How To: Claim Compensation for an Asbestos Related Illness
- Employers have a legal duty to provide a safe working environment and protect you from exposure to asbestos
- Asbestos related illnesses are long-term, debilitating, and can sometimes be fatal
- If you have an asbestos related illness because you were wrongfully exposed to asbestos, you could be due compensation
- Simpson Millar can give you access to a specialist asbestos solicitor – with jargon free legal advice and support every step of the way
Reasons for Claiming
If you become ill due to asbestos inhalation, the diagnosis can be traumatic and turn your life upside down in one fell swoop. You may feel angry, upset, and question "why me?" Seeking legal advice when you or your family member is ill can seem daunting, or even a waste of time – but think about the reasons you should consider seeking help:
Whatever your reason for seeking legal advice, know that Simpson Millar are here to support you every step of the way.
We are Passionate about Helping You
Here at Simpson Millar we believe that legal advice should be readily available and accessible to everyone. Approaching a solicitor for legal advice can be daunting if you're not sure you have a claim, or if you are worried too much time has passed to make it valid.
If you have been left to struggle with a life altering, debilitating illness because of past wrongful exposures, seeking out legal advice could be the best thing that you do. In the vast majority of cases, we are able to track down the insurers to your ex employer and so the claim becomes an insurance claim. This is important as generally people do not like to think that they are bringing a claim against their former employees.
Simpson Millar LLP is not like other law firms.
By simply speaking with one of our solicitors at Simpson Millar, you will have a clear view of what we do differently. There is clear expertise, energy, and dedication to your asbestos claim and we do this by ensuring low and manageable caseloads.
We will get to know you and advise you on the best way to approach your case and claim. We always provide straightforward and jargon-free advice at every stage of your case; we can explain how likely it is that your case will be successful at a very early stage.
Every case is different; some are very complex and require lots of support, others require minimal input and the client relies upon us to work as quickly as possible to ensure their case is brought to a conclusion within the shortest timescale possible.
We provide real solutions to real problems.
At the root of what we do is the belief that we want to help you to get your life in order; our team care about your case, and have the long-lasting experience to deal with the legal side of a life changing asbestos related illness.
Why Should you Make a Claim?
When speaking to past and current clients, there are a few factors that are consistently given as a reason for making a claim:
It is a sad reality for an asbestos illness sufferer that their time may be limited – many clients say that one of the most important factors for making a claim is to ensure the financial security of any family members who may rely on them. No one wants to think that their family will not be financially stable if they pass away.
Most insurance companies will have received annual insurance premiums for past employers, and for many victims, they feel justified in claiming if they become victims of wrongful exposures to asbestos dust.
If you have an asbestos related illness due to employer negligence or wrongful exposure, being able to provide for your family will go a long way to putting your mind at rest.
For others, it can be that you are understandably upset and even angry, as you feel none of this is your fault. You may feel let down by past employers, who may or may not have known about the serious carcinogenic effects of asbestos.
The issue is that many asbestos victims feel that huge importance should put upon the awareness of asbestos related illnesses – and that putting pressure on the Government may help to prevent further exposures from occurring and to protect workers and the public from future hazards.
For other clients, the claims process is a means to gain access to damages to enable them to put into action anything which needs doing urgently.
Many clients use the compensation for travel costs; to visit friends and family and fulfil any last wishes.
On a positive note; in many cases the whole amount of damages are recovered quickly and during their lifetime, particularly when arising from the new Government Mesothelioma Payment Scheme for instances when past employers did not take out any insurance and where claims can take a matter of weeks.
For any compensation claim, it is important to have all of the important and relevant facts before you make a decision to pursue.
When it comes to asbestos related disease it is important to find out how long a claim can take, what evidence you will need, and how likely it is that your claim will be successfully.
Simpson Millar can provide all of this information, and can support you every step of the way.
