Mesothelioma is a cancer of the lining of the lungs caused by exposure to asbestos. The condition can also develop in the abdomen, heart or testes and can have devastating effects on patients and their families.
In the UK, around 2,700 new mesothelioma cases are diagnosed yearly, accounting for 1% of all new cancer cases. The prognosis for mesothelioma is poor, and many people pass away within one year after the initial diagnosis. Only about 5 in 100 patients survive the disease for five years or more.
Because the condition can take decades to develop, you could claim mesothelioma compensation many years after asbestos exposure. Although this cannot take back the harm you suffered, it could provide much-needed financial security for you and your family.
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and would like to find out if you could claim, call 0800 678 1410 or request a call back to get a free consultation with a mesothelioma solicitor. If your case has merit, they will offer you a no win no fee service so you won’t have anything to lose if your claim fails.
Am I eligible to claim mesothelioma compensation?
As mesothelioma usually takes between 15 and 40 years to develop, it does not matter how long ago you were exposed to asbestos to be eligible for mesothelioma compensation.
If you were diagnosed with the disease, you can trust the experience of a mesothelioma solicitor to investigate your employment history and track down the company that put you at risk. If they no longer exist, you might still be able to claim payment from the government and receive state benefits.
As a general rule, you should be able to make a mesothelioma claim if:
- You were diagnosed with mesothelioma within the last three years
- A loved one passed away due to mesothelioma no longer than three years ago
- Another party who owed you a duty of care acted negligently
- You or your loved one became sick due to their careless actions
Mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses are particular cases where a company’s duty of care extends to the families of employees and anyone living in the surroundings of an asbestos processing plant. Thus, you should be able to make a mesothelioma claim even if you developed the disease due to secondary exposure.
Furthermore, under the Mesothelioma Practice Direction, it is the defendant who essentially needs to produce evidence to support a denial of liability in any claim for mesothelioma compensation. However, it does not mean you must only be diagnosed with mesothelioma to be awarded damages.
Usually, you have three years to bring a claim from the date of knowledge of your condition. This is known as the claim limitation date, after which you lose the right to compensation. In certain circumstances, the court may allow an extension, depending on the reason and extent of your delay.
There is no time limit to make a mesothelioma compensation claim if the victim is a child or an adult who cannot conduct legal proceedings due to a lack of mental capacity. In these situations, a litigation friend could pursue compensation on their behalf at any point.
What is mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a rare and deadly form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. It affects the mesothelial cells that form the epithelial lining that covers most of the internal organs.
Asbestos is a group of minerals that occur naturally around the globe in some rocks, sediments and soils. Due to being exceptionally flexible, durable and non-flammable even at extremely high temperatures, it was widely used in construction in the past.
Nonetheless, abrasion, erosion and other processes can cause toxic asbestos fibres to be released into the atmosphere. Once released, they break down into tiny particles that become airborne and can be easily inhaled by those exposed to them.
The asbestos particles collect in the lungs, causing scarring and inflammation. The fibres may also reach other organs and lead to a variety of both benign and malignant diseases. These include asbestosis, pleural thickening, ovarian cancer, laryngeal cancer and mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma most commonly affects the lining of the lungs, called the pleura, but can also affect the abdominal lining, heart or testicles. The vast majority of cases are diagnosed in individuals aged 60 to 80, but it may also affect children and young adults.
In the UK, there are around 2,400 mesothelioma deaths each year, and it is more common in men than women. Sadly, it is rarely possible to cure the disease, but there are some treatments available to help control the symptoms, such as:
- Chemotherapy uses medicine to help shrink the cancerous growth;
- Radiotherapy involves using high-energy radiation to kill cancerous cells and keep cancer under control;
- Surgery can be used to remove the cancerous area if mesothelioma is detected at a very early stage;
- Immunotherapy to boost the body’s immune response and decrease tumour growth;
- A combination of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy may sometimes be recommended.
If you were diagnosed with mesothelioma, you might be able to claim mesothelioma compensation. If you have a valid case, your solicitor might also be able to get you access to the best treatments that are not always available through the NHS.
