We know from many previous mesothelioma cases that the trauma of a mesothelioma diagnosis is only made worse if you don’t know where or how you were exposed to the asbestos that caused it.
It might have been a long time ago, or the exposures to asbestos were at a low level, so what can you do? This uncertainty means legal advice by an experienced, Mesothelioma Solicitor is vital.
We promise to give you clear and practical legal advice about your rights, and stay in regular contact so you have updates and support throughout the claims process.
We’re also happy to visit our clients in their own homes and will provide high levels of support and wraparound care.
And we’ll make every effort to avoid going to Court, as we know giving evidence in the witness box can cause stress and anxiety.
For free legal advice get in touch with our Personal Injury Solicitors.
More Information on Mesothelioma Claims
If you’ve been exposed to asbestos during your life and been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may be able to claim compensation for your illness.
Exposure to asbestos usually occurs in the workplace, with many cases involving people who’ve worked in heavy industry such as construction and ship building.
But mesothelioma can also affect family members, as they may come into contact with harmful fibres when the exposed worker comes home. This is known as secondary exposure to asbestos and is becoming a more common cause of mesothelioma in individuals.
It can be many years before signs of mesothelioma become apparent, usually around 30 to 40 years after their asbestos exposure.
That means many of our cases can involve investigating events that occurred a very long time ago, which is another reason why it’s vital to get a specialist mesothelioma Solicitor to represent you.
Rehabilitation and other Support
We offer extensive support to our mesothelioma clients, including:
- Home visits within 2-7 days of your call into the office, or emergency forms sent out to you for signature in the post if you are due to start chemotherapy and would prefer a later home visit.
- In difficult low level exposure cases, we favour anonymised witness appeals, as most people don’t want to have their names and personal information contained in the local newspaper.
- Free emergency Will writing for our mesothelioma clients from our Wills and Trusts team in London.
- Free hospital transport for our mesothelioma clients who are having regular treatment and find the driving in and parking stressful.
- Free help and advice on other legal issues for our mesothelioma and asbestos lung cancer clients.
- We organise and set up, if required, professional counselling services and other holistic therapies for our mesothelioma clients, both for themselves and their carers.
- We signpost to local support groups.
- We assist mesothelioma clients in applying for the Government Lump Sum payment, as everyone with a mesothelioma diagnosis is entitled to this and ranges from £14,000 to £90,000 (depending upon age at diagnosis). When people are applying for this on behalf of a loved one who has passed away, then this must be claimed within one year of death and a reduced amount will be paid.
- When eligible, we assist mesothelioma clients in obtaining Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB). Most people with a diagnosis of mesothelioma are eligible and will receive £174 per week backdated to date of diagnosis.
- We can arrange for a specialist nursing care expert to do a home assessment and provide a comprehensive report for anyone diagnosed with mesothelioma who is a full-time carer to a loved one. This is important as a care package for their loved one will need to be in place for everyone’s peace of mind.
- We can carry out a home assessment to see if there are any urgent needs to be addressed in terms of care, aids or equipment.
Some of our mesothelioma clients have had downstairs cloakrooms installed, hallway lifts/stair lifts, home improvements that they can no longer carry out due to their mesothelioma symptoms, immunotherapy treatment, holistic therapies, extra heating costs and help with their gardening/cleaning.
Mesothelioma Claims Process and Timeline
- Call us and ask to speak with a specialist Mesothelioma Solicitor.
- We’ll ask you to prepare a draft CV / employment history from what you can remember.
- Arrange a home visit within 2-7 days, or forms will be sent out in the post if you’re having chemotherapy and can't accommodate a home visit.
- Sign state benefit forms in seven days of call in to the office.
- State benefit forms are submitted through our fast track system. State benefit claims, including Blue Badge, are prioritised so that you receive this first.
- State benefit payments are usually received directly into your bank account within 3-4 weeks.
- We check to see if a free emergency Will is required.
