I am delighted to have re-joined JMW with 25 years’ experience of working with sufferers of asbestos diseases. As my recent piece in the Financial Times explained, the asbestos industry continues to leave its legacy almost a century after the UK Government first regulated its use.
Unfortunately, asbestos was not fully banned in the UK until 1999. The result is that any industrial or residential building that was built before the year 2000, has the potential to contain asbestos. Asbestos was most commonly used in construction between the 1950s and 1980s. Its various beneficial properties, such as excellent insulation capabilities, resistance to fire and durability, made it a popular choice for many building applications.
If building materials that contain asbestos are disturbed, harmful fibres are released and inhaled by individuals in the immediate vicinity. Even the smallest levels of exposure can pose a considerable health risk to people, whether they be builders, contractors or teachers. In my experience, it is not uncommon for someone to develop Mesothelioma from minimal asbestos exposure, or where the contact with asbestos dust has come from a family member’s contaminated work clothes.
However, the link between a past working life and asbestos is not immediately apparent, as asbestos illness symptoms habitually do not commence until several decades later. This is a challenge for the medical and legal professions. Therefore, it is vital that a sufferer speaks to a specialist Solicitor only and we at JMW will guide you through this difficult time.
A legal case can be brought for Mesothelioma, asbestos related lung cancer, asbestosis and pleural thickening. When a client instructs JMW, we arrange immediately to interview them in their home. We take a statement of a client’s work history and asbestos exposure. I have seen cases where people remember asbestos exposure in the 1950s, right through to this century.
The next step in JMW’s investigation is to obtain confirmation of past jobs. We apply to HMRC, who have a record of all PAYE employers as far back as 1961. Additionally, JMW have access to a database listing employer’s insurance companies. Sometimes the culprit is a worksite occupier rather than an employer, but the usual course is for an asbestos case to be handled by an insurance company. In the main, the claim is settled out of court.
In my experience and regrettably, the insurance industry does not deal with the case as quickly as they might. Litigation can seem daunting but JMW support and lead our clients through the High Court’s streamlined process. Asbestos Judges handle the initial hearings by phone and the Defendant is required to ‘show cause’. This means the other side must give good arguable reasons why they should be allowed to defend the case. Usually, Defendants cannot and you have then won your case.
Please note strict time limits apply, so someone with an asbestos related illness should not delay. At JMW, we have the experience and are here to help.