Asbestos-Related & Asbestosis Claims
Are you looking for information on making an asbestos compensation claim? Then you’ve come to the right place. As experienced solicitors, we know all there is to know about this area of law.
Our 2023 guide for victims of asbestos after death and other asbestos-related conditions explains the essential details. If you have lost a loved one following asbestos exposure at work, we will support you every step of the way.
Death from an asbestos-related condition is usually due to inhaling asbestos fibres. Several types of health issues can arise, such as asbestos-related lung cancer. After a diagnosis, death sadly often happens within a matter of months. In most cases, an asbestos claim after death is made on behalf of the deceased’s family members by solicitors acting on their behalf through the courts.
At R James Hutcheon Solicitors, we have over 30 years of experience dealing with asbestos-related compensation claims. We have produced a video of the five most common questions, which you can watch below.
There are three main causes of death in the United Kingdom following asbestos exposure, including:
- Asbestos-related lung cancer
An asbestos compensation claim can be made when someone has contracted an asbestos-related disease after exposure. Claims are often made when the person was exposed to asbestos while working.
If the person is still alive, they will be able to make a claim themselves. They will have to present evidence showing how and when they were exposed to the dangerous minerals.
If the person is no longer alive and has had a diagnosis of an asbestos-related condition, a family member will be able to make an asbestos after death claim on their behalf.
In the UK, the courts will consider several factors when deciding on a compensation payout for asbestos-related diseases. Each case is decided based on unique facts, but the following points are common considerations.
- The type of asbestos-related disease, such as asbestosis
- The age of the deceased (or living victim). The younger the person, the greater the compensation.
- The length of suffering – the longer the pain and suffering, the court will award more damages. In many studies of workers exposed to asbestos, asbestos-fibre inhalation is currently proven to increase lung cancer risk. More prolonged asbestos exposure puts an individual at a higher risk of developing lung cancer. Most medical cases of asbestos-related lung disease in workers occur at least after 15 years of first asbestos exposure.
- The courts will consider the level of smoking the victim had consumed if lung cancer is diagnosed.
- Lung Cancer – Usually older person and fatal, symptoms not generally as painful as mesothelioma: up to £86,000
- Asbestosis (pleural thickening of the lungs) – Disability, shortness of breath, prolonged coughing, sleep disturbance, restriction of mobility. The top-level award will be for victims where the disease is progressive, showing a significant impact on the quality of life: up to £95,000
- Asbestosis and Pleural Thickening – Where breathlessness, frequent use of an inhaler, unable to tolerate smokey environment: up to £35,000
The above figures are for general guidance. In addition to the above asbestos compensation claims payouts, there are other heads of damages that expert asbestos solicitors can claim on behalf of the victim and their family.
Below is a selection of real compensation payouts for asbestos claims after death as decided by UK Courts.
McGregor v Genco (FC) Ltd  £135,000
A case was decided in the Manchester County Court. The asbestos victim was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma of the pleura. A claim was brought against her former employer for damages for personal injury, alleging that she had contracted the illness due to asbestos exposure during employment.
The claimant was aged 58 when she developed malignant mesothelioma of the pleura. She began suffering from symptoms of mesothelioma in May 2012 with shortness of breath and lethargy and was diagnosed in August. The prognosis was poor.
The total award for the asbestos compensation after death: £135,000
Passmore v Evan Cook Ltd 2012 – (£192,437)
The employee contracted mesothelioma due to exposure to asbestos at work. He was diagnosed in February 2011 with the presence of a large right pleural effusion and pleural plaques from exposure to asbestos during his employment. He had a life expectancy of six months, with a likely range of three to nine months, from September 2012.
The employee claimed damages for mesothelioma, which he alleged was caused by negligent exposure to asbestos in the course of his employment by the defendant. Between 1961/1962 and 1981, the claimant was employed and responsible for supervising the packing, removal and installation of industrial plant and equipment. In 2011, the claimant was diagnosed with mesothelioma.
The claimant’s evidence was that while employed by the defendant, he had been exposed to asbestos dust from dismantling pipework from factory equipment.
