Can I Claim Compensation for Asbestos Disease?

If you’re suffering from an asbestos-related condition, you may be entitled to compensation. Getting the right asbestos disease compensation solicitor to help you, is important. Of equal importance, is getting diagnosed at the earliest possible stage

Thousands of people continue to suffer from the devastating effects of being exposed to asbestos, with new diagnoses of asbestos disease being made every day. Typically, asbestos diseases, such as mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, asbestosis and pleural thickening appear by stealth, taking decades to develop to the stage where symptoms begin to appear.

Many who end up finding themselves the victims of asbestos-related disease have for years lived active lives between being exposed to asbestos and being diagnosed. Former Ipswich Town FC footballer, Colin Harper who was part of the very successful Ipswich Town football team, managed by Bobby Robson between 1966 and 1977, died from mesothelioma in 2018. Mr. Harper had been exposed to asbestos whilst working as an apprentice joiner before he became a professional footballer.

Most asbestos victims are approaching retirement or are perhaps already enjoying a more leisurely life after working hard for so many years when they start finding that it’s becoming harder to get their breath than used to be the case. Or, a tickly cough that started a few months ago simply won’t go away. Finally, after putting off visiting the GP for weeks or maybe months, they finally decide to get a doctor’s appointment, as much as anything to get some medication, and to get back on their feet again. It’s only then that the GP starts asking whether they ever worked with asbestos, during their working life.

Quite often, those who find themselves in this situation will be unable to recall precisely how it was that they came to be exposed to asbestos. Some will know. Dockers who unloaded sack after sack of asbestos from South Africa, with the contents spilling out, causing clouds of asbestos fibres to billow into the air, often within the confines of the ship’s hold. British Rail engineering workers who fitted and stripped asbestos linings in train carriages. Power station workers who were exposed to heavy exposure from the dust given off by the asbestos that was used to withstand the high temperatures created in the power plants. Steelworkers who became exposed by the fibres given off by the asbestos-based materials used to withstand the extreme heat generated by the steelworks of South Wales and elsewhere. There were a large number of occupations where workers were at a high risk of being exposed to extensive asbestos exposure.

One of the most heart-breaking aspects of being an asbestos disease lawyer is having to sit with an elderly asbestos client in their own home and ask questions about when and where they think they were exposed to asbestos. As the memory understandably wanes, the asbestos sufferer finds his or herself trying to recall things that they were doing as long as 50 years ago. It isn’t helped by the fact that many of them moved from job to job, always trying to earn that little bit more money for their families, whilst still earning a pittance in most cases.

Then there is the worry of it all. Not only, the sheer terror of being told that they have an illness that they are, in most cases, likely to succumb to, but having to sort out their finances and trying to take in what their asbestos disease solicitor tells them about the various benefits, that they may – or may not be – entitled to. Then there’s the worry of how their spouse, if they are still alive, will cope with the stress not only of caring for their ailing other half, but of worrying about finances and what they will do, when finally they find themselves on their own, with memories that will be tainted forever, by the horrendous trauma that both have had to go through so late on in life.

Is there a cure for asbestos disease?

Sadly, at present, there isn’t a cure for mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, asbestosis and pleural thickening. Researchers are working hard to find one and there are a number of drug trials in the UK that are cause for optimism.

Does early diagnosis of asbestos disease help at all?

As with most illnesses, there are distinct advantages of getting an early diagnosis of an asbestos illness as possible. This is still the case, for the most virulent of the diseases, mesothelioma and asbestos lung cancer. Whilst curing the illnesses isn’t a possibility at the moment, by getting diagnosed at the earliest possible stage, there is a greater possibility of managing the illnesses and hopefully prolonging an asbestos disease sufferer’s life for as long as possible.

What should I do if I think I may have asbestos disease?

As already explained, the symptoms of asbestos disease come on, in most cases, late on in life. Many thousands of people if not millions, will have worked in environments where they were likely to be exposed to asbestos. For the lucky ones, for whom the dice rolls kindly, they may never experience the fate of many of their former work colleagues. Such is the lottery of asbestos exposure. No matter, anyone reading this who knows or even thinks that they have, or may have, worked with asbestos during their working lives, would be well advised to go and see their GPs. They should do so, even if they are not experiencing symptoms. At the very least, they will have put down a marker with their doctor, to indicate that they did work with asbestos, are likely to have had some exposure to asbestos fibres and as a result may get symptoms in the future. That way, if they do visit the doctor’s surgery at a later stage suffering from symptoms of mesothelioma or one of the other asbestos-related illnesses, the GP will be able to see from their notes, that the patient sitting before them has a history of working with asbestos.

What are the symptoms of asbestos disease?

One of the problems that GPs are faced with, if they are unaware that their patient worked in an environment where they came into contact with asbestos on a regular basis, is that the symptoms of these illnesses are quite generic. That is to say that the symptoms often seem to indicate an ailment that is far less serious. Some symptoms of asbestos disease are:

  1. A persistent, often tickly, dry cough, that won’t go away
  2. Extreme tiredness
  3. Shortness of breath that is getting worse
  4. Wheezing
  5. Chest pain

In most cases, suffering from one or more such symptoms will not mean that you have asbestos disease. It is though, best to get a check-up with the doctor if you know that you worked with asbestos and particularly so if you are experiencing any of the symptoms in this list.

If I’m diagnosed with an asbestos disease, do I need to get an asbestos solicitor, too?

As we are compensation claims solicitors based in South Wales, you would not be surprised to hear us say, that ‘yes’ you should. However, whilst we are aware of the reputation that personal injury compensation solicitors can have, asbestos disease compensation really is one of those areas where you should not only get an asbestos disease claims solicitor but a really good one.

You will find that by getting an expert asbestos disease lawyer, you will not only be getting someone who is geared up to get the best compensation settlement possible for you. Very quickly you’ll find that they will come out to see you when you need them to when you are at your wit’s end. Often, it’s the other things they can do for you, such as helping you apply for any industrial injuries disablement benefits that might be available from the government or even lump-sum payments. If you and your partner are struggling to cope around the house, they can look at the possibility of getting you some professional help. They can advise you if there’s an asbestos disease support group, near to where you live. An expert asbestos solicitor will know how to ensure that you still get compensation, even if the company or companies that you worked for no longer exist. Yes, that’s still possible and an experienced asbestos lawyer will know how to find out who the insurer of the relevant company was, so that a claim can be put forward.

At Mooneerams solicitors, we work with some of the best asbestos disease compensation solicitors not only in Cardiff or South Wales, but in the whole of Wales and England. Call us on 029 2048 3615 for a confidential, no-obligation legal advice. Alternatively you can contact us by email at enquiries@mooneerams.com or by contacting us via our website at www.mooneerams.com.

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Alistair Worth

Alistair Worth

Managing Director

Alistair is one of the founding members of Mooneerams Solicitors and has a passion for helping individuals to get the compensation that is rightfully due to them, whether they have been involved in road traffic accidents, accidents at work or accidents in public places.