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                                                                                                                                             Telephone 0870 1500 300

“I know you are totally committed to mesothelioma                                     This booklet provides some guidance about the nature of asbestos related
                                                                                      illness, how to safeguard yourself, the support systems available and the
     awareness and work tirelessly for all your                                       legal rights of relatives and those who have suffered through exposure to
claimants diagnosed with this cruel disease.
                     The first time Trevor and I met you,
     later I asked Trevor how he felt the meeting had gone,
        'we're in good hands' he said.
            I never realised at the time that I would lose Trevor
within 6 months and have to carry on the claim without him.

              You supported me all the way,
I was so fragile and grief stricken but you were so patient,
              kind and sincere with me.
            My admiration and gratitude for you is beyond words.
     Trevor was right, we were in good hands”.
                                                                    Val, Barnsley
                                              Irwin Mitchell Personal Injury Client

                                                                                                                                 Telephone 0870 1500 300

Coping with illness

Breathing in asbestos dust and             the emotional strain of your illness –    Taking a personal as well as
airborne fibres can cause illness, the     and other specialist agencies, you may    professional interest in your well being,
effects of which could be with you for     have to face many difficult and           we see it as our responsibility to guide
the rest of your life. If you are          traumatic situations.                     you through the legal process in clear
suffering from an asbestos related                                                   and easy to follow stages. Whatever
illness, you may experience symptoms       One issue that you will need to deal      you are worried about, we will put your
ranging from minor irritations to very     with as soon as possible will be to       mind at ease, conduct your case
serious problems and in some severe        seek advice on how the law might be       smoothly and ensure you receive all
cases, complications can lead to           used to help.                             the compensation, care and ongoing
death.                                                                               assistance you are entitled to.
                                           Irwin Mitchell are experts in providing
Whatever your illness, the priority now    legal help and advice to people           The law makes provisions to help
is to ensure that your treatment and       suffering from asbestos related           people suffering from asbestos related
care provides everything you need to       illnesses. Looking at all the             illnesses and it is vital that you take
help you cope and make your life as        circumstances we will review your         legal advice to ensure you receive all
comfortable as possible.                   options, discuss them with you,           the assistance which you are entitled
                                           answer your questions and outline the     to. Our initial consultation is free to
Dealing with an asbestos related illness   help you may be able to expect from       you and will help you to make an
is not easy and will require patience      us. We aim to form a key part of your     informed decision.
and determination, as well as both         extended support network.
physical and emotional strength.                                                     Unfortunately, we can’t turn back the
Together with the help of your family                                                clock, but we can do everything in our
and friends – who will also be feeling                                               power to ensure you have the best
                                                                                     quality of life you deserve.

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                                                                                                                                                   Telephone 0870 1500 300

Concerned about asbestos exposure?

It is important to understand that        to serious breathing problems. You           Lung Carcinoma                            cause any symptoms, diffuse pleural
exposure to asbestos does not             might also notice a difference in your                                                 thickening restricts the lungs from
                                                                                       This is a malignant tumour within the
automatically lead to illness. Most       fingernails. They may become larger,                                                   expanding normally and can lead to
                                                                                       lung. Lung cancer is more common in
people who come into contact with         thicker and stick out more than                                                        breathlessness. However, both of
                                                                                       people who smoke and/or are
asbestos do not get ill as a result.      normal. This is called ‘clubbing’ and is                                               these illnesses indicate that the sufferer
                                                                                       exposed to asbestos.
                                          a symptom of problems with your                                                        has been exposed to high levels of
Doctors have not yet been able to         lungs.                                                                                 asbestos, and has a higher risk of
discover why some people develop                                                                                                 more serious symptoms later in life.
                                                                                       Pleural Plaques
symptoms because of exposure to
asbestos when others don’t. But a lot     Mesothelioma                                 Pleural Plaques are where small           Many of the diseases we have
is known about the illnesses it can                                                    patches of the lining of the lung         described can lie undetected in your
                                          Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that
cause.                                                                                 (pleura) become thicker. These patches    system for up to fifty years or more.
                                          affects the covering of the lung or
                                                                                       are usually about the size of a coin.     Some can be caused by even relatively
                                          ‘pleura’. It can also affect the lining of
                                                                                       They often become harder or ‘calcified’   short exposure to asbestos.
                                          the abdomen (the peritoneum) or the
Asbestosis                                                                             with time.
                                          heart (pericardium), but these are less
Asbestosis is caused by inhaling          common. It can take twenty to fifty
significant quantities of asbestos dust   years to develop, sometimes more. It
                                                                                       Diffuse Pleural Thickening
or fibres, and means that excess          is almost always associated with
fibrous tissue develops in your lungs.    exposure to asbestos. There are              In the case of Diffuse Pleural
This can scar the lungs and cause         different variations of this disease so      Thickening, larger areas of the lungs
abnormal chest sounds, known as           you might also hear it called “diffuse       become thicker and both lungs are
‘crackles’. The lung scarring can lead    mesothelioma” or “malignant                  usually affected.
                                          mesothelioma”. Malignant
                                          mesotheliomas are generally very             Pleural plaques and diffuse pleural
                                          resistant to any form of therapy or          thickening are not life-threatening.
                                          treatment, and are terminal illnesses.       Whilst pleural plaques don’t usually
                                          However, medical research is
                                          continuing throughout the world.

