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:
- You can ask your specialist nurse or consultant 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.
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.