With an increasing number of people being diagnosed with asbestos diseases, the last decade has seen a large amount bring claims, and there have been complaints from the insurance industry the pay outs made.
Understandably, you may feel that this is unfair since your past employers have always paid an annual premium to pay out for future catastrophes then it makes sense to make a claim for your asbestos diagnosis – and it is your right to bring this claim.
If asbestos is still in situ and has not been removed or covered (known as encapsulated), and a claim has been made, the insurance company will ensure that the asbestos is made safe before agreeing to insure that company again. This directly benefits anyone who uses the building in future.
This is very important for people such landlords and businesses, who may be tempted to refurbish old building but not take the necessary precautions of having the asbestos removed safely by a specialist asbestos removal contractor. By not removing asbestos safety and correctly, this puts anyone who visits the building at risk.
You may wish to help the move towards safer industry removal standards.
What Asbestos Related Illnesses Can You Claim For?
The tricky part about asbestos related illnesses is that they often take a long time to become apparent; in some cases it could be 20, 30, or even 40 years after you have been exposed to the substance before the symptoms present themselves.
Below you'll see the 4 main illnesses that you can get from asbestos exposure:
For more detailed information on each illness, please see our Guide to Asbestos
How Can You Fund Your Claim?
The decision to make a claim can be a daunting one - especially if you are ill, or you are caring for someone who is ill - the last thing you want to worry about is finding the money to finance a claim.
There is no legal aid entitlement for this type of case - and that's why Simpson Millar will always pursue an asbestos related claim on a no win no fee basis.
- For asbestos related claims we do not deduct a success fee
- Usually, an insurance policy taken out in your name will back up your claim
- In mesothelioma cases, you do not have to worry about paying for the premium for this insurance policy as if we win your case then the insurers will cover this outlay
- In other asbestos illness cases; such as lung cancer, asbestosis or pleural thickening, there will sometimes be a deduction of the insurance premium from your damages. This means that you will never receive a bill for the insurance premium and it is only deductible if we win your case
- If we do not win, or decide not to proceed due to lack of evidence, the insurance premium is not recoverable and will be written off
We will not allow legal costs to cloud an already stressful and difficult time.
How Long Does an Asbestos Claim Take?
Every case we deal with has its own complexities – but many of our cases follow the same simple process.
A recent case handled by our asbestos team at our Bristol office took just 10 weeks from instruction to reach a full and final settlement. The average
length of time for a mesothelioma claim is 3 - 6 months. Due to the evidence needed, lung cancer and asbestosis claims usually take longer to conclude.
If a case is more difficult there is an extended timeframe to work in; and, depending upon the evidence, it could take up to 3 years from diagnosis for a
settlement to be made.
We make it our priority to inform you of whether your claim will have a significantly difficult process, so you know from the outset how long your claim
may take, and you can prepare for this accordingly.
Ultimately, your case and claim will be individual to you; and Simpson Millar will always provide a solicitor with great experience of asbestos disease
cases – so you can rest assured they have the necessary and relevant skills to get your case through the process in the most efficient manner.
NB: We have recently put through the new Government Mesothelioma Payment Scheme, in cases where past employers no longer exist and did not take out any
insurance cover payments have been made within 3 weeks of beginning proceedings. This has been common but should not be taken as the expected outcome. Please ask us for more information on the Government Mesothelioma Payment Scheme.
What Medical Information Do You Need To Make A Claim?
You do not personally need to provide us with any specific medical information in the first instance. If you have been to hospital, it is very likely that
you will have recently had an X-ray, scan, or possibly a biopsy.
Our specialist asbestos solicitors will always seek to get this information from your GP or from the hospital; you will be treated as a matter of urgency.
Your solicitor will obtain a medical diagnosis letter, and this will be useful when making your claim.
Click here to start discussions with us about your claim.
Who Have We Helped?
