Asbestos is a heat resistant material which was used widely in construction for many decades, typically as a form of insulation from fire and heat. Its qualities are many: asbestos is also resistant to electricity and corrosion and is extremely hardwearing.
But while asbestos is harmless if undisturbed, it can be a killer when it is disturbed or handled. If you or a loved one has worked with asbestos and become ill, and you believe it’s connected to someone else’s negligence, you should be able to claim for asbestos compensation.
The supply and use of asbestos in the UK was completely banned in 1999. But from the 1970s until then, asbestos was widely used in industry – often added to other materials such as cement and plastic to strengthen them. In the UK, asbestos was regularly used in products ranging from boilers and pipes, to floor tiles and car brakes.
However, asbestos produces a fine dust – particularly when it is being handled. The dust can accumulate in an individual’s lungs and eventually cause different forms of respiratory disease, cancer and other forms of asbestos related disease. It can also settle on workers’ clothes – and before the dangers were fully recognised, these workers would return home from work and the dust would come off their clothes and be breathed in by family members. If other people affected become ill – known as ‘secondary exposure’ – they may be able to make a claim.
When the dangers of asbestos started to be recognised, regulations were introduced which required those working with asbestos to use protective clothing. If you have recently been working with asbestos, like dismantling a building containing asbestos, and you’re concerned that you’ve not been effectively protected – it is important you take specialist advice from asbestos lawyers.
Employers owe workers a legal duty to protect them from the risk of injury and harm. If they breach their duties so that the workplace is unsafe, and someone is injured or develops an illness as a result, the employer ought to be held legally responsible.
Get in touch now on 0800 234 6438 for free legal advice with an expert legal adviser as to how you can bring your no win no fee claim for an asbestos related condition. There are no upfront fees to pay – and if your claim does not succeed, you will not have to pay out any legal fees or costs.
It is well known that asbestos related illness and other asbestos related issues can take years, sometimes decades, to develop. However, you should still be able to make an asbestos compensation claim – however much time has passed.
In fact, many sufferers of asbestos related diseases are now at least of retirement age but that should not prevent them from making asbestos claims against a former employer. You or a loved one may have been exposed to asbestos as a result of your employment in different ways.
Where asbestos exists on industrial sites and a worker is not properly protected. If they develop illness they should be able to make a claim for compensation for an asbestos related illness.
Asbestos can be found in factories, warehouses or any building built before 2000, so factory workers who develop an asbestos related illness have the right to make a claim.
Any work that involves demolishing, dismantling and/or rebuilding or refurbishing an old building where there is asbestos may cause asbestos related issues if care is not taken.
This includes manual handling of asbestos, which poses a significant health risk to workers. If illness develops as a direct result, the individual can bring an asbestos compensation claim.
A worker who suffers an accident while working in an office, and it involves asbestos, can bring a compensation claim if they become ill. For example, contractors may be working in an old office building where asbestos has been disturbed – creating fine dust in the air. Any risk should have been identified to minimise the risk of exposure.
Individuals working with asbestos should be provided with functioning personal protective equipment (PPE) to minimise the risk of exposure to asbestos dust. If any part of the PPE is defective and you’re concerned you’ve been put at risk, you may be able to bring claim for asbestos compensation if ill-health develops.
It can be even more distressing if you’re suffering an asbestos related illness but doctors have misdiagnosed your condition or there was an unreasonable delay in diagnosing you. For instance, you may have had the symptoms of pleural thickening for a long time but as they became more serious, there were delays in further scans and investigations before you were properly diagnosed.
Where these failures to diagnose an asbestos related disease led directly to your condition worsening and, perhaps even reducing your life expectancy, you may be able to bring a medical negligence claim for further compensation.
Everyone who has suffered an asbestos related illness as a result of their working environment should be able to bring an asbestos compensation claim. So, if you have been exposed to asbestos during the course of your work, even if you have since left your role, and you’ve become ill – take specialist advice as soon as you can.
