Asbestos Compensation Claims – How to Find the Right Solicitor
Sadly, solicitors still need to start new asbestos compensation claims every day, on behalf of sufferers of one of the awful diseases brought about by exposure to this group of minerals. The diagnosis of asbestos disease only usually takes place many years after the person was exposed to asbestos. Most people (but not all) whose exposure to the deadly asbestos dust and fibres that causes an asbestos disease will be those who worked with, or in, an environment where asbestos was being used.
Although any form of exposure to asbestos can cause one of the diseases, it is usually those who received a significant dose of asbestos dust and fibres at work who are most likely to go on and suffer from one of the illnesses later in life. This is why they are often referred to as ‘industrial diseases.’ Notwithstanding this, there have also been countless family members of workers exposed to asbestos who go on to develop mesothelioma from asbestos fibres carried home on their clothes.
It is likely that those now being diagnosed with asbestos disease received their exposure to asbestos as long ago as the 1970s or 1980s, or even earlier. This long period between when the exposure to asbestos took place and when symptoms develop, is referred to as the latency period.
Three are four main types of disease where a claim for asbestos disease compensation becomes possible;
- 1.Mesothelioma (a tumour which grows in the external linings of the lungs or the lining of the abdomen)
- 2.Asbestos lung cancer (lung cancer that is proven to be caused by asbestos exposure)
- 3.Asbestosis causing respiratory disability (often people mistakenly use this word to refer to all asbestos illnesses. It is in fact a fibrosis, or scarring, within the lungs, caused by heavy exposure to asbestos dust).
- 4.Pleural thickening causing respiratory disability (a scarring of the visceral lining of the lungs, which causes varying degrees of breathlessness. This illness can result from exposure to lower levels of asbestos than those found in cases of asbestosis)
Those who were exposed to asbestos in the 1950s, to 1980s are now likely to be aged around 55 or considerably older. Therefore, when they present the symptoms to their GP and ultimately find out that the shortness of breath, chest pain, cough or other respiratory problems, they are suffering from, is being caused by an asbestos disease it comes as a horrendous shock. It is extremely hard for them to comprehend how they can only just now have been diagnosed with something, the cause of which goes back to their places of work from so long ago.
So, here’s what to do if you have been diagnosed with an asbestos disease (or even if you only suspect that you might have an asbestos disease)
- 1.Let’s look at the situation where you are suffering from one or more of the symptoms described above but have not been diagnosed. By now, you will know that if you worked in the vicinity of asbestos fibres or dust, or if you actually worked with asbestos materials themselves, you were at risk of exposure to asbestos. The most important thing to do is make an immediate appointment with your GP. When you see the doctor, explain your symptoms. Stress that you worked with asbestos and that you are concerned that your symptoms might be related to asbestos exposure. Your GP will carry out some tests such as listening to your breathing. He or she will also check for swelling of the legs and signs of clubbing (widening and rounding) of the fingers and toes.
- 2.If the doctor thinks the symptoms need investigating further, he or she will refer you for a chest x-ray and then perhaps a CT scan. Between these tests they will show up signs of asbestos disease. The CT scan will show more detail. There will be other tests such as lung functions tests.
- 3.If the worst happens and you are diagnosed with an asbestos related disease, then after a period of reflection with your loved ones (and following through any medical advice provided by your doctors), your thoughts may turn to whether you might be able to claim for compensation. You might think about not making a claim. This might be for a number of reasons. For example, we have already established that the asbestos exposure that caused your asbestos disease, probably took place many decades ago. It might be that the company you worked for at the time of exposure has gone out of business. Don’t worry, with the right solicitor at your side, it is still possible to make a claim in most circumstances, even if the company you worked for no longer exists. This neatly brings us on to the headline statement.
How to find the right asbestos disease compensation solicitor
If ever there was a situation where the phrase, ‘horses for courses’ absolutely applies it is when considering which asbestos compensation solicitor, you should ask to act for you. Here’s what we think you need to consider;
- 1.Think twice about instructing a solicitor that you might have used in the past to, for example, buy or sell a house, do a will for you or perhaps even a claim for whiplash for you. They may well have done a great job for you. However, if they do the type of work mentioned, they are unlikely to be asbestos disease compensation specialist solicitors as well. Asbestos disease claims are extremely complex and the best solicitors in that field tend only to do asbestos disease claims or at the very least only do respiratory industrial disease claims.
- 2.If you are making enquiries of a solicitor about acting for you, ask them what their experience is in dealing with asbestos claims. How long have they specialised in asbestos disease compensation claims? We have solicitors with over 20 years’ specialisation who regularly act for our clients and some who come from a trade union background.
- 3.Mayiclaim’s solicitors will not only deal with the compensation claim for you but they will be able to advise on a whole host of matters that are important to you at this difficult time, such as the various state benefits that may be available to you depending on the type of asbestos disease you are suffering from.
- 4.We assume that you will want to appoint a solicitor to act for you under a No Win, No Fee agreement? Our asbestos specialists do. A question worth asking of any other solicitor you are thinking of using, is whether they charge a success fee to their clients in the event of them recovering compensation for you? A ‘success fee’ is the percentage of your damages that the solicitor has contracted with you to take ie 25%. Mayiclaim’s solicitors do not charge you any success fee. Oh and by the way – we at Mayiclaim don’t take any money off you either!
- 5.Will your prospective solicitor pay you home visits to take instructions from you and to go through your claim? Will he or she visit you wherever you are in the country? Mayiclaim’s asbestos solicitors do this as a matter of course and are happy to do so.
- 6.We believe that asbestos claims solicitors, need to have an extra quality. They require a good deal of empathy. Let’s be honest. Some asbestos diseases are, or can be, fatal. There is no known cure for mesothelioma (despite the fact that encouraging headway is being made with clinical trials). Asbestos lung cancer is another of the diseases that is often (though not always if caught early enough) going to prove terminal. With mesothelioma in particular, the period between diagnosis and dying from the illness can be an agonisingly short period of time. Both sufferer and family are set to go through an emotionally draining experience. Having a solicitor that you feel is dealing with matters for you not only efficiently, but in an understanding and sympathetic way, can be a huge boost at a very difficult time.
If you are worried that you might have an asbestos disease and want to talk to someone before you go to visit your GP, why not call 0800 756 7774. You will always speak with a solicitor – our own managing solicitor at Mayiclaim has over 30 years’ experience of working in personal injury and industrial disease claims and he will quickly ensure that you are contacted by one of our asbestos disease specialists.
Alternatively, if you would like an asbestos disease specialist to call you, just fill in the quick form on the left-hand side of this page and one of the lawyers will call you to talk things through. If you prefer to email, then email@example.com is the link to click.