July 1st marks Action Mesothelioma Day (AMD), a national event designed to raise awareness of asbestos and mesothelioma. It’s also an important opportunity to raise vital funds, support research into tackling mesothelioma and remember and support those who have been affected by asbestos-related cancer.
If you have been negligently exposed to asbestos either at work, or through washing overalls for someone who was exposed to asbestos dust, and have gone on to develop mesothelioma (or another type of compensable asbestos related disease), then you may be able to bring a successful legal claim in order to recover compensation.
Why it’s important to raise awareness
· More people die in the UK each year from exposure to asbestos than die in road traffic accidents.
· Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that is entirely preventable.
· Around 2,700 people per year in the UK are diagnosed with mesothelioma; many pass away within six months of diagnosis, around 60% die within a year and sadly fewer than 10% of people with mesothelioma survive beyond 3 years in the UK - survival times can depend on the subtype of mesothelioma, the treatment received and the age of the suffered.
What is mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a type of cancer which is caused by exposure to asbestos. Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibre that was widely used in construction industry from the 1950s until the late 1990s due to its insulating and heat resistant properties.
Asbestos exposure is the only known cause of mesothelioma. The disease affects the mesothelium which is a thin membrane that lines the inner surface of the chest wall (pleura) and the abdomen (peritoneum). Pleural mesothelioma is by far the most common type of mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma has a protracted latency period i.e. it takes a long time for the symptoms to develop, therefore the majority of people who are diagnosed with the condition are between the ages of around 60 and 80 years old.
Exposure to asbestos
The importation, supply and use of asbestos has only been banned in the UK since 1999 and it can still be found today in many domestic and non-domestic premises, schools and hospitals. It is not considered harmful when in large pieces and undamaged, however when damaged or cut to shape, it can release smaller fibres that can be inhaled or swallowed.
The three types of asbestos fibres most commonly used in the UK were crocidolite (known as ‘blue asbestos’) amosite (known as ‘brown asbestos’) and chrysotile (known as white asbestos. All forms of asbestos fibres are hazardous but amphibole forms (including blue and brown) are more hazardous to health than chrysotile (white).
Historically, individuals in the construction industry were most at risk of asbestos exposure however, many public sector workers such as teachers and nurses have been exposed during their work too. The Independent reported that a total of 305 teachers were confirmed to have died from mesothelioma between 2001 and 2016. Asbestos in school is still a significant problem.
How we can help you
Whilst many personal injury solicitors will say they are able to deal with mesothelioma claims, this is a specialist area of law and due to the aggressive nature of the disease, there are specific court rules which apply only to mesothelioma claimants. We understand this and can deal with your case effectively.
Compensation can never undo the devastating consequences of developing an asbestos related disease, however the damages recovered may assist a patient and/or their family with the challenges the disease brings.
Damages can include the cost of specialist private medical treatment such as immunotherapy, loss of earnings, the cost of care (either provided by friends and/or family or provided on a professional basis), adaptations to the home and many other losses which have been incurred as a direct result of the illness. There is also an amount recoverable for having the disease itself.
As long as the employer had insurance at the time the exposure took place (something we will be able to find out) then it is possible to bring a claim for compensation, even if the company no longer exists. If the employer did not have insurance, then it may be necessary to bring a claim through the Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme.
Some patients do not know how, when or where they were exposed to asbestos. If this is the case, we will discuss your employment history with you in detail to ascertain potential sources of exposure.
State benefit entitlement
Even if you choose not to pursue a legal claim, there are a number of state benefits which you may be entitled to, such as Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit, Pneumoconiosis etc (Workers’ Compensation) Act 1979 payment, Attendance Allowance and Personal Independence Payment.
If you or a family member would like further information please contact Ruth Craven on 01522 515597or email email@example.com