Asbestos Pleural Plaques – what is it, can I claim and should I bother?

At Corries we are invested in helping people with asbestos Pleural Plaques. When we advertise we are often asked the same questions.

Here is our easy to understand guide to help you or others with this asbestos disease.

What are asbestos Pleural Plaques?

Asbestos Pleural plaques are a scarring or marking on the lining of the lung known as either the visceral pleura (which surrounds the lung and is the thickness of a carrier bag) or in the lining of the rib cage (known as the parietal pleura).

This is a well-known and recognised condition due to asbestos exposure. The plaques can arise from very light or heavy exposure to asbestos.

In the vast majority of cases pleural plaques (PP) cause no symptoms at all and many people do not know that they have them. They are often found and reported on by medical staff when an x ray or scan is done.

The vast majority of people with PP have nothing to worry about. Few will go on to develop other asbestos disease. However, having got pleural plaques they have a marker of asbestos exposure. They are more vulnerable to develop asbestos disease compared to someone without the plaques.

A description from the BLF website is

Pleural Plaques and the law

The affect to the body of PP was noted by unions and lawyers in the 1970’s and from then claims for compensation (often up to £15,000) could be made. From the late 1970’s up until 2005 thousands of such cases each year were made.

At that time the various insurers got together with a view to fighting the claims for PP. They had grown tired of paying up for these cases. Their argument was that as PP caused no symptoms, did not provide a pathway to other illness or render you more vulnerable to other asbestos disease then it was not right to get compensation for it. They argued therefore that compensation should not be paid. All claims for compensation in place at 2005 and then during 2005-2007 were frozen whilst the court decided what to do.

The House of Lords

In October 2007 the House of Lords (then the highest court in the land) sadly agreed with the insurers and stopped compensation for any PP cases. There was no further right of appeal and all cases in the system were stopped dead in their tracks. Hundreds of thousands of people have been denied compensation since then.

The House of Lords remarked that those with PP were “the worried well”. We do not agree with that view and our experience of people with PP is far different.

The MOJ Scheme and the £5000 payment

A short term scheme by the Ministry of Justice was set up in 2010 (just at the end of the last Labour government) and during the next 18 months paid a static figure of £5000 to those PP victims who would have normally had a claim for compensation. This was done to recognise that until then people had a reasonable expectation of a claim and had the rug pulled from under their feet.

That scheme is closed and will not be re opened.

Can I still claim if I got the £5000?

It should be noted that the payment was given on an ex gratia basis which means that any person with PP who goes on to develop another condition due to asbestos is:-

  1. Still fully entitled to do so and;
  2. Does not have to give account for the £5000 and;
  3. Is not stopped from making a claim for mesothelioma,  lung cancer, asbestosis or diffuse pleural thickening if they can prove the case at common law and;
  4. Are still entitled to make claims for Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefits if they meet the criteria for them.

We are often shocked to hear that some people have got the £5000 and gone on to develop other disease and thought that the £5000 has “bought them off” from making any more claims for other diseases.

Our friends over the border and sea

The law we have described affects PP victims in England and Wales. As they have devolved parliaments the Scottish and Northern Irish governments took steps to introduce law which overrode the House of Lords decision and means that PP victims exposed to asbestos in Scotland or Northern Ireland can still secure compensation for PP.

Will there be a change in the law in England and Wales?

This is unlikely. It is fourteen years since payments stopped and now eleven and a half years since the shutters were pulled down for PP victims. Some asbestos campaigners and support groups have looked at this topic but there is no one in Government with any appetite to pick up this issue and ensure parity for PP victims in England and Wales to match their Scottish and Irish brethren.

So why join your register?

Our experience is that those with PP have a lifetime reminder of their exposure to this toxic substance. You cannot get rid of them. That means that for the rest of your life you are at risk of developing some asbestos disease. Whilst the vast majority of people will suffer no ill effects or new asbestos disease at Corries we find that up to two or three people in every ten of the people on our register may go on to develop some form of asbestos disease causing illness or death.

For those people securing and recording their work history makes good sense. It means claims decisions in the future are better informed and easier to progress. We have greater prospects of success than for those starting a new claim for someone close to death or trying to make a case after death.

The benefits of being on our FREE PP register

The benefits are:-

  1. We get your HMRC record of employers (a universally accepted record of employment)
  2. The we go through a questionnaire with you to record your exposure
  3. We provide you with a card to keep should something develop
  4. We can check the register for people from the same employer if you need help with your case
  5. If there is ever a change of the law which affects you then we will be in touch with you straight away. We will have the information to hand to start work for you to get compensation

In an ideal world everyone with PP would get compensation. Unfortunately they do not. However we can give you the peace of mind that someone is in your corner.

We hope you never needs us. But we are here if you do.

If you know someone with Pleural Plaques and you think they might be interested call us FREE for a no obligation chat on 0800 083 7839