At court, his health had deteriorated, and towards the end of the one-hour questioning, he required morphine as pain control. From time to time, he lost concentration. Under cross-examination, some of the claimant’s answers to questions suggested that exposure to asbestos during the relevant period could not be demonstrated.
Whilst the defendant submitted to the court that his evidence was unreliable, the judge dismissed the claims and found he was a reliable witness and established to the satisfaction of the court relevant exposure levels and working environment to prove a case. He was truthful and a careful witness; therefore, liability was proven against his employers.
Asbestos compensation after death was agreed between the solicitors at £168,000.
Eric Ward, the Widower and Executor of the Estate of Valerie Ward v RWE Npower PLC and Associated Electrical Industries Ltd  £113,000 (80 years old)
The Deceased first experienced symptoms in July 2007 he sadly died in April 2011, shortly after being diagnosed in March 2011. The Deceased contracted mesothelioma as a result of ‘secondary’ exposure. The Deceased washed her husband and son’s overalls, which were covered in asbestos dust and fibres because of their work at the Aberthaw Power Station. Proceedings were issued, and the matter was settled.
The case was ‘Fast Tracked’ due to her condition under the mesothelioma scheme. Her family were awarded compensation of £113,000.
Baker v Tate & Lyle PLC  – £205,000
The Employee’s symptoms began in January 2011. At the time of the trial, he was dying of mesothelioma due to exposure to asbestos with a life expectancy of 2 to 6 months. He was 65 years old at the time when at court. He was only in his teenage working years when he was exposed to the deadly dust fibres.
The judge found that under Regulation 1 of the Asbestos Industry Regulations 1931 and section 29 (1) of the Factories Act 1961 imposed a duty upon the defendant as the occupier. The Defendant company did not come up with any evidence to suggest they supplied their employee with effective breathing apparatus and adequate mechanical ventilation so as not to expose the claimant to asbestos.
As the defendant failed to provide this evidence, Judgment was entered, and the case settled for £205,000, with £80,000 allowed for general damages (that is, for the asbestos-related condition alone, pain and suffering). The additional £125,000 was paid under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 for the dependents of the deceased.
Ball v Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change  £73,980/ £58,920.38 (pain and suffering)
Malignant mesothelioma of the pleura was diagnosed.
The employee was alive when the case came to court. Often quite unusual for a mesothelioma case, as often the victim of asbestos exposure has sadly died.
Between 1967 and 1985, the claimant was exposed to asbestos dust during his employment with the National Coal Board. He started to experience chest symptoms in January 2011. His condition deteriorated, and he was diagnosed as suffering from malignant mesothelioma in March 2011.
In September 2011, the claimant’s estimated life expectancy due to the malignant mesothelioma was between one to five months.
In April 2011, a left thoracoscopy was performed to remove the pleural effusion and relieve the claimant’s breathlessness.
The prognosis was inevitable deterioration, probably with worsening pain, increasing breathlessness, loss of appetite and weight and progressive debility.
It was likely the claimant would become wholly incapacitated and need constant nursing care towards the end of his life.
Had it not been for the mesothelioma, his life expectancy would have been 2.9 years.
Damages for pain, suffering and loss of amenity were awarded at £50,000.
Here the court awarded damages for lost years agreed at £19,376, and care and miscellaneous expenses were agreed at £4,179.16.
Compensation payouts for death following the inhalation of asbestos dust at work are very much after the event symptoms of the disease have a very long latent period, often over 30 years from first exposure to the deadly dust.
Often, most asbestos sufferers who seek legal advice are in their 60s and 70s. They are concerned for their loved ones as they are usually a carer for their partner who needs support.
No amount of compensation will ever replace the tragic loss, but it will provide some financial support, help pay for bills and expenses and even care for loved ones left behind.
There will also be a sense of justice that someone has paid for the hurt, pain and suffering endured before death.
As specialist asbestos claims after death solicitors, we will consider all claims sympathetically and expertly. All asbestos-related claims will be considered.
Please contact us now to discuss a possible claim but remember there is a limited period to make a claim which is three years from the date of death or within three years from when the worker who was exposed to the dust knew that it was related to his/her workplace.
