Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibrous mineral that was used extensively throughout the 20th century across the UK. Its strength, resilience and natural occurrence made it a popular manufacturing material for many years, and it was most commonly utilised in the shipbuilding, manufacturing, and construction industries.
It wasn’t until the early 1900’s that a link between asbestos use and lung problems was identified and it took until 1999 before it was completely banned in the UK.
Scarily enough, 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 and in some cases decades, to develop.
In this blog, we will explore who’s the most at risk, the key diseases that asbestos exposure can cause, and all of the details you need to know about making a claim for compensation.
Who’re the Most at Risk?
Exposure to asbestos occurs when a product containing asbestos is disturbed and asbestos fibres are released into the air. If this is breathed in, it can cause a number of lung-related health issues. As such, the greater the exposure to asbestos the higher chance you have of developing an asbestos-related disease later in life.
Those who previously worked in industries where asbestos was commonly used such as shipbuilding construction and maintenance are identified as the most at risk. Even though asbestos became illegal in 1999, 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 Diseases Can Asbestos Exposure Cause?
Most asbestos-related diseases are very slow to develop, and it can take years for symptoms to start showing. There are four main diseases associated with the inhalation of asbestos fibres:
A long term uncurable condition, caused by prolonged exposure to asbestos which causes scarring of the lungs.
A rare and fatal cancer that frequently starts in the lining of the lungs. Most cases aren’t diagnosed until the cancer is at an advanced stage as symptoms often don’t appear until later in the development of the disease.
Asbestos-related lung cancer
A form of cancer that originates in the lung tissue. It can be difficult to tell the origin of lung cancer, whether it was caused by asbestos or by other factors such as smoking but it is estimated to have a higher survival rate than mesothelioma.
Non-malignant pleural disease
Diffuse pleural thickening is a non-cancerous lung disease that affects the outer lining of the lung. It causes extensive scarring and thickens the lining of the lungs, reducing lung capacity in the process. Pleural plaques on the other hand are smaller areas of thickened lung tissue, which are commonly benign and don’t cause any symptoms but are still evidence of exposure to asbestos.
How to Claim
Compensation for exposure to asbestos is only available to those who have gone on to develop and be formally diagnosed with one of the 4 asbestos-related diseases listed above.
Often people will contact us after finding out that they may have been exposed to asbestos in a previous job, or if their doctor has identified ‘traces of asbestos’ on their lungs. Unfortunately, without a firm diagnosis of an asbestos-related disease, you are unable to make a claim.
If you have been told that you may have an asbestos-related condition or if you are unsure of your diagnosis, get in touch with our 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
In Scotland, you have three years to file for compensation for asbestos-related diseases. 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 asbestos disease-related symptoms were related to previous employment. As such, if you are diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, 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 We Can Help
We understand that making a compensation claim for an asbestos-related disease can be a distressing process, given the serious implications of the medical diagnosis which forms the basis of the claim. We will investigate your claim on a No Win No Fee basis and will ensure that your case is dealt with promptly and sympathetically.
Once you have provided proof of your diagnosed asbestos-related disease, 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 an industrial disease caused by exposure to asbestos, please get in touch with one of our No Win No Fee solicitors today.