Fighting to win compensation for Teesside workers suffering from industrial diseases is more than just a job for Rebecca Montague and Macks team of personal injury solicitors – it’s a passion.
Statistics suggest the area has been hit harder than anywhere else in the country by mesothelioma, asbestosis and other conditions caused by working in heavy industries.
And Rebecca, who is one of the only specialist asbestos and personal injury compensations lawyers in Redcar, is determined to get justice for her clients.
“Lots of people suffer from asbestos-related conditions in this area because so many worked in heavy industry,” she says.
“We had the huge ICI and British Steel plants near Redcar and the old Skinningrove works in East Cleveland, plus shipbuilding and other potentially hazardous occupations.
“Sometimes local cases get snatched up by larger firms and people might not realise there are personal injury lawyers with the expertise on their doorstep.
“I’ve been looking after asbestos claims for 15 years and was probably one of the first personal injury solicitors in this area to do asbestos claims on a no win, no fee basis. So I have a wealth of experience in this field.”
Because some illnesses take so long to develop, Rebecca believes the number of cases is yet to reach its peak.
“With mesothelioma, the latency period can be up to 50 years, so we get a lot of cases among people in their 80s,” she says.
“Mesothelioma can be contracted with even low exposure and can affect trades such as joiners, mechanical fitters, electricians and even people who worked in hospitals as porters and schools.
“Where you were dealing with heavy exposure, for example in the case of laggers, you were more likely to get asbestosis.
“We also look after claims in cases of industrial deafness but this can be difficult to prove, especially if you’ve had a number of employers. You need a diagnosis of noise-induced deafness first, because deafness can be caused by age, infection and other things.”
Macks Solicitors in Middlesbrough, Macks Solicitors in Darlington and Macks Solicitors in Redcar take on all types personal injury compensation claims, including acting for people injured in road traffic accidents.
“The message is that you don’t have to use someone from outside the area, as we have personal injury lawyers with all the experience and expertise you need right here,” says Rebecca.
“People certainly shouldn’t feel pushed into using whoever their insurance company is telling them to.
“Often the same insurance company can be acting for the claimant and for the defendant and that’s not necessarily in your best interests.
“You can come in and chat to us and pop back in whenever it’s convenient for you, and that gives you more control over what happens to you.”