Asbestos-Related Compensation Claims
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a white/grey material, which is unable to catch fire and burn. It has been used in building materials, insulation or brake linings to protect them against fire or heat. There are different types of asbestos; it is a fibrous silicate material (containing either an amphibole or chrysotile) and these minerals can be pulled apart easily into flexible fibres.
Once the material is disturbed or pulled apart, it releases a fibrous asbestos dust, which can be easily inhaled and remain in the lungs, causing damage and scarring.
Although asbestos is no longer used today, it can still be found in buildings that were constructed before the year 2000. Therefore, people working in demolition or as electricians should be sufficiently protected from inhaling the substance when working on older sites; the employer should be providing personal protective clothing and carrying out health and safety risk assessments, especially when working on asbestos.
Those who worked in industries such as construction or mining, particularly between the years of 1970 and 1990, could have been exposed to asbestos, either heavily over a short period of time or vice versa.
If workers weren’t sufficiently protected or given training on the dangers of asbestos by their employer, then they were put at high risk of getting asbestos poisoning and developing a serious illness.
Asbestos-related diseases or illnesses
With an exposure to the hazardous substance potentially leading to asbestos poisoning, diseases can develop over a long period of time. In the workplace, whether the exposure was little and often, or heavy during a shorter time frame, it is possible that a critical illness could be contracted.
The main types of illnesses contracted from asbestos exposure are:
- Asbestos Lung Cancer: severe scarring in the lungs is one of the main triggers for causing this.
- Mesothelioma: this is the most common type of asbestos cancer and has a poor prognosis, with many sufferers having less than 1 year to live.
- Asbestosis: this is an illness whereby asbestos poisoning in the lungs causes progressive scarring, making the chest cavity tighter and the lining thicker; leading to a difficulty in breathing.
- Pleural Thickening: this is defined as the thickening of the lung lining after being damaged. The lungs are unable to inflate properly due to this, making it difficult to breathe.
- Pulmonary Fibrosis: this is similar to asbestosis in that harmful dust or particles cause scarring and stiffness in the lungs, preventing those with the illness to breathe easily as normal. The main difference is that in many cases, the cause of fibrosis is unknown or it can be caused by various pollutants; not just asbestos.
- Pleural effusion: this is when fluid builds up between the layers of the pleura on the outside of the lungs. If asbestos fibres cause the lungs to inflame and swell (pleurisy), then the blood vessels leak, resulting in pleural effusion; again causing breathing difficulty.
It is possible that such diseases and illnesses were brought on by not being sufficiently protected against asbestos at work by the employer.
Symptoms of any asbestos-related illnesses may not come about until years after the exposure to the harmful mineral, or they may not even be noticeable at all.
Although there are different diseases, as listed above, the symptoms are generally quite similar in that the severity can differ, depending on the amount and length of exposure. Here are some common symptoms:
- Tightness in the chest area and pains
- Pains in the shoulder(s)
- Breathlessness, particularly with everyday activities
- A persistent, dry, hacking cough
- Fatigue and feeling weak
- ‘Clubbed’ fingers, where the fingertips swell (this is in more severe cases)
If you suffer from any or all of these symptoms, you must seek medical advice from your GP as soon as possible, especially if you feel you have been exposed to asbestos.
Making an Asbestos-Related Claim for Compensation
An employer has a 'duty of care' to all employees, so they should be carrying out regular risk assessments and recording exposure on an asbestos register.
A successful claim is more likely to occur when it can be proven that the asbestos exposure transpired because of a negligent employer or ex-employer, who did not put in the necessary procedures to protect you in the workplace.
If you make an asbestos claim, the outcome will be determined by the severity of the illness and the impacts it has had, such as medical costs, travel expenses to and from the hospital, psychological strain and many other factors. It is difficult to specify an asbestos claims average pay-out, however, it has been stated that since April 2014, the government has put a new compensation scheme in place, increasing payments from £115,000 up to £123,000 for asbestos victims.
Having said this, it is important to note that the amount of compensation you could receive depends on your case and the severity of the illness, so this is just a rough guideline. Your compensation could work out a lot less than this, so it would be best to contact one of our experienced advisors to receive more information and a non-obligatory quotation.
Accident Line Direct
Our advisors at Accident Line Direct are available to discuss your situation and potential case, or help with providing any information you require.
If you have suffered from asbestos poisoning because of an employer who failed to protect you, then contact us today for free to find out more about making a claim. We work on a No Win No Fee basis, meaning that you will not have to pay any fees if you do not win your case.
We always remain sensitive to your situation and understand that compensation won’t cure the illness or ease your suffering, but it could help pay towards any medical costs or other expenses you have incurred as a result of the illness.
Posted in: Asbestos on Thursday 4 January 2018
by Osian Jones