Mesothelioma Claims Could Peak This YearApril 13, 2015
Solicitor Anthony McCarthy is predicting that 2015 could be the year compensation claims for some asbestos-related conditions will hit their peak.
The deadly mineral was widely used as an insulator, particularly in heavy industries that employed thousands of Teesside workers, such as chemicals, steel, construction and shipbuilding.
For this reason it is estimated that an alarming one in ten UK deaths from mesothelioma, a cancer caused by asbestos exposure, occurs on Teesside.
“Mesothelioma is a hideous cancer that is, sadly, incurable,” says Anthony McCarthy, an asbestos claims expert with Macks Solicitors in Middlesbrough.
“Because the disease can take up to 50 years to come to light, this year could see the highest number of mesothelioma claims yet.
“Industrial disease has a huge impact on Teesside because of the history of traditional heavy industries here.
“I’ve been involved in fighting to get compensation for many years now and it’s something I’m very passionate about.
“The victims worked for years in a tough job, and then they retire and are killed by what their employers exposed them to. What has happened to these hard working people is an absolute scandal and a tragedy.”
Mesothelioma is just one of several industrial diseases suffered by workers who were exposed to asbestos.
“The further you go back, the less was known about the dangers,” says Anthony.
“If you were exposed in the 1940s or 50s, you have to show the exposure was significant to claim compensation. Back then, employers should have known that exposure in heavy doses was dangerous, but not necessarily that mild exposure was also harmful.”
The turning point came in 1965 when the Sunday Times published an article on the dangers of asbestos, which increased awareness that even low dosage exposure could cause serious health problems. Because of its prevalence in this area, James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough is experienced in dealing with industrial diseases and is able to offer some of the best treatment available.
Being based in Middlesbrough means Anthony also deals with dozens of cases every year and he is committed to helping his clients get some from of justice.
“With mesothelioma, quite often you’re dealing with the surviving family, the widow who’s got to pick up the pieces after her husband’s death,” he says.
“We understand how difficult it is for people to talk about the subject. We know that no about of money can compensate for the loss they have suffered but we try to make it as easy as possible for the family to receive the settlement they’re entitled to.”
Asbestos disease factfile
Mesothelioma is an extremely aggressive, incurable cancer affecting the lining of the lung and always resulting in death. It may not come to light until 50 years or more after exposure.
It can be caused by relatively light exposure but is almost always asbestos-related, so the causative link is relatively easy to prove.
Victims can pursue a claim against just one insured former employer, even if they were exposed in more than one company.
Asbestosis is fibrosis of the lung, usually caused by very heavy asbestos exposure. It damages the actual lung tissue and affects lung function, restricting breathing and sometimes proving fatal.
However, fibrosis of the lung can have other causes, so defendants will often argue that the illness has not been proved to be asbestos-related.
Because the condition worsens according to the amount of exposure, victims often have to seek compensation from multiple employers, making claims more complex.
Pleural thickening is thickening of the lining of the lung, again caused by asbestos exposure. It’s similar to asbestosis in that the more a victim is exposed, the worse it gets.
Lung cancer can also be caused by asbestos exposure. Sufferers would need to prove significant exposure in order to link lung cancer to working with asbestos.
The cause of lung cancer can be a difficult issue to determine, particularly if the person involved was exposed to asbestos and also smoked.