funds will be paid to the hospice. This is a great benefit to hospice’s and ensures the hospice’s ability to care for other patients in the future.
As per the above, some asbestos diseases are terminal. Funeral expenses vary though typically they cost around £5,000.
It is not fair that an asbestos victims family should pay for these costs when the death has occurred simply due to the negligent actions of another person or company.
A successful legal claim would claim the funeral costs so these can be repaid to the claimant.
Perhaps the most important reason for pursuing a legal claim is that of justice.
The question of whether an employer was in fact negligent towards an employee and whether they caused his or her disease is usually always disputed. This leaves the asbestos victim and their family with many unanswered questions that need to be answered and if necessary judged upon by the court.
Once a legal claim has been finalised the claimant and his family will have achieved justice, they will have closure and they can move on with their lives knowing whether they were negligently exposed to asbestos or not. This is always very important to people and a legal claim will help to achieve these answer