November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month and this year we’re sharing our client’s story of how she was able to access support and compensation following her husband’s death from asbestos related lung cancer – a cancer of the lungs caused by exposure to asbestos.
Our client, who we’ll refer to as Mrs. P, had been married to her husband since 1960. They’d built a good life together and had two children, a son and a daughter. Mr and Mrs. P would regularly go on coach trip holidays and frequently went on long walks in the countryside.
In 2018 Mr P began to struggle with breathlessness and chest pains which gradually made him less and less mobile. Mr. P initially put his breathlessness down to his back as he had suffered with back problems for years. But in 2019, Mr. P was told he had a lesion in his lungs, and he was subsequently diagnosed with asbestos related lung cancer.
His family were understandably devastated at this diagnosis, but not surprised. It was well known that Mr. P was exposed to high levels of asbestos over many years at work and two of his former colleagues had recently passed away from asbestos related illnesses.
How we Helped following his Diagnosis
When Mr. P was first diagnosed, he decided to look into claiming for compensation. Our benefits advisor Michael Abbott visited Mr and Mrs. P at their home and outlined the state benefits that Mr. P would be entitled to. Michael helped Mr P to fill in the DWP forms and submitted them on his behalf. Mr. P was successfully awarded benefit payments including a weekly payment of Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit and also a lump sum of £14,434.
Mr P’s case was then taken on by our specialist Asbestos Disease Lawyer Anthony Waddington and a civil claim for compensation was started for Mr. P against the successor of the National Grid who were responsible for his exposures to asbestos.
Despite his ailing health, Mr. P was able to clearly recall how much asbestos he had been exposed to whilst working at the Hinkley Point Power station whilst it was under construction in the 1960s. Mr. P was able to explain that the boilers at the power station had asbestos jackets that were about 2-3 inches deep and that he was responsible for applying the asbestos to these boilers. This was all done without any protective masks or gloves. These details were then recorded in a formal witness statement for Mr. P.
Shortly after gave his statement, Mr. P’s condition deteriorated and he sadly passed away as a result. We supported Mrs. P through the inquest process that followed and assisted her in obtaining probate.
We were then able to continue Mr. P’s claim for the benefit of his widow Mrs P, as was his wish.
Our Solicitor was able to use Mr. P’s statement, his National Insurance records as well as a statement from one of Mr. P’s former colleagues to confirm his employment at the power station, the timeframe in which he worked there and the manner in which he was exposed to asbestos. Faced with this evidence the Defendants were forced to accept liability for his illness.
Valuing the Claim for Compensation
Anthony then set about considering how Mr. P’s diagnosis had affected his and Mrs. P’s lives both emotionally and financially in order to calculate how much compensation should be awarded.
Anthony obtained a medical report from a Respiratory Physician as to the impact of Mr P’s condition on his life and by how much it had shortened his life expectancy so we could determine the right amount of compensation for the Pain and Suffering element of his claim.
Anthony also gathered evidence of the financial losses the couple had sustained as a result of his condition and death which included spending a significant amount of money on specialist equipment and home adaptations as they had purchased a mobility scooter and hoist for their car as well as having handles fitted to the front and back doors of their house.
The couple also spent time and money travelling to and from the hospital where Mr. P had regular appointments, which was about 45 minutes each way. When they had to visit hospitals further away, they would get a taxi which cost around £60 both ways. All of this was to be claimed back.
Following Mr. P’s death Mrs. P suffered a loss of income, as the couple’s finances had always been shared and Mr. P’s state and private pensions stopped being paid. These losses were claimed for the period of time Mrs. P could have expected to share Mr. P’s income had it not been for his cancer.
As well as the financial implications of Mr. P’s diagnosis, Mrs. P also spent considerable time caring for her husband towards the end of his life. Mrs. P would sit with her husband virtually all day and night to keep him comfortable. She was doing this whilst also keeping up with cooking and household chores. We were able to claim for her time even though it was given freely.
Mrs. P also lost the services her husband had provided to her, such as helping with decorating around the house, and a figure was calculated to represent this loss.
An award for Mrs. P’s bereavement which is fixed by statute was also claimed.
What was the outcome of the case for our client?
As a result of the claim we were able to secure a settlement of £167,500 for Mrs. P and whilst this compensation would never remove the pain of losing her husband, we hope that it helps Mrs. P and her children cope with the financial impact of Mr. P’s death.
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