It became evident in the early 1900s that asbestos, the dust and the fibres this material produces is hazardous to people’s health and well-being. Over time, many asbestos claims for compensation have been made both against the manufacturers and employers who failed to protect their workers from the harmful effects of being exposed to asbestos which can result in fatal conditions like mesothelioma. If you have developed the condition as a result of being exposed to asbestos or the dust it produces, you could be entitled to file an asbestos claim against a negligent employer.
What Health Risks Are Associated With Exposure to Asbestos?
Apart from mesothelioma, if you have been exposed to asbestos fibres and/or the dust that is produced from the material, there are other very serious health conditions that you are at risk of developing and this includes the following:
- Lung cancer
- Pleural thickening – a thickening of the 2 layered membrane that surrounds your lungs
- Pleural Plaques – plaques form on the membranes that surround your lungs
Any worker or person who is exposed to asbestos fibres and dust is at risk of developing any of the above if they are not given the necessary protective equipment when handling it. An employer could be held liable if you develop mesothelioma or any other asbestos related illness if you can prove you were not kept safe from harm in the workplace.
What Are the Symptoms of Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a serious health issue where small nodules form in the lining of your lungs and/or abdomen. Recognising mesothelioma symptoms can prove challenging because the tumours do not start forming and spreading until much later which is typically at about stage 3 or 4 of the cancer. When the symptoms of mesothelioma do manifest themselves, they are as follows:
- A dry cough
- A shortness of breath which is known as dyspnea
- Respiratory issues and complications
- A pain in your chest or a pain in your abdomen
- Night sweats or fever
- Fluids building up around your lungs (pleural effusion)
- Muscle weakness
The symptoms of mesothelioma are often picked up by a doctor should you need to undergo any routine x-rays or have any blood tests taken. However, very often if symptoms are not evident until the cancer has spread to other parts of your body making the condition extremely difficult to treat.
Who Can File a Mesothelioma Claim for Compensation?
As previously mentioned, anyone who works or handles asbestos is at risk of developing a very serious health issue. However, people who are simply exposed to asbestos fibres and dust is also at risk which includes the following:
- People who live close to a factory that manufactures asbestos or products that contain asbestos
- People who live close to a business that regularly uses asbestos
- Family members who live with someone who works with asbestos – this is because the harmful dust can be transferred to others in a household if they come into contact with the asbestos workers clothes. The dust can also be found on a workers hair or skin
Can I File an Mesothelioma Claim if My Employer Has Gone Out of Business?
If you developed mesothelioma because you were exposed to asbestos fibres and dust in the workplace and the company you worked for went out of business, you may still be able to file an asbestos claim against the company or employer by way of their insurers. Even if your condition is mild, you should still consider filing for compensation because more serious symptoms may present themselves further down the line which is common where asbestos-related diseases are concerned. Statistics prove that symptoms of an asbestos-related disease can be evident from anything from 35 to 50+ years of being exposed to this extremely harmful material, it’s fibres and dust.
Should I File a Mesothelioma Claim Against My Employer?
If you developed mesothelioma as a result of the work you do and believe your employer was negligent in their duty to keep you safe in the workplace, you have every right to file a mesothelioma claim against them. The condition is a serious health issue and it could mean you are unable to work again. As such, the compensation you would be awarded in a successful claim would help you cope financially bearing in mind that you may need ongoing care and therapy for the remainder of your life.
What is the Time Limit Associated With Filing an Mesothelioma Claim?
Under UK law, you must file an asbestos claim within 3 years of the date that you were first made aware of your condition, in short, the date you diagnosed by a medical professional. However, if you are filing an asbestos claim for a family member who passed away having developed mesothelioma or another asbestos-related health issue, the time limit to file a claim is as follows:
- Within 3 years of the death of the family member
- Within 3 years of the date that you were made aware that the family member’s death was asbestos related but this was only discovered after their death during an post-mortem examination or as a result of a coroner’s inquest
What is My Employer’s Duty of Care Towards Me in the Workplace?
