Asbestos and Other Industrial Disease Claims
Mesothelioma Claims Solicitors
Our experienced mesothelioma lawyers will deal with you sympathetically and promptly and on a no win, no fee agreement
We know being diagnosed with mesothelioma or lung cancer comes as a terrible shock. Mesothelioma victims and their families have an awful lot to deal with in often quite a short space of time. Our experienced mesothelioma lawyers will deal with you sympathetically and promptly and on a no win, no fee agreement, so there’s no financial risk to you.
We dedicate ourselves to getting full and fair compensation for mesothelioma victims and their families as quickly as possible. We offer free home and hospital visits. We are the only firm in the region with an APIL Accredited Asbestos Disease Specialist solicitor.
A full mesothelioma compensation claim service centred around your needs
We understand how debilitating your condition can be for both you and your loved ones. As mesothelioma compensation claims specialists we are passionate and determined to get the best result we can for all mesothelioma and lung cancer clients as quickly as possible.
We will be there with you all the way helping you through your mesothelioma compensation claim, standing with you and fighting your corner. We offer a full mesothelioma compensation claim service centred around your needs including:
- a free initial consultation.
- immediate home and hospital visits.
- free advice and help to claim DWP state benefits.
- no win, no fee agreements so you needn’t worry about any financial risks.
- guarantee to keep 100% of your compensation in mesothelioma civil claims.
- request for early interim payments.
- seek funding for private treatment unavailable on the NHS e.g. immunotherapy.
- explain every part of the claims process in language you can understand.
Our specialist lawyers can also offer families of mesothelioma victims representation at any inquest.
Who is most at risk from mesothelioma in Kent and Medway?
Those most at risk of developing mesothelioma include former workers in the shipbuilding industry up to the mid-1970s, for example at the Royal Naval dockyard in Chatham. Ships were heavily loaded with asbestos insulation and asbestos parts for fireproofing. In addition, workers at the heavily asbestos lagged BP oil refinery at Isle of Grain, Kent power stations including Kingsnorth and Dartford/Littlebrook, the British Uralite asbestos factory in Higham and pipefitters and laggers employed by the asbestos lagging firm Kitsons from Barking, Essex. Many were also exposed to asbestos from the heavily lagged paper mills, like Reeds’ papermill, Aylesford and the UK paper mills at Sittingbourne and Kemsley.
Carpenters, plumbers/gas fitters, electricians and other building trades are also at higher risk of developing mesothelioma because of the widespread use of asbestos insulating and fireproofing well into the 1980s. Regionally the incidence of mesothelioma is particularly high in areas of previous shipbuilding. In the South East the highest incidences of mesothelioma are in Medway, Barking and Dagenham, Gosport, Portsmouth, Southampton, Eastleigh and Havant.
What is mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a fatal cancer, almost invariably, caused by the inhalation of asbestos fibres. It can be caused by exposure to very small amounts of asbestos fibres, although the higher the exposure the greater the chance of contracting it. Some people seem to have a particular genetic susceptibility to developing mesothelioma, but it is not yet known why. The cancer does not usually cause symptoms until 30 to 50 years or more after the inhalation of the asbestos fibres that caused it, and only after a minimum of 10 years. In the UK up to 2020 2,500 people a year died from mesothelioma, mostly men, but with an increasing number of women. The number of cases diagnosed and deaths from mesothelioma are now reducing slightly but are still quite high. The HSE recorded 2,268 mesothelioma-related deaths in 2021.
Mesothelioma affects the thin membranes that line the inside of the chest wall (and rarely the testes), called the mesothelium. This causes the build-up of fluid in the chest wall, normally in the lungs, leading to increasing breathlessness, coughing/wheezing, fatigue and weight loss. Tragically, there is currently no cure for mesothelioma. Death within one year of first mesothelioma symptoms is common and survival beyond three years is still relatively unusual. However, immunotherapy treatments, now often available on the NHS, such as Pembrolizumab, are sometimes prolonging survival periods, where patients are suitable for the treatment.
Although most mesothelioma cancers occur in the lung lining, 10-15% of cases involve not the lung but the lining of the abdomen, the peritoneum, known as peritoneal mesothelioma (or more rarely the heart or the testicles).
Is mesothelioma always caused by asbestos?
Nearly always. However, there are rare alternative causes. For example, in rare cases it can be caused by exposure to radiation, e.g. through radiotherapy treatment of other cancers. Mesothelioma has been linked to exposure to the rare volcanic mineral, erionite, found in Cappodocia, Turkey. Note: if you have had previous radiotherapy you should still be able to obtain compensation for asbestos-related mesothelioma provided we can definitely prove asbestos exposure. We have obtained compensation for a mesothelioma victim who had previously had radiotherapy for breast cancer.