Normally, you have three years from the date of injury to start an injury claim. However, this limitation period is different in the case of ill-health (occupational diseases). This means that in some cases, many years have gone by since an individual was working in an environment where there was asbestos. As long as you issue court proceedings within three years of finding out your illness is related to your exposure and it was the result of someone else’s negligence at work, you can still make your claim.
However, you may be wondering: how can I claim for occupational illness or disease? To make a successful work related claim, your specialist asbestos solicitor will simply need to establish that you have been exposed to asbestos and:
You may be seeking to claim compensation on behalf of a loved one who has sadly died as a result of asbestos exposure. An expert solicitor can help you bring an asbestos exposure claim for compensation on behalf of a dependent (eg. a spouse or civil partner) if you start the claim within three years of diagnosis (or knowing that death resulted from exposure to asbestos).
Your specialist asbestos solicitors will still have to prove the employer was at fault and that your loved one’s disease was a direct result of asbestos. For a free initial consultation, call a legal adviser now on 0800 234 6438 to find out more about starting an asbestos claim on a no win no fee basis.
It is common to ask: what conditions or types of industrial disease are caused by asbestos? The fact is, asbestos is extremely toxic – a carcinogenic – and when the dust is breathed in, it can cause serious illness and even death. This is because a particular feature of asbestos dust is that it can accumulate within the body over a long period of time before symptoms of asbestos related illness begin.
Construction workers, builders and other labourers who’ve worked for lengthy periods of time in environments where there was asbestos, are the most likely to develop illness years following exposure. Sadly, the devastating effects may not be experienced for years or decades – and by then, it may be too late. Asbestosis, for example, can take up to 30 years to develop.
The conditions and diseases known to be associated with asbestos exposure include:
Mesothelioma is a form of cancer most commonly associated with asbestos dust. It develops in the lining of the lung rather than the lung itself and tends not to spread to other areas of the body.
This is a serious and progressive form of asbestos disease in the lungs caused by long-term exposure to asbestos. Symptoms range from shortness of breath and wheezing, to extreme fatigue and chest pain.
Asbestos-related lung cancer is the same as cancer caused by smoking. It develops in the lung itself but can spread to other organs (unlike mesothelioma).
Where asbestos dust settles in the lungs and reaches the pleura, inflammation can cause leaking blood vessels, pleural plaques and effusions (either benign or malignant).
This is where the asbestos fibres cause inflammation in the pleura, leading to sharp pains in the chest or shoulders.
COPD is thickening of the pleura which can restrict the breathing, causing breathlessness.
Warts (also known as corns) can develop on the hand or feet where asbestos fibres have become lodged in the skin. This is more likely to happen where PPE, such as gloves, was not provided. Warts can be uncomfortable, but in the worse cases – it can lead to skin cancer.
Cancer and serious lung diseases are catastrophic – both for the sufferer and their loved ones. Treatment plans can be very distressing.
However, an expert legal adviser is experienced in dealing gently with the victims of asbestos exposure and their families. Call for an initial chat and free advice about the claims process with a specialist adviser today on 0800 234 6438.
The earlier you start your asbestos claim, the better, particularly if you’ve just been diagnosed with an asbestos condition caused through work you did years ago. Get in touch with an experienced injury lawyer who can guide you through your next steps. They will take details about your illness, your prognosis and the working environment where you were exposed to asbestos, so it is important that you gather all the information you can.
Employers are under strict health and safety obligations, including carrying out risk assessments. It is important to tell your solicitor whether you know if the employer carried out any risk assessments when you were working. It is important to provide full details of the employer, particularly if they no longer exist. Your solicitor may need to investigate who can be held responsible if their ownership has changed since you worked.
Your injury lawyer will discuss the claim process with you, guiding you through the initial steps and advising you of the options, depending on whether the other side accepts responsibility. Many asbestos claims are settled without going to court and that will be your solicitors’ aim. To find out about making your asbestos injury claim, call now and speak to a trained legal advisor on 0800 234 6438 or by filling in this online form to request a call back
While it’s possible to make work-related illness and occupational disease claims without a specialist lawyer on board, we do not recommend it – particularly for asbestos related diseases. Industrial disease claims are complex and time-consuming, particularly those that arise out of historical exposure to asbestos.
