If you been diagnosed with an asbestos related illness, you are likely to have rights to obtain compensation.
Compensable Asbestos Related Conditions
There are a number of health conditions that can be caused by exposure to asbestos. The most common conditions are:
Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer affecting the lining of the lung or stomach. Sadly, it is a terminal condition. There is a strong causal link between asbestos exposure and the development of mesothelioma and the majority of people who are diagnosed with mesothelioma will have rights to compensation.
Lung cancer may be attributable to asbestos exposure, although there are also other significant causes of lung cancer, including, most notably, smoking. If a moderate to heavy exposure to asbestos can be established, or if a lung cancer sufferer also has asbestosis, it may be possible to claim compensation for lung cancer.
Asbestosis is scarring of the lungs caused by the inhalation of asbestos fibres. It is generally a slowly progressive, irreversible disease that restricts the lungs capacity to expand and makes breathing difficult. Asbestosis may develop after moderate and sustained exposure to asbestos. The severity of asbestosis can vary from mild to severe and symptoms may include difficulty breathing, wheezing, cough, chest pain and tightness.
Asbestos Related Pleural Disease
Asbestos related pleural disease can take the form of asbestos induced pleural effusion, which is an accumulation of fluid in the pleural space (the lining of the lung). Pleural effusion can result in pleural thickening, which may restrict breathing and cause pain.
Entitlements for asbestos related diseases vary depending on the type of claim that is available to a claimant and the State or Territory in which a claimant experienced exposure to asbestos.
The types of claims that may be available include workers compensation claims and common law negligence claims. The most common type of claim in South Australia for asbestos related disease is a common law claim in negligence. These claims are heard in the SA Employment Tribunal, which has established procedures to expedite the resolution of claims.
Compensation may be available for:
- Pain and suffering;
- Medical expenses;
- Care needs;
- Therapeutic equipment needs;
- Loss of income; and
- Loss of financial dependency on another person.
In South Australia damages may also be sought for the loss or impairment of a claimant’s ability to provide care for another person, such as a spouse, child or grandchild.
Damages may be obtained on a provisional basis, meaning that it is possible to resolve a claim for asbestos related pleural disease or asbestosis and maintain rights to bring another claim in the event that a claimant is diagnosed with an asbestos related lung cancer or mesothelioma in the future.
Strict time limits apply to claims for asbestos related diseases, particularly in respect of terminal conditions such as mesothelioma.
For a common law negligence claim it is necessary to issue Court proceedings within a claimant’s lifetime in order to protect an entitlement to damages for pain and suffering, which often constitutes a significant component of an overall award of damages.
In South Australia there is also a three year time limit from the date of diagnosis within which a claimant must bring an action for personal injury. If a claim is not brought within this three year period a claimant may be barred from pursuing an action. In certain cases it may be possible to apply for an extension of time within which to commence a claim.
We recommend that people who are diagnosed with an asbestos related disease seek advice as to their potential compensation entitlements at the earliest opportunity.
Asbestos claims at Johnston Withers Lawyers are managed by Matthew Windsor and Tim Downie. Our experience and knowledge in this area assists us with quickly identifying sources of asbestos exposure and potential defendants to a claim. Johnston Withers Lawyers also maintains a database of records and information which allows us to identify potential exposures, including products containing asbestos and buildings and workplaces where asbestos was used.
We are happy to meet with you to explain the compensation process and provide preliminary advice on a no obligation basis. If we consider that you have a viable claim we will offer to act for you on a no-win no-fee basis.
Legal costs and disbursements are only payable if you receive a successful outcome. In the majority of cases we are also able to recover a significant contribution to your legal costs from the other party to the claim.
We can visit our clients at their homes or, if necessary, in hospital. We have offices in Adelaide, Murray Bridge, Clare, Port Augusta, Whyalla and Roxby Downs.
Frequently Asked Questions
What if I can’t recall exposure to asbestos?
Our background in asbestos litigation gives us knowledge of particular buildings, workplaces and occupations where asbestos was used. We will take the time to talk through your history and assist you in identifying potential exposure to asbestos.
What if my former employer is no longer in business?
In the majority of cases the fact that an employer is no longer in business is not a barrier to pursuing compensation.
What if my exposure happened at home?
Claims involving exposure to asbestos outside of work, including as a result of home renovations or from washing the asbestos-contaminated clothes of another person form a significant number of the claims that we handle. We can assist in identifying and corroborating such exposures.
What if I am or was a smoker?
Many of our clients have been or are smokers. This usually does not preclude a claimant obtaining compensation for the asbestos related component of a disability for people with asbestos related pleural disease, asbestosis or lung cancer. In addition, there is no causal link between smoking and the development of mesothelioma.
What if my exposure to asbestos was in another State or Country?
We are able to assist with claims for exposure to asbestos in other States and Territories of Australia aside from South Australia. We can also assist with making enquiries of suitably qualified and experienced lawyers in the United Kingdom for clients with exposure in the UK.