- We check on any other issues or problems that you may have which need urgently addressing.
- First draft of your statement is sent out within 14 days of meeting.
- We make urgent searches to trace the insurance companies for your past employers. Past employers are usually long gone out of business but the insurance companies are still traceable and often still trading. Therefore, the civil claims are against insurance companies and not past employers.
- We search on our database as normally we have previous mesothelioma claims against an employer, as well as insurance company information.
- We quickly decide if your claim is going to be put through:
- The Veterans Agency
- A US Trust Fund
- The Mesothelioma Payment Scheme (no insurance trace). If your claim is going through this Scheme then we make the online application immediately to increase the chances of a settlement within our target of eight weeks post-diagnosis. The average payout is £160,000.
- A civil claim through a traced insurance company
- For school/hospital or local building past exposures, we apply under the Freedom of Information Act for the Asbestos Surveys and registers for the premises in question.
- We check to see if you have any old documents, apprenticeship documents, service documents if you were in the Armed Services and old payslips.
- We apply for your Inland Revenue employment history schedule and this is received through their fast track system. This means that it doesn’t matter if you can’t remember dates of employment or names of employers.
- We apply for your hospital and GP medical records. These should be supplied within 40 days.
- If we decide that your best route is through a civil claim via the Court, then we prepare a formal Letter of Claim setting out details of your case, past exposures to asbestos and details of where we consider there has been negligent exposure. This is sent to the insurance company who have a strict time limit within which to investigate under the Industrial Disease Pre Action Protocol.
- In similar previous mesothelioma cases, we seek permission to use existing evidence from other clients.
- In difficult low level exposure cases, we sometimes place a small witness appeal in the local paper which can be anonymised to protect your identity and privacy.
- Once your medical records are received, we instruct an independent medico-legal expert (respiratory consultant) to prepare a report to help us value your claim and to confirm that your mesothelioma is due to the past asbestos exposure. You would not normally need to go to see this respiratory consultant.
- In straightforward mesothelioma cases, we can proceed to settle your claim once we have the medical report from the respiratory consultant and if the insurers have confirmed that they are prepared to settle your claim.
In straightforward mesothelioma cases where further evidence isn’t needed, we aim to settle these within six months of taking on your case. That means more complex low level asbestos exposure cases could take longer to resolve, particularly if it needs to go to Court.
Funding your Mesothelioma Claim
We usually take on mesothelioma claim cases on a No Win, No Fee basis. Ask us for details.
Our Solicitors have specialist asbestos disease accreditation from the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL).
Charity work and relationships
Simpson Millar is proud to support a number of charities, including:
- Mesothelioma UK
- Macmillan Cancer Support
- British Lung Foundation
We also attend and support events for Action Mesothelioma Day, which is held on the first Friday of each July.
Another event we take part in is the British Thoracic Oncology Group’s annual conference every January in Dublin, where leading oncologists, lung cancer nurses and thoracic surgeons meet to discuss their latest treatments and medical developments in mesothelioma and lung cancer.
Our specialists also attend the LCNF: Lung Cancer Nurses Forum, an annual event held at different venues across the UK, where specialist lung cancer nurses run a series of lectures, workshops and seminars on the latest treatments for mesothelioma and lung cancer.
Frequently asked questions
- Should I call in if my doctor has said that my mesothelioma is not asbestos-related?
Yes. Some doctors don’t realise that you can still have a successful case even if you were exposed to very low levels of asbestos dust.
And some don’t realise that it’s difficult asking you immediately after receiving this dreadful diagnosis, as you will not be able to think properly about your previous work history.
- Should I call in if my exposures were a long time ago when the dangers of asbestos were not known?
Yes. In most of our cases, we rely on the 1931 Asbestos Industry Regulations to win our cases.
- Do you provide a home visit?
Yes, or if you prefer, you can come to see us at one of our local venues.
- Do you prepare draft statements for checking quickly after your first visit?
