Inhaling asbestos fibres may cause irreparable damage to the lungs and respiratory system and can result in cancer, along with other debilitating conditions, which is why it is now banned from use in the UK. Formerly, this substance was used widely in many industries, including construction, automotive and shipbuilding, due to its excellent insulating and heat-resistant qualities. However, the damage that asbestos may cause to those who are exposed to it mean that it is to blame for thousands of UK deaths every year. It is most often the case that symptoms of asbestos-related illnesses only start to show several decades after the exposure took place and the damage caused is irreversible.

Due to the number of people still affected by asbestos, either from exposure many years ago, or due to more recent exposure to the asbestos still present in most buildings constructed before 1999, this is something that is rarely out of the news for long. Here, we have summarised some of the ways in which asbestos has been making headlines across the UK in February 2019.

Mr John Carey, an electrician from Luton, has successfully brought legal action against Vauxhall Motors because the asbestos dust he brought home on his work clothing was found to be the cause of his late wife’s fatal mesothelioma (an asbestos-related cancer), due to her unknowingly inhaling the asbestos fibres whilst doing the laundry. Mr Carey was an electrician for Vauxhall Motors in the 1970s and had to strip asbestos from pipework as part of his work duties. The dust was then carried home on his overalls, and this is how his wife was exposed to the asbestos that caused her cancer. Mrs Carey started the legal action after her diagnosis, but sadly passed away from mesothelioma just days before the legal hearing at court took place; her husband continued with the case after her death and described the judgment in his favour as “bittersweet”.

A former firefighter from Suffolk has recently been awarded compensation after he brought a claim against his former employer for allowing him to be exposed to asbestos repeatedly throughout his career, from the late 1960s to the early 1990s. It is thought that Mr Keith Jordan, now 73 years of age, had been exposed to airborne asbestos without being provided with the proper protections, whilst tackling factory and power station fires over the course of his employment with the fire service. He was diagnosed with pleural thickening, an asbestos related illness, which causes breathing difficulties, chest pain and can be a precursor to more serious conditions. He has been awarded provisional damages, which means that, should he go on to develop the aggressive cancer, mesothelioma, he will be able to return for further compensation.

The MP for Furness, an area of the country known for widespread asbestos exposure in certain industries, recently highlighted the case of one of his constituents, who was unable to access compensation that would have made a big difference to the financial security of his disabled wife after his death, despite being diagnosed with a serious asbestos-related condition. John Woodcock MP spoke about ex-shipyard worker, Jack Hordon, from Barrow, who passed away in December 2018. Mr Hordon had worked in Barrow shipyards and was exposed to asbestos during the course of his duties. He was firstly diagnosed with pleural plaques, which are areas of thickening of the lung lining caused by asbestos fibres. Pleural plaques are harmless and do not usually cause any symptoms, although they can sometimes be the precursor to the development of more serious conditions. Whilst compensation is no longer available for symptomless pleural plaques, Mr Hordon was able to bring a claim at that time. He later went on to be diagnosed with mesothelioma, but due to poor legal advice when he settled his first claim, Mr Hordon was unable to claim compensation for this terminal illness. Mr Woodcock MP wants the issue examined to ensure that other people, who find themselves in similar circumstances, are still able to obtain justice.

If you, or a close family member, have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness and you’re not sure where to go for legal advice you can trust, Dedicated Accident Solicitors have an expert asbestos team with over 20 years’ experience in specialist asbestos compensation claims. We can not only help you to access the legal expertise you need, but also signpost you to practical support to help you deal with the diagnosis and its ramifications. You can also read our guide to asbestos claims here.
Contact us today to discuss your options via our website or call us on 01332 897 222.