What is it?
Mesothelioma is a form of cancer which is medically linked directly to the inhalation of asbestos dust. Mesothelioma is a tumour of the pleura which is the lining around the lungs. A sufferer does not first have to develop Asbestosis before developing Mesothelioma. It takes approximately 40 years for the Mesothelioma tumor to cause symptoms. The symptoms usually start with breathlessness or with pain in the shoulder, back or chest as a result of the build up of fluid around he lungs. It is not necessarily due to being exposed to asbestos for a lengthy period of time that a person develops Mesothelioma. It is not even necessary to have worked with asbestos, although the majority of sufferers have worked with asbestos. People who have lived near asbestos factories or have had a family member who worked with asbestos and returned to the home with asbestos on their work clothes could develop Mesothelioma.
Can Mesothelioma be cured?
Unfortunately not. Mesothelioma is treated with radiotherapy and the pleural effusion building up around the lungs can be removed in order to relieve symptoms but there is no known cure.
How is it detected?
Mesothelioma is very hard to diagnose. If you are suffering any breathlessness or back, chest or shoulder pain and have been exposed to asbestos previously in your life then we would suggest that you see your GP and request a referral to a specialist.
Sufferers with Mesothelioma have a very reduced life expectancy. The symptoms are very painful and sufferers often need pain killers in order to cope with the symptoms. Weight loss is not uncommon and, on average, it can prove fatal within 12 to 18 months of diagnosis. Compensation is awarded to a sufferer for not only the pain and suffering caused, but also a sufferer can claim compensation for loss of earnings should they have to give up their job or no longer be able to work. In addition, compensation can be claimed for care given by the family or for professional nursing care. Should the sufferer require any aids then the cost for the aids can be claimed.
Claiming after death
Regrettably, due to the aggressive nature of Mesothelioma, sufferers often die a short period after being diagnosed with Mesothelioma. If a sufferer does die before bringing a claim then it is possible for the family of the deceased to bring a claim on behalf of the estate of the deceased. A claim is usually brought by a wife/husband, partner or children of the deceased. Some dependants, such as a wife/husband can claim a bereavement award as a result of the sufferer dieing. In addition, the dependants can claim loss of earnings together with any other financial losses sustained as a result of the sufferers premature death.
I have been exposed to asbestos with more than one employer, do I need to claim against all of my employers?
The Government has introduced the Compensation Act 2006 which assists sufferers of Mesothelioma in claiming their rightful compensation. This Act means that even if you have been exposed to asbestos with more than one employer then you can still claim the full entitlement to compensation from just one of those employers.
What happens if any of my former employers are no longer trading?
Over the years many companies have ceased trading. However, it is still possible to claim compensation if you or your solicitor can trace the insurer for the company.
Oxley & Coward have been trusted with hundreds of asbestos cases and have built up an extensive database of insurers for many companies. Therefore, it is possible that we already know the insurer for the company that you worked for.
Instructing a Specialist
As someone diagnosed with Mesothelioma has a reduced life expectancy then their claim needs to be progressed quickly. A specialist solicitor should be in a position to bring legal proceedings and prepare the matter for a hearing before the Court within 12 months of first being instructed. Certain Courts have a fast track procedure for these very types of claim and the specialist solicitor will be aware of the procedure. Here at Oxley & Coward, our specialist team has experience of settling cases within 12 months of first being contacted by a sufferer.
Where was asbestos used?
Whilst employed working up until the 1980s most people will have, at some stage in their life, come into contact with asbestos. In particular, if you have worked in one of the following industries then it is highly likely that you would have used or come into contact with asbestos:
- Car Manufacturing Industry;
- Power Industry workers (CEGB and contractors);
- Steel Production;
- Heating Engineers/School Caretakers;
- Aircraft Production;
- Mining Industry;
- Merchant Navy;
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