How much compensation can be obtained for mesothelioma?
General damages for the mesothelioma condition itself are generally £90,000 or more and in most cases are now over £100,000. The range last recommended by the Judicial College Guidelines as of end September 2021 was £63,650 to £114,460. After uprating for RPI inflation this comes to £78,170 to £140,570 as at January 2024. The amount of the claim depends on the duration and intensity of the suffering, the treatment received and the claimant’s age/previous health.
All financial losses resulting from the disease can be compensated, including claims for loss of earnings/pension, future “lost years” loss of earnings/pension, medical expenses, travel, aids and adaptations. Significant claims can also be recovered for the value of care provided to the mesothelioma sufferer, even where this was unpaid for, typically running to 4 figures.. Where the mesothelioma victim has died, bereavement damages of £15,120 can be awarded to the widow/widower/civil partner of the mesothelioma victims and reasonable funeral expenses.
A claim can also be made for a significant contribution to the costs of any hospice that looked after the mesothelioma sufferer.
Where the mesothelioma sufferer has died, claims for the dependency of their family can be made. This can include a claim for financial dependency on the mesothelioma victim – in the case of a dependent spouse typically two thirds of their joint net income less the survivor’s own income. They can also a claim for the value of the mesothelioma victim’s non-financial services, such as DIY and gardening, which often also amount to a significant four figure sum.
The total sums awarded can vary a lot depending on the case circumstances. The typical range would be about £150,000 to £600,000, with the average probably being in the £200,000s.
Can I claim private treatment costs including immunotherapy?
Compensation can also be obtained for any reasonable private treatment costs to slow the cancer or manage its symptoms, including various forms of immunotherapy, not all of which are available on the NHS. Where the victim wants to settle the claim in full in their lifetime it is possible to agree settlement of the rest of the claim but with an entitlement for the victim to come back later and claim treatment costs as and when they receive it.
What if the employer is no longer trading?
Compensation through a mesothelioma claim may still be obtained by claiming against insurers if they can be traced, for example through the Employer Liability Tracing Office.
What if more than one employer exposed you to asbestos?
Under section 3 of the Compensation Act 2006 mesothelioma victims are treated differently here to any other claimants. If you were exposed to asbestos by a number of employers or other sources you can still claim 100% of your compensation from any of those employers. They or their insurer could then claim a contribution from anyone else who exposed you, but that’s their problem not yours.
However, if you were also exposed to asbestos when you were genuinely self-employed there could be a percentage deduction for you own contributory negligence.
What if there are no insurers?
Usually this would mean that you are unable to claim compensation. However the Mesothelioma Act 2013 allows for the supposed equivalent of the normal compensation for mesothelioma sufferers/their family where neither the employer nor their insurers can be traced or have the means to pay. This is provided the claim is otherwise good; you must prove legal fault (negligence or breach of statutory duty) and that the mesothelioma was caused by that fault. The scheme, called the Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme, only applies where the disease was diagnosed after 25 July 2012.
The scheme award paid out to you would be a fixed amount simply based on the victim’s age at diagnosis. For example, a person aged 77 at diagnosis would currently get £134,918 (as at December 2023) , whereas a person aged 59 would get £201,179. These are significant sum. However, they are quite often significantly less than what would be paid by an employer/insurer in a normal civil claim if there were significant dependency claims.
This scheme was set up by the government and funded by liability insurers and administered by loss adjusters, TopMark. It is similar to the MIB “Untraced Driver” scheme. There are no court proceedings and it is dealt with on paper. A very limited fixed contribution of £7,000 is made towards legal costs but this is simply built into the fixed amount paid. In practice actual legal costs involved are likely to be rather more than this (although they should be reduced by not having to produce independent medical evidence or evidence and details of resulting losses).
A claim must be made within three years of first diagnosis with mesothelioma. Claims can be made by dependents including spouses/dependent partners after the victim has died.
Even where you cannot obtain compensation from a defendant or the scheme, you may be able to claim a lump sum for mesothelioma from the DWP under the Pneumoconiosis (Workers Compensation) Act 1979 or the Diffuse Mesothelioma Scheme 2008.
Note: if mesothelioma claim compensation is later recovered any DWP payment must be deducted.
Brachers would be happy to represent you in any DMPS application, having successfully represented previous applicants. If we are representing you in a DMPS application or a civil claim we will also happily assist you in preparing benefits applications.
How quickly can mesothelioma compensation be obtained?
We prioritize the claims of any living mesothelioma claimants, aiming to settle these claims within less than 12 months if possible. This can be assisted by the High Court Fast Track procedure for mesothelioma claims. If it is not possible to quickly settle the whole claim, then we would seek a general interim payment of £50,000, as well as payment of any significant financial losses and funding for any medical treatment.
