1 Mesothelioma and asbestos diseases Claims guide for patients We are lawyers with 25 years experience in asbestos claims. We have helped thousands of patients and their families recover compensation. One of our clients Joyce Holley pictured third from left at the British Uralite asbestos factory in 1949, where she was exposed to asbestos Thank you so much for dealing with my case. I was very surprised with how quickly and how easily everything went through and with no effort on my part at all. So a big thank you to all who helped my case. Joyce Holley
2 We helped Chris Morgan who contracted mesothelioma through exposure to asbestos whilst working as an apprentice pipe fitter. We settled his claim against his ex-employer for half a million pounds within just a few months. Chris agreed to help the Health and Safety Executive campaign to highlight the risks of asbestos exposure. His interview was shown on the BBC and will be shown at health and safety events all over the UK as part of the awareness campaign. A clip of Chris interview can be seen on the HSE website: hiddenkiller/index.htm The photo shows Christopher and Jean Morgan on holiday. The Legal 500, 2009 described Field Fisher Waterhouse as: It is in a class of its own for disease cases, recovering more than 16m in 2008 for asbestos claims alone
3 We are renowned for our experience in dealing with asbestos disease claims. We have recovered more than 147m for patients in over 2,100 successful cases. 500,000 recovered for 46 year old mesothelioma sufferer who breathed asbestos in 1979 when employed as a roofer s labourer. He had to repair old and brittle asbestos sheeting in roofs and saw Asbestolux sheets down to size Recovering 475,000 within 6 months of instruction for an ex Devonport dockyard worker suffering from mesothelioma 180,000 recovered for a 72 year old mesothelioma sufferer who breathed asbestos in 1972 when collecting asbestos panels and inserting them into window frames to go into a new school which was being built 150,000 recovered for a 62 year old mesothelioma sufferer who breathed asbestos whilst sawing asbestos boards and sheets to size at a power station and on housing estates between 1964 and ,000 recovered for a 63 year old man who contracted mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure at an ecclesiastical in A local plumber had removed asbestos insulation from his family s lodgings during their holiday but had left residual asbestos dust which he breathed on his return 200,000 recovered for the family of a roofer who died of mesothelioma. He worked for Alpine Construction Limited and scraped old asbestos tiles from roofs. He also sawed up new asbestos tiling without protection 150,000 recovered for the family of a lady who was exposed to asbestos dust through washing her husband s overalls and contracted mesothelioma. He worked for Cape Plc as an asbestos spraying supervisor in the early 1970s 1.4m recovered for the widow of a 47 year old man who removed asbestos insulation from ovens, boilers and pipe work in a cake and biscuit factory between 1986 and ,000 awarded to a victim of mesothelioma who was exposed to asbestos between about 1967 and 1970 working as a lift engineer near sub-contractors who sawed and fitted Asbestolux sheets. Settlement achieved within four months of instruction 300,000 recovered for the widow of a plumber who worked for a small plumbing firm in Kent. Insurers were traced through a long search. Exposed to asbestos in the 1970s
4 We pride ourselves on caring for our clients, our experience and our commitment to our cases. We always ensure our clients needs are considered and are happy to visit you in your own home if you wish. Our team are not only specialists in obtaining compensation for sufferers of asbestos disease but all our lawyers are active campaigners and we have raised more than 40,000 for Bart s Mesothelioma Research to find a cure for mesothelioma. In safe hands Choosing us means you can be confident your case is in safe and very experienced hands. The head of our practice, Rodney Nelson-Jones, was presented with the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) award for outstanding achievement at the House of Commons. This was in recognition of the tremendous work done by him over 25 years for sufferers of asbestos disease. This commitment and tenacity is something that he values, and encourages in the whole team. No financial risk to you There are many options available to you, and we are able to deal with most cases on a no win, no fee basis with no financial risk to you, to give you the financial protection and peace of mind you need.
