Making a Mesothelioma Compensation Claim after Death
Many mesothelioma compensation claims are settled after the death of the person diagnosed with mesothelioma. So sufferers and family members shouldn’t worry if their case is not settled during the sufferer’s lifetime, as valid mesothelioma claims will continue even if the sufferer loses his or her life to mesothelioma. There is no immediate rush as the statutory limitation period is 3 years from death.
However, it’s always best to take some early preliminary legal advice as soon after death as possible, to check that any evidence for the Coroner is not missed.
What Happens after a Loved One Dies of Mesothelioma?
Unlike many other cancer deaths; mesothelioma is categorised as an unnatural death and is reported to the Coroner. This is because there’s a good chance that the mesothelioma is linked to a banned carcinogen and environmental hazard - asbestos.
The procedure varies slightly from region to region. However, in many of the regions of the UK where I work with mesothelioma sufferers and their families, the Coroner is always sensitive, diligent and proceeds efficiently.
All GPs and palliative care professionals are fully aware of the need to notify the local Coroner upon death as they’ll know that their patient has been suffering with mesothelioma. In many cases, the Coroner process is dealt with behind the scenes by the doctors and won’t delay the funeral. This is of course something that families are naturally very worried about, as they don’t want to have any delays with this and need to be able to proceed and make suitable arrangements.
Usually the hospice/hospital palliative care doctor or GP will telephone the Coroner immediately after death. In many regions, the Coroner’s Officer (this is usually a police officer) will come to the house, hospital or hospice, to properly identify the deceased and prepare a short report for the Coroner, confirming that mesothelioma has been recorded as the cause of death by the doctors.
Mostly the police officers, or Coroner’s Officers, don’t come to the house when someone has passed away at home, as families prefer them to come to the Chapel of Rest instead. Often, my clients will telephone me to become involved and liaise on their behalf. When people die from mesothelioma at a hospice or hospital, the Coroner’s Officer will usually come to this venue.
An interim death certificate will be issued very soon after death and the final death certificate will be issued after the Inquest.
In the regions where I work with families who have a loved one with a mesothelioma diagnosis, I have very close links with the local Coroner and Coroner’s Officers and can liaise with them on behalf of the families. This takes away the burden of having to deal with other professionals at such a painful time.
Behind the scenes, I can ensure that the Coroner is furnished with correct histopathology evidence and lifetime statements and this helps the Coroner return a verdict of death due to an Industrial Disease at the forthcoming Inquest. I also regularly become involved to ensure that there is not a Post Mortem as obviously this can cause stress and upset.
In many regions, the Inquest process is dealt with informally and as a “read only session”, which means that the Coroner will read out the Inquest details without the family having to attend a formal Inquest at the Coroner’s Court.
In all of my cases, I liaise closely with the Coroner to ensure that the Inquest is dealt with as quickly as possible following death. In some regions, we have had to wait for around 6 months for an Inquest. This is unusual and in most of the regions where I work, the Coroner will open and close the Inquest within a matter of weeks of death. This means that a final death certificate can be issued and we can proceed with the next steps in any mesothelioma compensation claim.
The next steps are obtaining:
- The Inquest notes from the Coroner for disclosure to the insurers;
- A Grant of Probate (if there was a Will), or Letters of Administration (if there was no Will);
- Updated hospice/hospital records and many other tasks which will help the case reach final settlement stage.
If you have any questions about the process or procedures after a loved one has died of mesothelioma, please get in touch with our Industrial Disease Solicitors.
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