Asbestos Booklet Introduction
Asbestos Booklet Introduction
This is a brief guide on compensation for men and women who suffer from two non-cancerous asbestos diseases, asbestosis and diffuse pleural thickening. The malignant conditions which can be caused by exposure to asbestos, lung cancer and mesothelioma, are not covered here. They are the subjects of separate guides. This guide does not discuss pleural plaques because if the only exposure to asbestos took place in England or Wales, compensation is not available for this condition.
What is asbestosis?
It is a fibrosis (or scarring) within the lungs caused by heavy exposure to asbestos dust. It is usually a progressive disease, although the rate at which it grows can vary greatly. It causes breathlessness which can become be severe.
What is diffuse pleural thickening?
This is a scarring of the outside lining of the lungs (the pleura). It causes varying degrees of breathlessness and can result from exposure to lower levels of asbestos than asbestosis.
Both asbestosis and pleural thickening have a long latency period (the time which must pass between the exposure to asbestos which has caused the condition and the development of symptoms). This is at least 10 years.
Both conditions can result from exposure to blue, brown or white asbestos – although white is the least dangerous type, in many cases it has been proven to have caused asbestosis or pleural thickening.
There are two types of compensation for asbestosis or pleural thickening. The first is welfare benefits, paid by the Department for Work & Pensions. The second is a lump sum, known as “damages”, which can be claimed using a solicitor from one or more of the companies or organisations responsible for the individual’s exposure to asbestos. The right to claim each type of compensation is separate from the other. In other words, if someone receives welfare benefits for his/her asbestos condition he/she can still claim damages, and vice versa.
1 Someone who has pleural plaques and who had some exposure to asbestos in Scotland or Northern Ireland may be able to make a civil claim for damages. (This applies even if the individual was also exposed to asbestos in England or Wales). The Scottish and Northern Ireland parliaments have passed laws which allow pleural plaques cases to proceed. The time limit for issuing court proceedings in civil claims (explained at page 14) applies to men and women with pleural plaques who had some exposure to asbestos in Scotland and/or Northern Ireland. It is important that people in this category contact a solicitor as soon as possible.
This guide has been produced by Moore Blatch LLP. This guide is intended to set out general information, it is not intended to be a replacement for detailed legal advice.
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