Following a lengthy legal battle, on the 28th March, the Supreme Court ruled that former employer insurers are liable to pay mesothelioma compensation dating back to the actual time when the employee was first exposed and breathed in asbestos.
For the many mesothelioma victims and their families, the long wait is finally over. The Supreme Court ruling over Employers Liability Policy Trigger Litigation means that a successful mesothelioma claim can win compensation from several thousand to millions of pounds according to a victim’s individual work history.
Critically, hope of a fully compensated legal redress and financial security is now also available to the many unknown thousands of asbestosis cases yet to be diagnosed in the period immediately ahead.
With around 4,700 asbestos disease related deaths recorded annually in the UK, the number of asbestosis claim cases has more than doubled in three years to over 1,160 cases in 2010 and currently, 2,000 cases of mesothelioma continue to be diagnosed.
During much of the peak period of asbestos use from the 1940s onwards, there was often a lack of adequate information or protective equipment which meant asbestos awareness to the health risks were either unknown or ignored. The exceptionally long gestation period of up to 50 years or more means that asbestosis symptoms would not appear until late in life and consequently, would too easily be mistaken for other types of respiratory complaints, especially if there is a history of smoking.
For many retired workers who lived and worked in the asbestos-using industries or came into daily contact with asbestos in the many buildings constructed of the material right up to the 1980s and 90s, ability to recognise possible mesothelioma symptoms at the earliest possible time is crucial. Invariably, a diagnosis is made when the disease has reached an advanced stage and life expectancy is often less than 6 months.
If either a man or woman who recalls that they may have been exposed to asbestos at one point in their working lives, no matter how brief or far back in time, finds they have to make unexpected visit to the GP with a suspected heavy cold, flu or pneumonia symptoms, it is sensible to enquire about asbestos-related disease.
Symptoms of pleural mesothelioma ( affecting the lung linings), the most common asbestos cancer, include shortness of breath, chronic cough, chest pain, fever, loss of appetite, weight loss and difficulty sleeping.
It should be remembered that there is a three year time limit from a confirmed diagnosis to pursue a case against a former employer/ insurer with an asbestosis lawyer.