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                                                                                                                                 Telephone 0870 1500 300

What to do                               3. Always seek legal advice. If there is     6. Speak to your local JobCentre Plus
                                            evidence that you have an illness            office and find out what benefits are
If you think you might have been
                                            which might have been caused by              available to you. There is a range of
exposed to asbestos and are worried
                                            asbestos, seek legal advice as soon          benefits which people suffering from
about your health, we suggest you put
                                            as possible.                                 asbestos-related illnesses can
your mind at ease by taking the
                                                                                         claim. It is also worth asking your
following action:
                                         4. Check if there are any chest x-ray           local Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB)
                                            facilities available in your area or at      to help you understand the in’s and
1. See your doctor. Explain that you
                                            work. If so, try and make an                 out’s of the state benefit system or
   are worried and why, and ask to be
                                            appointment to use them.                     consult your nearest Asbestos
   referred for an x-ray or even a CT
                                                                                         Support Group. The Department
   scan. Make sure you give your
                                         5. Stop smoking! The health risks from          for Work and Pensions may also
   doctor full details about your work
                                            smoking are much higher if you               be able to help you. Their number
                                            have been exposed to asbestos                is: 0800 882200.
2. If you have breathing problems and
   think this might be linked to
   asbestos exposure, ask to see a
   chest specialist. If possible, you
   should see one who has medical
   experience in work-related
   respiratory diseases. Your doctor
   should know the best person for
   you to see.

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                                                                                         Telephone 0870 1500 300

Practical considerations

If you’ve been exposed to asbestos,         When it comes to legal requirements;
the likelihood is that it happened while    remember, your employer must make
you were at work. The law requires          sure that:
your employer to protect your health
and safety at work and, should you be       • You are fully aware of the risks
exposed to asbestos there, it is likely       associated with asbestos.
that one or more of the rules relating to
                                            • You are trained in measures to
its use have been ignored.
                                              protect yourself from exposure to
If you are worried that asbestos might
have been used in any of the                • They use a less dangerous
manufacturing processes that                  substance in the manufacturing
happened where you work, or that              process, if it is practical to do so.
there is asbestos within the building in
                                            • They take steps to prevent or reduce
which you work, try to find out more.
                                              your exposure to asbestos to the
Speak to your trade union and safety
                                              lowest possible level that is practical.
representative, or your company’s main
chief safety officer. If you are still      • They monitor exposure to asbestos
concerned after speaking to them              in your workplace.
about it that not enough is being done
                                            • They provide you with respirators or
to protect you or to investigate the
                                              other personal protection.
situation further, get in touch with the
Health and Safety Executive (HSE) or        • They provide you with regular
your local Environmental Health               medical checks.
                                            These are their main responsibilities,
                                            but there are more. Your solicitor will
                                            be able to tell you more about these if

