Asbestosis Claims: All You Need to Know

Asbestosis Claims: All You Need to Know


Asbestos was once one of the most popular manufacturing materials, favoured for its strength, resilience, and natural occurrence. Throughout the 20th century across the UK, this naturally occurring fibrous mineral was used extensively in the shipbuilding, construction and manufacturing industries.

Today, asbestos is far more commonly known as ‘The Silent Killer’ and is the direct cause of at least four serious and debilitating diseases.

Exposure to asbestos fibers and asbestos dust was first recognised as an occupational health hazard sometime in the early 1900’s, but it wasn’t until many years later that a clear link between asbestos use and lung problems was confirmed. In fact, it took until 1999 in the UK for the use of asbestos to be completely banned.

Horrifyingly, the number of people diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases continues to rise year-on-year. This is due to the fact that the symptoms of asbestos-related diseases often take many years, in some cases decades, to develop. The Health and Safety Executive reported that there was over 5,000 deaths in the UK in 2021 from asbestos-related diseases.

One of the most common diseases caused by prolonged asbestos exposure is asbestosis, a long term and uncurable lung disease which causes scarring of the lungs.

Here at Bonnar Accident Law, we have significant experience handling all types of asbestos exposure claims, including those who have been diagnosed with asbestosis. In this blog, we’ll explore the main risks and symptoms surrounding asbestosis, and all you need to know about making a claim for compensation.

What is asbestosis?

The Health and Safety Executive defines asbestosis as ‘a form of pneumoconiosis caused by the inhalation of asbestos fibres, which is characterised by scarring and inflammation of the lung tissue’. Breathing in asbestos fibres causes scarring and thickening of lung tissues, which in turn, causes the lungs to lose elasticity and their ability to function properly.

Caused by excessive and prolonged periods of asbestos exposure, asbestosis is a chronic and irreversible condition in which the symptoms typically only start to develop several decades later. Shockingly, deaths from asbestosis continue to rise and there was a total of 490 deaths recorded in the UK in 2019, as a direct cause of asbestosis.

Who is at risk of asbestosis?

Exposure to asbestos occurs when a product containing asbestos is disturbed and asbestos fibres are released into the air and breathed in. The greater the exposure to asbestos, the higher chance you have of developing an asbestos-related disease later in life.

As such, the people who are most likely to be at risk of asbestosis are typically those who were exposed to asbestos in their workplace. People with jobs in the construction, maintenance and shipbuilding industries are identified to be most at risk due to the widespread use of asbestos in these trades. With that said, those who work in those industries today are still considered high risk for exposure as the material can still be found in many older buildings.

As well as those that worked or work directly with asbestos, it is possible for people to become unwell through ‘secondary exposure’. This occurs when people inhale fibres from the work clothes of a family member, or inhalation from living near a site where asbestos was regularly used.

What are the symptoms of asbestosis?

Most asbestos-related diseases are very slow to develop, and it can take years for symptoms to start showing. The main symptoms of asbestosis include:

  • shortness of breath
  • persistent cough
  • wheezing
  • extreme tiredness (fatigue)
  • pain in your chest or shoulder

Sadly, these symptoms can progress to seriously affect normal daily activity and can lead to various complications, which can be fatal.

If you think you may be suffering with asbestosis, please seek advice from your GP who can refer you for the necessary tests to help diagnose the condition.

What other diseases can be caused as a result of exposure to asbestos?

Other than asbestosis, there are three other main diseases associated with inhalation of asbestos fibres; mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer and non-malignant pleural disease.

Here at Bonnar Accident Law, we have significant experience handling mesothelioma claims. Mesothelioma is defined by the Health and Safety Executive as ‘a form of cancer that principally affects the pleura (the external lining of the lung) and the peritoneum (the lining of the lower digestive tract)’.

Cases of mesothelioma aren’t typically diagnosed until the cancer is already at an advanced stage, as the symptoms can be quite non-specific and don’t often appear until much later in the development of the disease. A diagnosis is almost always fatal, and often within 12 months of the symptom onset.

Devastatingly, the number of annual deaths from mesothelioma has increased steeply over the last 50 years, as it takes many years for mesothelioma to develop following inhalation of asbestos fibres. This increase in fatalities, with 2,369 mesothelioma deaths recorded in Great Britain in 2019, is a direct consequence of mainly occupational asbestos exposures that occurred because of the widespread industrial use of asbestos between 1950’s and 1980’s.

If you would like to know more about claiming for other types of asbestos-related diseases, read our blog Can I Make a Claim for Asbestos Exposure or for mesothelioma claims, get in touch with us today for more information.

Who can make a compensation claim for asbestosis?

Anyone who has been exposed to asbestos can potentially make a claim but to make a claim for asbestosis, you need to have formally diagnosed as suffering from the condition.

We understand that making a claim for an asbestos-related disease is one of the more complicated claims processes. If you have been told that you may have asbestosis or if you are unsure of your diagnosis, get in touch with one of our No Win No Fee solicitors today. If you’ve made a claim previously that was unsuccessful, but your condition has since worsened, we may also be able to help

Just as importantly, in Scotland you have three years to file for compensation. This three-year period can start either from the date of your medical diagnosis, or from when you were made aware, or should have been made aware, that your asbestosis symptoms were related to a previous employment. As such, if you are diagnosed with asbestosis, it’s important that you seek advice as soon as possible.

If you’re claiming on behalf of a deceased family member, the claim must also be filed within three years of the date of death, or the date of diagnosis if this was discovered sooner.

How can I make a claim for asbestosis?

Once you have provided proof of your diagnosed asbestosis, any information you have that could help us link your asbestos exposure to a specific workplace as well as any evidence you may have that proves your employer was aware of the risks and failed to take reasonable steps to protect the workforce from exposure, can help your claim tremendously.

