Hospice Claims News

Have you read "Asbestos Alert"?

Asbestos alert is a free quarterly e-newsletter prepared by Peter Olszewski at Boyes Turner Solicitors and is available to anyone who is involved in asbestos care, treatment or management and also to asbestos victims.

Each quarter the newsletter reports on matters such as:

  • Updates in the law regarding asbestos
  • Interesting stories on the historical uses of asbestos
  • Asbestos victim’s personal stories
  • A question and answer session prepared by specialist asbestos lawyers
  • Articles on asbestos in the world today
  • Legal battles successfully pursued by the Boyes Turner industrial disease team
  • Charitable events the Boyes Turner industrial disease team are taking part in for asbestos related causes

And much more…

The newsletter is a fantastic way of keeping up to date with what is happening in the legal minefield of asbestos litigation, with Boyes Turners recent successes and how the team are helping charities with vital work to beat diseases such as pleural thickening, asbestosis, asbestos induced lung cancer and mesothelioma.

Why it's important for mesothelioma victims to pursue a legal claim

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:

Responsibility

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:

  1. Ignorance of the law
  2. Failing to keep abreast with health and safety requirements
  3. Failing to provide personal protective equipment to employee’s such as face masks simply to save money
  4. 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
  5. Failing to educate employee’s on the dangers of working with asbestos
  6. Using asbestos products unnecessarily when other non-asbestos materials are available and could have or should have been used
  7. 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

asbestos related disease medication aids     asbestos related disease treatment aid

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:

  1. NHS prescriptions
  2. Over the counter medications
  3. Walking aids such as a stick, a wheel chair or a motorised scooter
  4. Stair lifts
  5. Non-NHS provided Breathing aids
  6. Support cushions
  7. Holistic treatments
  8. 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:

  1. Assistance with dressing
  2. Assistance with bathing
  3. Running errands
  4. Fetching items
  5. Assistance going up and down stairs
  6. Assistance with daily chores
  7. Physical support
  8. Assistance in getting to and from medical appointments
  9. Psychological support
  10. After care following surgery
  11. 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.

Benefits

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:

  1. Travel expenses in attending medical appointments
  2. Parking expenses in attending medical appointments
  3. 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
  4. Increased heating costs
  5. Replacement clothing costs due to loss of weight

A successful legal claim would cater for these costs to be repaid to the claimant.

Hospice costs

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.

Funeral expenses

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.

Justice

Perhaps the most important reason for pursuing a legal claim is that of justice.

justice for asbestos claims

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

British insurers failing to do their part to assist asbestos victims

A debate in the House of Lords in 2015 revealed that insurers in Britain are failing miserably to fund asbestos related cancer research.

But why do British Insurers have a duty to asbestos victims

Britain has a long history of asbestos use in the workplace. Many of these asbestos related workplace activities were able to take place as insurers were willing to insure the business and specifically the use of asbestos within it. This we believe places a positive duty on insurers to pledge vital funds to asbestos research and to assist asbestos victims.

We are also aware that the Association of British Insurers (“ABI”) has also pledged on numerous occasions to provide vital funds to asbestos research related charities, though sadly the funds pledged are not nearly enough to satisfy the deficit of funds needed each year.

Boyes Turner note that sadly, thousands of people are diagnosed with asbestos related diseases every year, many of those diseases are fatal such as mesothelioma and asbestos related lung cancer. Asbestos victims often pursue legal claims against their previous employers with the insurer having to pay both compensation and the victims legal fees. The British insurance industry by pledging vital funds to asbestos related charities would not only be helping to find a cure for asbestos related diseases sooner, but would also be alleviating their own liabilities as cured asbestos victims would be compensated less than asbestos victims diagnosed with a terminal disease. In this sense it would also be a commercially sound venture for British insurers or the ABI to pledge regular funds to asbestos related disease research.

So which insurers were found in the debate to be funding asbestos disease research?

The House revealed that only 4 out of 150 insurance companies had been contributing voluntarily to a mesothelioma research funding scheme, this is just 2.66% of the British insurance industry.