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                                                                                                                                                     Telephone 0870 1500 300

While it is ultimately your employer’s     Asbestos is at it’s most dangerous           else’s fault that you were dealing with     Remember, simply being exposed to
responsibility to fulfil all of these      when it is disturbed or when it starts to    asbestos in the first place. If you do      asbestos does not mean you can
requirements, you should also be           break up. This is when it releases dust      not do this within the three-year time      automatically claim. You have to be
aware of what they are. If any of them     – the thing that causes harm.                frame, the court may decide that your       able to prove that you became ill as a
are not complied with, you will know                                                    claim is out of time. However, although     result of it.
that your employer is not holding up                                                    this three year time limit is usually
their end of the bargain and you will be                                                strictly enforced by the courts, they are
                                           Looking at the legal issues
well within your rights to ask that they                                                often more flexible about cases
do. If they ignore you, speak to           If you think you may be suffering from       involving asbestos-related diseases. It
somebody more senior. Although this        an asbestos related illness you must         is always worth getting legal advice,
might seem over the top, just think – is   seek legal advice as soon as possible.       even if the three-year period may have
it worth risking your health for?          Even if you don’t know whether you           passed. But make sure you do this as
                                           are entitled to claim compensation,          soon as possible because the sooner
If in doubt, speak up.                     speak to a solicitor and find out what       you get the ball rolling, the more likely
                                           your legal rights are. Your solicitor will   it is that you will be able to persuade
It is also possible that you could come    be with you every step of the way, and       the court to set aside the three year
into contact with asbestos within your     will be on hand to help and support          time limit.
community. Many old buildings still        you through this difficult time.
contain asbestos and as they
deteriorate, are demolished or are
renovated, they can release asbestos       Time limits
dust and fibres into the air. Fire
                                           The golden rule is that if you wish to
damage can also cause this to
                                           make a claim for compensation
                                           because of an asbestos-related
                                           disease, it should be done within three
Under NO circumstances should
                                           years of the date that you first knew, or
you touch or interfere with anything
                                           suspected that asbestos was the
you might suspect is asbestos.
                                           cause of your illness. You will also
                                           need to prove that it was someone

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          We’re nationally recognised as leading
       experts in asbestos compensation claims.
           Our team will work with you in a
     sensitive and sympathetic way.

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                                                                                                                                                      Telephone 0870 1500 300

If you are ill

If you have developed an illness that        However, establishing who was to              asbestos was used, how much              If you are at risk of developing a further
you think has been caused by                 blame can often be difficult, for a           asbestos dust was in the                 asbestos-related illness in the future,
asbestos, seek legal advice as soon as       number of reasons:                            atmosphere as a result, and what         your solicitor will advise you whether or
possible. Try to find a solicitor who has                                                  protection you were given (if any).      not you should claim ‘provisional
experience of dealing with asbestos-         1. Not everyone can remember                  You will often find in cases of this     compensation’. This would allow you
related diseases. Irwin Mitchell are            everywhere they have worked, and           nature that many previous                to make a further claim if your situation
specialists in this field and we have           when exactly they were exposed to          employees are interviewed and            gets worse.
dealt with many complicated, high               asbestos. Don’t worry, your solicitor      asked to give statements. The
profile and high value cases.                   will investigate this further and          court may also order that old            It is also possible to make a claim on
                                                independent records can help.              documents are released for your          behalf of somebody who has already
Your solicitor will need to look into your                                                 solicitor to examine too. As you can     died from an asbestos-related disease.
work history to try to work out exactly      2. The medical side of things can             imagine, gathering this much
when you were exposed to asbestos,              become complicated, particularly           information is not always easy, and      Many claims, particularly for
and under what circumstances.                   when it comes to the link between          can take a long time.                    mesothelioma, are made after the
                                                your exposure to asbestos and your                                                  person concerned has died. This might
They will also need to look at your             actual illness. For example, if you     4. Identifying someone who is to            be because the condition was
medical history and, with the                   have been exposed to asbestos by           blame is one thing, but in order for     diagnosed late or because the family of
assistance of medical experts,                  more than one employer, there may          you to recover compensation, they        the person had not been able to take
determine whether your illness has              be some argument over who                  must be in a position to pay it. If      legal advice until after their relative had
been caused or contributed to by                should pay your compensation.              they are not sufficiently insured then   died.
exposure to asbestos.                                                                      this can be a problem.
                                             3. Proving who was at fault involves                                                   If you are worried that someone close
This is where it starts to get a bit more       very detailed investigation to try to   On a more positive note, you will be        to you may have died from an
complicated. If it is likely that your          establish whether the person you        reassured to know that the majority of      asbestos-related disease, seek legal
illness was caused by asbestos and              are accusing (the Defendant) knew       compensation claims made because of         advice to see if there is anything you
you can identify the employer who               about the potential risks to your       serious diseases caused by asbestos,        can do.
caused you to be exposed to it in the           health. Your solicitor will need be     are successful to some degree.
first place, and you can prove that they        able to show the way in which the
were legally at fault in doing so, you
might be able to recover some

