The dangers of asbestos exposure have been known about since the early 20th century and the first set of health and safety regulations to try and deal with the problem dates back to 1931.
Despite this, many employers continued to use asbestos well into the 1970s and 1980s. The nature of the health problems caused by the product, taking time to develop and be diagnosed, mean that deaths from asbestos exposure are expected to peak in the next few years even though exposure decreased significantly about 40 years ago.
Under UK law a person who is diagnosed with an asbestos related disease has three years from the date that he first became aware of the diagnosis to start court proceedings. If a person dies from asbestos exposure his family have three years starting from his death or three years from finding out that the cause of death was asbestos exposure, which may only become apparent when the results of the post-mortem known.
As with most other industrial diseases there is nothing to be gained by delaying once the diagnosis has been made. In particular some of the initial investigations can take some time. It is essential to have a record confirming the victim’s employment from the National Insurance office in Newcastle. Unfortunately they work to regular 4 to 6 month backlogs and have recently started being difficult about handing this information over. In some cases it may be necessary to apply to court to compel them to provide the information.
The other difficult issue in these cases at the outset is tracing the insurers of the company that the victim was working for when he or she was exposed. Often exposure will have taken place 40 years previously and the company may no longer be trading and it may be necessary to try and trace the company paperwork or find other cases that have been brought against them in order to find out who their insurers were at the time.
On older cases where the exposure goes back many years it is often a surprise to people to find that employer’s liability insurance did not become compulsory until 1969.
This chart by the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat shows when different countries banned asbestos use.
As in all industrial disease cases it is important to instruct a solicitor who specialises in this type of claim.
I have been dealing with asbestos-related claims along with the rest of my practice for over 25 years. During that time I have won compensation for numerous victims of asbestos exposure and I have tested the boundaries of this area of law by taking at least one case to the Court of Appeal.
If you have recently been diagnosed, or have lost somebody close to you due to an asbestos related disease and you would like advice from a specialist, then ring 0151 282 1111 for a free consultation, visit our office at 1 Prescot Road, L7 0LA or get in touch via email at firstname.lastname@example.org