Mesothelioma compensation available even if liable company no longer exists
The HSE ‘Hidden Killer’ website contains several case studies, including the story of a wood worker in West Lothian. In the 1950s and 60s, he helped to rip out asbestos lagging from wooden railway coaches after metal coaches were introduced. He retired at 65 and it was not until he was 74 that he developed a chesty cough and was diagnosed with mesothelioma.
He says, “I looked liked Spiderman with tubes coming out of me; they removed four litres of fluid on one particular occasion. What happens with mesothelioma is that you are drowning on dry land. There is no cure for it – your lungs are just closing up all the time. It’s horrible to see x-rays of your lungs getting blacker and blacker – that makes it real.”
Mesothelioma is a tumour of the mesothelium. This is the thin membrane that lines the chest and abdomen and surrounds the organs in these areas. Around 90% of all mesothelioma cases are caused by asbestos exposure. Although, life expectancy varies considerably, early diagnosis is the key to minimising the growth of the disease. Unfortunately, the initial symptoms are often overlooked by the sufferer and the disease is only diagnosed in its later stages.
A HSE study ‘Mesothelioma Occupation Statistics’ covering the period 1980-2000 (not including the year 1981) found that certain occupations pose a higher risk to workers of developing mesothelioma. The highest risk occupations fall into the following categories: shipbuilding, the building of railway carriages and locomotives and the installation and maintenance of lagging or other insulation materials.
The total number of mesothelioma deaths has increased since 1968. The number of deaths is expected to increase, with its peak in 2016. This is because of the delay between exposure and diagnosis, which is usually 20-40 years. So someone who was exposed to asbestos when it was used as a popular building material in the past may have only recently been diagnosed with mesothelioma, even though it is now banned as a building material.
The symptoms of mesothelioma may resemble other diseases such as asbestosis. However, general symptoms may include coughing, chest pains and shortness of breath.
In most cases of mesothelioma, the exposure to asbestos that has caused the disease has taken place during the course of the sufferer’s past employment. This is usually because the employer failed to take precautionary measures to protect workers. If the exposure was the fault of an employer, it may be possible to make a claim for mesothelioma compensation against them.
The Pneumoconiosis etc. (Workers Compensation Act) 1979 ensures that there is provision for mesothelioma compensation for individuals who have been exposed to asbestos at work, even when the company that they worked for no longer operates and the employer’s insurance company cannot be traced.
The amount of mesothelioma compensation that may be awarded depends on the individual circumstances and factors such as financial losses, including lost wages, and the costs of care and other expenses. The amount should also reflect the pain and suffering that the patient has gone through.