Asbestos and mesothelioma claims

Studies in recent years have shown that Hampshire has a higher than average mortality rate for those diagnosed with mesothelioma, particularly in Fareham and Eastleigh.  This fatal illness can take years to be diagnosed as symptoms can appear many years after exposure to asbestos.  We know that if you have been diagnosed with, or you are concerned you have, mesothelioma you will have a number of questions about the future, and our experienced Mesothelioma team can help you answer those here.

What is the difference between asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer?

Mesothelioma and asbestosis are both caused by exposure to asbestos; however mesothelioma is a cancerous disease while asbestosis is not.  The difference between mesothelioma and asbestos related lung cancer is that mesothelioma arises through asbestos being lodged in the pleural lining of the lung, while lung cancer can arise due to asbestos in the organ’s tissue.

What is pleural mesothelioma?

While there are two different types of mesothelioma, pleural mesothelioma is the most common, accounting for between 90% and 95% of mesotheliomas in the UK.  Pleural mesothelioma occurs in the pleural lining of the lung in between the inner layer, which lines the lung, and the outer layer which lines the chest wall.  Exposure to asbestos can cause these two linings to thicken, making them press on the lung or attach to the chest wall, leading to a number of different symptoms and cancer to develop.

What are the symptoms of pleural mesothelioma?

Many of the symptoms of this disease are similar to other illnesses, and so it can lie undetected.  The most common symptoms include:

  • Pain in your lower back or in the side of your chest 
  • Coughing and shortness of breath
  • Fever and excessive sweating
  • Fatigue, loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Complications in your throat, such as difficulty swallowing and a hoarse voice
  • Swelling, mainly in the face and arms

It is crucial to consult your GP if you develop any of these symptoms and believe you may have been exposed to asbestos.

Who is most at risk of developing mesothelioma?

While anyone could be at risk from exposure to asbestos, there are certain industries that will be more at risk than others.  It is important to remember however, that the danger only arises from exposure when the asbestos is disturbed.  You are most likely to be exposed if you work in construction, plastering, demolition, dock yards, plumbing etc.  Mesothelioma can also be caused by secondary exposure, for example if your family members are exposed to fibres on work clothes or shoes.

Diagnosis and prognosis of mesothelioma

As mesothelioma develops it damages the lungs, reducing their ability to function adequately.  If mesothelioma is detected a number of tests will be conducted to ascertain the severity of the cancer and whether it has spread.  The stage of the cancer will determine the prognosis and while there is no cure for the cancer there are treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy that could extend life expectancy.  Mesothelioma unfortunately is an aggressive cancer, and at present the life expectancy following diagnosis is between 12 to 18 months, even though there are cases of patients who surpass this.

What is the process for making a claim for mesothelioma?

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, while there is no cure, it is important that you receive the support you need, whether that is financially, emotionally or through access to professionals who can support your family, for example palliative care.  Making a claim for compensation can provide you and your family with this support.

There are several steps to making a claim for compensation, and the first is to give us a call.  We offer a free initial meeting either in our offices or at your home, and work on a no win no fee basis.

We will discuss with you the full history of your employment to see if we can discover where you may be have been exposed to asbestos, or whether it could be due to secondary exposure.  It is at this stage where we will also discuss your medical history and your general health.  These discussions may be uncomfortable and upsetting for you and your family, but they are important for our understanding to achieve the best result we can for you.  We will take care of the necessary paperwork to give you access to the Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefits.

Once we have details of your history, we will arrange for you to be seen by a consultant respiratory expert who can answer any queries about your diagnosis and the treatment options available.  We will then write to the necessary organisations to have access to your formal medical records and also records of your employment.  We will begin the investigation in to where you may have been exposed to asbestos; liaising with your previous employers and insurers to inform them of the possible claim against them, and any further correspondence or negotiations to try to settle out of Court.

If we are not able to do this, we will proceed to Court.  Rest assured, we will continue to shoulder any worries and concerns you may have, and traditionally mesothelioma claims are fast tracked due to the nature of the disease.

If your employer is no longer in existence, there are still options for you to have access to compensation.  It may be that we are able to trace the insurer for that employer, or an alternative organisation to assume responsibility.  If this is also not possible, the Mesothelioma Act 2013 allows a claim to be made, as long as the claim would be likely to be successful if the employer or insurer were traceable, and that the diagnosis was made after 25 July 2012.  

Your Mesothelioma team 

Catriona Ralls and Deborah Foundling form our Industrial Disease team and have helped many people gain compensation for the following industrial diseases, in addition to mesothelioma:

  • Lung cancer,
  • Non-malignant lung and pleural disorders, including:
    • asbestosis,
    • pleural thickening,
    • pleural effusions.

For more information on how we can support you with other occupational chest-related and industrial diseases, click here.  

We know this will be a difficult time for you and your loved ones, and we are here to help and support you.  To talk to our Mesothelioma team today call 0800 91 92 30, or email injuryteamenquiry@warnergoodman.co.uk.

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