Case Study: Plumber Claims After Contracting Mesothelioma

Mr R's Estate Was Awarded £59,988

A family have been awarded a substantial settlement after the death of a family member due to his exposure to asbestos resulted in him contracting mesothelioma and eventually his death.

The case

Mr R was exposed to asbestos whilst working for a building firm, subsequently contracting mesothelioma.  He decided to make a claim with JMW Solicitors and Andrew Lilley, partner, handled the case. 

The claim

A plumber, Mr R had not directly handled asbestos, but was exposed due to his presence whilst it was used as a building material on sites he worked at.  There was no protection from the dust or facilities for employees of the firm to wash themselves or their clothes. 

Mr R gave us a detailed witness statement and told us how his illness had severely affected his life.  He was the sole carer for his wife, who suffered from dementia, however since his illness had been diagnosed and his health deteriorated, he had been left with no option but to put his wife in respite care. 

Finding an insurer

Mr R’s former employer had ceased trading some years before he made his claim, which meant that we had to make enquiries with the Association of British Insurers (ABI) to find the organisation’s insurer at the time of Mr R’s exposure. 

Although the insurers that had covered his former company were technically insolvent, we knew they would be covered by the Financial Services Compensation scheme.  We were therefore able to prepare our case accordingly. 

Gathering evidence

We requested Mr R’s medical records, which confirmed his diagnosis of mesothelioma.  However, before we were able to get Mr R examined by an independent consultant chest physician, Mr R sadly passed away. 

Andrew spoke with his family, who asked if we’d be able to continue the claim in Mr R’s wife’s name, but wondered if instructions could be given on her behalf.  As Mr and Mrs R both had children from previous relationships, it was not immediately clear who should be running the claim.  However, an investigation led us to discover that ultimately, it should come from Mrs R’s children and the family indicated they were happy with this. 

Trigger litigation

In their response to us, the insurance company relied on the  “trigger litigation” in Mr R’s case, which jeopardised his potential compensation award.  This argument was made by several insurers who felt that an individual should not be allowed to make a claim from the point that they were exposed to asbestos, but from the point that their asbestos-related disease was diagnosed, which would mean the insurance company would not have to pay any compensation. 

A Supreme Court ruling ultimately found that insurers could not rely upon this argument and had to pay any claim award from the point of a person’s exposure to asbestos. 

Mrs R’s death and issuing proceedings

Sadly, Mrs R then passed away and we needed to apply for a grant of probate on behalf of her children for the claim to continue.  We also requested a copy of Mr R’s death certificate from the family and issued protective court proceedings on the claim. 

We prepared documents to support the claim and asked an independent consultant chest physician to look at Mr R’s medical records and prepare a report on his diagnosis, what caused the disease and his ultimate prognosis. 

Final settlement

The insurance company’s solicitor filed a defence on the case that demanded proof that Mr R was exposed to asbestos at his former company, and the case went to a show cause hearing, where we had to prove Mr R’s former employers were responsible for exposing him to asbestos.  The judge found in Mr R’s estate’s favour, and Andrew was able to agree on the value of the claim with the insurance company’s solicitor. 

Mrs R’s children were happy to accept the offer, pending the result of the Trigger Litigation case.  Once the Trigger Litigation issue was resolved in the Supreme Court, we were able to arrange for Mrs R’s children to receive the award.  They were delighted to resolve the claim and very grateful for Andrew’s work on their behalf.  

 

Have you or somebody you are close to contracted mesothelioma as a result of a job, either current or past? If so contact us on 0800 054 6570 or fill out a contact form to talk through your situation with one of our team.

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