Introduction to Compensation for Exposure to Asbestos

If you have suffered a respiratory illness or have contracted an asbestos-related lung cancer as a result of being exposed to asbestos fibres or asbestos dust, you could be eligible to claim compensation for exposure to asbestos. It should be possible to claim for the injuries you have sustained and the reduction in your life expectancy provided that a third party – such as an employer – was to blame for the asbestos exposure, and that exposure to asbestos could have been avoided had greater care been provided to ensure your personal safety.

Claims for asbestos exposure compensation can potentially be made against past employers, even when the exposure to asbestos happened many decades previously. As long as it can be shown that the former employer did not provide sufficient protection to prevent employees from being exposed to asbestos fibres and dust – and employees contracted occupational asbestos-related diseases as a result – you may still be able to make a compensation claim for exposure to asbestos.

Exposure to Asbestos: Industrial

Any exposure to asbestos insulation places employees at a significantly higher risk of breathing in harmful dust and fibres, which interweave with chromosomes and disturb normal cell activity in the lungs. This disturbance is believed to be the catalyst for asbestos-related diseases such as asbestosis and mesothelioma. Because this disturbance goes undetected for many years, the victim would probably not be aware of their illness – and their entitlement to make a compensation claim for exposure to asbestos – for half of their lifetime.

Asbestos covers several naturally occurring mineral compounds which are found in rocks and soil – principally in South Africa and Canada. Before the dangerous of asbestos were fully known asbestos proved to be an essential compound in industry and manufacturing and was included in the production of a number of household products, because of the resistance asbestos has to heat and chemicals, its inert nature and its non-conductive properties. Asbestos is recognised for its association with insulation against heat but it was also used in the fabrication of several products including, but not restricted to textiles, cement, car parts and ceramic tiles. Most claims for asbestos exposure compensation are made by former employees involved in shipbuilding, carpentry, metal sheet working, construction and heavy industry.

Exposure to Asbestos: Environmental

Even though most compensation for exposure to asbestos claims are made by workers employed in a range of industries, asbestos exposure is not restricted to the environment in which they worked; their families were also at risk. Asbestos dust and fibres remained on clothing and when workers returned home the residue was transmitted to the home, thus giving rise to the risk of family members contracting an asbestos-related disease. Furthermore, those who lived nearby industries which used asbestos in their production were more likely to develop an asbestos-related disease as a result.

There are many locations where exposure to asbestos is still possible since asbestos was used in the fabrication of some public buildings and even schools. Any level of asbestos exposure has certainly proven to be bad for health, but when exposure to asbestos has been protracted, or when concentrated exposure has occurred for a restricted time period, the potential for contracting an asbestos-related disease is high.

Making Claims for Asbestos Exposure Compensation

When asbestos-related diseases have been contracted due to exposure to asbestos dust and fibre, compensation for exposure to asbestos claims may be made against those responsible for the breach of their duty of care. Neglecting to ensure that exposure to asbestos was removed wherever possible is considered a negligent act and when this negligence has led to a personal injury being suffered; the victim is entitled to make a compensation claim for exposure to asbestos.

Your employers would be deemed to have failed in the duty of care they should have provided you with if you were required to work with – or in the vicinity of – asbestos and were not given the safety apparatus to prevent fibres and dust entering the lungs. Employers were aware of how harmful asbestos exposure could be to the respiratory system even before asbestos was found to cause lung cancers and they therefore had a responsibility to provide their staff with a safe working environment.

Claims for asbestos exposure compensation can be pursued when exposure to asbestos could have been avoided. You would be well advised to discuss the circumstances of how you could have developed an asbestos-related disease with an experienced personal injury solicitor to determine your eligibility to make an asbestos exposure claims for compensation.

Statue of Limitations and Compensation Claim for Exposure to Asbestos

In general terms relating to personal injury claims, the Statute of Limitations in Ireland is usually set at two years from the date the injury was sustained; however, for compensation for exposure to asbestos claims, the Statute of Limitations changes. Because the symptoms of asbestos- related diseases do not typically manifest until twenty to fifty years after exposure, the “date of knowledge” – that is, when the illness was diagnosed – would mark the beginning of the two year claim period.

In scenarios where the cause of death of a family member has been recognised as being an asbestos-related disease, claims for asbestos exposure compensation must be initiated within two years of death. It is recommended that any compensation claim for exposure to asbestos is discussed with a personal injury compensation solicitor as soon as disease related to asbestos is suspected to guarantee that a compensation claim for asbestos exposure compensation can be prepared and started in time.

Exposure to Asbestos Compensation: Conclusion

In the recent past, it was only possible to claim compensation for exposure to asbestos when asbestos exposure occurred in the workplace and caused an asbestos-related disease. An employer would be liable to pay compensation to the victim when they were proven to have failed in a duty of care to protect workers from asbestos exposure and claims would be paid by the employer’s insurance company, regardless of whether the employer were still trading.

Presently, changes to Irish compensation laws have resulted in the possibility for relatives of former employees to make claims for asbestos exposure compensation. However, a personal injury solicitor should always be contacted for current advice on making a compensation claim for exposure to asbestos as Irish legislation regarding asbestos exposure compensation is frequently changed.

If you or a loved one has recently been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, you may be eligible to claim compensation and should, therefore, consult with a solicitor whose speciality is making claims for asbestos exposure compensation at the first possible moment.

After consulting with your solicitor, it can be established whether you qualify for making a compensation claim for exposure to asbestos and will discover the procedures which need to be completed as regards your specific circumstances in order to proceed with legal action.