If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and you have been exposed to asbestos in your workplace you may be able to claim compensation. This includes people working in the armed forces who have been exposed to asbestos since 1987.
Making a claim needs specialist knowledge of this type of law, so it’s good to get a specialist solicitor. There are solicitors who have experience making claims for other people with mesothelioma.
You may be able to find a specialist lawyer by:
asking your specialist nurse or doctor
searching the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers’ database
ask your local asbestos support group.
You will have to prove certain things about your exposure to asbestos for a claim to be successful. Claims must be made within three years of your diagnosis.
Making the claim shouldn’t cost you a lot of money and if you’re a member of a trade union or professional association you may have your legal costs covered.
Relatives of people affected by mesothelioma may also be able to claim compensation.
Reviewed: 30 Apr 2015 Next review: 2017
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Compensation from employers
Anyone diagnosed with mesothelioma who has worked somewhere where they were exposed to asbestos may be able to claim compensation from their employer. This includes people working in the armed forces who have been exposed to asbestos after 1987.
This type of compensation claim requires specialist legal knowledge and must be made through an experienced, specialist solicitor.
When looking for a solicitor, it’s important to look for one from a specialist team of solicitors that has experience dealing, not just with asbestos-related disease claims, but also with mesothelioma claims. You should bear in mind that advertisements and websites may be misleading. Before deciding on a solicitor, you may want to ask them a list of questions. Don’t be afraid to ask them to go over anything that you haven’t understood or to ask for more information.
There are several ways you can find a specialist solicitor:
You can ask your specialist nurse or consultant if they have a list of specialist solicitors.
The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers has a list of accredited specialist lawyers.
You can ask your local asbestos support group as they often work closely with a panel of local specialist solicitors.
For a compensation claim to be successful, you have to show that:
It’s likely that your mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos during the course of your work. Or, that you washed the clothes of someone who came into contact with asbestos at work. This may be difficult to prove. The legal standard of proof is that “on the balance of probabilities”, the exposure caused the mesothelioma. This means that, although it can’t be certain that the mesothelioma was caused by an employer, it’s more likely than not that it was.
Your exposure occurred because your employer at the time was careless (negligent) in not keeping up the standards required by common law or they were in breach of specific safety regulations. An example of this is that you were exposed to asbestos during your employment when your employer knew, or ought to have known, of the risks to you.
If a previous employer has gone out of business, it may be possible to claim against the employer’s insurers.
Claims must be started within three years of the date you were first diagnosed with an injury due to asbestos. This doesn’t mean three years from the date of asbestos exposure, but three years from the time you were told that you had an asbestos-related illness. Sometimes this time limit can be extended so do seek advice. In Scotland, the claim must be raised in court in the three year period or it will be time-barred.
Sometimes, you may think you have a claim but your employer has gone out of business and your employer’s insurer can no longer be traced. However, it is often possible to trace an employer.
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Costs of claiming compensation
Making a personal injury compensation claim shouldn’t cost you a lot of money, if any. Specialist solicitors should offer a free initial consultation and to deal with your claim on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis. They will also come to visit you at home, if needed. Make sure you discuss with the solicitor the various options for funding, before any claim is started.
If you’re a member of a trade union or a professional association, or you have legal expenses insurance cover, let your solicitor know.
If your solicitor is prepared to take your case on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis, then you may have to pay a one-off insurance premium. The insurance premium will protect you against the risk of having to pay your employer’s legal costs. It may also cover other expenses that have to be paid to progress your claim, such as a fee to the medical expert for a report in support of your claim. Payment of the insurance premium may be delayed until the case is finished – ask your solicitor about this. If your case is successful, the insurance will be paid (in part, if not in full) by the other party.
In Scotland, people making a claim may be entitled to Legal Aid. But, if insurance is available, the premium won’t be repaid, even if the claim is successful.
Compensation for family members
Relatives of people who have died from mesothelioma may be able to claim compensation for their relative’s pain and suffering, and some financial losses suffered as a result of the illness. It’s important to get legal advice from a specialist solicitor on how to make a claim.