Yes. This is important as often people are then having their chemotherapy and don’t want to be bothered with witness evidence during this stage. Some people get poorly quite quickly and don’t want to be disturbed with statements and witness evidence.
- Do you quickly complete all state benefit applications free of charge?
Yes. We regularly do this and assist with Attendance Allowance and Constant Attendance Allowance applications, plus help with mobility aids and equipment.
- Can you help with an emergency Blue Badge?
Yes. The procedure varies for lots of different regions
- Can you obtain a medical diagnosis letter from my lung cancer nurse?
Yes. We can do this for you as people are often asked by other firms if they have details of their diagnosis in writing and so they shouldn’t worry about having to get this from their GP.
- Can you ensure that my automatic Government Lump Sum Payment is paid within 3/5 weeks of diagnosis?
Yes. This is an automatic payment with a diagnosis of mesothelioma and is our main priority when you call in to speak with us. We will help you to secure this payment as quickly as possible and consider other state benefits that you may be entitled to. Some of our clients don’t have viable civil claims as these are not automatic and so the state benefit claims are hugely important for some clients, as it’s the only compensation they can have for their mesothelioma diagnosis.
- Can you help if my spouse/partner is in hospital with fluid on their lungs, yet much too poorly for a diagnostic biopsy and where my doctor thinks that my partner may have mesothelioma?
Yes. This is hugely important as some people are too ill for a biopsy and if a specialist lung nurse or doctor suggests that this could be mesothelioma, then it’s always sensible to speak with one of our specialists to see how they can help.
The reason for this is that if it’s mesothelioma, then of course there is automatic access to the Government Lump Sum Payment and this is available up to a year after the date of death.
- Is it possible to just have the state benefit claim completed and not have a civil claim against past employers investigated?
Yes. Not everyone will have a successful civil claim as there is no automatic entitlement to this and so many people have their state benefits claim completed, free of charge and they may benefit from some other help/signposting from us.
- Is the claim against my actual past employer?
The claims are pursued against the past insurance company for your employers and so a lot of the time letters are sent straight to the insurance company. The reason for this is that often past employers have long gone out of business.
- Is it possible to have a Veterans Agency Claim completed, free of charge?
Yes. If you served in the Royal Navy, then you should be always be considering a Veterans Agency Claim
- Do you undertake all liability investigations, such as obtaining asbestos survey reports for particular premises - or will I be expected to do some of the investigations?
We do all of the necessary investigations including those required for public buildings, such as libraries, schools and hospitals. We are able to obtain Asbestos Surveys through the Freedom of Information Act - free of charge.
- Do you provide help with any other legal issues or problems?
Yes, often clients have overlapping legal problems that urgently need sorting. In our experience, this has ranged from an emergency Will, to sorting out legal ownership of a property where a couple had been separated for a long time.
- Can you help if I need support with any other issues that I may not cope with, such as dealing with the admin for immunotherapy treatment?
For our clients undergoing immunotherapy treatment in successful mesothelioma claims, we’ve been able to obtain interim payments of £50,000 - £100,000. We’ve been able to keep back some of this payment in order to deal with the admin and pay for the treatments to avoid you having to deal with the admin and paperwork for this, as the treatments cannot be administered until paid for and so there is an element of urgency. Sometimes, insurance companies will agree to meet the monthly costs of treatment direct.
- Can you help if I need any aids or equipment or some extra nursing care?
Yes. In two recent cases, we were able to liaise with the local hospices to find out about additional private care, as in their successful civil claims, the money for such care was successfully recovered.
- Are you likely to have acted for other people exposed at the same place as me and can you search your database to find out?
In many cases, we’ve acted for people who have had exposure at the same place and this has prevented lots of stress and worry.
For free legal advice call our Personal Injury Solicitors
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Simpson Millar is a national law firm with over 500 staff and offices in Bristol, Cardiff, Kingston-upon-Thames, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Morecambe and Southport.