Asbestos Justice has recently settled a claim for a gentleman, Mr G, who suffers with pleural thickening causing him restrictive breathing problems. He was exposed to asbestos during his working life.
Mr G began suffering with breathing problems around February 2011 but these were put down to possible heart problems he had. He received treatment for his heart issues, however, the breathlessness continued and he found he was getting breathless upon exertion such as when he was going up stairs. In July 2012 Mr G was diagnosed with pleural thickening with restrictive breathing problems and was advised to look into making a claim for pleural thickening compensation.
It is important that anyone suffering with breathing problems, particularly if they have been exposed to asbestos, seek medical attention to find the cause of their problems. They should also seek legal advice as although Mr G’s doctor did advise him to do so, we often find that doctors do not tell patients that they may be eligible to make a claim for compensation.
Exposed to asbestos at one employer
Although Mr G worked for a number of employers, following a discussion with one of our experienced pleural thickening solicitors, it became clear that Mr G had only been exposed to asbestos by one employer, Seddon (Stoke) Limited.
He worked here between approximately 1968 and 1979. The company was involved in the building industry and Mr G was exposed to asbestos in a variety of ways. He worked on houses which had asbestos gutters and soffits and would have to scrape paint and dirt off them so they could be repainted.
Whilst he did this, Mr G would disturb the asbestos, causing asbestos dust and fibres to be released. As he carried this work out at the top of a ladder, leaning onto the property, the asbestos was at Mr G’s face height and so he could not help but breathe in the asbestos dust.
Mr G also worked in boiler rooms where pipes were lagged with asbestos. He would be painting the asbestos lagged pipes and as he did this he would brush up against other pipes, causing the asbestos to be disturbed and asbestos dust to be released. There would also be asbestos dust and debris on the boiler room floor, as Mr G and his colleagues went about their duties they would disturb the dust, causing it to rise up into the air.
In addition, Mr G would also have cause to cut asbestos boards for use as insulation and occasionally he worked next to people removing asbestos lagging. All of these jobs were dusty and dirty and exposed Mr G to asbestos dust and fibres.
Never provided with any form of mask for protection
Those carrying out the sort of work Mr G did should be provided with personal protective equipment, including a respirator. We speak to many clients who recall that they were provided with a paper face mask, however, this type of protection is useless when working with asbestos. Mr G was never provided with any form of protective breathing equipment and, therefore, breathed in the asbestos dust and fibres on a regular basis.
Finding a defendant
Our specialist solicitors have experience in guiding client’s through their employment history to identify which employers have exposed them to asbestos and could be potential defendants in their claim. This is half of the battle.
As asbestos conditions such as pleural thickening have long latency periods between exposure to asbestos and development of symptoms, many companies have since gone bust. Our team is highly experienced in carrying out searches for dissolved companies and tracing insurance when companies are no longer around.
In Mr G’s case we found that the company was now called Dukfent NLR Limited and were able to quickly trace insurance cover for the entirety of Mr G’s employment with them.
Getting medical evidence
In all industrial disease claims, including those for pleural thickening, we have to obtain a medical report. This details the symptoms and onset of the condition, along with the prognosis. Asbestos Justice instructs pleural thickening experts and aim to make the process of getting a medical report as easy as possible for all involved.
As part of obtaining a medical report in Mr G’s claim we needed him to undergo lung function tests to show the level of restriction on his breathing that was caused by the pleural thickening. The report also advised of the potential risk Mr G has of developing a further asbestos condition, or of his pleural thickening getting worse.
Leaving the door open
Pleural thickening is an asbestos condition that could get worse over time. As those who suffer with pleural thickening have been exposed to asbestos, they are also at an increased risk of developing other asbestos conditions such as mesothelioma, asbestosis and asbestos lung cancer.
Asbestos Justice settled Mr G’s claim on a provisional basis. This means that he received compensation for his pleural thickening now but should his condition deteriorate or should he develop a further condition, he can return to the defendant and claim again. Settling in this way gives our clients the peace of mind that should their asbestos exposure cause them any more problems, they will be looked after.