Lord Alton then revealed during the debate that the number of insurers voluntarily contributing to mesothelioma research had dropped to just 2, just 1.33%.

Lord Alton proposed a statutory levy on the insurance industry to fund asbestos research stating that a small contribution from each of the 150 insurance companies could transform mesothelioma research completely.

Lord Alton went on to reveal that the 2 insurance companies  (Aviva and Zurich) actually donating to asbestos cancer research were donating a combined £1 million over two years to the British Lung Foundation’s mesothelioma research programme.

Lord Alton stated,

“Although I commend Aviva and Zurich … … £500,000 a year for just two years does not come close to addressing the multi-million pound funding deficit experienced by mesothelioma research. It does not deliver sustainable funding; it relies on the good will of two companies, which themselves complain that the load is not being fairly shared, and nor does it deliver the promise made to the House when we voted on a statutory provision. It is unfair and unrealistic to ask two firms to be responsible for 100% of the insurance industry’s contribution to mesothelioma research.”

What levies do British insurers pay towards asbestos victims?

British insurers were all required to pay a 3% levy towards funding the Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme (“DMPS”) 2014. This is a scheme set up to compensate mesothelioma victims were the negligent employing company was dissolved and no insurer could be traced.

Between 2014 and 2015 the 3% levy generated a £7.8 million surplus of funds.  The government decided to repay these funds to the insurers, much to the dismay of asbestos campaigners.  The levy going forward was then reduced to avoid a surplus occurring again.

The purpose of the levy was to assist mesothelioma victims and the British insurance industry does not in our view do enough as it is to fund asbestos cancer research.

Boyes Turner believe the surplus £7.8 million could have been better spent by British insurers collectively agreeing to:

  • Donate it to mesothelioma research
  • Donating it to mesothelioma victims
  • Donating it to mesothelioma related charities
  • Donating it to the NHS or hospice’s who treat mesothelioma victims

Boyes Turner would call on British insurers or the ABI to pledge more funds annually to asbestos related cancer research.

Six celebrities that have died from mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a cancer, the only known cause of which is prior contact with asbestos dust.  You may think, therefore, that mesothelioma is a disease that most commonly affects lifelong plumbers, electricians, engineers, mechanics and service men, trades where it would be common to come across asbestos dust on a regular basis.  However, Judges, musicians, authors and actors have all died from mesothelioma. 

Sadly, the list below is by no means exhaustive.

Steve_McQueen - Mesothelioma Sufferer - Boyes Turner

1. Steve McQueen (1930-1980)

One of the US’s well paid actors, perhaps most famous for “The Magnificent Seven”, Steve McQueen died from mesothelioma in 1980.

McQueen had thought he had come into contact with asbestos for many years, firstly starting during his time in the US Marine Corps, followed by years of pursuing his passion of racing motorbikes and cars.

He believed that the overalls he wore contained asbestos, a mineral that is well known for its heat retardant properties.

 

2. Paul Gleason (1939-2006)Paul_Gleason - Mesothelioma Sufferer - Boyes Turner

An actor perhaps best known for his part in the 1980’s film “The Breakfast Club”, he also starred in Die Hard and Trading Places.

Paul Gleason believed that he had worked with asbestos when doing jobs for his father, a building contractor, on various construction sites. It was common to come across asbestos on construction sites in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. Asbestolux sheets were often cut by handsaw or circular saws by carpenters without warning or protection. Gleason’s health rapidly declined in 2005 and he was not able to take on any further acting roles.

 

3. Dame Ann Ebsworth (1937-2002)Ann Ebsworth - Mesothelioma Sufferer - Boyes Turner

Dame Ebsworth was a barrister and Judge. She was called to the bar in 1962, taking on mainly criminal cases. She became a Recorder in the Crown Court in 1978, a Circuit Judge in 1985 and served on the Mental Health Tribunal from 1980 to 1983.  She became the sixth female High Court Judge in 1992 and was assigned to the Queens Bench Division.

She died in April 2002, aged 64, due to peritoneal mesothelioma, a cancer that affects the lining of the peritoneum and abdomen.  Although her father was an Officer in the Royal Marines, it is not known how she came into the contact with the deadly asbestos fibres and whether it was perhaps transferred from his clothes and person.

