What is Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a cancer which occurs either in the lung or stomach area of sufferers. The name comes from the fact that the cancer develops in the mesothelial cells which are the cells that make up the membrane or lining that covers the outer surface of most of our body organs. It is in incurable disease which occurs as a result of exposure to asbestos. The more common kind of mesothelioma is the one that occurs in the lungs and is called pleural mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma can develop many years after exposure to asbestos dust and fibres and usually a gap of forty to sixty years is common.
As mesothelioma is generally diagnosed when it is at quite an advanced stage, sadly most people will die within three years of their diagnosis. It is estimated that every year in the UK there are around 1,800 deaths from mesothelioma.
Types of Mesothelioma
Doctors have been aware of pleural mesothelioma, or certainly tumours on the lining of patient’s lungs, since 1890. There have been many theories about what causes pleural mesothelioma but it wasn’t until 1960 when a scientist named Wagner linked pleural mesothelioma to asbestos exposure that a clear link was made.
The early signs of pleural mesothelioma can be as simple as tiredness, shortness of breath during physical activity or perhaps a dry cough. The symptoms are very similar to less serious respiratory illnesses and are not unusual for more elderly people, who are the group of people who tend to suffer this illness because of the latency period between exposure to asbestos and the illness developing.
Once the pleural mesothelioma does take hold, it becomes very aggressive.
In order to diagnose pleural mesothelioma, x-rays, MRI or CT scans and biopsies are used. It is important to have a full work history available to the doctors in order to assist them in making the link between the symptoms and the asbestos exposure.
Peritoneal mesothelioma or abdominal mesothelioma is the name that is given to the cancer that attacks the lining of the abdomen.
Again asbestos is a known cause for peritoneal mesothelioma.
There are two methods by which asbestos is thought to reach the abdominal wall; the first being through ingested asbestos fibres which become lodged in the peritoneum during the digestion process and the other is through the lungs and lymph nodes, by inhaled asbestos fibres.
Peritoneal mesothelioma is relatively rare compared with pleural mesothelioma. However, the diagnosis remains poor. However, if the disease is diagnosed in its earlier stages the outlook is a little better.
Peritoneal mesothelioma is generally diagnosed following complaints of stomach, chest or abdominal pain which leads to diagnostic procedures in which fluid is extracted from the area for tests to be carried out.
How is mesothelioma contracted?
Asbestos is a known cause for mesothelioma. Because of the increase in awareness of the risks of mesothelioma Health and Safety in the workplace has improved over the years and as a result of the large number of employers liability compensation claims that have been brought on behalf of victims of mesothelioma, asbestos law firms can quickly identify the source of the asbestos even if the victim is not so fully aware.
How is it measured?
The occupations most exposed to asbestos tend to be railway workers, particularly those involved in the building or re-fitting of railway carriages; dockyard and shipworkers inluding. Also those working on both military and commercial vessels, particularly those who have worked in the engine rooms, boiler rooms or on the pipes and cables that run around the ships; factory workers in all sorts of different industries such as steel workers who were exposed to asbestos linings of furnaces and the heavy use of asbestos in pipework in the factories, coach and caravan builders where asbestos was used to insulate the vehicles, factories where heat processes were used to mould and/or shape products, electrical component manufacturers where asbestos was used as an insulation material and many others; construction workers who were exposed to asbestos gutters, downpipes, soffits and insulation materials and miners who were exposed to asbestos in fire retardant materials, conveyor belts sometimes even in the mine buildings where asbestos was widely used as insulation.
Outside of the most common jobs it is believed that most people under the age of 50 in the UK may well have been exposed to asbestos at some time during their lives albeit on an industrial scale. Asbestos had such profound insulating properties that it was used in virtually everything that was made from lino tiles to artex wall coverings to loft insulation, heat tiles in kitchens and in working environments such as schools, hospitals and government buildings where asbestos was widely used to insulate pipework.
Compensation from employer
It is likely that your employer was insured against the risks of you suffering an illness caused by your work and certainly since 1972 Employers Liability cover was compulsory. As experienced mesothelioma personal injury lawyers, Quality Solicitors SSB are able to trace employers and their insurers even when the business ceased trading many years ago.
Once we have spoken to you we can put together a detailed account of your employment history, trace the companies, locate and interview witnesses, gather together medical records, obtain a medical report, calculate the mesothelioma compensation amounts and submit a claim on your behalf. If we are not able to negotiate a settlement we take the matter to Court, although very few cases actually end up at Trial, instead settling before that date is reached.