5 1 2 Cutting edge expertise You can be confident that our expertise in asbestos related claims is cutting edge. We have been involved in some of the most important court cases involving asbestos related diseases. In the case of Fairchild, Fox & Matthews, in the Court of Appeal, the insurance industry successfully argued that where a mesothelioma sufferer had worked with asbestos for two or more employers, he could not recover compensation because he could not show in which employment the fatal fibres had been inhaled. This meant that most mesothelioma patients would not have had the right to compensation. We were asked to join the legal team acting on behalf of Mrs Fox and Mr Matthews to appeal to the House of Lords. We worked intensively for four months and happily the Court of Appeal decision was overturned and so restored the rights to patients to claim for compensation. In the case of Phillips v L. Syndicate 992 Gunner and Others, the insurers refused to pay 100% of the compensation award of 205,000 because the insurers only held cover for part of the period of employment. Had this been upheld it would have meant countless other claimants would not have been entitled to the full compensation for their claims either. We started a fresh court action against the Syndicate for the balance of monies owed and gave evidence in the case. As a result, this claim was successful and 3 4 judgment was entered on behalf of Mrs Phillips so she recovered 100% of her compensation. In the case of Beesley, we recovered the highest ever award in a mesothelioma case for the care and assistance given, as well as one of the highest awards for pain and suffering. This judgment received national and international coverage, reaching out to as far as Australia. Rodney Nelson-Jones has been pioneering a new innovative approach in asbestos cases by recovering additional compensation on behalf of hospices, for the charitable care and assistance given for patients with mesothelioma. So far in 2009 he has won over 30,000 for three different hospices. Breadth of experience The breadth of our experience means that we may well have already dealt with a claim for the company you wish to claim against or one very similar. We have a database of over 1,900 companies insurers from over 25 years of our experience in asbestos disease claims. This means that we are familiar with large numbers of the thermal insulation companies, asbestos manufacturers, shipping lines and other employers which have been successfully sued in the past.
6 Asbestos, from the Greek word unquenchable is a group of natural minerals which are fireproof and remarkably resistant to acids and alkalies. It can be fashioned into a paste, sheets or rope and is a very efficient insulator which can also bind together other materials to produce a product of greater strength. The three most common forms of asbestos used in the UK were Chrysotile (white asbestos), Amosite (brown asbestos) and Crocidolite (blue asbestos). A further form of asbestos is known as Tremolite, which can be found in the earth s crust, but has only been mined commercially on a small scale. How was it used? Asbestos was used as an insulation material from the early part of the 19th Century with a significant increase in use in the 1930s due to its heat resistant properties. The real increase in the use of asbestos in the UK occurred after the 1930s. It was used for corrugated roofing, insulation around pipe work, in sheet form to box in pipes, on ships, houses, factories and power stations, and in public buildings such as schools and hospitals. Asbestos can be found in pipe lagging, roofs, floor and ceiling tiles, insulation board and AIB panels.
7 Asbestos roof Asbestos pipe lagging Asbestos-containing floor tiles Perforated AIB ceiling tiles Asbestos insulation board (AIB) Who could be affected? We have acted for a wide range of people who have been affected by asbestos disease. Including insulation engineers, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, dockyard workers, factory workers, telecom engineers and in rare cases doctors, teachers, those living near asbestos factories and those who have been in contact with clothing that someone else who was exposed to asbestos wore at the time. Door with AIB panel
8 There are some essential elements which must be met for a successful claim. As with all asbestos related claims, it is necessary to show that a duty of care was owed to you, the injured person, by the party who exposed you to asbestos. If you have been exposed to asbestos in the course of your employment, there is usually no difficulty in showing that you were owed a duty of care in those circumstances. Sometimes there is exposure to members of employees families, for example as a result of dust carried home on clothing and tools. Or you may have lived near to a factory manufacturing asbestos products. It is usually possible to show a duty of care, but not always. Who s at fault? It is usually possible to show that there was a breach of duty (negligence) in allowing the exposure to occur and doing little or nothing to prevent this. Often particular duties will be specified in Acts of Parliament, such as the Factories Act, and failure to comply with these will be breaches of statutory duties. Everything that you can tell us about the circumstances in which you were exposed to asbestos will help to prove these breaches of duty. How have you suffered? In order to confirm this we will obtain a medical report for you. You will also be able to claim for other losses and expenses resulting from the asbestos disease such as a loss of earnings. These items can be included as other heads of damage. How was it caused? You must prove that your asbestos disease has at least probably been caused by the party being sued (the defendant). Usually there is no difficulty about this but problems may arise where there has been significant exposure to asbestos elsewhere e.g. during employment by another employer who cannot be sued. You must satisfy the Court that the defendant has made a material contribution to your asbestos disease. If you wish to claim financial loss, you will need to prove that the losses have probably resulted from the asbestos disease. For example, if you are unable to work because of your asbestos disease then you will be able to make a claim for your loss of earnings.