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                                                                                                                                                     Telephone 0870 1500 300

Choosing the right solicitor                                                             Legal costs

Dealing with an asbestos related illness   Going through the legal process can           If you’re worried about legal costs then   Legal expenses insurance
is difficult enough without having to      be confusing, and can seem very               don’t be. Your initial consultation is
                                                                                                                                    We will check if you have any
worry about the legal side of things as    daunting on top of everything else            completely FREE, during which we’ll
                                                                                                                                    insurance policies that will cover your
well. That’s why you need a solicitor      you’re going through. We understand           work with you to assess whether your
                                                                                                                                    legal costs.
who understands your situation,            your anxiety and our team will work           claim is worth pursuing. If you do
sympathises with the difficulties you      with you in a sensitive and sympathetic       decide to go ahead, we’ll advise you
                                                                                                                                    Trade Union legal assistance
are facing, and knows how to handle        way as you adjust to your changing            on the best way to fund your claim.
things effectively. Irwin Mitchell are     life.                                                                                    Your legal costs may be covered if you
specialists in asbestos illness cases                                                    Legal Aid no longer exists, but there      are the member of a Trade Union. We
and we understand how vulnerable this      And remember your first consultation          are other options for you to consider:     will discuss the possibility of seeking
whole situation can make you feel.         with Irwin Mitchell is totally free to you,                                              Trade Union support and the potential
                                           no matter how long it takes.                                                             assistance available to you.
We’re nationally recognised as leading                                                   Irwin Mitchell’s ‘No Cost to You’
experts in asbestos compensation                                                         scheme                                     If this sounds confusing, don’t worry,
claims, so you can rest assured you’ll                                                                                              we’ll go through all the options with
                                                                                         This is now the option of choice for
be in the best possible hands. Our                                                                                                  you and help you work out which one
                                                                                         most clients who have developed an
award winning approach will mean that                                                                                               will be the best for you and your
                                                                                         asbestos related illness. The scheme
you’re supported and kept informed.                                                                                                 situation.
                                                                                         basically means:

                                                                                         • If you win you keep 100%
                                                                                           of your compensation.

                                                                                         • If you lose, you pay nothing.

                                                                                         It’s simple, straightforward and
                                                                                         means that you are under no
                                                                                         extra financial pressure.

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           Irwin Mitchell are specialists in
       asbestos compensation claims and
           understand how vulnerable this situation
can make you feel.
     That is why we are committed
            to protecting your rights.

