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“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”.
Irwin Mitchell Personal Injury Client
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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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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.
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.
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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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
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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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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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
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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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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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
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.
• 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.
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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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
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.
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: email@example.com ISBN 0717625648
Tel: 020 7794 5999 British Lung Foundation Web: http://www.hsebooks.com
Fax: 020 7794 4702 73-73 Goswell Road
Available from www.lhc.org.uk London Asbestos Dust Kills – Keep your
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org 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: www.lunguk.org
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: email@example.com Web: www.tuc.org.uk/risks Introduction to Asbestos Essentials
Web: www.lkaz.demon.co.uk ISBN 071761901X
Hazards (Magazine) The Control of Asbestos at Work
Hazards Publications Ltd ISBN 0717625621
PO Box 199
Tel: 0114 235 2074
0870 1500 300
Text CLAIM to 61993 and someone will call you back
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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.