It is frightening to think that even today, there are still many properties that contain asbestos. This is despite the fact that it has been shown to be extremely toxic and caused the deaths of many people.
So, what level of compensation should you expect for asbestos exposure, and how should you go about claiming it?
Just a few years ago, there was a raft of asbestos personal injury claims as a consequence of new legislation and developments in medical science. We now know that thousands of people have been suffering the after-effects of exposure to asbestos as a consequence of their workplaces back in the 70s, 80s, and even beyond.
We also know that many houses built before 1990 contained asbestos cement materials, and a lot of asbestos claims are made by those working in construction.
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Asbestos is a group of minerals made up of soft, flexible fibres used as insulation material in construction and manufacturing for many years. However, over time it's been discovered that asbestos inhalation is very dangerous, and asbestos fibres can lead to long-term health problems.
Asbestosis is a serious condition that affects the lungs, damaging them and causing you to struggle with regular breathing. It's caused by the inhalation of asbestos fibres over a long period of time, and as such, has been known to affect construction workers who handled asbestos in the 70s, 80s and 90s.
Mesothelioma is a type of cancer. It tends to affect the organs of the body, growing on the outer lining of their surface. While it primarily affects the lungs, it can also impact the stomach, heart and testicles. It's not currently curable cancer, but treatment can help reduce and control symptoms. It is caused by exposure to asbestos.
Back in the 1970s up to the 1990s, there is no doubt that those working in the construction and building industries were most exposed. There are horrendous examples of long-term exposure to asbestos, which has caused significant damage to the lungs and, in some cases, death.
Unfortunately, there are still some industries today that will contact asbestos (although rarely).
• Heating and ventilation engineers
• Demolition workers
• Construction workers
The problem is that these groups of people tend to work on properties that may have been built using asbestos many years ago before the regulations changed. If you find asbestos, then there is an official protocol you have to adhere to in order to remove it safely. So make sure you do it!
The problem with asbestos as a material is the fibres are so small that they can be inhaled deeply into the lungs causing lacerations and breathing difficulties.
Some of the more common symptoms associated with asbestosis include:-
• Persistent coughing
• Shortness of breath
• Pain in chest
• Pain in the shoulder
• Swollen fingertips
One of the main problems with asbestos compensation claims is that the symptoms can take up to 20 or 30 years. Your doctor can easily diagnose asbestosis, and in many cases, traced it back to a previous working environment, but there is no cure.
The medical condition asbestosis is literally centred around your lungs. As a consequence, your GP should be able to listen to your chest for warning signs. Additional tests may include:-
• CT scan
• Lung function tests
In reality, your GP will be able to diagnose asbestosis without additional tests, but they are often used to confirm initial concerns.
Once the tiny particles of asbestos are absorbed deep into your lungs, there is no cure. The damage that has already occurred cannot be reversed, although there are treatments that can make life a little more comfortable.
• Pulmonary rehabilitation
• Oxygen therapy
• Inhalers for mild asbestosis
Once you have asbestosis or another asbestos-related disease, it is simply a case of making sure that you are as comfortable as possible. Unfortunately, in some cases, this can lead to other conditions such as pleural disease and mesothelioma, a type of cancer. So, it is safe to say that asbestosis and asbestos can be a killer in general.
Yes – if you or a loved one has suffered from asbestos exposure, then you are able to make a claim. You can get compensation for being asked to work in a dangerous industry without the knowledge of the long-term impact on your health. You or your family could be entitled to a lump-sum payment, depending on the conditions you suffer from. There are also certain state benefits that you could qualify for – a good law firm or claims company can offer you advice on benefits and compensation claims.
As asbestosis is a major problem for those who have been exposed to asbestos, there are some significant payments available. It will obviously depend upon the severity of the symptoms. The average settlements tend to lie between £137,000 and £154,000.
The above compensation payments are known as general damages, financial compensation for pain and suffering. However, if you have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, then you would likely also be eligible for special damages.
Special damages cover costs incurred, ongoing costs, and future costs relating to medical treatment as a consequence of, in this case, asbestosis.
However, you will also be able to claim for any special requirements, medical equipment, car conversions, and loss of earnings. This list is by no means exclusive, but it does give you an idea of the kind of expenses covered by special damages.
It is worth noting that general damages are dictated by industry guidelines and thereby limited. However, when it comes to special asbestos damages, there are no limits; consequently, special damages will often be a multiple of general damages.
If you are diagnosed with asbestosis by your doctor, then it is simply a case of backtracking to see where you may have first developed the illness. Historically it was a problem to backtrack 20 or 30 years, but records are much clearer today, and it is now much simpler.
As soon as you are ready to pursue compensation, you should approach a claims management company.