Have you recently lost a family member due to an asbestos-related disease? If your answer is, unfortunately, yes, we know how difficult life may be for you right now. You shouldn’t have to suffer in silence or feel hopeless. You may be able to pursue a claim on behalf of your deceased relative.
As most asbestos exposure occurs in workplaces, the first step to claiming a loved one is to piece together their employment history. Solicitors will work closely with the family members to track the relative’s previous employers and pinpoint where asbestos exposure occurred. Compensation can still be pursued even if the employer is no longer operating. Evidence will be collected, including witness statements, to determine how asbestos exposure occurred and whether anyone else has also suffered.
To make a UK asbestos compensation claim on behalf of a family member, please contact us today.
If you are considered a dependent of the deceased, then you relied heavily on the person before they died. You may have depended on the deceased for financial assistance or support services like childcare. Dependents often include partners, children, parents and siblings, but this isn’t an exhaustive list.
If making an asbestos claim as a dependent, your entitlement will be based on factors relating to the death. A person dying following asbestos-related exposure can cause their loved ones to suffer financially or through other loss of dependency. If this fits your situation, we highly recommend that you discuss the case with an experienced solicitor. Dependency claims help loved ones recover from loss of services and financial loss.
Please view our dedicated dependency claims page to learn more about making an asbestos claim as a dependent.
As with most types of compensation claims, there is a time limit by which the claim needs to be submitted. This is often referred to as a statute of limitations. The Limitation Act 1980 states a 3-year statutory time limit for making a personal injury claim such as an asbestos claim. The period usually begins from the date of the diagnosis or death. However, asbestos-related compensation claims can be complex, and specific circumstances may exceed this time limit. We advise that you speak to one of our solicitors to see how long you may have to make a claim.
The person or organisation that pays the compensation for an asbestos claim can vary depending on the circumstances. The majority of cases involve an employee who has developed an asbestos-related condition due to exposure at work, often leaving the employer as the liable party. Therefore, the company’s Liability Insurance would cover the damages awarded to the victim or their family. This scenario means the insurance company would be responsible for delivering the payout.
There may be times when the employer is no longer trading, or the employer and/or their insurance company cannot be traced. If this is the case, there are government schemes available that can help. These schemes ensure victims and their families can pursue the asbestos compensation they deserve, even if they cannot get the damages from the liable employer.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) considers asbestos to be one of the most significant health hazards in Great Britain, which is why they provide thorough guidance on managing the risks. The HSE regularly reports on asbestos to monitor its impact on our society. They last released a report in July 2023, and we have summarised some of the most critical statistics below.
- Asbestos has been banned in the UK since 1999 but continues to cause high levels of injuries and deaths
- Over 5,000 workers die each year from an asbestos-related disease, which is more than RTA fatalities
- 20 tradesmen die each week due to their past exposure to asbestos
- 1.5 million buildings in the country are believed to contain asbestos, including 75% of schools
- In 2021, there were 2,268 deaths from mesothelioma
- 1,929 new cases of mesothelioma were assessed for the Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
- There are around 2,500 asbestos-related lung cancer deaths recorded each year
- 537 deaths in 2021 mentioned asbestosis as a contributing factor on the deceased’s death certificate
- There were 460 new cases of pleural thickening recorded during the year
Mesothelioma is a rare tumour in persons who have not been exposed to asbestos, occurring with an annual incidence of around one per million population. Most cases occur in persons who have been so exposed. Occasional spontaneous cases unrelated to asbestos exposure do occur, however. When there is a history of past asbestos exposure, the balance of probabilities strongly favours that exposure has been responsible for mesothelioma, which occurs subsequently.
Mesothelioma can occur after low-level asbestos exposure, and there is no threshold dose of asbestos below which there is no risk. However, the chance that mesothelioma will occur increases in proportion to the dose of asbestos received and successive periods of exposure each augment the risk that mesothelioma will occur.
