Mesothelioma compensation claim guide

Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos and can take many years to develop in a person. Once diagnosed treatment will be available to control the disease for as long as possible and keep symptoms under control. However, there is currently no cure for the disease, making it a terminal illness.

This has a huge effect on people diagnosed with mesothelioma as well as their families who have to come to terms with losing a loved one, often prematurely.

If you have been exposed to asbestos which has led you to develop mesothelioma, you could be entitled to compensation. Getting the right legal advice is vital.

This guide explains more about mesothelioma and what you can do – with our help and support – to obtain the compensation you and your family deserve.

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Starting your journey to compensation

Once a doctor has diagnosed you with mesothelioma, the health service may refer you to a local asbestos victims support group which can help with applying for welfare benefits and support for your family. Stephensons can also advise you on the benefits available and how to claim them as part of our personal injury claims service.

Such support groups often receive financial support from panel solicitor firms, but you are reminded that you are free to instruct a firm of solicitors of your own choosing and you are not under any obligation to instruct a particular firm. 

Making a case for compensation

To obtain compensation, we need to prove that you were a victim of “negligent exposure” to asbestos in the first place. This means having evidence of where and when you worked without the right type of protection and came into contact with asbestos.

Mesothelioma cases require proceedings against only one employer to get you the full amount of compensation. This tends to speed up the progress of court cases compared to legal action for other industrial illnesses.

Making a claim does mean tracing your former employers and their insurance companies but, if this is impossible, there is a
government scheme which will meet the compensation claim if you were a victim of negligent exposure.

 

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Obtaining mesothelioma compensation step-by-step

With Stephensons’ help, there are a number of steps you can take to claim compensation for developing mesothelioma:

1. Apply for Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
You are entitled to this if you are ill or disabled because of an accident or disease caused by work. A medical advisor assesses your
level of disability and this will affect the weekly payment you receive.

2. Claim under the Pneumoconiosis etc (Workers’ Compensation) Act 1979
You can claim by providing a letter from a nurse, doctor or consultant which proves you have the disease and when you were diagnosed. Families can also claim if the victim has died and has not already claimed a lump sum payment.

3. Make a civil claim against a former employer and their insurers
This is where having the right legal advice really counts. If we can trace the company, and it has the finances to pay compensation, we will proceed with a letter of claim.

If a company is no longer in existence, we may have to reinstate the business and trace its former directors to seek compensation. This can involve searching databases and consulting trade associations to find those connected with your former employer.

We handle this research for you, using a variety of methods including online searches and social media to find the people involved in companies no longer trading and to trace potential witnesses whose evidence can support your claim. This might include examples of how workers like you were exposed to asbestos without respiratory protection.

4. Taking video evidence from the client
We will record your evidence on video (known as a deposition) to ensure we have everything we need to win your case in the event that you are not able to appear in court.

This can be done at your home and would involve a barrister and your solicitor. If the defence disputes our evidence, we might also need to obtain engineering evidence to support the case.

5. Outlining your financial losses
To show how much money you will lose through developing mesothelioma, you will need a schedule of earnings loss if you are still working when diagnosed. This must also include the loss of pension rights for family members if the disease stops you from working altogether. Loss of earnings can be significant for families, especially if victims are only in their 40s or 50s, as we have seen with some teachers who have developed mesothelioma.

6. Taking your case to court
Mesothelioma cases are handled by a special court process led by two dedicated High Court judges.

The length of a court case will depend on its complexity, such as tracing and restoring companies and obtaining full employment records of the victim from HM Revenue & Customs. We will be there with you throughout the process, keeping you as well as your family updated. The same applies to the coroner’s inquest after a loved one dies, where we will represent the family if questions need answering.

7. If your former employers cannot be traced
If your solicitor cannot trace your former employer where you were negligently exposed to asbestos, then the law allows you to seek compensation under the Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme 2014 which was brought into force to ensure that you can claim the full amount owed to you. However, this method of claim is the final option for you and requires evidence showing that you took every step possible to trace a former employer and their insurance company.

We have a team of expert industrial disease lawyers with many years’ experience handling industrial disease claims and a track record in claiming compensation for people suffering with mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses.

Our lawyers are approachable, friendly and sympathetic, making the process of seeking compensation simpler and less confusing.

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, or are suffering with symptoms which you think are related to the disease, you can get in touch with us for a free, initial appointment. There are a number of funding options available to you, including no win, no fee arrangements.

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As an award-winning top 150 law firm, with over 450 staff based in offices across the country, you're never far from the advice you need.