 

4. Michael G Coney (1932-2005)Michael G Coney - Mesothelioma Sufferer - Boyes Turner

Born in Birmingham in September 1932, Michael Greatorex Coney was firstly a chartered accountant before becoming a science fiction writer and relocating to Canada. He died at the age of 73 due to pleural mesothelioma, the asbestos related cancer that affects the lining of the lungs. He published eighteen novels and over sixty short stories during his lifetime including Winter’s Children, A Tomcat called Sabrina and I Remember Pallahaxi, which was published posthumously.

In his last interview he made it clear he wanted to have one last conversation with the science fiction world. He had been in and out of a hospice and was on morphine and oxygen. He said “My sickness has basically replaced writing. I am suffering from mesothelioma which is very debilitating and makes concentration quite difficult. I find that my memory will disappear from one sentence to the next…”. He died on 4 November 2005.

 

5. Malcolm McLaren (1946-2010)Malcom McLaren - Mesothelioma Sufferer - Boyes Turner

Born in Stoke Newington in 1946, McLaren died from mesothelioma at just 64 years old. He was a musician, performer, clothes designer and impresario. McLaren was the man who created the Sex Pistols and then found fame by later opening the clothes shop “Sex” on the King’s Road in Chelsea with his then lover, Vivienne Westwood. He died in a Swiss clinic of peritoneal mesothelioma.

His partner Young Kim, believed the former Sex Pistols Manager may have been exposed to asbestos whilst smashing up his design shop, “Sex”. McLaren pulled down the ceiling of the shop in the 1970s, a time when asbestos was prevalent in many buildings. McLaren apparently vandalised his punk fashion shop because he wanted it to look like “a bomb had hit it”. It is though that he had accidentally demolished some asbestos sheeting during the process.

 

6. Ed Lauter (1938-2013)Ed Lauter - Mesothelioma Sufferer - Boyes Turner

The actor, Ed Lauter, had roles in many films such as “The Longest Yard”, “Sea Biscuit”, “Leaving Las Vegas”, and “The Artist”.  He also starred in dozens of television shows including “Charlie’s Angels”, “Murder She Wrote”, “Magnum PI”, “The X Files”, “ER”, “Star Trek The Next Generation” and “The Office”.

It is difficult to ascertain how Lauter came into contact with asbestos dust, however, his widow, Mia Lauter is suing CBS Corp, the Ford Motor Company and General Electric for supposedly exposing him to the deadly fibres. The allegations report that the actor was exposed to asbestos through some of Ford’s auto parts, including clutches and brakes. Brakes and clutch linings are notorious for containing Chrysotile (white) asbestos, used due to its heat resistant properties. The lawsuit also alleges that Lauter was exposed to asbestos at various movie studios and locations over his 40 year career as an actor in Los Angeles. He died in October 2013, two weeks before his 75th birthday.  He was diagnosed five months prior in May 2013.

Mesothelioma claims

Mesothelioma does not discriminate. We see many people who have developed mesothelioma as a result of a trade or occupation in the past that is typically associated with asbestos such as plumbing, lagging or shipbuilding. However, it not uncommon to come across sufferers of mesothelioma that have had a fleeting job as a teenager or young adult where asbestos was used before embarking on an alternative career.

Some of our clients have never worked with asbestos themselves but have come into contact with the potent dust from washing the overalls of a partner or from being in the family home when asbestos dust was brought back by a relative on their person and clothes.

Bolton Councillor dies of mesothelioma - Help Your Hospice

Hulton Councillor, Alan Walsh, very sadly died on 20 January from the asbestos-related cancer, mesothelioma.

A popular councillor, he served the Hulton ward from May 2000 when he was first elected. Highly regarded and respected by his peers and by people from both ends of the political spectrum, he was awarded the title of Honorary Alderman in December 2015, a title usually reserved for retired council members.

Cllr Walsh passed away at the age of 81 in Bolton Hospice, Queen’s Park Street, Bolton.