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                                                                                                                                                      Telephone 0870 1500 300

Compensation                                                                          Money matters

Unfortunately – compensation for            Within these categories there are a       Legal cases like yours can last more          If you are awarded a large sum of
serious illnesses caused by                 whole range of things you can claim       than a year. However, if your solicitor       money, it is important to remember
asbestos is generally very low in the       for, such as:                             can prove that someone else was at            that it is meant to support you for the
UK. We know this seems incredibly                                                     fault, it is possible that you will be able   foreseeable future, if not for the rest of
unfair and it doesn’t mean that your        • Loss of earnings for the rest of your   to claim some of the money before             your life. Calculating annual medical
disease is unimportant or trivial so          life.                                   your final settlement has been                costs, keeping your house maintained
please don’t let it put you off. With the                                             awarded. This is known as an ‘interim         for your new needs, as well as making
                                            • Help maintaining your house and
help of a specialised and experienced                                                 payment’. It is possible that you will        sure you cover all your day-to-day
solicitor, you can maximise the amount                                                experience extra costs as a result of         living expenses can be pretty
of compensation that can be                 • Medical care and support.               your illness, for things like specialist      challenging.
recovered.                                                                            medical treatment, equipment and
                                            • Costs for making any changes to
                                                                                      changes to your house, as well as
                                              you house.
People who make a claim as a result                                                   needing cash to pay for things like
of suffering from an asbestos-related       • Any extra transport needs you might     bills, which you may not be able to
disease are usually compensated for           have as a result of your disability.    afford if you’re not working. An interim
two main things. Firstly, for the pain                                                payment is intended to help you deal
and suffering they have gone through                                                  with these extra expenses without
                                            Working out how much compensation
because of the disease, and secondly,                                                 getting into financial difficulty.
                                            a person should get is very
for the impact that their illness has on
                                            complicated, so your solicitor might
their everyday lives.                                                                 Some insurance companies will make
                                            involve experts who can calculate how
                                                                                      a voluntary interim payment early on in
                                            much you are going to need, now and
                                                                                      your case; but some may not agree to
                                            in the future.
                                                                                      do so. If this happens, your solicitor
                                                                                      will need to apply for a court order for
                                                                                      an interim payment. You will need to
                                                                                      keep your solicitor updated about your
                                                                                      financial situation so that they know
                                                                                      whether to apply for interim payments.

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                                                                                                                            Telephone 0870 1500 300


Useful reading                  Information for People with            HSE Books                             Asbestos Alert for Building
                                Mesothelioma and their Carers          HSE Books                             Maintenance, Repair and
The Asbestos Hazards Handbook   by Mavis Robinson, MBE                 PO Box 1999                           Refurbishment
London Hazards Centre           Copies are available by phoning 0114   Sudbury                               ISBN 0717612090
Hampstead Town Hall Centre      274 4420.                              Suffolk, CO10 2WA
213 Haverstock Hill                                                    Tel: 01787 881165
London                                                                 Fax: 01787 313995                     Managing Asbestos in Premises
NW3 4QP                         Occupational Lung Disease Booklet      Email:         ISBN 0717625648
Tel: 020 7794 5999              British Lung Foundation                Web:
Fax: 020 7794 4702              73-73 Goswell Road
Available from   London                                                                       Asbestos Dust Kills – Keep your
Email:          EC1V 7ER                               The Effects on Health of Exposure     mask on
                                Tel: 020 7688 5555                     to Asbestos                           ISBN 0717616967
                                Fax: 020 7688 5556                     ISBN 0717610756
British Asbestos Newsletter     Email: Use enquiry form online
c/o Laurie Kazan Allen          Web:
PO Box 93                                                              Asbestos Essentials Task Manual
HA 7 4GR                                                               ISBN 0717618870
Tel: 0208 958 3887              TUC Weekly Health and Safety
Fax: 0208 958 9424              Bulletins: Risks
Email:     Web:              Introduction to Asbestos Essentials
Web:                                              ISBN 071761901X

Hazards (Magazine)                                                     The Control of Asbestos at Work
Hazards Publications Ltd                                               ISBN 0717625621
PO Box 199
S1 4YL
Tel: 0114 235 2074

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0870 1500 300
Text CLAIM to 61993 and someone will call you back

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United Kingdom                                                                Spain

Irwin Mitchell, IM Asset Management Ltd and Irwin Mitchell Abogados are all owned by the partners of Irwin Mitchell Solicitors and are separate and distinct legal entities.
Other than in Scotland Irwin Mitchell is regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). IM Asset Management Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services
Authority in the UK. A full list of the partners of Irwin Mitchell is available for inspection at our offices.

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