But what if an employer has gone out of business?
Here we try to locate the employers liability insurance provider for that company but if this is not possible and you have been diagnosed with diffuse mesothelioma on or after 25 July 2012, it is possible to make an application under the Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme which is now in place and for which the first payments are likely to be available from July 2014.
Compensation from someone who isn't the employer
There are a lot of cases that are caused by what is known as “secondary exposure”. People living near to asbestos factories, breathing asbestos dust carries home a loved ones overalls or working in buildings where asbestos has been used. At Quality Solicitors SSB we have traced the insurer’s response for insuring such events. Policies of insurance known as public liability insurance will pay asbestos compensation in these circumstances.
Mesothelioma compensation amounts
The guidelines for mesothelioma compensation amounts dictate that an award of something in the region of £40,000 to £70,000 should be made for the fact that the illness has been suffered. However, further amounts are awarded for loss of earnings, loss of pension, loss of pension suffered by a spouse in future years, care and assistance, assistance with DIY and many other losses that may be suffered as a consequence of the mesothelioma. Quality Solicitors SSB are experts in calculating mesothelioma compensation amounts and regularly see awards of £100,000 plus being made with others well in excess of this.
How to choose mesothelioma solicitor
Choosing the right solicitor to deal with your mesothelioma compensation claim is vital. You must use a solicitor who has experience of dealing with claims of this type because mesothelioma law is complicated and requires very specific skills. At Quality Solicitors SSB our mesothelioma personal injury lawyers are led by solicitor and Partner, Jeremy Brooke, who has over twenty years’ experience in dealing with and giving asbestos legal advice.
At Quality Solicitors SSB we are happy to visit you and talk to you and your family about how we deal with mesothelioma compensation claims and we would be happy to put you in contact with some of our clients who we have acted for in the past so that it can assist you in making a decision as to whether we are the right people for you.
What our clients say
"Just a note to say ‘thank you’ for all the help and support you gave us, going through the long, and often painful journey, of compensation for my mother, Jean Laws.
Without your help we would never have completed the process, and we are all grateful for that.
Wishing you and your family good health and happiness in the future."
Best wishes from Donna W. & family.
"I just cannot thank you enough for all you have done for me to obtain the compensation award.
It is a very emotional time for me, very bitter sweet but I know Ron would have been delighted with the outcome. It means I can afford the things I need to help me do the things I I need to do in the house.
You have always treated me with such kindness and understanding and made me feel I could talk to you when I needed to.
The amount you secured was for more than I expected and it was a shock to receive it so quickly once thing got moving.
I wish you all the happiness you deserve in life.
My very best wishes to you"
Mesothelioma Compensation claim advice
At Quality Solicitors SSB, we act for all of our clients either by way of a Conditional Fee Agreement or a Contingency Fee Agreement. This means that if you do not win your case you do not have to pay the legal costs involved. There may be some cost associated with the obtaining of expert medical evidence or medical records to consider but generally we are able to put in place a policy of insurance to ensure that you do not have to pay those sums.
We also ensure that you have been properly advised about your entitlement to state benefits such as Attendance Allowance, Carers Allowance and other benefits to which you are entitled once you have been diagnosed with a terminal illness.
Although we are based in Sheffield, we offer a nationwide service and are happy to visit you in your home and, if necessary, at a hospital.
We keep in regular contact with you by telephone, send you copies of all the relevant information and try to make the process as stress-free as possible for you at a time when there is probably enough to contend with in your life.
In mesothelioma compensation claims it is important to act quickly for a number of reasons. Because of the relative short prognosis following a diagnosis of pleural mesothelioma or peritoneal mesothelioma, it is important that your lawyers review your evidence and gather together as much information as they possibly can as quickly as they can.
In any event, the provision of the Limitation Act 1980 say that Court Proceedings must be issued within three years of the date upon which you know or suspect that you are suffering from an illness which may have been caused by your work. Cases such as these can be complicated and require a lot of investigation and therefore it is important to act quickly. Should the sufferer pass away during the course of the claim, a fresh three year period starts from the date of death and enables the personal representatives of the estate of the deceased to continue with the claim for the benefit of those named in the Will. To that extent, it is important that if you do not have a Will, you make one now.