Asbestos claims justified

AN IPSWICH lawyer today denied the growing number of people launching legal battles for asbestos-related disease cases are part of the compensation culture.

AN IPSWICH lawyer today denied the growing number of people launching legal battles for asbestos-related disease cases are part of the compensation culture.

Litigation expert Tim Humpage said those suing former bosses in asbestos cases should not be compared to the millions taking advantage of the blame and claim culture.

It comes as experts predict a massive rise in the number of asbestos cases being brought over the next 15 years, peaking in 2010.

And his views are backed by the Evening Star's Silent Killer campaign, launched in 1997 to highlight deaths related to asbestos and to fight for justice for the victims of asbestosis and mesothelioma.

Mr Humpage said: “This is not a compensation culture issue. This is these people's right and is something which should be done.

“No one expects to go to work and then 40 years later be told something you did as a lad when you knew no different and your boss told you to do it has given you this disease, when all the time the industry was aware of the dangers.

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“They went to work in all innocence and only worked with materials they were told to, and now they've got this disease when there are things the employer could have done.

“The most common story is that of a lagger who was working as a boy on a site and was told to mix the materials up.

“Some people are too proud and don't want to claim, but this is money they are entitled to.”

Mr Humpage, a partner at Gotelee and Goldsmith, based at Elm Street, said he has dealt with around 20 cases in the last ten years. The firm provides free consultations for people who think they may have an asbestos-related disease.

Most are electricians and carpenters who came into contact with asbestos in the 60s and 70s. Many worked at Ipswich and Sizewell power stations, or elsewhere in the construction industry.

Laws were already in place then putting a duty of care with employers.

In October, the House of Lords ruled that people with pleural plaques, scarring on the lung caused by asbestos exposure, can no longer claim compensation after objections from the insurance industry.

It meant Mr Humpage, who specialises in industrial disease cases, had to drop two clients' cases.

His advice to people diagnosed with asbestosis or mesothelioma is to get legal advice as soon as possible, while they are still well enough to give statements and help trace witnesses, so the case is not left in the hands of the family if they die part way through.

N Have you or a relative been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease? Support our campaign and tell us your story. Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

The Evening Star revealed in July that 148 people died of asbestos-related diseases from 2001 to 2005 in Suffolk.

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