What is an asbestos related illness and can I make a claim?
Asbestos is a mineral that was used extensively in insulation in this country over the last century. We know that exposure to asbestos can lead to many health problems and the number of people developing an asbestos related illness is increasing each year.
Are there particular types of asbestos related illness?
There are a number of illnesses that are related to breathing in asbestos dust including:
- Pleural thickening
- Asbestos related lung cancer
If you were exposed to asbestos during your employment and have been diagnosed with one of the above illnesses, you may be entitled to compensation. In addition to any compensation, you may also be entitled to regular state benefits and possibly a lump sum.
How long do I have to make a claim?
There are time limits for issuing Court proceedings. Typically, these time limits are three years from the date you were first told about your disease. After this period, a Court may refuse to hear your claim. It is therefore important to seek legal advice from an experienced and highly qualified solicitor as soon as you have been diagnosed.
How do I start the process of making a claim?
Receiving a diagnosis is life changing and devastating for a victim and their family. Many victims are apprehensive about seeking legal advice for many reasons. They may not be used to dealing with a solicitor and may not know what is involved in the claims process. They are concerned about the impact of their diagnosis on them and their family, and they do not want the stress of a long drawn out claim. They are also concerned about whether they have to attend Court. It can be a very difficult time and it is important to get the legal, emotional and financial support you need.
Your solicitor will explain your funding options to you and take a detailed statement from you about your work and the circumstances in which you were exposed to asbestos dust. They will notify your employer and their insurers of your case and send you for an appointment with a respiratory consultant to examine you and provide a medical report. In certain cases, your solicitor will also instruct an engineer to give their opinion on the circumstances in which you were exposed to asbestos dust. All cases are different, with many requiring extensive investigations, and whilst many cases settle out of Court, some cases will be issued at Court. It may sound complicated but an experienced solicitor will make the process simple, talk in plain English and give you peace of mind throughout the process.
Is there anything I need to do to before meeting my solicitor?
There are some things you can do to prepare for your first meeting with your solicitor which include:
- Making a list of the companies you have worked for since leaving school, with dates to the best of your memory.
- Identifying the companies or locations where you think you may have breathed in asbestos dust.
- Making a note of details of witnesses who can confirm the circumstances in which you breathed in asbestos dust.
- Writing down details of your GP surgery and hospital where you have been treated for your illness.
- Writing down details of any income that you receive.
- If you have already applied for benefits for your illness, making a note of the details e.g. the benefit applied for and the address of the office dealing with your claim.
If you are not sure whether you are able to make a claim, don’t worry. Do not hesitate to contact an experienced solicitor who will be happy to speak with you.
Author: Elizabeth Forrester
DISCLAIMER: This article should not be regarded as constituting legal advice in relation to particular circumstances. This article is merely a general comment on the relevant topic. If specific advice is required in connection with any of the matters covered in this article, please speak to Catherine Higgins Law Limited directly.