All employers in the UK are legally required to keep you safe from harm and injury in the workplace. If they fail in this duty and you develop mesothelioma at work as a direct result of employer negligence, you have every right to file an asbestos claim against them because they could be held liable. Employers must provide you with the correct personal protective equipment (PPE) if you work with hazardous or dangerous material like asbestos and they must do the following:
- Ensure you are provided with the correct personal protective equipment (PPE) when handling hazardous or dangerous materials like asbestos
- Provide sufficient training to suit the job you do
If you develop mesothelioma because your employer ignored any of the above, you could be entitled to file an asbestos claim against them.
What Can I Include in a Mesothelioma Claim?
There are certain things that you can include in a mesothelioma claim against a negligent employer which are detailed below:
General damages – the compensation you are awarded for general damages are as follows:
- Your pain and suffering which you had to cope with as a direct result of having developed mesothelioma at work
- Physical impairment and injuries which covers the fact that you may be left unable to work because of your condition
- The mental anguish and the mental pain you had to endure as a direct result of suffering from mesothelioma
- Any loss of companionship you had to cope with
- The loss of your career because your condition prevents you from working
- The fact you may have difficulties finding another career because you suffer from mesothelioma
Special damages would be awarded in a successful mesothelioma claim to reimburse you for all the expenses you incurred as a direct result of having developed mesothelioma in the workplace and could include the following:
- Your medical expenses both short-term and long-term that are required to treat your conditions which includes the costs of consultations, prescriptions and other medication, your hospital stay as well as any diagnostic tests that are necessary in diagnosing and treating your condition on an ongoing basis
- Your travel expenses travelling to and from a medical facility or hospital whether you go by bus, train, car or taxi
- Your loss of income and this includes bonuses or other perks you missed out on because you were unable to attend your work
- Your future loss of earnings should you not be able to work again
Would My Mesothelioma Claim be Successful?
To prove your asbestos claim and for it to be successful, you would have to overcome four main obstacles which are as follows:
- You would need to provide a full medical report detailing your symptoms and the fact you have developed mesothelioma and the report must be provided by a medical professional who specialises in respiratory diseases
- You must be able to prove that your exposure to asbestos fibres or dust happened in the workplace or because you spent time close to a company or business that produced or handled asbestos products
- You must also be able to prove that your employer or company you worked for were aware of the risks you were exposed but failed in their duty to keep you safe from harm in the workplace
- You would have to prove that the company or your employer failed to inform you of the risks of developing a health issue and that they failed to provide you with adequate protective wear (PPE)
What Are My Rights If I Develop Mesothelioma at Work?
All employers in the UK must by law, keep their employees safe from harm in the workplace. If your employer fails in this duty towards you and you develop mesothelioma as a direct result of their negligence, you could be entitled to file an asbestos claim against them and be awarded the level of compensation you rightly deserve for the pain, suffering and out of pocket expenses you incurred.
All employees in the UK have “worker’s rights” which an employer must respect following an incident that results in injury, illness or disease which are detailed below:
- That you are awarded the level of compensation you rightly deserve for any pain, suffering and expenses you incur as a result of having developed mesothelioma in the workplace through employer negligence
- That your job is kept safe even if you decide to file an asbestos claim against an employer
Employers must carry out regular risk assessments in the workplace to identify hazards and risks that employees may have to deal with. Once identified, an employer must put in place measures to prevent or reduce the chances of their employees being injured or from developing any illness and disease whilst they are at work.
Working with a Solicitor on a No Win No Fee Basis on Your Mesothelioma Claim
Because mesothelioma claims tend to be complex legal procedures that require a lot of evidence and proof for them to be successful, it is far better to seek legal advice as soon as you discover that you have developed mesothelioma because you were exposed to asbestos fibres or the dust the material produces. A solicitor who specialises in asbestos claims would be able to provide essential advice on how to establish employer liability.
Most solicitors offer their clients an initial consultation which is free of charge. This allows them to assess your case and to establish responsibility. Once a solicitor decides that you have a strong case against a negligent employer, they would typically offer to work with you on a No Win No Fee basis.
Choosing to work with a solicitor who specialises in mesothelioma claims on a No Win No Fee basis takes all the worry of finding the money to pay for the legal representation needed. You would be asked to sign a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA) which is a legally binding contract that outlines the “terms and conditions” of the agreement and the percentage you would have to pay the solicitor on a successful mesothelioma claim which is often referred to as a “success fee”. Should your claim be unsuccessful, you would have nothing to pay the solicitor because the CFA you signed means they agreed to take on the risk.