There is, on average, a long latent interval between first exposure to asbestos and the onset of clinical manifestations of mesothelioma, more than 30 years in most series, but the range of intervals is extensive, extending down to ten years and perhaps less in rare cases, and upwards with no upper limit. The latent interval between first exposure and the onset of clinical manifestations should not be confused with the gap between the commencement of growth of the tumour and the onset of clinical manifestations. The latter period is usually much shorter than the former because the mesothelioma does not start to grow as soon as the first fibres are inhaled. After years, repeated interactions between asbestos fibres and mesothelial cells occur, eventually resulting in the malignant transformation of a mesothelioma cell. It is at this point that the tumour starts to grow.
On average, mesothelioma begins to grow about ten years before clinical manifestations appear. All employments involving asbestos exposure up to the point at which the tumour growth may be presumed to have commenced, i.e. about ten years on average before the onset of clinical manifestations, will have contributed to the risk that mesothelioma would develop. The mechanisms of causation are incompletely understood. Thus all exposure that contributed to the chance that mesothelioma would occur should be regarded as having contributed to the causation of the mesothelioma.
Is Asbestos Still a Problem in 2023?
Yes, the risk of asbestos exposure is still a significant problem even in 2023. As we will mention in more detail below, the UK government fully banned asbestos in 1999. While the manufacture and supply of any product containing asbestos is illegal, that doesn’t mean there is no trace of asbestos anywhere in the country. The ban only affected the use of asbestos going forward, not how it has already been used. It’s only recently that the government has considered plans to completely remove asbestos from existing buildings within a 40-year timeframe.
20+ years may seem like a long time, but there are still millions of properties in the UK that were built before 1999. Therefore, thousands of people are still being exposed to asbestos each year. Exposure can happen, for instance, if an old building is being renovated and material containing asbestos is damaged. Asbestos also remains a modern problem if it is mistakenly or illegally imported into the country.
Before the dangers of asbestos were known, it was frequently used in building products due to several benefits, including resistance to water, chemicals, heat and electricity. Asbestos first came to the United Kingdom around the late 1800s, so buildings created after this date may contain asbestos. The material became particularly popular after World War II.
Due to the risk of asbestos, the UK government banned using blue and brown asbestos in 1985. A complete ban, including white asbestos, was enforced in November 1999, making it illegal to buy, sell, import or export any products containing asbestos. Therefore, properties that started construction after 1999 are unlikely to have asbestos materials. However, this is not always the case, as products manufactured and stored before the ban may have still been used, or products containing asbestos may be mistakenly imported.
Properties built before 1999 have a high chance of containing asbestos. A survey of these properties should be performed, and steps should be taken to mitigate risk before working on the property.
The asbestos mineral has a long history dating back to the prehistoric era, but it became more prevalent during the industrial age of the 1700s and 1800s. When the benefits of asbestos were discovered, particularly its fire-proofing and electrical insulation qualities, businesses started using asbestos in materials. Sectors that took advantage of asbestos included manufacturing, construction, automotive, energy and shipbuilding. As we know today, the benefits of asbestos are overshadowed by its harmful effects.
The harmful impact of asbestos became apparent during the early 1900s, with the first asbestosis death recorded in 1924. The UK government introduced the first regulations in 1931 with the Asbestos Industry Regulations, but it only covered asbestos-specific manufacturing and not wider industries. It was in 1955 that British physician Richard Doll released a report showing that asbestos textile workers were ten times more likely to receive a lung cancer diagnosis.
Despite the dangers, demand for products containing the mineral continued to surge, especially following the Second World War. Asbestos demand peaked in the 1970s, with the United States alone consuming 804,000 tons in 1973. People soon understood the dangers of asbestos, and trade unions led the call for safer working conditions. Blue and brown asbestos was banned in 1985, but white asbestos, the most commonly used, was not banned until 1999.
It wasn’t until the end of the century that more governments started taking action by partially or fully banning the use of asbestos. However, many countries continue to use the mineral. Russia, for instance, produces over 1 million metric tons each year. Even in countries where asbestos is banned, the long-term nature of asbestos-related diseases means thousands die each year. It is only in recent years that the UK death rate has started to decline.
We hope this guide has helped you understand what asbestos-related conditions exist and how a victim or loved one can claim compensation damages. If you want to know more or wish to proceed with a claim, please get in touch with us by clicking the following button. We look forward to hearing from you.