What are the symptoms of mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma symptoms can develop decades after asbestos exposure and differ significantly depending on where the tumour first formed. Some initial signs can be mild and mistaken for more common conditions until the cancer is quite advanced. Common general symptoms include:
- Night sweats
- Loss of appetite and unexplained weight loss
- Fluid build-up in the abdomen or chest
The most common conditions leading to a mesothelioma claim include:
Pleural mesothelioma forms on the lining of the lungs and accounts for around 80% of all cases. It is also the only type of mesothelioma that has a staging system:
- In early-stage mesothelioma, symptoms are often vague and mimic less severe illnesses. This includes:
- Chest pain
- Fluid build-up
- Persistent dry cough, wheezing and hoarseness
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty breathing
- In late-stage pleural mesothelioma, cancer usually spreads to the lymph nodes and causes more uncomfortable and painful symptoms, such as:
- Blood clots
- Chest pain
- Coughing up blood
- Difficulty swallowing
- Shortness of breath
- Muscle atrophy
- Lumps under the chest skin
- Noticeable weight loss
Peritoneal mesothelioma develops in the protective lining of the abdomen ad primarily affects the stomach, intestines, spleen and liver. Typical symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain
- Bloating or a mass in the abdomen
- Changes in bowel habits and bowel obstruction
- Fever and fatigue
- Nausea and vomiting
- Malnutrition and weight loss
- Fluid build-up in the abdomen
- Night sweats
Much less frequently, mesothelioma may affect the heart or testicles, often with a poor prognosis.
Pericardial mesothelioma affects the protective lining of the heart, called the peritoneum. That causes several signs and symptoms that include:
- Constriction of the heart muscle
- Heart palpitations
- Chest tightness
- Chest pain
- Coughing and difficulty breathing
- Fluid build-up in the heart
- Fatigue and unexplained weight loss
If you experience any of the signs and symptoms of mesothelioma, it is essential to immediately contact a doctor. That may help you receive an early diagnosis, the best treatment options and a better prognosis. You should also seek legal advice as soon as possible, as you might be entitled to mesothelioma compensation.
What causes mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is an aggressive and deadly cancer primarily caused by working with asbestos or living near asbestos processing plants or naturally occurring asbestos. Many buildings constructed or renovated before the use of asbestos was banned also contain this toxic material.
Family members and others living with asbestos workers are also at increased risk of developing mesothelioma due to coming into contact with asbestos-contaminated clothing or dust in their hair. To reduce the risk of contaminating others, asbestos workers are usually required to shower and change their clothing before leaving the workplace.
When asbestos fibres reach the mesothelium lining, they cause inflammation, leading to scar tissue plaques forming on its surface. That mutates the cells over time, and a mesothelioma tumour begins to grow. Workplace exposure to asbestos might entitle you to make a mesothelioma claim.
When asbestos fibres are inhaled, they become embedded in the protective lining of the lungs. When they are ingested, they can affect the abdominal lining and develop into peritoneal mesothelioma. Rarely, they can also travel through the bloodstream and affect the heart membrane.
It can take anywhere between 15 to 50 years to develop the disease after asbestos exposure. Initial signs and symptoms may be mild and misdiagnosed as more common conditions such as bronchitis, pneumonia or irritable bowel syndrome. Only a biopsy can confirm a mesothelioma diagnosis.
Nonetheless, most people exposed to asbestos never get mesothelioma, which suggests that other factors are also involved in developing the condition, such as a genetic predisposition to cancer.
Although rare, mesothelioma cases have also been associated with irradiation to the chest or abdomen, exposure to thorotrast, a radioactive contrast medium used in the past, and inhalation of other fibrous silicates such as talc. The simian virus 40 may also act as a cofactor in the development of mesothelioma.
If you were diagnosed with mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure, you should contact a solicitor as soon as possible. You will likely be eligible to make a mesothelioma compensation claim on a no win no fee basis.
How long does mesothelioma take to develop?
The time from asbestos exposure to receiving a diagnosis is usually anywhere from 15 to 50 years and peaks at 30-40 years. However, there have been cases where mesothelioma was diagnosed after only a few months of exposure or 70 years after coming into contact with the toxic mineral.
Exposure to asbestos fibres has been recognised as an occupational health hazard since the beginning of the last century. Since 1931, there has been an increase in health and safety statutory duties imposed on employers to protect the health and safety of workers. However, importing, supplying and using asbestos has only been banned in the UK since 1999.
The first mention of a tumour in the lining of the lungs dates back to 1767, but it wasn’t until 1935 that a British pathologist suggested that the condition was due to asbestos exposure. In 1960, the causal relationship between asbestos fibres and mesothelioma was confirmed beyond a reasonable doubt.
Diagnosis typically occurs after the age of 65, and most people pass away around 70 years old. Generally, about 45% of patients survive their mesothelioma for one year or more after the initial diagnosis, and 5% are still alive after five years or more.
Because it takes decades for asbestos fibres to turn normal mesothelial cells into cancerous cells, and since the condition is so rare, initial symptoms may be misdiagnosed as less severe illnesses. Therefore, it could be possible to claim mesothelioma compensation regardless of when you were exposed to asbestos.
