Asbestos-related disease … dormant then deadly
- Credit: Archant
Legally Speaking with Ashton KCJ
More than 2,000 people in the UK currently die each year of mesothelioma, a form of lung cancer caused by asbestos dust.
A few decades ago asbestos was everywhere.
It was a commonly used building material from the 1950s until it was banned in the mid 1980s.
Most people who have been exposed to asbestos never suffer any illness, but those who do develop symptoms 20, 30 or 40 years afterwards, so we are now seeing the results of exposure in the past.
Whilst locally we had less heavy industry than Northern England, local diagnosis is relatively common as people retire to the region.
Finding out that you have an asbestos-related disease will come as a nasty shock as there are frequently no early warning symptoms.
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The first sign that there may be a problem is when someone who has previously worked in dusty conditions (sometimes not aware that they were being exposed to asbestos), starts experiencing breathing problems.
A visit to their GP or hospital may reveal they have pleural thickening, a gradual solidifying of the lining of the lung that causes breathlessness, or asbestosis, which is fibrosis of the lung.
In the worst case scenario, they may be diagnosed with mesothelioma, a cancer attacking the lining of the body cavity and one of the causative factors in lung cancer.
Asbestos exposure is the only known cause of mesothelioma.
For some this starts an investigation into when they were exposed to asbestos and whether they have a legal compensation claim. As their lawyers we will help by asking them to piece together their work chronology as many people have worked for several employers.
We will then try to trace the companies they worked for in the past, as well as their former colleagues.
Provided we can find the employer or organisation responsible for the asbestos exposure and their insurers, we can make a financial claim. Last month we obtained a settlement of £277,000 for a man who was recently diagnosed with mesothelioma.
In this case the gentleman is still alive but all too often this isn’t the case.
Back in October we secured £180,000 from insurers for a Norfolk family where the victim had also contracted mesothelioma but sadly died before his claim was settled.
Whilst none of this can turn the clock back, it may help to ease a person’s life through the time of their illness, and vitally, to provide for their families in the future.
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