Below are examples of cases we have worked on and won compensation for the clients involved:
Chemical Manufacturing worker exposed to asbestos insulation
Mr G. was exposed to asbestos whilst employed by a large chemical manufacturing company in the mid-1960s to 1970s.
He was exposed to asbestos as a consequence of works being carried out by fitters who were removing and replacing asbestos insulation from pipe work.
41 years later, Mr G. started to experience pains in the side of his chest.
His GP referred him to a chest physician and following a chest x-ray and CT scan, Mr G. was diagnosed with mesothelioma.
Mr G. instructed us so we were able to trace the insurance company of his former employers (since they had gone into liquidation). We then swiftly
obtained an admission of liability from the insurance company despite there being limited information on which to act.
Our lawyers issued court proceedings under a fast track procedure and successfully secured over £65,000 in compensation for Mr G.
Automotive worker receives compensation for Asbestosis
For 5 years, Mr R. worked as a utility man for an automotive company. His normal duties involved undertaking repairs to vehicles along the production line
of the factory. Occasionally the welders would blow holes into the car panels and he would be required to mix up a paste of asbestos and water with his
hands and apply it to the damaged area.
The asbestos would be supplied in large bags which Mr R. would have to open with a knife. This released a great amount of asbestos dust into the
atmosphere around him.
His employers failed to warn him about the potential dangers of asbestos nor was he provided with any protective equipment.
Almost 40 years later, Mr R. was diagnosed with Asbestosis.
Our Team of Asbestos Lawyers immediately investigated his claim for compensation upon his instruction and quickly secured him £128,000 in compensation.
Factory worker claims for asbestos lung cancer
Our client worked for Turner Asbestos Limited as a representative for them covering a wide area including Northern Nigeria. He moved to Nigeria and worked
for the company from 1970 to 1977.
During his employment he was exposed to asbestos dust in the manufacturing factory in Nigeria,
He was then diagnosed with lung cancer and asbestosis,
Turner Asbestos Limited has since gone into liquidation and our solicitors have managed to successfully pursue a claim against Turner Newall Asbestos
Trustee Company (a Trust set up to deal with these claims).
Our client received £51,000 in damages.
This case highlights our Asbestos Disease and Illness Team's ability to pursue claims against companies that have since gone into liquidation and those that have an international element.
Choosing an appropriate solicitor to act on your behalf in such a serious case is extremely important. It is worth discussing your case before making an
important decision such as who you would like to represent you.
Partner and asbestos solicitor at Simpson Millar, Helen Grady has worked on many difficult asbestos cases; one worth mentioning is a client who worked in a
Victorian hospital, and was exposed during the 70s – but did not remember much about the exposures at the time. It was crucially important to have all the
correct facts before acting on their behalf, which Helen obtained through access to key documents via a Freedom of Information Act Request, and tracking
down maintenance men from the hospital in order to confirm the details. Her client was extremely happy with my service, saying:
"Helen handled the very difficult process of gathering information whilst always giving us reassuring confidence that she had nothing but my interests
at heart. She went beyond the call of duty through the whole period of the case, nothing was too much trouble, we could contact her easily, and her
dedication and empathy gave us great support through a difficult and emotional time."
Making a claim with Simpson Millar is a very straightforward process; we have a simple system in place to ensure that we deal with your case in a swift manner.
In the first instance, we will arrange to meet you within 2-7 days to talk about your past work history so that we can ascertain how and where you may have come into contact with asbestos dust. We can arrange a home visit, you can come to any one of our branch offices, or we can deal with your case by telephone and postal correspondence/email.
Once we have had our initial consultation, there are two elements to claiming for Asbestos related illness; one is for Government related claims, the other is for Civil Claims.
There are a range of claims you make against the Government, detailed below. Depending on your case, you could receive any number of them.
- Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB): this can be up to £168.00 per week, depending on the severity of your disability. You can claim IIDB if you have been exposed to asbestos in your current or previous place of work
- Government Lump Sum: A diagnosis of diffuse mesothelioma means you are entitled to a make a claim for a lump sum. The chart explains how much you could get (i.e. this is age and date of diagnosis specific). Wherever possible, claims should be made urgently and in lifetime, as any delays can result in the lump sum payment being significantly reduced. If your loved one has passed away, then ensure your claim is submitted within 12 months from the date of death
There are two schemes, the 2008 scheme, and the Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme (DMPS), which have slightly different application processes, and we will explain which one applies to you.
- Personal Independence Payment: aged for those between 16 and 64, you could get up to £139.75 a week towards living costs. It consists of the daily living component and the mobility component; each will factor in to your final weekly payment
- War Pension: exposure to asbestos during military service means you could receive up to £171.50 per week, again, depending on the severity of your disability. The table below shows how much you could be entitled too, depending on your assessment:
- Constant Attendance Allowance: if you receive IIDB or a War Disablement Pension, and you need daily care due to your disability, you could receive up to £132.80 a week depending on the disability you have and the amount of care that you need
- Blue Badge: if you are disabled and use a vehicle to get around (or if you're unable to drive but are a passenger often) you can apply for a pass to enable you to park in restricted areas specifically for disabled people. You may qualify without further assessment, but you may need to provide evidence in some cases
After we have made any Government claims, we will then look into making a Civil Claim for you. There is no automatic entitlement to compensation, so we will need to prove that you are entitled.
The process for this is as follows:
- We will firstly obtain your HMRC employment history schedule and use this information to search the insurance database to find out the
name of the insurers of your past employers
- We then obtain your medical records and instruct an independent respiratory consultant to prepare a report – you do not have to attend
an examination as the medical expert will have your up to date medical records
- In some of the more complex cases, we take steps to instruct an expert engineer to look at the evidence we have collected and they will
be able to give us an estimate of the levels of asbestos you were exposed to
- We then evaluate how likely it is that your claim will be successful. We may, on occasion, seek advice from a Barrister during this
part of the process
- Next, it's important for us to calculate your future financial losses because of your asbestos related illness. This could be loss of
future pension payments (state and/or private pension), or loss of earnings as some people are still in employment at the time of diagnosis with no
intention of taking early retirement
- If a Grant of Probate is required before the insurance company will pay out, we will handle this, without any additional cost to you,
as we always recover this outlay from the insurers (provided we can show that you only needed a Grant for the purposes of the asbestos disease claim, which
is usually the case)
- We can handle the creation of your Will and setting up a Trust so that your assets and family are accounted and cared for, should anything happen to you
- We accept claims from spouses, partners or dependants of lost loved ones through an asbestos disease. We can also take over cases from other solicitors for whatever reason and can advise you on any costs implications of changing solicitor. We have never come across a case where there have been any costs consequences in changing law firm
- The time limit for bringing a claim is 3 years from the date of diagnosis, or in the case of someone passing away, the date that they died
- We can also advise on the process of an inquest relating to an asbestos disease and upon request, attend with the family for support and representation if required
What Are Your Next Steps?
Simpson Millar is committed to helping victims of asbestos related disease; our Internal Service Level Agreements (SLAs) ensures involvement from the team as a whole. In more complex cases, this is particularly important and means that we can accept instructions on difficult, low level exposure cases where a range of expertise is required.
If you're concerned that you've got an asbestos related disease but are unsure about what to do, or how to make a claim, we will guide you through the uncertainty and are always on hand to ensure that you are supported at all times.
Ultimately, we want to help you to get your life in order following your diagnosis. You do not have to worry or suffer in silence; our Asbestos Claims Team offer completely straightforward and jargon-free legal advice.
We will help you to claim the compensation that you deserve, whether that be a governmental or civil claim.
Call our asbestos exposure helpline today on freephone: 0808 129 3320 or use our free, no obligation,
online enquiry form to register
for a call back to find out more about compensation
for exposure to this hazardous substance.