Pleural mesothelioma may be misdiagnosed as:
- A benign tumour
- Lung cancer
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
Peritoneal mesothelioma may be misdiagnosed as:
- Crohn’s disease
- Ovarian cancer
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
A misdiagnosis can delay treatment to ease your mesothelioma symptoms and may drastically reduce your chances of survival. If you were diagnosed with mesothelioma, you might be entitled to claim mesothelioma compensation.
What professions are most at risk of mesothelioma?
Asbestos exposure primarily happens in the workplace and is highly preventable. The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, published by the Health and Safety Executive, set out the legal duties employers must comply with to protect the health of employees from the risk associated with asbestos exposure. Failing to do so would make them liable for mesothelioma compensation.
The regulations detail what actions employers must take to identify and manage asbestos in the workplace, who can work with asbestos, what training they need and other requirements, such as:
- Identify the location and condition of asbestos on the premises;
- Ensure that it does not deteriorate and fibres are not released into the atmosphere;
- If necessary, remove it and replace it with safer alternatives;
- Provide annual asbestos training to employees;
- Provide instructions on work and hygiene practices to workers;
- Provide appropriate personal protective equipment and clothing;
- Monitor the concentration of airborne asbestos and the exposure of a worker;
- Have procedures in place to remove and clean up asbestos waste and related materials;
- Provide adequate welfare facilities so that workers can shower and change out of work clothes before going to lunch or leaving to go home.
If your employer failed to comply with the relevant health and safety measures and exposed you to the toxic mineral, you might be able to make a mesothelioma compensation claim. The professions that are at increased risk of mesothelioma include:
- Asbestos miners
- Electricians and plumbers
- Demolition workers
- Waste management employees
- Home remodelling contractors
- Auto mechanics and the automobile industry
- Industrial workers
- Boiler workers
- The textile industry and fabric milling
- Railway construction
- Power plant and chemical plant workers
- Shipyard workers
Not everyone exposed to asbestos will develop mesothelioma, and some factors that influence the risk of being diagnosed with the disease include:
- How long you were exposed to the toxic fibres;
- How much asbestos you were exposed to;
- How you were exposed to asbestos – it is less harmful if bound into a product than if released into the air during sawing or drilling;
- Personal risk factors, such as smoking, a pre-existing lung condition or genetic factors.
Besides occupational asbestos exposure, the risk for developing mesothelioma is higher in:
- Family members of workers exposed to asbestos due to secondary exposure from their clothes or hair;
- People living in places where asbestos occurs naturally;
- People exposed to asbestos products at home, such as insulation, glues and adhesives, cement or ceiling tiles.
If you or a loved one were diagnosed with mesothelioma due to the negligence of another party, you might be eligible for compensation. To find out if you have a valid claim, you can enter your details into our online claim form or call 0800 678 1410 to speak to a mesothelioma solicitor.
How long does it take to get compensation for mesothelioma?
On average, it takes around 18 months to settle a claim for asbestos-related diseases, although more complex cases may take up to three years. However, due to the severe nature of the disease, a straightforward mesothelioma claim where liability is admitted from the start could be settled in just a few months.
Every case has different circumstances, and how long it will take for you to receive mesothelioma compensation ultimately depends on several factors, such as:
- The type and severity of your condition
- How soon you contacted a mesothelioma solicitor after your diagnosis
- How easily your solicitor can trace the company responsible or their insurer
- Whether more than one company may be involved in your claim
- Whether the other side admits liability for your asbestos exposure and the condition you developed
- The time your solicitor needs to gather evidence to support your mesothelioma claim
- How long it takes for your solicitor to gather evidence of your losses and calculate a suitable compensation award
- How long the defendant’s insurer will need to review the case and admit or deny liability
- How long it takes to negotiate a mesothelioma compensation settlement
- Whether you will have to argue your claim in court
Many mesothelioma patients have a very short life expectancy when diagnosed. For this reason, several High Court procedures aim to fast-track claims and award mesothelioma compensation as swiftly as possible. Your solicitor will use the fast-track procedure to ensure that your claim is dealt with on an urgent basis.
How much mesothelioma compensation can I claim?
