Retired Tradesman with Mesothelioma Wins Compensation Claim

Author:
Anthony Waddington
Senior Associate Solicitor, Industrial Disease Claims
Date:
06/01/2022

We helped a retired carpenter and joiner get compensation after he was diagnosed with a terminal asbestos-related disease, which means he can get the care he needs for the rest of his life. 

David*, a husband, father and grandfather in his mid-70s, was diagnosed with mesothelioma - an asbestos-related cancer - just six months after seeing his doctor with symptoms of lower back pain.

Since the pain persisted after his first appointment, he was referred for further tests and then the diagnosis came. This was a huge shock to David, as before this he was very fit and well and enjoying his retirement.

How Did it Affect His Life?

David had been semi-retired since 2011, but still worked part-time as a self-employed carpenter and joiner to top up his pension. But since his symptoms were getting worse, he had to stop doing this.

He also began to struggle with tasks at home. Previously, he’d helped with all the household chores, home maintenance and gardening, but he now wasn’t able to, so his wife had to do much more.

David’s symptoms also meant he had to give up his passion for cycling. He used to ride 30 miles every two or three days, and had even been planning to cycle a route which ran the length of the Atlantic coast through France after the pandemic. However, this was no longer possible due to his condition.

Investigation Begins

David approached our expert Industrial Disease Solicitors to discuss claiming compensation, as mesothelioma is nearly always the result of asbestos exposure at work.

I agreed to take on his case and began investigating how, where and when he was exposed to harmful levels of asbestos.

This involved gathering details of his employment history, from his first job as a carpentry apprentice in 1961 to being self-employed and doing odd jobs in later life.

On many occasions in the 1960s, he’d worked closely with asbestos boards, and breathed in harmful dust when using hand saws and mechanical tools to cut the boards to size and drill into them so they could be fitted.

David often worked in confined spaces with no ventilation and premises with no extraction system, and on some occasions, the asbestos dust could be seen lingering in the air. The substance would also get on his clothing and in his hair.

He carried out this type of work for various companies up until 1972, which meant he’d been regularly exposed to asbestos for more than a decade.

I arranged for David to be assessed by an independent medical expert, so a detailed report outlining his condition could be prepared. This concluded that David’s mesothelioma diagnosis has shortened his life by more than 10 years.

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What Mistakes Were Made?

It was clear that David was exposed to harmful levels of asbestos because adequate safety precautions weren’t taken by his employers. For example:

  • He wasn’t warned of the dangers of cutting asbestos
  • Some of his employers didn’t provide him with a mask
  • In one role, he did sometimes wear a paper dust mask. But this wasn’t mandatory and paper dust masks weren’t always available
  • David wore his own overalls which would get covered in dust. He’d then go home in these overalls and they got washed once a week

Six-figure Settlement Reached

We claimed against four companies that David had worked for and a settlement of £170,000 was agreed.

This amount reflected everything from his pain and suffering to his loss of income, as well as the cost of his past and future care.

The compensation payout also means David can access the specialist aids he needs to live comfortably during the time he has left.

This includes mobility aids, home adaptations such as an accessible walk-in bath, and a new car suitable for a wheelchair.

*not his real name

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