Asbestos-related compensation claims
In this article we set out what you need to know about making a successful asbestos-related compensation claim.
Rates of asbestos-related disease are higher in the UK than in many parts other parts of the world. The use of asbestos was permitted in UK industry for years after many other countries banned the mineral.
The charity Mesothelioma UK estimate that around 2500 people are diagnosed with the disease each year. The TUC state that around 4000 people die each year as a result of asbestos-related cancers and other illness, long after the material's use was outlawed.
A large body of legislation and case law now exists to protect the public and to ensure that people who have developed asbestos-related disease can claim compensation.
The amount of compensation you will receive depends on a number of factors. Our asbestos-related compensation calculator provides an accurate estimate of your likely compensation.
If you have been diagnosed with an asbestos exposure-related disease, you may be entitled to claim compensation.
You may also be able to claim on behalf of a family member diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestosis or other asbestos-related diseases, even if that family member has died.
Claims can be made in cases of 'secondary exposure'. This can happen if you, or a member of your family, developed an asbestos-related disease as a result of exposure to asbestos fibres from the hair, skin or work-clothes of a family-member who worked with (or around) asbestos.
Provided that the disease can be shown to have been caused by exposure to asbestos fibres, compensation is available. Quittance's solicitors have helped claimants get compensation for:
- Asbestosis scarring - caused by inhaling large amounts of asbestos dust or fibres
- Lung cancer - linked to direct exposure to asbestos or living with someone who worked with asbestos
- Mesothelioma - a form of cancer only caused by exposure to asbestos affecting the lungs, abdomen and heart
- Pleural thickening - causing breathlessness and pain when breathing
Asbestos-related claim time limits
Provided that the diagnosis occurred within the last three years, a claim is possible even when decades have passed since the exposure to asbestos occurred. Specific legislation has provided for compensation to be available to some who would have otherwise been unable to claim. If you are unsure about whether it is still possible to make a claim, contact Quittance on 0800 612 7456 for more information.
What if you do not know when or where the exposure happened?
Your solicitor will investigate your work history and the possible causes of your illness and help to identify likely circumstances and determine whether you can make a claim. You can call a solicitor today to get this process underway.
What if my employer no longer exists?
The insurance company representing an employer at the time of the exposure will usually make the compensation payment, even if the employer itself has closed, been bought out, or declared bankruptcy. In situations where it is not possible to trace a company or their insurer, Government-run schemes exist to pay compensation.
Legislation, including the Pneumoconiosis etc (Workers' Compensation Act) 1979, provides for lump sum payments under such circumstances.
I have a strong claim - why won't a solicitor take it on?
Courts in England and Wales acknowledge that an asbestos-related illness can deeply affect both an individual with the disease and their dependants. Compensation is awarded to cover loss of earnings and future loss of earnings if you are unable to return to work, to reimburse medical treatment costs and other expenses, and general damages for pain, suffering and loss of amenity.
Quittance's network of specialist solicitors have years of experience handling asbestos-related compensation claims. We understand the issues faced by people and their families affected by asbestos-related disease and offer a no-obligation consultation to discuss whether to make a claim, how to approach securing compensation and treatment support.
Shipbuilding is an occupation closely associated with high rates of asbestosis and mesothelioma. Our solicitors have helped clients exposed to asbestos in shipyards and many other industries make a successful claim. Other industries affected by asbestos exposure included:
- Power station workers
You do not need to have been employed in a job with a high risk of asbestos exposure to make a successful claim. Compensation has been paid to asbestos-disease sufferers who developed the illness as a result of secondary or environmental exposure, including when washing the clothes of employees working with asbestos.
How is asbestos disease compensation calculated?
The level of compensation awarded for an asbestos-related illness is determined by factors including:
- the severity of the illness, and
- the impact the symptoms have had on the lives of those affected
Injury compensation guidelines are recommended by the Judicial College (formerly the Judicial Studies Board). Compensation recommendations are made in the guidelines using tables of upper and lower awards for any specific injury.
As an example, the guidelines recommend general damages for a mesothelioma claim of between £56, 650 and £101,750.
The guidelines are not legally binding. It may be that in certain circumstances general damages are negotiated or awarded in excess of the upper limit recommended by the Judicial College.
Our Compensation Claims Report will look at the factors affecting your likely compensation by referring to factors both specific to your accident or illness and to these guidelines.
Compensation for ongoing expenses, including travel costs to hospital appointments and the cost of ongoing care, will also be included in a settlement payment or award in the form of special damages. Insurance companies, solicitors and the Courts will follow the guidelines in the majority of cases.
Mesothelioma compensation scheme
For people diagnosed with mesothelioma on or after 25th July 2012, a Government-run scheme exists to cover even cases where the insurance company of your employer cannot be traced. Compensation under the scheme averages £123,000. More details of this scheme can be found here. Prior to the scheme, the government estimated that hundreds of people each year were unable to claim as their employer was not insured or could not be identified.
Some injury claims can be relatively straightforward and compensation will be quickly agreed. More complex or contentious claims usually take a greater amount of time to complete. Certain key factors will delay the process, particularly in cases where the defendant does not accept responsibility for the exposure.
It can be difficult to predict exactly how long it will take to negotiate a settlement without more information.
Get a better idea of how long your claim is likely to take, speak to an expert personal injury solicitor on 0800 612 7456 or get a Compensation Report.
It must be shown that the exposure to asbestos occurred due to the actions or negligence of someone else, i.e. the defendant. The defendant is usually an employer or ex-employer.
There are three tests to consider when proving fault:
- Did the other side owe a duty of care?
- Did they breach that duty?
- Did the breach cause the disease?
In cases of secondary exposure, the question of whether an employer owed the family members of an employee a duty of care has been settled by the Courts. Family members who develop asbestos-related disease may now claim compensation even if the employee themselves is unaffected.
Where the defendant has admitted responsibility for the asbestos-related disease a successful claim is very likely. On the other hand, if liability is only partly accepted or contested achieving a successful outcome may be more difficult.
A No Win, No Fee agreement, also known as a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA), is the start of most claims.
The agreement sets out the work your lawyer will provide, and importantly, the "success fee" to be deducted from your compensation award once your case is won.
Get total peace of mind with the knowledge that you will never be out of pocket. There will be no hidden costs using a Quittance personal injury solicitor.
We are aware that many claimants have more questions when considering whether to begin a claim.
For comprehensive answers to any questions you may have about how asbestos-related compensation claims work, see our frequently asked questions or call our team of specialists on 0800 612 7456.
Meet the QLS team
Quittance Legal Services' nationwide panel of solicitors carry out the legal work for all types of compensation claim, including short-term, serious and life-changing injury claims. Chosen on the basis of their track record in recovering compensation, our solicitors have years of experience.
About the author
Gaynor Haliday is an experienced legal researcher and published author. She has had numerous articles published in the press and is a legal industry commentator.
Read more about this Quittance Legal Expert