Lawford Kidd's Blog

Lawford Kidd's injury solicitors' blog designed to cover all areas of the law relating to accident compensation claims, injury claims and no win no fee in Scotland.

Epidemic? Asbestos Still A Serious Problem in Scotland

Scotland has a long, proud industrial history: our shipyards, coal mines and steel works have shaped our nation's economy and society over the years.

Unfortunately for the people of Scotland, much of that industry has gone and left behind a legacy of asbestos-related disease. Even more unfortunate is that the most common asbestos-related disease, mesothelioma, is particularly aggressive, difficult to detect and doesn't receive anywhere near as much research funding or attention as some other types of cancer.

The dangers of asbestos were previously unknown, since effects or symptoms of asbestos-related disease often don't appear until decades after exposure to the deadly dust. As a result, Scotland is now experiencing an asbestos epidemic.

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New project looks at treatment of mesothelioma

A new project was launched recently to help inform future research into the best way to treat and care for mesothelioma sufferers.

The survey is being conducted by the ‘Mesothelioma Priority Setting Partnership’ (PSP), which was recently set up by non-profit group the James Lind Alliance and is being funded by the National Institute for Health Research, a government body.

A deadly disease

Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that mainly affects the lining of the lungs and is caused by breathing in asbestos fibres. The disease is usually fatal, and symptoms do not become apparent until decades after the initial exposure, by which point it is too late for surgical intervention.

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New help for mesothelioma sufferers

A new support scheme has been launched by the UK Government to help newly diagnosed victims of mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a cancer of the lining of internal organs, such as the lungs, and is almost always the result of exposure to asbestos. It is always fatal, and sufferers can only expect to live around eight or nine months on average after diagnosis.

Claiming compensation for mesothelioma has often been a problem for sufferers because typically symptoms do not appear until 40 or 50 years after the exposure to asbestos has taken place. As a result, by the time a sufferer realises he or she has the condition, their employer may no longer be around to make a claim against.

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Supreme Court rules in mesothelioma liability case

The Supreme Court has given its decision in the appeal by insurance companies over their obligations under various contracts of employers’ liability (“EL”) insurance. In particular, the appeals concern the scope of the insurers’ obligations to indemnify employers against their liabilities towards employees who have contracted mesothelioma following exposure to asbestos.

Mesothelioma has an unusually long gestation period, which can be in excess of 40 years between exposure to asbestos and manifestation of the disease. The insurers maintain that the EL policies only cover mesothelioma which manifested as a disease at some point during the relevant policy period. In contrast, the employers submit that the insurance policies respond to mesothelioma caused by exposure to asbestos during the relevant policy period but which develops and manifests itself sometime later.

The court at first instance held that the policies should all be interpreted as having a “causation wording,” and therefore the liability “trigger” under the EL policy was when the employee inhaled the asbestos and not the date when the malignant lesion developed.

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Compensation awarded for asbestos related illness

The High Court has awarded a former miner around £70,000 in compensation after he developed mesotheliomia caused by exposure to asbestos at work, reports the BBC.

The 92-year-old had worked as a miner in Nottinghamshire for over 20 years, and the Department of Energy and Climate Change has admitted that he was exposed to asbestos during his time there.

As a result of his illness, Dennis Ball had to move out of his home last year, and now lives in a nursing home.

According to the BBC, Mr Ball's lawyer said that the court decision "paves the way for further elderly sufferers to receive settlements which reflect the pain and distress the disease causes, regardless of their age."

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