Sadly it is not always possible to settle living mesothelioma claims quickly; e.g. if there is a delay in tracing insurers or insurers delay or dispute the claim. In some cases by the time solicitors are instructed the mesothelioma is quite advanced and the sufferer sadly passes away before compensation through a claim can be obtained.
There are also legal reasons why sufferers often prefer to delay final settlement until after they have died. Where they leave dependents their dependents can often recover greater compensation after they have died including bereavement damages, funeral expenses and financial and services dependency.
Where the mesothelioma sufferer has died, whilst there is less urgency to obtain compensation quickly, we will still aim to obtain compensation for the mesothelioma as promptly as possible. However, this is often subject to factors beyond our control and we appreciate that some bereaved partners are not always ready to proceed with a claim straightaway.
Is there any time limit for making a claim?
Thankfully the time limit for bringing a claim does not start when the victim was exposed to asbestos; if it did all claims would be barred for limitation.
Time only starts running from the “date of knowledge” – when you were or should have been aware you had an asbestos-related disease. In mesothelioma cases this is nearly always the same date as when you were diagnosed.
For an ordinary civil compensation claim there is a three year time limit to commence court proceedings within three years of the date of knowledge. This is known as “the limitation period”.
Once defendants/ insurers have been notified of a claim extensions to the limitation period are usually agreed where this is needed.
The courts have a discretion under section 33 of the Limitation Act 1980 to allow your claim to be made late if it is “just” to do so. This will normally be allowed if the defendant suffered no evidential prejudice due to the delay, i.e. no witness or documentary evidence has been lost since the three years passed.
Will I have to attend court?
Almost certainly not. We deal with many asbestos disease claims, the large majority of them successfully. In quite a few of them we need to start court proceedings to get a good result for the client. However, in the last ten years we have only had one case going to a court trial.
What if the mesothelioma victim has already died?
Where the mesothelioma victim dies their estate can bring a claim for the victim’s losses suffered before they died, including general damages, the value of care provided and any losses suffered in their lifetime. In addition, a claim can be made for the victim’s dependents for bereavement damages (where they leave a spouse/life partner), funeral expenses and any financial or services dependency.
To bring a claim either the victim must have named an executor in a valid will or else their next of kin will need to take out letters of administration. Brachers’ private client team can assist you with this.
When a mesothelioma dies the three year time limit starts again for the benefit of their estate and dependents. So if the victim was say diagnosed in June 2019 and dies in May 2022 their estate/dependents do not need to start court proceedings until May 2025.
If the claim is late -either before the victim died or afterwards – the court has a discretion to allow the victim’s estate to bring the claim late under section 33 of the Limitation Act.
How much would you pay for legal costs?
Nothing. Again, mesothelioma claims work differently to any other personal injury claim. As with other types of claims, if we take your case on we always act on a no win, no fee basis, i.e, under a conditional fee agreement. So if the claim is lost, provided you followed our terms to act reasonably and honestly, there will be no charge for our time and any other costs would be covered by the insurance we would arrange for you (which insurance also works on a no win, no fee). The difference in mesothelioma claims comes when you win. Normally we now have to charge the client for our success fee, shortfall and the insurance premium which is deducted from their damages. However, with mesothelioma claims the success fee and insurance is all recoverable from the other side (and we don’t charge shortfall). So if you are awarded say £250,000 you will receive £250,000 without any deductions for legal costs.
The only exception to this is if we can’t make an ordinary civil claim and have to apply to the Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme. No legal costs are recoverable from the scheme (other than those included in the fixed tariff). Therefore we would have to ask you to pay our costs out of your compensation from the scheme. However we would cap those charges at a maximum of 25% of the compensation you receive.
Get in touch with our mesothelioma claim solicitors
To get started you can book a free 30 minute appointment with one of our friendly team. Alternatively, call us on 01622 690691 or fill out our online contact form.
Key Contacts - Mesothelioma Claims Solicitors:
Meet the Team:
Barbara, widow of mesothelioma victim
Excellent – could not have asked for a better service. Jeremy was understanding, kind and thoughtful. He was very patient with me and respected my decisions. He made a difficult situation bearable. Thank you.
Frances, widow of mesothelioma victim
We wanted to let you know how much we appreciated all your hard work, professional support, compassion and guidance. It was helpful knowing that you were with us on what was a long and emotional journey.
Sue, widow of mesothelioma victim
It was a pleasure to work with Jeremy. He gave us the strength to pursue this matter. He is the ultimate professional and his friendly, sympathetic manner encouraged us every step of the way.