Asbestos Compensation Claims

Introduction to Asbestos Compensation Claims

You may be eligible to make asbestos compensation claims if you have been exposed to asbestos fibres or dust and have sustained an asbestos-related illness such as asbestos lung cancer, asbestosis or other respiratory diseases as a result. Claiming for asbestos compensation may be possible provided that the asbestos exposure was the fault of a third party – usually a former employer – and that the exposure could have been avoided had greater care for your personal safety been provided.

Because the time it takes for asbestos-related diseases to appear is so long – in many cases between 20 and 50 years after the victim was exposed – it is unlikely that an asbestos-related illness victim would still be employed by the negligent employer in question. That said, there is still a possibility that compensation claims can be made against former employers, even when the victim was exposed to asbestos in the workplace decades previously.

Even in cases where a person exposed to asbestos has developed a heart disease or suffered from a stroke, it may still be possible to claim for asbestos compensation against the employer; provided it can be demonstrated that the employer did not carry out the sufficient procedures needed to prevent their employees from being exposed to asbestos dust and fibres, and that the employees developed occupational illnesses such as mesothelioma and asbestosis as a result.

History of Asbestos-Related Disease Claims

Lung cancer and lung diseases have been attributed to asbestos for many years – with respiratory problems caused by asbestos exposure having been acknowledged from the beginning of the twentieth century. In fact, many industries made efforts to decrease the level of asbestos dust and fibres in the air to protect workers as far back as the 1930’s although it was not until the 1960’s when the link was made between lung cancer and exposure to asbestos.

The utilisation of asbestos was not halted in Ireland until the 1980’s when strict guidelines in relation to working in the vicinity of asbestos were brought in under the European Communities (Protection of Workers) (Exposure to Asbestos) Regulations 1989.

Most cases involving asbestos-related illnesses relate to exposure to asbestos before the regulations were introduced, but where it can be established that “on the balance of probabilities” an employer or other third party knew about of the risks associated with asbestos, and still neglected to protect you from the risk of injury, you may be able to claim compensation for asbestos.

Who Can Make Asbestos Claims for Compensation?

The principle criteria for entitlement to make asbestos compensation claims is that the victim’s exposure to asbestos and subsequent illness was caused by the actions – or lack of action – of a third party. Although there is no safe level of asbestos exposure, it must be established that the victim was exposed to asbestos and that exposure was directly responsible for the disease being contracted.

If you have been required to work with – or in the vicinity of – asbestos and have not been given the correct equipment to prevent fibres and dust from entering your lungs, your employer will be acknowledged as having failed in their duty of care. Employers have known for an extensive period of time of the danger asbestos exposure poses to health and had a duty of care to provide their employees with a safe working environment, along with a moral responsibility to do so.

The families of employees were also at risk of asbestos exposure as asbestos dust and fibres remained on clothing and were transferred to the home. Additionally, people living close to industries which used asbestos have similarly been placed at risk of asbestos exposure, and from contracting asbestos-related diseases as a direct result. Legislation regarding compensation in Ireland frequently changes and it is only now possible for the relatives of former workers to claim asbestos compensation.

If asbestos exposure could have been avoided, a claim for asbestos compensation can be made. It is advised that you consult an experienced personal injury solicitor to discuss the circumstances of how you could have developed the disease in order to determine your eligibility to make a compensation claim for your asbestos-related disease.

Asbestos Diseases

You should speak with a personal injury solicitor experienced in handling cases involving asbestos-related diseases before making asbestos compensation claims. Due to the extremely serious nature of asbestos-related illness, the fact that they are incurable and that the illnesses are progressive and chronic, being recompensed for their disease can be of vital importance for victims.

Diseases relating to asbestos predominantly affect the upper respiratory system and lungs. However, suggestions have been made that exposure to asbestos can also affect the mouth, nose, throat, stomach and ovaries, accelerate heart disease and strokes. The principal asbestos-related diseases are; asbestosis, mesothelioma, asbestos-related ling cancer, pleural plaques, diffuse pleural thickening and non-malignant pleural disease (asbestos pleural disease).

The costs of making life comfortable for the victims and their families can be substantial. The fact that extensive medical treatment is often required and bottled oxygen and long term use of medications is usually needed often makes claiming for asbestos compensation a necessity for the victims and their families.

The Statute of Limitations and Asbestos Compensation Claims

Asbestos compensation claims must follow a different set of rules conflicting with the general Statute of Limitations tenet in Ireland which is generally strictly set at two years from the date of the accident in which personal injuries have been sustained. As the symptoms of asbestos-related illnesses do not typically manifest until 20 to 50 years after exposure, it is the “date of knowledge” of the disease which marks the start of the two year claim period.

This means that the timescale for making asbestos claims for compensation will begin from the date on which the disease attributable to asbestos is diagnosed. Any claim for asbestos compensation must be initiated within two years of death in cases where the death of a family member has been established as being due to an asbestos-related illness. It is always recommended that any asbestos claims for compensation should be discussed with a personal injury compensation solicitor at the first moment possible after an asbestos-related disease is suspected in order to make sure that a claim for asbestos compensation can be prepared and commenced in sufficient time.

Claim for Asbestos Compensation: Summary

  • Asbestos compensation claims may only be made if the disease you sustained from being exposed to asbestos was due to the negligence of a third party.
  • Asbestos has ceased to be used in Ireland since the 1980’s and most asbestos claims for compensation are made for illnesses contracted before new regulations were introduced.
  • Former workers in industries that used asbestos are not the only people entitled to claim for asbestos compensation; their families and people who lived nearby to industries which used asbestos may also qualify to claim asbestos compensation.
  • The main diseases attributed to asbestos relate to the lungs and upper respiratory system, although the mouth, nose, throat, stomach and ovaries can also be affected.
  • A compensation claim for asbestos must be made within two years of the “date of knowledge” of the asbestos-related disease.

You should seek the advice of an experienced personal injury solicitor if you have recently been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease as you may be eligible to make a compensation claim for asbestos. After the initial consultation that most solicitors offer without charge, your entitlement to claim for asbestos compensation will be determined and you can discover the procedures you are required to complete as regards your specific circumstances in order to commence legal action.