For many years, the dangers of exposure to asbestos have been widely-known. Inhaling asbestos dust can damage lung tissues, potentially resulting in severe breathing problems and the development of even more serious illnesses, including certain types of cancer.
Diseases with documented links to asbestos exposure include:
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
Asbestos Lung Cancer
Other types of cancer, such as Ovarian and Laryngeal
Although the use and manufacture of asbestos products is now prohibited in the UK, people are still being diagnosed with these conditions. This is the unfortunate legacy of the once-thriving asbestos industry.
People who worked in contact with asbestos, breathing in the harmful dust particles day-in-day-out, are much more at risk of developing asbestos-related conditions – especially if proper safety precautions were not taken by their employer.
Typically, workers in industries such as ship-building, construction, insulation, and mining would be most frequently in contact with asbestos dust. However, people working in almost any field could have been exposed to it, and it is believed that even short-term exposures – if highly concentrated – can result in health problems.
Asbestos Claims and Compensation
Employers owe a duty of care to their workers. As part of that duty they must make sure reasonable steps are taken to avoid exposing their workers to danger.
If you came into contact with asbestos at work, and suffered health problems as a result, you may be able to claim compensation for the illness and the effects it has had.
Asbestos claims can be brought against your employer and/or their insurers at the time of the exposure. This allows compensation to be pursued even if the employer in question is no longer in business.
In order for asbestos claims to be successful, it must be proved that:
You have suffered an asbestos-related disease;
This was as a result of exposure to asbestos during the course of your employment; and
Your employer at the time:
knew the risks of contact with asbestos; and
did not take reasonable steps to ensure your safety.
Alternatively, if this has happened to a loved one who has now passed away, you may be able to bring a claim on behalf of their estate. If you are considering this, we would recommend contacting us for legal advice as a matter of urgency, due to the strict time limits that can apply.
Whilst the above might sound like difficult obstacles to overcome, at Truth Legal we have extensive experience of helping clients with asbestos claims. We will guide and advise you on each step of the way.
We will arrange reports from medical experts to ascertain whether a condition has been caused by exposure to asbestos. We will also investigate the circumstances of your case to establish whether your employer knew, or should have known, of the potential dangers you were being subjected to. In the ‘Background to Asbestos Use in the UK’ section below, you can see that the dangerous properties of asbestos have been suspected for almost as long as it has been in use.
Time Limits for Claiming Compensation
All personal injury claims are restricted by certain timescales. In most situations, claims can only be started within three years of the incident which caused the injury. However, when it is unclear that an injury has been caused, this three-year time period begins from the point when you first have knowledge that an injury has occurred.
In asbestos-related disease claims (and other industrial disease claims), often the first point of knowledge is upon diagnosis of the condition. In most cases, therefore, the three-year time limit will begin running from that date of diagnosis.
When bringing a claim on behalf of someone who has died of an asbestos-related disease. The time limit of three years begins instead from the date of their death.
Background to Asbestos Use in the UK
Asbestos has been in significant usage in the UK for over a century. However, the dangers it posed to those working with it have been suspected almost from the outset. In 1898, a report by HM Chief Inspector of Factories and Workshops noted the prevalence of lung conditions amongst the workers in an asbestos mill.
However, the first official recognition of the risks it posed to workers occurred much later in 1969, when Asbestos regulations were brought in to ‘manage asbestos contact’. Even then, it was not until 1985 that certain kinds of asbestos were first banned for use and import. Other kinds, which were for some time considered less dangerous, were then later banned in 1999.
Given how long asbestos has been in use, and its relatively recent prohibition, millions of people will have worked with and been exposed to asbestos. It is unsurprising then that people are still being diagnosed with asbestos-related illnesses. Who can say how many of these diagnoses could have been prevented by employers ensuring the safety of their workers?
If you are suffering from an asbestos-related disease, you used to work in contact with asbestos, or you know someone to whom these descriptions apply, please get in touch to discuss your legal position.
Truth Legal has offices in London, Manchester and Harrogate. We are more than willing to sit down with you for a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss if there are any ways in which we can help you.