Exposed to asbestos whilst working as plumber

It is thought that Cllr Walsh came into contact with asbestos during his 50 year career in plumbing and construction.

Asbestos Justice reports that 1 in 50 plumbers, born in the 1950s and who have worked in the industry for 10 years or more, are at risk of developing an asbestos-related disease.

Ways in which plumbers might have come into contact with asbestos include:

  • Working on pipes, boilers, ducts and tanks that were manufactured between the 1940s and 1970s which were covered in asbestos lagging.
  • Cutting, drilling or sawing pipes to specific sizes often disturbing asbestos insulation and releasing fibres into the atmosphere.
  • Handling pumps, valves and gaskets that contained asbestos.
  • Removing old boilers and refitting new ones often required stripping old asbestos lagging with a hammer/chisel or being in the vicinity whilst this was being done by others.
  • Using asbestos cement flues and cutting them to size.
  • Using asbestos rope and string to seal the joints of flues or boilers.
  • Drilling through asbestos soffits and asbestos pipe boxings to install pipes and overflows.

Mesothelioma has a long latency period

It is not unusual for mesothelioma to develop many years after coming into contact with asbestos due to the long latency period between exposure and the onset of symptoms such as breathlessness and chest pains.

Helping his Hospice

Cllr Walsh was diagnosed with the tragic disease of mesothelioma in 2013. Despite his debilitating illness, he amazingly raised over £800 for Bolton Hospice.

Hospices provide invaluable assistance and support to people suffering with mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer and other illnesses. However, hospices are usually independent charities and receive very little funding from local authorities or the NHS. Many hospices rely on donations like Cllr Walsh’s.

When we act for a client suffering from an asbestos-related illness or for a family who have lost a loved one, we will seek to recover the hospice costs wherever possible and repay them to the hospice.

Swindon disease - Mesothelioma sufferers in Wiltshire

Mesothelioma is often referred to as the ‘Swindon Disease’ in Wiltshire as there is a disproportionately high number of cases in the borough. This is largely due to the fact that in the 1950s the vast majority of working men were employed at the railway works.

It was common in Swindon for fathers and sons to work at the railway works, a tradition following through families. Sadly, asbestos was used prolifically in the railway works, resulting in high levels of regular exposure. In addition, there were other factories in the Swindon area including car plants which also gave rise to asbestos exposure.

Unfortunately, this had led to a clearly high number of cases of asbestos related deaths in the Wiltshire area.

Gilly Jones, a specialist asbestos claims solicitor at Boyes Turner, commented:

“Wiltshire is known as a particular hot spot for mesothelioma, other asbestos related diseases and deaths as a result of asbestos exposure. We receive a large number of instructions from those affected in this area, particularly the railway workers.  It is a very sad legacy”.

How to get the cost of your hospice care refunded

Hospices provide invaluable assistance and support to people suffering with mesothelioma and other asbestos related illnesses.

They are usually run as independent charities (charitable trust) and receive little or no funding from the NHS or local authorities. Many rely on donations and, in a tough economic climate, are finding it increasingly difficult to raise the money that they need to continue their work and meet local community needs.

However, it is possible to help hospices and recover the cost of the in-patient and home/community care that they provide, from the insurers/former employers and other organisations held responsible for causing the mesothelioma or other asbestos related illness.

When Boyes Turner acts for a patient suffering with an asbestos related disease, we will always seek to recover their hospice costs wherever possible.

Low level exposure case for mesothelioma victim

Mr P had worked in the 1970s as a sales representative for Atcost, a company which erected agricultural and industrial buildings from prefabricated asbestos cement panels.

He frequently handled offcuts and attended the manufacturing base and often visited sites when buildings were in construction. Atcost denied liability arguing that any exposure was less than minimal and below the level at which Atcost would have been required to protect him.

Despite maintaining their denial Atcost made offers to settle the claim shortly before trial and Mrs P finally accepted an offer of £145,000. During his lifetime Mr P had received assistance from St Nicholas’ Hospice Care in Bury St Edmonds and Boyes Turner were able to recover the Hospice’s costs as part of the claim.

The service provided was first class. You were understanding, caring and professional

David Froud

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