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Corries Solicitors - Personal Injury Specialists
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Asbestos claims -"Sea change" in the law may make claims easier

Asbestos claims could be easier if a recent case is used by asbestos victims and their lawyers.

Corries asbestos team welcome a common sense decision by a court for a claim for asbestos compensation. It is hoped this will help other asbestos victims in the future.

Asbestos claims – case law

Corries asbestos claim team agree that it is harder for asbestos victims to make claims. There has been a hardening by the courts in dealing with asbestos mesothelioma cases in particular. They are not usually straightforward and need careful handling for a good outcome.

In recent years cases involving asbestos exposure before 1965, or low-level asbestos  exposure, are often rejected. Other cases where the evidence is not clear are being given short shrift by the courts. Many victims are denied compensation at court or are having to avoid making claims where prospects do not look good.

A recent appeal has been granted on a failed claim of Bussey which we hope will be heard in the next 6 – 12 months.

Asbestos Claims  – The Facts

The recent court decision of Oldman v DEFRA has shown that courts can deal sensibly with these issues.

In this case the late Mr Oldman had been had been employed by the Defendant’s deference predecessor, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF). Between 1946 to 1950 he worked as a coach builder. In 1951 he joined MAFF on a fishery research steamboat where he trained as an engineer. He worked with and up close with asbestos lagged pipes and equipment.

Mr Oldman stayed in this work until he retired as a Marine engineer in 1983. He continued working for MAFF as a nightwatchman until 1991.

At the age of 84 he started to suffer with chest problems. He was then diagnosed with pleural thickening. At the time, when questioned by his doctors, he was not sure of exposure to asbestos.

asbestos ship engine

Asbestos claims from ship engine workers are common

Following later thought, when applying for disability benefit, he completed forms confirming he had not worked directly with asbestos but would have been exposed to it.

In the claim for compensation the court did not accept that Shipbuilding Regulations which were in place in 1961 applied to his work. Later Asbestos Regulations made in 1969 were not considered relevant.

However the judge looked at the case as a common-law claim for compensation. He confirmed that the regulations were relevant about the state of knowledge of asbestos by companies and the good asbestos practices that they should have had in place.

The court found that the defendants did not do enough to reduce the asbestos to a practical level and the case was found in Mr Oldman’s favour.

What will this mean for asbestos claims?

Corries Director and asbestos claims specialist Howard Bonnett commented

“This decision is hopefully a “sea change” in the way in which courts will look at asbestos and mesothelioma cases.

For the last seven years or so mesothelioma victims have taken cases to court and hit stony ground. Decisions about going to trial have been made difficult and to insurers’ advantages. I truly hope this commonsense judgement, along with the appeal on Bussey, will reverse the tide back into asbestos victim’s favour before any more die without compensation.

My team and I will be keeping a close eye on case developments.  Being up to date and aware of ever changing case law is more important than ever.”

Do you know someone who could make an asbestos claim?

 If they have been diagnosed with asbestos disease in the last three years (including lung cancer) we may be able to help. Call our friendly team for a no obligation discussion on 0800 083 7839. Your call is confidential and we are always happy to help.