The fight for mesothelioma compensation by a victim’s spouse or family member can be a long process. So the latest story of a West Yorkshire wife who heard that she had finally won a probable six figure sum on behalf of her late husband after a six year struggle is welcome news indeed.
The case highlights the importance of gathering the testimony of witnesses to reinforce a mesothelioma claim, which can be vital in determining a successful outcome. As a result of an appeal made by the 65 year old widow in a local Bradford newspaper for former work colleagues to give evidence, her fear of losing the case was eased when one vital reply came through.
Statements taken from fellow workers who were also at the workplace where a victim was originally exposed to asbestos are almost always crucial to a case. A testimony can be instrumental to a judge’s decision when it is actually heard in court.
As with so many asbestos-related cases that continue to be heard, the apparent lack of asbestos awareness of the long term deadly health risks were once again brought to the court’s attention.
The husband had originally been exposed to asbestos when carrying out maintenance work on pipework lined with asbestos insulation at a local textile manufacturing firm. However, no safety equipment, such as a facemask or protective clothing was ever issued or health hazard information provided.
During the UK’s peak years of asbestos use, from the 1930s to the late 1970s and 80s when fibres were added to many products as a cheap and effective insulation material, the emerging health dangers to workers tended to be downplayed, overlooked or deliberately ignored by factory owners. It wasn’t until 1985 that the most toxic asbestos types were banned and another 15 years before importation of white asbestos was prohibited.
Unfortunately for the former maintenance worker, as with countless thousands of others who were routinely exposed to asbestos during this period, the legislation came too late. Once the fibres are inhaled they remain permanently embedded in the linings of the lungs or the stomach, eventually leading to asbestosis disease or the fatal incurable mesothelioma cancer.
However, the first signs of mesothelioma or asbestosis symptoms may only appear from between 15 to 50 years or more. It is often the long time scales involved, which can make the proof of an employer or their insurer’s liability difficult to prove without sufficient witness evidence. In the present case, the victim had died in his early sixties and a typically robust defence had been mounted until the witness came forward.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) estimate that over two thousand deaths from mesothelioma are recorded every year, which is predicted to keep rising until 2050.