Anyone diagnosed with mesothelioma who has worked somewhere where they were exposed to asbestos in the past 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 is important to look for one from a specialist team of solicitors that has experience dealing with both asbestos-related disease claims and mesothelioma claims.
It is important to know that advertisements and websites may be misleading. Before deciding on a solicitor, you may want to ask them some questions (see below). Do not be afraid to ask them to go over anything that you have not understood or to ask for more information.
There are many ways you can find a specialist solicitor:
- You can ask your specialist nurse or doctor if they have a list of specialist solicitors.
- The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers has a list of accredited specialist lawyers.
- You can ask your local asbestos support group, as they often work closely with a panel of local specialist solicitors. You can get details of local support groups from Mesothelioma UK.
For a compensation claim to be successful, you have to show the following:
- It is likely that your mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos. Usually, exposure will have happened during your work. But you may have been exposed in other ways. For example, you may have come in contact with the clothes of someone who was exposed to asbestos at work. More rarely, there may be other circumstances which resulted in exposure to asbestos.
The legal standard of proof is that ‘on the balance of probabilities’ the exposure caused the mesothelioma. This means that, although it cannot be certain that the mesothelioma was caused by exposure to asbestos, it is more likely than not that it was.
- Your exposure happened because your employer at the time (or another person or organisation responsible) was:
- careless (negligent) in not keeping up the standards required by law
- not following specific safety regulations.
An example of this is that you were exposed to asbestos during your employment when your employer knew, or should have known, of the risks to you, even if you were unaware of them.
If a former employer has gone out of business, it may be possible to claim against the employer’s insurers. If they cannot be found, it may be possible to make a claim under the Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme.
Claims must be started within 3 years of the date you were first diagnosed with an injury due to asbestos. This means 3 years from the date of diagnosis of an asbestos-related illness, not 3 years since exposure to the asbestos. In Scotland, the claim must be taken to court within 3 years or it will be stopped (time-barred). Sometimes this time limit can be extended, so ask for advice even if you think it may be too late.