9 Lung cancer In the case of lung cancer which can be caused by a variety of agents, the most well-known of which is smoking, you need to prove that there has been exposure to asbestos. The link between asbestos inhalation and lung cancer is well reported so if a patient has lung fibrosis and a history of substantial exposure to asbestos dust, this will be readily diagnosed as asbestosis even if they have also been a smoker. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will also award disablement benefit if lung cancer is accompanied by asbestosis. If a claimant has lung cancer, has been a smoker, and has been exposed to asbestos but does not have asbestosis, some courts have held that this is attributable to exposure to asbestos. We have achieved settlements in lung cancer cases where there is no asbestosis but this is still a difficult legal area. Are there limitations? There is a statutory limitation period of three years within which court action should be commenced. Usually, in asbestos disease cases, the period will run from the date on which you knew you had an asbestos disease. The Court has discretionary power to override this three year limitation period so it is worth discussing a possible claim even if you think you may be outside the period, but any delay can only cause difficulties. In a fatal case, the three year limit usually starts at the date of death or on the date when the person bringing the claim on behalf of the deceased first knew of the asbestos disease. It is still very important to see a solicitor as soon after the event as possible whilst memories are fresh. We will give you advice if we think that limitation is likely to present a problem, and we will take action, immediately if necessary, to protect your position as far as possible. We recently represented Mr W, a prominent architect who has been awarded an OBE for his voluntary work and services for access to buildings for disabled people. He was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2008 and we established that he contracted the asbestos related lung cancer during site visits to the various government housing projects that he worked on in the late 1960 s. We settled his claim for 250,000. Peter Williams, solicitor in this case, comments: Even in the late 1960s the Government was ignoring its own advice about the risk of mesothelioma from asbestos exposure. The consequences of those decisions are still being felt today by those who worked in ignorance of the dangers.
10 The Process We will advise you on a claim for compensation arising out of your asbestos related condition and the financial losses flowing from it. We will act on a no win, no fee basis with no financial risk to you and will seek to recover the highest amount of compensation as quickly as possible. In a simple case, we may be able to advise you at the outset whether to pursue your claim by court proceedings. But in some more complex cases, we will not be able to say initially whether or not there will be a successful claim but we will be able to confirm if we think your case warrants further investigation. First Steps The first steps are to gather evidence to prove the essential elements for a successful claim. This will include meeting with you to obtain a detailed statement and must include as much as you can remember about the circumstances in which you were exposed to asbestos. We will ask you to recall events that happened many years ago which may be difficult, but this is important, because the success of your claim will depend on it. The statement will also include details of how you found out about your asbestos disease and the effect this has on you. If you are suing an employer, we will write to the HM Revenue & Customs to obtain proof of your employment history. Any documents that you have to prove this will also help. If the prospective employer is no longer in existence and has been dissolved, we will make extensive enquiries to locate the insurers. If we are successful, we will then restore the company to the Register of Companies so that we can sue your employer in name only and recover damages from the insurers. We will also contact any witnesses to obtain further evidence and obtain a medical report from an expert who will comment on your condition. Compensation As well as investigating whether you have a claim for an asbestos disease, we will also consider the likely amount of compensation that a court would award. In many cases we will not look at the value of your claim in detail until the preliminary medical issues have been investigated, but we will always be able to give you a broad outline advice at the beginning of the case. This may take some time and may involve expert accountants evidence in complicated cases. Timescales Once these investigations are complete and if necessary, we will issue proceedings in the County Court or the High Court. We always aim to issue proceedings as soon as possible and proceed in order for a speedy resolution of your claim. Some cases can take as little as four to seven months to complete but more difficult cases may take longer.
11 Please contact one of our asbestos specialists for further information. Rodney Nelson-Jones, Partner Rodney is head of the group. He has specialised in asbestos disease claims for over 25 years. A leading legal directory commented that Rodney is one of the finest personal injury solicitors in the country and an outstanding asbestos litigator. e. t. +44 (0) Peter Williams, Partner Peter has specialised in asbestos-related disease claims since he joined the department in He gives annual talks to solicitors on asbestos claims for Central Law Training. He is a member of the Law Society Personal Injury Panel e. t. +44 (0) Andrew Morgan, Partner Andrew has specialised in cases involving industrial diseases including asbestos diseases since He advises the Parliamentary Sub-Committee on Asbestos and has been described by The Legal 500 as having an intellectual curiosity and will take novel points. e. t. +44 (0) Harminder Bains, Legal Executive Harminder is a Fellow of ILEX and APIL with more than 15 years experience and specialises in acting for victims of asbestos diseases. She has extensive trial experience having been involved in a multi-party test case, which concluded after a six-week trial. Her cases have featured in the Law Reports. e. t. +44 (0) Dushal Mehta, Solicitor Dushal joined the firm in He specialises in acting on behalf of claimants who are suffering with asbestos related illnesses. e. t. +44 (0)
12 Field Fisher Waterhouse LLP 35 Vine Street London EC3N 2AA t. +44 (0) f. +44 (0) t: This publication is not a substitute for detailed advice on specific transactions and should not be taken as providing legal advice on any of the topics discussed. Copyright Field Fisher Waterhouse LLP All rights reserved. Field Fisher Waterhouse LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales with registered number OC318472, which is regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. A list of members and their professional qualifications is available for inspection at its registered office, 35 Vine Street London EC3N 2AA. We use the word partner to refer to a member of Field Fisher Waterhouse LLP, or an employee or consultant with equivalent standing and qualifications.
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