Legal advice for if you've been exposed to asbestos
PUBLISHED: 11:18 10 May 2019 | UPDATED: 13:03 14 May 2019
If you have been exposed to asbestos and have since contracted an asbestos related illness it is important that you know your rights to compensation
Most people are aware of the dangers of asbestos, however, what is not such common knowledge is the various diseases related to asbestos exposure and, subsequently, a sufferer's entitlement to compensation.
Illnesses directly related to asbestos include mesothelioma, asbestosis, pleural thickening and pleural plaques. Of course, the severity of condition will vary but it is estimated that around 5,000 people a year die from asbestos related illness.
Symptoms of asbestos illnesses include shortness of breath, persistent coughing, and extreme fatigue. Should you suffer from any of these symptoms and have reason to believe you have been exposed to asbestos in the past you should contact your GP immediately.
Illnesses related to asbestos exposure usually appear within 15 to 40 years after initial exposure making it a tricky area legally. Often people who are entitled to compensation are not aware of their rights or the time limits involved in pursuing an asbestos claim.
Phoebe Osborne, a Legal 500 recognised Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) senior litigator and solicitor for Ashtons Legal, explains: "If you've developed an asbestos related disease, such as mesothelioma, you may have grounds for a claim. Even if you've simply come into contact with asbestos at some point in a non-direct way, we may still be able to assist in securing government benefits or pursuing a civil legal claim".
The time limits on when you can pursue a claim are three years from the date of diagnosis or date of knowledge, which can be earlier or later. Where you are making a claim on behalf of a deceased loved one you have three years from the date of death.
After becoming aware of an asbestos related illness by their GP or hospital legal advice should be sought without delay
"Due to the debilitating physical symptoms of asbestos illness and time limits that apply to such claims, a specialist occupational and asbestos disease solicitor should be contacted immediately in order to start the claims process and obtain the relevant government benefits," says Phoebe.
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An asbestos settlement is a complex process, not least because it is not always clear who is at fault.
Traditionally the employer of the claimant at the time of the exposure will be held responsible, and will pay out through its insurer, but this is not always possible.
"I've settled many cases where the business my client worked for is no longer trading, despite this however, I have still been able to successfully pursue compensation through the Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme a government tariff specifically set up for asbestos claims where there was no insurance at the time of exposure," says Phoebe.
If you have worked with asbestos at some point in your career but are not sure when or even how, it may still be possible to pursue an asbestos claim and our specialist solicitors are trained in interviewing and obtaining information
Many sufferers of asbestos illness worry about the timescale of a making claim. The average timeframe for concluding a claim is around 12-18 months, however, these times can vary with some claims settling within less than 12 months where there are no financial dependents and the victim wishes to settle the claim during their lifetime, other claims continue to be pursued by the estate where the patient has died.
Should the claimant pass away during legal proceedings, the compensation claim is continued by the deceased's estate and in recent months cases are settling in respect of all losses except for non-NHS immunotherapy costs that continue to be paid so long as there is a benefit to the sufferer of mesothelioma
A typical asbestos claim is comprised of two parts: an award for general damages and an award for special damages. Like most legal claims the amount of compensation is dependent upon many factors but, for example, an award for general damages in a mesothelioma claim ranges from £61,410-£110,380, plus special damages.
Every case is different and the amount received depends on several factors such as if the claimant is working or receiving a pension. A claim can also be made to recover lost years earnings or services provided in the untimely death of a spouse," says Phoebe.
Dealing with an asbestos related illness is hugely tough for both the victim and their family. A personal injury lawyer who specialises in asbestos exposure and asbestos compensation can ensure you receive a fair payout and your family are provided for in the future, which brings peace of mind when it is needed most.
If you have an asbestos related illness and believe you have a compensation claim contact Ashston Legal on 01223 431159 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.ashtonslegal.co.uk