The decision to pursue a claim for mesothelioma compensation is never easy for a victim or their family. When the results from the specialist arrive, which for example, confirm that the sudden onset of breathlessness or tight chests are asbestosis symptoms, there can be an overwhelming desire to find answers through the courts.
Another new reality for victims diagnosed with asbestosis disease or the incurable mesothelioma cancer is finding the money needed for expensive medical costs, care and special equipment. The process of making an asbestosis claim may feel a daunting prospect. However, confirmation of an asbestos-related disease entitles a victim or their family to pursue a mesothelioma claim.
Latest available figures from the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries show that in 2016, there was a total of 5,527 asbestos-related claims notified, of which 2,678 were for mesothelioma, 1,127 for asbestosis and 272 for asbestos lung cancer.
In many cases, a mesothelioma victim who may only have a few months left to live will want to know that their family will have financial security for the future. Damages are awarded with the intention of putting the claimant “back to the same financial position they would have been in if they had not been diagnosed with mesothelioma”.
Asbestos lawyers refer to guidelines when evaluating a claim
There are several elements to mesothelioma compensation, which are examined by a judge according to set “judicial guidelines” and according to judgements made in previous cases. At the outset, compensation for pain and suffering, and loss of amenity – known as “General Damages” – is based upon how the condition has affected the sufferer in the past and in the future.
Experienced asbestos lawyers and specialist solicitors will refer to both the guidelines and past decisions when evaluating a claim. However, they should first proceed with obtaining an interim lump sum payment to help victims and their families with the cost of care or treatment while a claim is progressing.
Additional care and support as condition declines
The courts will then take into account the duration of the condition and the symptoms, and the treatment already received or is likely to receive. The health of an elderly mesothelioma claimant, for example, can often rapidly deteriorate and will require additional care and support as their condition declines.
A victim suffering with an asbestos disease or pleural plaques is likely to need medical or care equipment at home, such as a motorised reclining chair, stair handrails, stairlift, wheelchair or portable scooter. It may also be necessary to install a walk-in-shower / bath. Additional consideration can be given to the cost of care, by a relative[s] or a paid professional nurse and any other daily living needs such as, heating, laundry, heating, telephone, food, travel and parking.
Loss of earnings, future income and pensions
Further components to a claim include any loss of earnings, future income and pensions. A victim is entitled to claim for future income or pensions they would have received if they did not have mesothelioma. The figure is calculated by a proportion of the claimant’s yearly income multiplied by a number of years. When a “lost years” claim is made by a terminally ill victim for loss of earnings or income whilst still alive, the compensation awarded may be less than if his dependents (usually next-of-kin) claim for compensation following the victim’s death
A claim for ‘loss of dependency’, can be made by any individual who relied on a deceased victim for their financial wellbeing, which is usually the husband or wife and the immediate family who are entitled to amaking a claim. The judge needs to see the details of the family income and of the deceased at the time of the death, and any outgoings of the deceased. A dependant is usually the wife or husband or former wife or husband of the deceased, any child or other descendant of the deceased, and any parent or grandparent of the deceased.
Significant award if claimant was a carer for their husband or wife
Damages can also be awarded for the loss of a quality of life, i.e. activities a victim is no longer able to enjoy such as, DIY, gardening, housework or driving. A claimed can also be made by their widow or widower of the victim. It should be noted that there can sometimes be a significant award if claimant was a carer for their husband or wife or another family member with their own illness or medical condition.
The court also has the ability to make payments for bereavement, loss of personal attention or “love and affection” of the deceased, and loss of “services” of the deceased, plus funeral and probate costs. The time limit for bringing a claims to court is three years from date of diagnosis (or if deceased, from date of death). The decision to seek advice from an asbestosis lawyer should be made at the earliest possible time from a confirmed diagnosis.