Approximately 2500 people die from asbestos related lung cancer each year, according to the annual Asbestos Related Disease Statistics provided by the HSE (Health and Safety Executive). This approximates to the same number of people that die from the other form of asbestos cancer, mesothelioma.
Asbestos was banned completely in 1999, when white asbestos (Chrysotile) was barred from use, as a result of government legislation. The more dangerous forms of asbestos, ‘blue asbestos’ (crocidolite) and brown asbestos (amosite) had been banned in 1985.
Many people still die from asbestos lung cancer and other asbestos diseases, because it takes many years, after a person has been exposed to asbestos, for the disease to develop. This period, which can last from anything between 10 to 60 years, is known as the latency period.
Alarmingly, even now some workers are still being exposed to asbestos dust. Those involved in the construction or demolition industries are the ones most likely to be at danger from inhaling asbestos. This happens, despite there now being stringent safety measures in place, to protect workers from the effects of asbestos dust.
What is asbestos lung cancer?
There are two types of lung cancer:
- Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) – the most common type
- Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) – it spreads more quickly than NSCLC and as a result, is often diagnosed only at an advanced stage.
In excess of 35,000 people die from all types of lung cancer each year. With asbestos related lung cancer deaths making up only 7% of all deaths from lung cancer, it is considered a rare form of cancer. Yet, along with mesothelioma, it is the form of asbestos disease that kills more people than either of the other main asbestos illnesses; diffuse pleural thickening or asbestosis.
Exposure to asbestos is one of a number of causes of lung cancer. Smoking is the main cause. Around 85% of lung cancer cases occur in people who smoke or who used to smoke.
Can you claim asbestos lung cancer compensation even if you smoked?
Smoking increases a person’s risk of getting lung cancer by a factor of about 10. Exposure to asbestos increases a person’s chances of getting lung cancer by an approximate factor of 5.
Being a smoker combined with exposure to asbestos, serves to increase the risk of getting lung cancer by a factor of 50. Asbestos exposure is said to have a multiplicative effect e.g., 10 x 5 instead of 10 + 5.
Asbestos disease compensation can still be successfully claimed by claimants who are, or were, smokers. If a case for asbestos compensation went to court, it is probable that the person making the claim (‘the claimant’) would still recover compensation but would so on a reduced basis. The same would apply if the claim was settled by negotiation i.e., without going to court. The reduction is intended to take into account the claimant’s ‘contributory negligence,’ as a result of their smoking.
A court case that was decided in 2017, found that a higher degree of blame still attached to the employer, rather than to the employee who had been a smoker. In doing so the Court of Appeal upheld a decision to reduce the claimant’s compensation by 30%.
Each case will always be judged on its own merits.
Our highly experienced asbestos disease partner has dealt with many cases of asbestos lung cancer claims for clients who also smoked.
Do not be put off from making a claim for compensation just because you smoked. If you worked in an industry where you regularly came into contact with asbestos dust and fibre, and you have since developed symptoms of asbestos lung cancer, you could be eligible for asbestos compensation – even if you smoked.
Call Mooneerams asbestos disease solicitors on 029 2048 3615 to get legal advice from an experienced asbestos disease solicitor. Alternatively, you can get in touch via our contact page.
What are the symptoms of asbestos lung cancer?
The symptoms of asbestos related lung cancer are the same as they are for lung cancer that’s not been caused by asbestos exposure. The most common symptoms of lung cancer, are:
- Shortness of breath
- A persistent cough that won’t go away
- Chest pain
- Coughing up sputum that contains blood
- Lack of appetite
- Severe respiratory infections
Being aware of your occupational history of working with asbestos, is a key factor in recognising that any respiratory symptoms you get later on in life, may be related to your historical exposure. If you experience any of the symptoms that we have described, go to see your GP but ensure that you tell them that you worked in a job where you were exposed to asbestos dust.
By doing this you will focus the GPs mind on the fact that he or she could be dealing with a patient who is showing symptoms of asbestos related lung cancer.
In what occupations were you most at risk of being exposed to asbestos?