However, we understand that asbestos-related diseases can take decades to develop and it’s very common in these situations that your former employer may have ceased trading, or that you can’t quite remember when you were exposed. Not to worry, we can still help. We have extensive experience investigating these types of claims and will work tirelessly to ensure you receive the best financial settlement possible.

If you or a loved one need advice on filing a compensation claim for asbestosis, please get in touch with one of our No Win No Fee solicitors today.

Everything You Need to Know about the 2022 Highway Code Changes

Everything You Need to Know about the 2022 Highway Code Changes

How well do you know the Highway Code? Sure, we all had our copy memorised back-to-front before sitting our driving test but since then, have you ever thought to reacquaintance yourself with the rules of the road?

According to a 2021 study by Rooster Insurance, 46.6% of drivers have never refreshed their knowledge of the Highway Code. As such, we’re sure that those road users might be quite surprised to learn that on 29th January 2022, the Highway Code is set to undergo a significant change with 49 updates to existing rules and 8 new rules being introduced.

After a lengthy consultation which concluded at the end of October 2020, generating nearly 21,000 response, the majority voted in favour of the proposed changes, believing that they would improve safety for cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders.

Amongst the changes is a new ‘Hierarchy of Road Users’ that will prioritise the most vulnerable road users, such as cyclists and pedestrians. This puts more responsibility on the drivers of larger vehicles to look after more vulnerable road users.

There is some concern that the new changes and revisions to the Highway Code could lead to an increase in road traffic accidents throughout both Scotland and across the whole of the UK in the coming months, due to a lack of awareness surrounding the changes.

Here at Bonnar Accident Law, we have significant experience handling road traffic accidents and are well versed in both the legal requirements and advisory behaviours that road users should adhere to. If you’d like more information get in touch today, or keep reading to find out all you need to know about the upcoming changes to the Highway Code and how they could affect any claims for compensation.

The Hierarchy of Road Users

The new Hierarchy of Road Users is being introduced to the Highway Code to ensures that those road users who can do the greatest harm, have the greatest responsibility to reduce the danger or threat they may pose to other road users.

The new hierarchy is in the order of which road users are most likely to be harmed in the event of an accident and is as follows:

  • Pedestrians
  • Cyclists
  • Horse riders
  • Motorcyclists
  • Cars/taxis
  • Vans/minibuses
  • Large passenger vehicles/heavy goods vehicles

The need to prioritise pedestrian safety has perhaps been highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the increased awareness of climate change, both of which have seen many people deterred from risking public transport and taking to walking more. In fact, a recent study found that 38% of people are walking more than they were before the pandemic.

For cyclists, research from Cycling Scotland has found that between 2020 and 2021, there has been a 47% rise in people regularly cycling, as more people than ever before are taking to their bikes as a safe, economical and environmentally friendly way to get around.

However, whilst it’s clear why the safety of road users such as pedestrians and cyclists needs to be prioritised, the hierarchy does not remove the requirement for all road users to behave responsibly. The new Highway Code states that it is important that all road users are aware of the Highway Code, are considerate to other road users and understand their responsibility for the safety of others.

What other changes does the new Highway Code introduce?

  • Pedestrians will have increased priority at junctions over all other road users, including cyclists. Currently other road users only have to give way to pedestrians who have started to cross at junctions; under the new rule they should also give way when pedestrians are waiting to cross. The same applies in relation to zebra crossings, where currently traffic technically only must stop when a pedestrian has moved onto the crossing.
  • Cyclists can choose to ride in the centre of their lanes in certain situations, such as on quiet roads or at the approach to junctions. At junctions with no separate lights or cycle facilities, cyclists should position themselves in the centre of the lane.
  • Drivers, motorbike riders, horse riders and cyclists at a junction should give way to pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross a road into which, or from which, they are turning. Cyclists also have to give way to pedestrians on shared use cycle tracks.
  • Drivers should not cut across cyclists or horse riders going ahead when turning into or out of a junction or changing direction or lane, to prevent ‘left hook’ collisions.
  • Drivers should open car doors using the ‘Dutch reach’ method, with the hand on the opposite side to the door they are opening. This will mean drivers turn their heads to look over their shoulders and reduces the likelihood of hitting passing cyclists with their doors.
  • Drivers should leave at least 1.5 metres when overtaking cyclists at speeds of up to 30mph, more space when overtaking at higher speeds, and allow at least 2 metres space and keep to a low speed when passing a pedestrian who is walking in the road (e.g., where there is no pavement).

Read the full list of full changes set out by the Department of Transport here.

Will the change to the Highway Code affect my claim if I am injured in a road traffic accident?

The Highway Code is being updated to improve road safety for vulnerable road users, but there will be no changes to the law. The rules of the Highway Code are advisory, meaning a person won’t be prosecuted for not complying with them.

However, the Highway Code can be used in court to establish liability in the event of an accident under the Road Traffic Act. This includes rules which say ‘should/should not or do/do not.’ Therefore, if you are found to be at fault in an accident as a result of not complying with the Highway Code, you may face charges in court.

If you are involved in a road traffic accident, whilst we can completely under your distress, we can only advise that you try your best to stay calm and remember as many details as you can, as these can help to support your claim if you weren’t at fault. Try to record the following:

  • Names, addresses and contact details of all drivers involved
  • Vehicle registration details for all vehicles involved
  • Accident date and time
  • Accident location
  • Full contact details of any witnesses

Most importantly of course, if necessary, seek medical attention as soon as possible and report to your GP following any hospital admissions. And remember to always report the accident to the police.

If you have been injured in a road traffic accident that wasn’t your fault and you would like more information, please get in touch with one of our No Win No Fee solicitors today.