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Asbestos Disease Q&A: Part Three

Carl Waring

Carl Waring

|  9th November 2022  |

Asbestos Disease Q&A

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This is the third blog of a seven-part series of blogs following a Q&A during which, Mooneerams partner asbestos disease solicitor, John Hall, discussed a whole range of topics relating to asbestos disease and in general and asbestos disease claims in particular. In this blog, John answered questions about asbestos related lung cancer claims.

John, you have already talked previously about Pleural Plaques, Pleural Thickening and Asbestosis. What is the next type of asbestos disease we should know about?

The next condition I want to talk about is asbestos lung cancer. Medical science suggests conclusively that a combination of factors will often lead to lung cancer.

Smoking of course, is the fundamental cause of lung cancer. Most of my clients have smoked because it is a generational thing.  If you were working in the 1960s and 1970s most people including you, were likely to be smokers.

If on top of that you then had a heavy dose of asbestos as a result of the work that you did, you were at risk of getting asbestos lung cancer.  The two things interact with each other; smoking and asbestos exposure taken together mean that you have a multiplying risk of developing lung cancer.

There is normally a four to five times greater risk of getting lung cancer where there’s a combination of smoking and asbestos exposure. The other thing to note here is that you can be a non-smoker and still develop asbestos lung cancer; it is established that asbestos itself can cause lung cancer.

So asbestos lung cancer cases where you’ve not been a smoker should be easier to prove?

Asbestos lung cancer cases (where you are alleging that asbestos alone is the cause of lung cancer) are the hardest to run from a medical evidence point of view because there are a lot of reasons why somebody can develop lung cancer.

Sometimes doctors will not ask their patient the rights questions as to whether they have been exposed to asbestos, so as the person’s asbestos claims solicitor, you are forced to ‘investigate’ after the event, as you go along.

When I look at medical records, I do not just assume that because there is no reference to asbestos in the client’s  records, it does not mean that it is not asbestos lung cancer. So, I will ask my client the normal set of questions about asbestos exposure. If I feel that the client has been exposed to  a significant dose of asbestos, or even a similar dose to what I would expect in a client with asbestosis in a client to asbestosis, it will raise suspicions that my client has asbestos lung cancer, and I can instruct a medical expert to look into the matter further

Obviously if the client has already been diagnosed with asbestosis or some other asbestos disease then that will also assist a medical expert to conclude that the client’s lung cancer was caused by asbestos exposure.

What’s the position if you have a client with asbestos lung cancer, but worked for multiple employers, each of whom exposed the person to asbestos?

With all the asbestos conditions we have spoken about so far, it can be hard to prove that you have a valid asbestos claim. If you are pursuing a claim, you need to establish who exposed you to asbestos  and find all the defendants and their insurers, in order to get the full amount of compensation.

There has been a lot of action in the court over recent years particularly in lung cancer cases regarding divisibility; where there are multiple defendants, each company only has to compensate the person claiming, for the amount of injury they each caused.

Lung cancer is a divisible asbestos disease. The settled situation at the moment with a divisible disease case where is more than one defendant employer, is that each defendant who exposed you to asbestos is equally to blame in proportion to the amount of asbestos they exposed you to – so if you had three potential defendants who exposed you to asbestos and you could only find one of them, you will only receive one third of the value of the claim as asbestos disease compensation.

If I was a smoker, will I still get compensation if I bring an asbestos-related lung cancer claim against my employer?

In asbestos lung cancer cases of this type,  the defendants can usually successfully argue that you contributed to your condition by virtue of your smoking history.

If they are successful in arguing their case, you will face anything between a 20-30% deduction in compensation from the total amount of compensation you would have received, but for the fact that you were a previous smoker.

I think that is a bit unfair because the rate at which the disease of lung cancer develops is a combination of the two factors, not just the smoking.

However, Defendants will say that you cannot simply pick on the asbestos exposure as being the sole cause of lung cancer and that is certainly the way the courts look at it.

In the next of this series of ‘Asbestos Disease Q&A’ blogs, asbestos solicitor, John Hall, will talk about the other asbestos cancer-related disease of Mesothelioma.

To make a claim for asbestos disease compensation from your former employer, or employers, even if your exposure to asbestos was many years ago call Mooneerams on 029 2048 3615 or email us at and we’ll get John Hall to call you back. You can also fill in an enquiry form on our asbestos disease compensation claims page at by completing your details and clicking on the ‘Start your claim button’ underneath the form. Don’t worry – you aren’t committing yourself to anything by doing so!

Read more in our Asbestos Disease Q&A series:

Part One

Part Two

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