Your Asbestos Questions Answered by Joanne Copeland

 Q. I was exposed to asbestos when I worked for a company over 40 years ago. The company then went out of business. I have now been told that I have mesothelioma. Can I still claim compensation?

A. You are still entitled to pursue a claim for compensation. If the company that you worked for was insured at the time of your exposure, we can attempt to trace those insurers. There are various ways that we can trace insurers including making enquiries through the Association of British Insurers. If we are able to trace the insurers then there is a very good chance that we will be able to obtain compensation on your behalf.

Q. What about if I have already been paid out for pleural plaques, about 20 years ago? I received about £4,000.00 and can remember that there were two offers on the table - £4,000.00 or about £11,000.00. At that time I was perfectly fit. I have now been suffering breathlessness for many months and have been told that I have now developed asbestosis. What can I do?

A. The first thing to do is to go back to your old file to see how your last claim was settled. It does sound like, because you accepted the lower of the two offers on the table, that you settled your claim by what is called a provisional settlement. This means that, although you received a small payment to compensate you for pleural plaques, you also settled your claim on the basis that, if you went on to develop a more serious condition, as you have, the case can be reopened and you can pursue a claim in respect of the more serious condition. The same situation would apply if you had gone on to develop another more serious asbestos related condition such as diffuse pleural thickening, asbestos related lung cancer or mesothelioma. Your claim would then effectively start again and we would obtain medical evidence in support of your claim and deal with any financial losses, such as loss of earnings, that you may have suffered as a result of your illness.

Q. If I make a compensation claim, can I also claim benefits?

A. Yes. There are various benefits that you are entitled to, including a lump sum payment under the Pneumoconiosis etc. (Workers’ Compensation) Act 1979, if you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or lung cancer caused by asbestos or diffuse pleural thickening. To qualify for an award under the Pneumoconiosis Act you will need to provide a letter from your medical practitioner confirming the date on which you were diagnosed. The DWP has dedicated staff that can help you deal with benefit claims.

Here at Poole Townsend our experts have over 50 years experience in dealing with all types of industrial disease, including asbestos related illness. Call Joanne Copeland or Lindsey Bayles on 01229 811811 or click here for more information. 

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