Families win asbestos compensation for ‘low level’ exposure
Two families have won compensation after a family member died from cancer caused by ‘low level’ asbestos. Both individuals died from mesothelioma. The first, a 74 year old woman, was exposed to asbestos as a secretary. She died in 2006. The second, a 49 year old woman from North Wales, was exposed to asbestos as a school child. She died in 2009.
In the second case, the victim died the day after a judge ruled that she was entitled to £240,000 compensation. The decision was appealed by the council who said that they could only be considered responsible if it could be proved that she had been exposed to asbestos that at least ‘doubled the risk’ of mesothelioma. The Supreme Court rejected their argument and said that judges should base decisions on each individual case rather than asking victims to prove the risk was doubled. A spokesperson from the Asbestos Victim Support Groups’ Forum said, ‘Arguments for a ‘safe’ threshold are everything to do with denying liability for compensation and nothing to do with protecting people. This case not only protects compensation for those who have been negligently exposed to low levels of asbestos, but also gives a warning to those who think that workplaces such as schools, which are heavily contaminated with asbestos, are low risk.’
In another case earlier this year, the family of a miner were awarded £72,500 asbestos compensation three years after his death. In 1965, he was working as part of a construction project that involved breaking through layers of asbestos used to coat tunnel walls. Workers were given only paper masks which did very little to protect from the considerable amount of asbestos particles in the air. 35 years later, he was diagnosed with mesothelioma and sadly died as a result.
Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that affects the lining of the internal organs particularly the lungs. The most common cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos particles. Around 2,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma every year and another 1,800 die from the condition. It usually develops 40-60 years after exposure so it can be difficult to determine the source. Experts predict that the number of deaths is likely to increase before it decreases again. Asbestos was a popular building material in the 1950s to 1980s. Many of the people who were exposed to asbestos during this time will not be diagnosed with mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases for many years. Asbestos is now banned as a building material and special procedures need to be followed for any building work in buildings that contain asbestos.
Other asbestos-related diseases include asbestosis, which is the scarring of the lung tissue by asbestos fibres. This scarring can make it difficult for oxygen to get into the blood. Asbestosis can be extremely debilitating and is often fatal. Asbestos exposure can also cause lung cancer, similar to that caused by smoking.
Another possible condition caused by exposure to asbestos is pleural thickening, which although not fatal, can be debilitating. In 2008, there were 400 new cases of disablement as a result of pleural thickening. The pleura is a membrane which surrounds the lungs. If it thickens as a result of exposure to asbestos, this can affect breathing. Pleural plaques are slightly different – they are scarring to the pleura, almost always caused by exposure to asbestos.
The diagnosis of an asbestos-related disease can be a devastating time for everyone involved. Deterioration after diagnosis is often all too quick. An asbestos compensation payment at this time would be useful to secure financial stability but what if it takes ages? How can you ensure the solicitor knows what they’re doing? And how can you tell how much asbestos compensation you are entitled to?
Choosing the right solicitor will help to ease your mind on some of these issues. A solicitors firm such as Macks Solicitors with many years of expertise and experience will guide you through the process of claiming asbestos compensation. Some solicitors firms will ‘buy in’ work from claims management companies. Macks have never bought any type of claim, relying upon satisfied client recommending their first rate service.
Where other firms may settle early, we will persevere to achieve the maximum amount of compensation that you are entitled to. We also have the expertise and knowledge of the process to handle your claim as efficiently as possible. We believe every case should be tailored according to the individual.
Call us today to speak to an expert about your case without obligation or fill in an online claim form and we will contact you when it is convenient for you.