Mr M was born in Ireland in 1933 but worked as a painter and decorator in England for the defendants for many years. He worked mainly in large industrial plants throughout most of the 60’s and 70’s and was regularly and frequently exposed to asbestos dust. He worked for a number of employers on sites throughout the country and almost all his time was spent cleaning, preparing and painting roofs, industrial plant, equipment and pipe work.
He worked at many power stations and factories in the South East in a gang of painters comprising of sometimes 2, 3 or 4 men and on occasion up to 8 men depending on the size of the job.
Mr M recalled having to remove asbestos from the miles of pipework and stanchions in order to prepare the surface for repainting. This would create clouds of asbestos fibres and dust which he would inhale.
Despite being exposed in the 60’s and 70’s it was not until 2012 that Mr M starting feeling unwell. He and his wife had moved back to live in Ireland in the 1980’s and spent time between both England and Ireland. After extensive tests Mr M was diagnosed with mesothelioma in June 2013. After a long battle with the illness he sadly passed away in March 2014.
Shortly before Mr M’s diagnosis was confirmed, the family contacted WE Solicitors and asked for guidance and advice as to the claims process and how we could assist. At this stage the family were living in Ireland so we went to meet them and obtain a witness statement from Mr M which is crucial evidence in mesothelioma cases to provide a first hand account of asbestos exposure.
We traced the company insurers and started the legal process. This case took longer than other matters because of the need to correspond with authorities in both England and Ireland to obtain documentation such as medical records, pension details etc. The defendants took a very robust stance and initially attempted to argue that Mr M did not have mesothelioma despite the condition being verified by a world leading expert.
After battling with the defendants at each stage during the claims process over almost 2 years, the case finally settled for £165,000. Steven Evans the solicitor dealing with the case said, “This is a good example of the insurance industry saying one thing and doing another. They would have you believe they are sympathetic to mesothelioma victims and their families and suggest these cases will be dealt with by them in a simple and straightforward manner. Yet the reality here was very different. The defendants hindered an early settlement of this case raising argument and defence at every point.
The M family have had to fight on for a further 12 months following the loss of a husband, father and grandfather. This has only heightened the pain and suffering they have endured. How long can the insurance industry maintain the impression to the public that they have a caring side when they continue to refuse to settle fatal cases in the lifetime of the victim taking into account the terminal nature of the illness and pay the full value of the claim?
It is immoral that in most cases wives, husbands and family members have to wait for their loved one to pass away before the insurers will meet their full obligations and pay the true value of the claim. If a mesothelioma claim settles prior to the death of a sufferer the insurers often argue that they are not responsible to compensate the family for certain elements that would be included should the matter settle after death. These items include additional sums for bereavement, funeral expenses and the financial dependency for any partner or spouse left behind. The sums can be substantial and for this reason it is often recommended that cases are not settled within a sufferer’s lifetime.
If the insurers would agree to include all these elements within these claims bearing in mind that mesothelioma is always a fatal illness, then the matters could be settled much more quickly, hopefully during a sufferers lifetime leaving the family to make the most of what time they have together rather than being involved in drawn out legal proceedings.”
If you or your family have been affected by asbestos illness or someone you know diagnosed, please do not hesitate to contact us on 0800 294 3065 for advice and assistance.