If you or a loved one were diagnosed with mesothelioma, you might be entitled to claim compensation for your pain, suffering and any related financial expenses. Every case is unique, and the amount of mesothelioma compensation your solicitor might be able to secure depends on several factors, such as:
- The type and severity of your condition
- The financial losses and expenses you incurred due to your diagnosis
- How mesothelioma affected you and your family’s life
In every mesothelioma claim, you can recover two types of damages:
Special damages, awarded for financial losses and expenses directly related to the illness, including:
- Cost of medical treatments
- Payment for travel to medical expenses
- Lost wages due to taking time off work
- Costs of care and assistance
- Cost of medical aids and equipment
General damages, awarded for the mesothelioma injury and how it affected your life, including compensation for:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental anguish and emotional distress
- Physical impairment
- Reduced life expectancy
- Lower quality of life
- Loss of consortium or companionship
- Loss of prospects and enjoyment of life
The Judicial College is part of the Ministry of Justice and publishes guidelines for general damages based on the type and severity of an injury or illness. According to them, you could receive the following mesothelioma compensation awards for general damages:
- £24,950 to £55,830 for a lung disease causing breathing difficulties
- £55,830 to £108,370 for lung cancer causing severe pain and impairment
- £80,250 to £108,370 for a very severe or life-threatening lung disease affecting a young person
Besides compensation for pain and suffering, your solicitor will also calculate a suitable settlement for your past and future financial expenses. To find out more about your compensation prospects, enter your details into our online claim form or call 0800 678 1410 to speak to a mesothelioma solicitor.
Can I still make a mesothelioma claim if the company I worked for has ceased trading?
Because mesothelioma can take decades to develop, most mesothelioma claims are made against former employers. However, due to the long period between exposure and diagnosis, they may no longer be around, whether they have closed down or have been bought out by another company.
In such circumstances, your solicitor will track down their former insurer and claim mesothelioma compensation from them. Since 1972, companies have been legally required to have employers’ liability insurance covering any personal injuries to their workers. This insurance policy would still be valid even if your former employer is no longer trading.
If both your former employer and their insurer are untraceable, you cannot proceed with a mesothelioma compensation claim. However, you might still be able to claim payment from the government or receive state benefits.
Your mesothelioma solicitor can help you apply for important benefits available for people exposed to asbestos, including:
- The Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme (DMPS) was launched in April 2014 to award mesothelioma compensation if you were negligently exposed to asbestos in the UK and cannot trace your employer or their insurer. The average payment awarded to applicants is £144,000. You may also be eligible for a payment under the scheme if a loved one has died due to mesothelioma.
- The 2008 Diffuse Mesothelioma Payments Scheme (2008 Scheme) allows you to claim a lump sum payment if you were diagnosed with mesothelioma and cannot trace your former employer or their insurer.
- The Pneumoconiosis Etc. (Workers’ Compensation) Act 1979 makes provisions for lump sum payments to mesothelioma sufferers who cannot take civil action against their former employer. The amount of money you may get under the Act depends on how old you were when your disease was diagnosed and how disabled you are.
- The Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB) allows you to claim a weekly benefit if you were diagnosed with diffuse mesothelioma, even if your employer is still trading. The weekly payment you can get depends on how badly you are disabled by your condition and usually ranges between £37.72 and £188.60.
- Personal Independence Payments (PIP) can help with extra living costs, and you can get it at the same time as all other benefits, except for Armed Forces Independence Payment. PIP is tax-free, and the amount you get is not affected by your income or savings.
Can I claim on behalf of a loved one who died due to mesothelioma?
If a loved one has died because of a mesothelioma diagnosis, you may be entitled to make a fatal accident claim on their behalf. While no amount of money can help you cope with the loss of a loved one, mesothelioma compensation could provide the financial security you need to move forward.
The Fatal Accidents Act 1976 stipulates who is entitled to bring a mesothelioma claim as a dependant of the victim. This includes:
- Their spouse or former spouse
- Their civil partner or former civil partner
- Someone who lived in the same household with the victim as their spouse for at least two years
- A parent or grandparent of the deceased
- Any person treated as a parent
- Any child or other descendants of the deceased
- Anyone treated as a child by the deceased
- A sibling, uncle, aunt of the deceased or their children
If you relied on the income of your loved one, you could make a financial dependency mesothelioma claim. The compensation award considers lost wages, pensions, healthcare benefits, bonuses and other economic benefits expected from the deceased. A financial dependency claim does not cover damages for grief and sorrow.
You could also make a loss of service dependency claim if the deceased used to do household chores, gardening, DIY projects and other property maintenance tasks. Child dependants could also claim mesothelioma compensation for loss of care and help with daily activities.
The Fatal Accidents Act also allows you to claim for funeral expenses and the financial losses incurred between the mesothelioma diagnosis and the date of death. A limited number of dependants may also claim a statutory bereavement award of £15,121, which compensates for grief and suffering.