Asbestos lung cancer is an industrial disease. The majority of people who are diagnosed with an asbestos related disease, are able to link their asbestos exposure with what they used to do for a living.
Workers in all of the industries or places of work, listed below, were at risk of exposure to asbestos:
- British Rail Engineering
- Power stations
- Car mechanics
- Sheet metal workers
- Mechanical engineers
- Joiners and carpenters
- Shipwrights, metal plate workers and riveters
- Electrical, energy and boiler plant workers
- Maintenance fitters
- Plumbing, heating and ventilation engineers
- Hospital workers
- Glass factories
- Pipe and boilermakers
This is not a fully inclusive list. Workers in any type of industry, who were exposed to asbestos dust and fibres, were at risk of exposure.
How much asbestos exposure is needed to prove that it caused lung cancer?
There is no safe amount of asbestos exposure.
Breathing in asbestos dust on one or even a few occasions though, is unlikely to cause asbestos disease, in anything but the rarest of cases.
With regard to asbestos lung cancer, a low level of exposure is even more unlikely to cause the illness.
Proving that lung cancer has been caused by asbestos exposure has often proved to be problematic.
Help though, is at hand in the form of ‘The Helsinki Criteria’. The Helsinki Criteria are laid out in an extensive document, which sets out, ‘state of the art criteria for the diagnosis of and attribution of asbestos’.
In effect it is a method of working out whether lung cancer has been caused or contributed to by asbestos exposure or whether it’s causes are other factors.
The Helsinki Criteria sets out the levels of asbestos exposure that need to be met before someone’s lung cancer can be linked to asbestos exposure. The method of doing this uses engineering or scientific considerations as opposed to medical analysis.
The Helsinki Criteria suggest that, one year of heavy exposure to asbestos or between 5 and-10 years of moderate exposure, may increase the risk of getting cancer by two-fold or more.
It would only be possible for someone to have suffered such high levels of asbestos exposure, if the exposure had occurred in workplace settings.
Proof of exposure at such high levels would be sufficient to give an asbestos disease solicitor, the confidence to pursue a successful asbestos lung cancer claim for the client.
Trying to work out the relationship between asbestos exposure and lung cancer, can be complex. That’s why, if you think your lung cancer may be related to asbestos exposure, you should seek legal advice from an experienced asbestos disease lawyer as soon as possible.
You can speak to Mooneerams asbestos claim solicitor now on 029 2048 3615 without any obligation to take the matter further. He will be able to give you clear, concise advice as to what you should do next, if you are worried that you might have asbestos related lung cancer.
Can I make a claim for compensation as a result of getting asbestos lung cancer?
Our specialist asbestos disease solicitor partner has helped many people who were exposed to asbestos at work, to claim lung cancer compensation from employers who failed to provide their employees with protection from the dangers of asbestos.
Even if the companies who were at fault, for exposing their employees to asbestos, have long since closed down, an experienced asbestos solicitor will often be able to trace who the company was insured with at the time of exposure. Once a policy of insurance has been traced, then an asbestos disease compensation claim can be made in the knowledge that if the claim is successful, the insurance company will pay out ant compensation that is awarded.
Making asbestos disease claims should be carried out by specialist asbestos disease solicitors. At Mooneerams solicitors we work in conjunction with one of the best asbestos disease solicitors in the country. He has a proven track record of success and will be only too pleased to advise you if you or a loved one has been diagnosed with asbestos lung cancer.
How do I make an asbestos lung cancer claim?
Even if you (or your loved one) have not been diagnosed, but have the possible symptoms of lung cancer, call our asbestos solicitor a call on 029 2048 3615 or leave your details on our contact page, so that we can call you back. He will advise you on the next steps to take. His legal advice will be confidential and free from any obligation.
If you do decide to make claim through Mooneerams asbestos disease solicitor, in most cases your claim can be funded by using a conditional fee arrangement. This is often referred to as a No Win No Fee arrangement. The solicitor will not charge you a success fee.
Call Mooneerams now on 029 2048 3615 or send your details to us by filling in the form on the right hand side of this page and clicking the purple button. We’ll call you back or email you – whichever you prefer!