Asbestos compensation claims that are not exaggerated have a high success rate. In most cases, you only need to prove that on the balance of probabilities, any illness was caused by asbestos exposure – you don't need to prove beyond all doubt that it was definitely asbestos that caused it. Of course, asbestos cases aren't the most common, but the types of illness involved, including lung cancer, are relatively simple to trace back to asbestos exposure.
Any companies dealing with asbestos removal need to have liabilities insurance. This ensures that if someone who worked for them did get ill due to exposure, they would be covered for any compensation payout needed. If a company doesn't have liabilities insurance, then they are not legally allowed to carry out asbestos removal work.
When you present your case details and evidence to a claims management company, they will estimate your chances of a successful prosecution. If they believe you have a minimum 60% chance of success, they would likely offer to take your case forward on a "no win, no fee" arrangement.
It is worth noting that you may be able to claim compensation from a UK government compensation fund as well as compensation from your previous employer. This is something to discuss with your claims management company.
The "no win no fee" arrangement effectively indemnifies the claimant against costs incurred by the claims management company.
It's rare to find a law firm or claims management company that only specialises in asbestos disease claims or mesothelioma claims. Asbestos solicitors tend to manage a number of different claims because there aren't enough asbestos claims to sustain a regular income.
However, they are experts in how to make an asbestosis claim or mesothelioma UK laws. Their team can offer you advice and support on what you need to do to make a claim for yourself or a loved one, and while they might not be sole asbestos claim specialists, they are able to help with the claims process.
A compensation claim is when you make an argument for compensation due to injury or loss suffered. For example, in the case of asbestos, a person is asking for financial recompense due to the serious illnesses that asbestos can cause and its life-changing, debilitating effects.
The average payout for any kind of personal injury claim varies depending on the injury. The injuries are normally severe and potentially life-threatening for asbestos, so claims average in the six-figure amount. However, minor injuries caused by other work incidents might only justify compensation in the hundreds.
It is difficult to claim compensation for personal injury or suffering without legal help. This is because these cases are complex, and businesses will seek to limit their damages or fight a claim. To claim compensation, you need evidence of the injury caused, and you should take this to a specialist claims company or solicitors.
Where you are able to prove negligence on behalf of your previous employer, they would likely look towards an out-of-court settlement. Assuming an agreement can be reached, you could receive compensation within 14 days of signing your acceptance.
There will be occasions where your employer will admit negligence regarding asbestos, but the parties are unable to agree on compensation. In this instance, it would be left to the courts to rule on compensation.
There will also be occasions where your employer refutes negligence, which will prompt a full-court hearing.
The judge would hear arguments from both sides and make a ruling on negligence. If negligence was confirmed, it is simply a case of following the industry guidelines for general damages and calculating special damages. In this scenario, you would likely expect to receive your compensation within 21 days of the ruling.
An asbestos claim will rarely involve court proceedings. Normally the case can be settled before the courts are needed – it is usually fairly obvious whether the asbestos case is likely to be successful or not. So normally, It's in the best interest of both parties to resolve it as quickly as possible.
Yes – it is possible to make a claim after the death of someone who has mesothelioma. The claim can be brought by the executors of the deceased's estate, with any compensation paid into the estate and split between the beneficiaries as the will dictates.
The Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit is one of the state benefits you can claim if you become ill due to accidents or disease at work, including asbestos-related illnesses. You can ask your local Citizens Advice or head to the government's website to find out more about asbestos disease benefits.
Most asbestos-related claims are made on a no-win, no fee basis. This means that if you don't win your case, you don't need to pay a fee to your representation (although there may be other costs involved).
When you make an asbestos claim, you should only need to pay if you are successful. The likely fee for an asbestos claim will be 25% of the money you win. This might seem like a lot, but remember that the other 75% is money you likely would not have received if you'd fought your asbestos compensation claim alone.
There are dedicated support groups for anyone who is suffering from asbestosis or any other asbestos-related illness. There is also Mesothelioma UK – a support group especially for anyone with this cancer, with help living with the illness and making mesothelioma compensation claims.
If you are making a claim for your own asbestos illness, but you don't need the money yourself, you can set up a fund to support a loved one once you have passed away. Your solicitors may be able to offer advice on doing so, but if not, then speak to a specialist in wills who can make sure your fund is set up to pass to your beneficiaries once you pass away.
Here at Money Savings Advice, we have partnered with some of the UK’s leading Personal Injury Claims management companies. They have already helped thousands of people claim compensation for injuries they have incurred, and they can do the same for you.
Choosing an independent claims management company means they won’t proceed with a claim unless they are sure it is in your best interests. They are also regulated by the FCA, which gives you an additional layer of protection.
If you would like to speak to one of these claim management companies who can help you make a compensation claim, then click on the below and answer the very simple questions.
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