It can often be a long and patient process to finally winning a personal injury claim for mesothelioma compensation from a former employer or their insurers.

There is a legal time limit of three years from the first ‘date of knowledge’ of any injury due to asbestos, and a confirmed medical diagnosis of mesothelioma. This means three years from when an asbestos-related illness was first discovered and not three years from the time of original asbestos exposure.

Unfortunately, at this late stage in the spread of the disease, the patient may only survive another 4 to 12 months, often less. In most cases, asbestosis symptoms will not become apparent for up to 50 years from the original time of asbestos exposure and the inhaling of the deadly fibre dust.

One inevitable consequence of the long gestation period can be the difficulty in tracing the original employer, on whose premises the exposure was believed to have taken place and who may no longer be in business.

Once a former employer is traced an asbestosis claim is first established by showing ‘on the balance of probabilities’ that it was likely that contracting mesothelioma was due to exposure to asbestos during the period when the claimant was employed at the company.

In addition, it would need to be clearly demonstrated that, at the time, the employer was careless/negligent in not maintaining standards required by common law as it may be possible to sue an employer for specific offences against health and safety regulations.

Until legislation was introduced from the 1970s and 80s onwards to ban the use of asbestos as insulation in UK manufacturing and industrial products, asbestos awareness amongst the workforce of the terrible health hazards was often deliberately withheld or simply ignored by company employers.

Difficulties in tracing previous employers because they may have gone out of business can be overcome by possibly being able to claim against the firm’s insurers. The success of a mesothelioma claim may thus, rely upon being able to identify the employers’ liability insurer for the relevant period of employment.

Once again, this is dependent on the insurer still existing and obtaining details of the original insurance cover. Employers’ Liability insurance only became compulsory in 1972 and while some employers did take out insurance cover it is always a possibility that records of many insurance policies will have been lost or destroyed when companies were dissolved or insurance companies went into liquidation or merged.

In recent years, there have been attempts by insurers to contest liability based on several arguments, which involve identifying a specific cause amongst several workplaces in a former employees lifetime, the time lapse between original exposure and appearance of symptoms and arguing for the benign nature of individual asbestosis symptoms, such as pleural plaques.

It is because asbestosis and mesothelioma claims require the knowledge and experience of a specialist asbestosis lawyer that it is essential to seek their asbestos advice at the earliest possible time.