The defendant (the person who you bring your claim against) may not easily be identified today and the claim will most likely be made against an insurance company. Insurance firms are likely to defend a claim for an asbestos disease by refusing to admit liability. Even if liability is admitted, negotiating a fair settlement can be difficult without a specialist lawyer to do this on your behalf. Asbestos solicitors are highly experienced in dealing with insurers on a daily basis.
At the same time, you’re probably suffering from an asbestos disease and will not want the stress of working on your own compensation claim. What’s more, your solicitor will take on your claim under a no win no fee agreement – so you will have no legal fees to pay out unless you are successful.
To find out how experienced asbestos solicitors can assist, call free on 0800 234 6438, or use the contact form on this page and ask for a call back. An expert legal adviser will be able to partner you with specialist injury lawyers for a free initial consultation and advice. Solicitors are heavily regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority – giving much needed peace of mind as you start the legal process.
We understand the prospect of going to court can be very daunting. However, the good news is that it is highly unlikely your case will get to court – most cases settle before litigation becomes necessary. No party wants to go to court – not even a defendant insurance company. Usually, the parties work to negotiate a fair level of damages until agreement is reached. Sometimes it can be necessary to start court proceedings, for instance if an agreement cannot be reached. Even then, it is still common for personal injury claims to settle before it reaches court.
If you’ve been diagnosed with an asbestos disease, get in touch with a legal adviser for free legal advice as soon as you can to find out how you can make an asbestosis claim. If you haven’t been diagnosed but believe you have symptoms of asbestosis, for example your symptoms of pleural thickening are worsening, see your GP urgently and then get in touch about making a claim.
Your doctor will ask about your work history as well as your symptoms, and the medical records will form an important part of the evidence your solicitor will need to begin your claim. Usually, you would be referred to a lung specialist so that appropriate x-rays and scans can be undertaken and a formal diagnosis and treatment given.
You should also consider informing the employer about your ill-health – even if you no longer work for them. Employers have a legal obligation under RIDDOR (The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013) to report certain illnesses to the HSE. Exposure to asbestos is reportable when a work activity causes the accidental release or escape of asbestos fibres into the air in a quantity sufficient to cause damage to health. Unless it happened before RIDDOR came into force, the employer should report it.
It is also wise to keep a diary of your asbestos related condition and your symptoms; how your illness progress; and the impact on you and your family. Individuals’ diaries of their illness and the impact on their lives are an important part of the evidence to support asbestos claims.
Employers have a duty of care towards their workforce. This means they are responsible for any risks to worker health and safety in the workplace, including the potential risk of asbestos exposure. When the dangers of asbestos became recognised, new laws protecting workers from asbestos were introduced.
Today, individuals who are working around asbestos are typically in roles where they are required to demolish buildings, remove parts of a ceiling, dismantle a garage, renovate a property etc where asbestos has been found. In these situations, workers must be provided with adequate PPE and comply with general and specific rules and regulations around health and safety.
Where the employer does not take reasonable steps to protect workers from asbestos, they will be legally responsible for your ill health caused as a direct result.
Employers in any industry must comply with strict health and safety rules and regulations to ensure the risk of harm, such as from asbestos, is minimised. Since the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 came into force, employers have had general responsibilities, particularly implementing effective procedures and processes that promptly identify any risks to health and safety and to act if any are identified.
This would include the need to carry out a risk assessment to identify the presence of any asbestos, before any work can begin. An effective risk assessment will identify inherent dangers, such as hazardous materials and dust, and safety measures can then be implemented.
Where any of these duties were breached and workers go on to be diagnosed with an asbestos disease, the employer should be held liable and face asbestos claims and mesothelioma claims.
Furthermore, where there has been the risk of exposure since April 2012, the rules have been more stringent, for example:
The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 sets out the employer’s duty to manage asbestos if they’re responsible for maintaining non-domestic premises. They must also give mandatory training for any worker likely to be exposed to asbestos fibres during their work.
