Associate Solicitor, Hayley Hill, an industrial disease specialist at Irwin Mitchell successfully secured compensation for a Wolverhampton man, Mr L who was unfortunately diagnosed with asbestosis in October 2008 due to exposure to asbestos during his employment.
Mr L was exposed with two employers, the first being D. Wiseman & Brothers Limited. Mr L worked for this company between 1948 – 1960, beginning as an apprentice welder and pipe fitter and four years later, qualifying and continuing as a pipe fitter.
At D. Wiseman & Brothers Limited, Mr L carried out repairs to boilers, boiler houses and pipe work. When carrying out his repairs he came into contact with asbestos lagging.
Mr L had to strip old asbestos from the pipes and boilers. Mr L worked at many different premises where he was required to work with asbestos. The premises in which Mr L worked were dusty and unpleasant. Mr L also had to re-lag the pipes and boilers with asbestos and had to mix up the asbestos lagging mixture himself. Stripping off old asbestos lagging and mixing up new asbestos lagging paste caused large quantities of asbestos dust and fibres to be released into Mr L’s working environment.
Mr L then began employment at the second company, Stein Atkinson Stordy Limited. Mr L worked for this company as a qualified pipe fitter and welder.
Mr L made gaskets in the factory which were made of asbestos sheets, rope or string and asbestos tape. He had to cut asbestos sheets to size, releasing asbestos dust into the atmosphere in which he worked, some of which it was impossible for Mr L to avoid inhaling. Mr L also attended different sites where asbestos was present and had to install ovens and carry out repairs.
Neither of the companies provided Mr L with protective equipment or any warnings of the dangers of working with asbestos.
Having begun experiencing symptoms, Mr L was assessed by a consultant in the Chest Clinic where he complained of shortness of breath. Mr L had x–rays which showed pleural plaques, which are small areas of scarring on the lung which indicate asbestos exposure. Further investigations led to a diagnosis of asbestosis.
Mr L then instructed Irwin Mitchell to help him seek compensation. Our experts carried out extensive investigations to gather the necessary evidence to successfully pursue a claim against his former employers. The first company had been dissolved, so investigations had to be conducted into their employer’s liability insurers to allow the claim against this company to continue.
On the 17th of September 2012, a settlement was agreed with Mr L’s former employers for payment of £22,500 on a provisional damages settlement basis. Damages for asbestosis are divided between the defendants based on the amount of asbestos to which they individually exposed the asbestosis sufferer.
In Mr L’s case one of his employers, who were responsible for the vast majority of his exposure, was a dissolved company, and were not fully insured for his period of employment/exposure. As a result, the insurers who were identified were not responsible for meeting any compensation due for the period where this defendant did not have insurance.
A full and final settlement would not have been in Mr L’s best interests, as a proportion of his compensation due would not have been met by the insurers and he would have been given no protection for the future.
The settlement achieved for Mr L on a provisional damages basis allows him to keep the door open to return for further compensation in the future, in the event that he ever goes on to develop mesothelioma or asbestos related lung cancer.
Although the risks of development of these asbestos related illnesses is small, Mr L’s exposure to asbestos puts him at risk and this type of settlement will provide security for him for the rest of his life, knowing that he can return for further compensation should either of these conditions develop.
Compensation for mesothelioma or asbestos-related lung cancer will if necessary be paid in full by the insurers identified for the defendants, with no reduction for the gaps in the first defendant’s insurance history.
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