Asbestos Related Mesothelioma This is a client story where no real names are used in order to protect the identity and confidentiality of the client Background Information Albert Ryan is married man of 62 years of age with one daughter. His daughter is 15 years old and has a disability. Albert is a retired factory worker who worked for a well known tile manufacturer in Ireland.
Albert worked within the cleaning department of the tile manufacturer in the 1970’s. The tiles were manufactured from asbestos cement and as part of the manufacturing process asbestos dust was created from the asbestos fibres. At no time in the 1970’s was Albert provided with a dust mask and there was no system of ventilation within the factory. In 1975, the worker’s union was instrumental, in fighting on the behalf of employees for better personal protective equipment in the form of dust masks.
Unfortunately for Albert, he had been exposed for a number of years to asbestos fibres and dust, and at this stage the damage was done. In addition to being exposed to asbestos on a regular basis, Albert was also a smoker. In 2000, Albert started to suffer a number of symptoms in the form of chest pain, shortness of breath, a sustained cough, hoarseness and wheezing. Albert was aware of a number of colleagues who had suffered asbestos related conditions and some unfortunately had died as a result.
Albert however did not associate his own symptoms with exposure to asbestos and thought that they were more likely to have been caused by smoking. In November 2000, Albert was diagnosed with mesothelioma (a form of lung cancer that is almost always caused by previous exposure to asbestos). As Albert’s health deteoriated and as a consequence of worsening symptoms, difficulties breathing and increasing fatigue he decided to retire on medical grounds.
Mesothelioma is caused by the inhaling of asbestos fibers. When the fibres have entered the lungs, they work their way to the pleural membrane and the body has great difficulty getting rid of the fibres. Over a long period of time – typically two decades or more – asbestos fibers cause changes in the pleural cells. Those changes may cause scarring of the lungs and, long term, the formation of tumors. In any mesothelioma case it is critical that a solicitor is instructed as soon as possible.
The prognosis for people with mesothelioma is very much subject to which stage the disease is detected but regardless of when it is diagnosed the long term outcomes are not positive. In the event that a person dies before their claim is heard in court there are no damages for pain and suffering. This will subsequently result in a significantly less financial settlement being made available for the family. Time is very much of the essence in progressing an asbestos related claims.
If such a person was to die before their claim is heard, then a claim may be brought on behalf of their dependents as a dependency claim. The Courts and Civil Liability Act 2004 emphasise the importance of time with mesothelioma cases and there is a 2 year limitation period after a loved one dies. As asbestos related injuries are not medical negligence claims, they require submission to the PIAB(Personal Injuries Assessment Board). It has been our experience in representing clients with asbestos exposure related claims that PIAB are not handling such claims. This is due to the high level of complexity of asbestos related claims. In most cases,
PIAB issue an authorisation to commence court proceedings within a very short period of time from the claimants application being lodged with PIAB.
Statute of Limitations
Statute of limitations in relation to court proceedings must be issued within 2 years of the injured party’s (the claimaint) date of knowledge of having an asbestos disease related claim. Due to the nature of asbestos related diseases, most people affected, will not be aware that they have contracted an asbestos related disease for up to 30 – 50 years after exposure. The two year time limit starts from when the claimant become aware that they had developed an asbestos related disease.
The Experts and Assembling Evidence
In asbestos cases, it is essential to have a report from a chest physician specialising in asbestos related conditions. Expert engineering evidence is required in order to consider the likely levels of exposure based on the claimants and any colleague’s evidences of exposure. In addition, an indication will be required as to whether the level of exposure is consistent with the particular medical condition from which the claimant suffers.
What could Albert claim for?
There are three key areas where Albert can make claims –
- General damages for pain and suffering and general loss of quality of life
- Medical expenses both past and future
- Any loss of earnings arising from the illness
It is important to note, that if Albert died prior to his case being heard, no general damages would be payable. A fatal claim can be brought in relation to his financial contribution to his family providing the claim is made within two years of Albert’s death. What do I do if I have a loved one who has an Asbestos Related Disease or has died from an Asbestos Related Illness? If you would like to know more about how to progress an asbestos disease related claim please phone our client care executive at 01 874 4422. Please note that every case is different. This client story is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.
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