Importantly, in most cases only licensed contractors are permitted to work with asbestos. If you think any of these expectations have been breached by your employer and your asbestos related disease is a direct consequence, get in touch with us urgently.
The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) – The COSHH regulations apply to workplaces where workers are expected to work with hazardous dusts (and chemicals and fumes). It sets out how employers are expected to control hazardous substances in the workplace.
In addition to risk assessments, they should implement appropriate measures to reduce the risks of asbestos related disease and other industrial diseases as far as reasonably possible. This may include:
Workers on construction and building sites are often self-employed and usually have fewer rights than employees. It can often be a real concern if you were self-employed at the time you believe you were exposed to asbestos at work.
Thankfully, the fact you were self-employed does not make any difference – you can still make an asbestos claim. The health and safety rules and regulations apply to all workers, irrespective of employment status – even if you stopped working for the business a long time ago.
So long as you know who the employer was, and their employer’s liability insurance can be identified at the time you were exposed to asbestos, you should still be able to bring civil claim for workers compensation.
The best thing you can do is to be as sure as you can about the correct name of the business who employed you at the time, then your solicitor will be able to investigate who the relevant insurer was. You may have old payslips or letters that can help, but don’t worry if you can’t remember as your lawyer will be able to trace other records, for example your history at HMRC, to find out who the employer was.
Once the employer and its insurer is identified, your case can then be built up in the same way as if the employer was still operating.
In situations where asbestos claims and mesothelioma claims date back to before 1 August 2016, the situation is more complex, but your specialist solicitor will talk this through with you. Unfortunately, if the business has ceased trading and it had no insurance in place at all, you may well not be able to bring a claim for asbestos compensation.
That said, you may have alternative options to claim some form of compensation or benefit:
You may be entitled to Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB). How much you would be entitled to depends on nature and extent of your disability (you must be at least 14% disabled). The maximum amount available is currently £188.60 per week.
You may be entitled to a lump sum in compensation from the government under the Pneumoconiosis etc. (Workers’ Compensation) Act 1979. To be eligible, the work that caused your asbestos-related disease must have been at least 20 years ago and you cannot claim if you’ve brought a previous claim for compensation.
If you’re not entitled under the 1979 Act, you may be able to claim through the 2008 Diffuse Mesothelioma Scheme or Diffuse Mesothelioma Payments Scheme.
Making workplace injury claims following asbestos exposure and resulting lung disease is not as difficult as you might imagine. The process begins with a free consultation with a specialist legal adviser on 0800 234 6438. They will talk you through the process of making a claim – but be assured that they will never pressurise you into taking your asbestos claim forward. They’ll answer any further questions you have and explain the next steps your case would take. If you decide to go ahead with your claim, they will pass you on to an expert solicitor who will ask for more details, particularly about the employer at the time you were exposed to asbestos; and when your ill-health began. This will provide the groundwork to start building a strong compensation case on your behalf against the employer’s insurance company.
Your solicitor will become the main contact for your case – they’ll be available when you have any questions and will keep you updated on its progress. Importantly, the injury lawyer will attempt to negotiate a settlement with the insurer but if this is not successful, proceedings may need to be issued – but they will discuss this with you if it gets to that point. However, most claims are resolved before litigation becomes necessary.
Your solicitor will need to show that you were exposed to asbestos; that this was avoidable because of the employer’s negligence or breach of duty; and that your lung disease is the direct result.
Expert medical evidence will be crucial to your success – including medical notes showing you’ve been diagnosed with an asbestos illness. This means your solicitor will request copies of your medical records. They will also arrange for you to have a specialist medical examination undertaken by a professional with expertise in asbestos related illness. The expert will then produce a report which will be key evidence in support of your compensation claim. You don’t need to worry about the cost of this because it will be covered by your no win no fee agreement.
This depends on the extent of your lung disease or cancer, your quality of life and your life expectancy. At the start of any claim for asbestos related disease, it can be difficult to give an exact figure of how much compensation you might receive without having the medical evidence available.
