Claiming compensation for mesothelioma

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and you have been exposed to asbestos in your workplace you may be able to claim compensation. This includes people working in the armed forces who have been exposed to asbestos since 1987.

Making a claim needs specialist knowledge of this type of law, so it’s good to get a specialist solicitor. There are solicitors who have experience making claims for other people with mesothelioma.

You may be able to find a specialist lawyer by:

  • asking your specialist nurse or doctor
  • searching the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers’ database
  • ask your local asbestos support group.

You will have to prove certain things about your exposure to asbestos for a claim to be successful. Claims must be made within three years of your diagnosis.

Making the claim shouldn’t cost you a lot of money and if you’re a member of a trade union or professional association you may have your legal costs covered.

Relatives of people affected by mesothelioma may also be able to claim compensation.

Compensation from employers

Anyone diagnosed with mesothelioma who has worked somewhere where they were exposed to asbestos may be able to claim compensation from their employer. This includes people working in the armed forces who have been exposed to asbestos after 1987.

This type of compensation claim requires specialist legal knowledge and must be made through an experienced, specialist solicitor.

When looking for a solicitor, it’s important to look for one from a specialist team of solicitors that has experience dealing, not just with asbestos-related disease claims, but also with mesothelioma claims. You should bear in mind that advertisements and websites may be misleading. Before deciding on a solicitor, you may want to ask them a list of questions. Don’t be afraid to ask them to go over anything that you haven’t understood or to ask for more information.

There are several ways you can find a specialist solicitor:

For a compensation claim to be successful, you have to show that:

  • It’s likely that your mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos during the course of your work. Or, that you washed the clothes of someone who came into contact with asbestos at work. This may be difficult to prove. The legal standard of proof is that “on the balance of probabilities”, the exposure caused the mesothelioma. This means that, although it can’t be certain that the mesothelioma was caused by an employer, it’s more likely than not that it was.
  • Your exposure occurred because your employer at the time was careless (negligent) in not keeping up the standards required by common law or they were in breach of specific safety regulations. An example of this is that you were exposed to asbestos during your employment when your employer knew, or ought to have known, of the risks to you.

If a previous employer has gone out of business, it may be possible to claim against the employer’s insurers.

Claims must be started within three years of the date you were first diagnosed with an injury due to asbestos. This doesn’t mean three years from the date of asbestos exposure, but three years from the time you were told that you had an asbestos-related illness. Sometimes this time limit can be extended so do seek advice. In Scotland, the claim must be raised in court in the three year period or it will be time-barred.

Sometimes, you may think you have a claim but your employer has gone out of business and your employer’s insurer can no longer be traced. However, it is often possible to trace an employer.


Costs of claiming compensation

Making a personal injury compensation claim shouldn’t cost you a lot of money, if any. Specialist solicitors should offer a free initial consultation and to deal with your claim on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis. They will also come to visit you at home, if needed. Make sure you discuss with the solicitor the various options for funding, before any claim is started.

If you’re a member of a trade union or a professional association, or you have legal expenses insurance cover, let your solicitor know.

If your solicitor is prepared to take your case on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis, then you may have to pay a one-off insurance premium. The insurance premium will protect you against the risk of having to pay your employer’s legal costs. It may also cover other expenses that have to be paid to progress your claim, such as a fee to the medical expert for a report in support of your claim. Payment of the insurance premium may be delayed until the case is finished – ask your solicitor about this. If your case is successful, the insurance will be paid (in part, if not in full) by the other party.

In Scotland, people making a claim may be entitled to Legal Aid. But, if insurance is available, the premium won’t be repaid, even if the claim is successful.

Compensation for family members

Relatives of people who have died from mesothelioma may be able to claim compensation for their relative’s pain and suffering, and some financial losses suffered as a result of the illness. It’s important to get legal advice from a specialist solicitor on how to make a claim.

‘My solicitor is a specialist in industrial disease claims, he’s very understanding. He knows that we can’t talk for too long as I get tired. The claim is going really well.’ Liam

MAC11672 Understanding mesothelioma E8 April 2015


Questions to ask

Before deciding on a solicitor, you may want to ask them these questions. Don’t be afraid to ask them to go over anything you haven’t understood or to ask for more information.

  • Is the solicitor a Fellow of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL)?
  • Does the solicitor specialise in mesothelioma and asbestos-related lung cancer cases?
  • How many asbestos cases has the solicitor handled in the last three years?
  • How many of these have been dealt with at a court hearing?
  • Will the solicitor provide you with a free initial consultation?
  • Will they visit you at home, if necessary?
  • Will the solicitor provide you with a free summary of what will be involved in making your claim?
  • Will they work on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis?
  • Will the solicitor obtain an insurance policy to cover legal fees?
  • Will the solicitor take a percentage of your compensation?
  • Will you be expected to pay expenses, such as medical report costs and court fees upfront?
  • How will you be kept informed of what is happening with your claim?
  • How long will the claims process take?
  • How soon does the solicitor expect to start a court action?

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