However, once your lawyers have all the information about your particular condition and the circumstances in which it was caused, they will work hard to secure the maximum compensation possible. Key factors include:
Compensation for your actual disease is known as ‘general damages’. You can also claim for your financial losses – known as ‘special damages’.
General damages for asbestos diseases vary greatly, depending on the extent of the condition and your prognosis. Helpfully, there are formal judicial guidelines which lawyers refer to determine what would be a fair level of compensation.
These examples show the wide range of compensation potentially available for asbestos related diseases, depending on your unique circumstances. The wisest thing you can do if you’ve been diagnosed with an asbestos related illness is to speak with asbestos lawyers to discuss your own situation. Specialist lawyers will be able to give you a more accurate picture of how much compensation you deserve.
They will also be able to discuss the possibility of settling your claim. For example, if you’re wondering how much you should settle for an asbestosis related lung condition or cancer, your solicitor will try to negotiate the maximum amount possible with your employer’s insurer.
As well as general damages, you may be able to claim for ‘special damages’ to cover any related financial losses, including lost earnings and loss of future earnings if you’re now financially dependent on others. Your solicitor will ask you for detailed information about the financial impact of your condition, including:
If you can, gather as many receipts and invoices that can be used as part of your special damages claim.
As an industrial disease claim, your asbestos compensation case may well be more complicated than typical injury claims, particularly if liability is not accepted. While a successful claim can be settled fairly promptly, it could take two or three years or longer to conclude.
However, there are important court rules that aim to keep personal injury claims within a manageable time frame and to encourage an early settlement. Your solicitor will be able to talk you through the time scales of what the process involves and steps that can be taken to speed things up.
In some cases, you may be able to claim interim lump sum payments, though it depends on whether the employer/insurer admits liability for your condition. If you have become very ill or disabled since being diagnosed with an asbestos illness and you’re struggling financially, interim payments can prove invaluable in helping to cover the costs of any immediate expenses ahead of a final settlement.
We know the huge difference interim payments can make to your recovery, so do ask your solicitor about whether it may be possible.
We understand that you may be worried about possible repercussions if you make a claim against an employer. However, people don’t willingly make life difficult for the employer. The potential repercussions of having exposed past or existing problems relating to health and safety at work can be a huge worry, particularly when it’s an issue as important as asbestos.
Thankfully, the law protects you from being unfairly dismissed or treated differently because of your claim. Quite simply, it’s illegal for you to be fired, harassed or disciplined for making an compensation claim against your employer. If you find yourself in a difficult position at work as a direct result of your claim, talk to your experienced asbestos claims solicitors. You may consider taking action by way of an unfair dismissal claim – in addition to your asbestos claim.
You may also be wondering: Will my employer be left out of pocket? We understand this worry can put additional emotional pressure on you if you’re concerned that your claim will cost your employer financially. However, your employer will have insurance covering the risk of a personal injury claim. This means that if you do win compensation, the insurer will make the payout – not the employer.
In many cases of disease caused by exposure to asbestos, it was the employer who is to blame. This is because there was usually a breach of health and safety rules that led directly to exposure. However, in some cases the worker may be at least partly to blame. Firstly, it is important to know that even if you think you were to blame, it may be that for legal purposes you are not to blame at all, so it’s vital you discuss your condition with a specialist solicitor before ruling out making a claim. Even if you were partly to blame, that does not prevent you from claiming compensation – it simply means you will not get the full amount of compensation you would otherwise receive. (This is called ‘contributory negligence’).
Smoking, for example, is a factor that can amount to contributory negligence in an asbestos claim. Smoking is known to cause lung cancer. In a 2017 case, an asbestos-related lung cancer claim was brought by the estate of a worker who had smoked since he was 14. The final compensation figure was reduced by 30% to reflect the degree of contributory negligence on account of his smoking.
If your employer claims you were to blame, you can be sure your solicitor will work hard to prove that your employer was partly or fully to blame. That said, if an individual is found partly to blame, lawyers consider what apportionment of damages would be “just and equitable” in the circumstances.
Nicola is a dual qualified journalist and non-practising solicitor. She is a legal journalist, editor and author with more than 20 years' experience writing about the law.
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