Persistence pays for asbestos victim with six employers

A retired joiner has won five figure asbestos compensation against six former employers after a long battle where persistence paid off.

Corries are specialist asbestos disease claims solicitors.  We work hard for every client.  Call us now FREE on (0800) 083 7839.

Asbestos compensation – the case facts

Our client Mr M approached Corries in 2017.  He was 82 years old.  He had problems with his chest and his doctors asked him about his working life.

It was thought that he had asbestos related disease. He asked us to look into it. He was worried his claim might be too difficult.

Mr M told about his apprenticeship which he served for five years before then going on to be a ship’s joiner.  Upon leaving ship work he went into dry dock work and then to work for the local Council and then for various other construction companies in his home town area. He told us he was exposed to asbestos at six different employers.

His memory was good and he had various documents and could recall certain projects he worked on.

Asbestos compensation for workers with multiple employers

We are often contacted by retired workmen.  Many have great concerns about making a claim. They tell us they are worried that they worked for many companies who have gone out of business and are worried they cannot claim. Mr M was typical of this scenario.

After the second world war work was often easy to get and people would chop and change employers quite regularly.  H M Revenue records only properly record National Insurance payments from 1961 onwards.  For many honest workers swapping employers to get better money or conditions was a routine part of their life. Most did this to get more money for their families.

Piecing this together to remember when and where asbestos exposure occurred is always difficult. memories fade with time and many former workmates will have sadly died. We find that often there are a large number of employers listed and it is difficult to remember where someone worked and if asbestos exposure occurred.

Asbestos compensation with multiple defendants

We are often asked by clients how they can still make a claim if their past employers have gone bust or if there is no insurance.

In the UK law a defendant is only held responsible for it’s share or contribution to the overall dose of asbestos that someone has suffered.  This can be done on a time exposed basis or a dose of asbestos if exposure has been higher with one company that then another. This can mean that often a victim may only get a modest percentage of their overall due compensation.

Lawyers call this a Holtby apportionment.

Many former workmen are put off by the thought of trying to provide information about their own companies, their workmates or whether claims can be made.

We reassured Mr M that we would do our best. Our team was confident we would recover some percentage of his due compensation.

Asbestos Compensation – pulling it together

We set to work looking through Mr M’s working history.  This required a schedule of the places where he worked with asbestos.  We agreed this with him and then started to trace the insurers or companies.  This took a lot of work and digging about. As we had sued some of them before we had greater confidence we could press on with his claim.

Our firm has great experience in multi defendant cases as can be seen here

By our efforts we secured almost 100% recovery of his employment.

In the meanwhile we got a radiologist to confirm that he had diffuse pleural thickening

We then used one of our panel of expert respiratory Doctors to produce a report. This confirmed Mr M was between 20 – 25% disabled due to his asbestos disease.  Thankfully his risks of the asbestos disease getting worse were thought to be very modest.

We agreed a global valuation of the case with Mr M. We then put this evidence to all of the defendants and invited them to get together.

The long road to settlement

Coordinating cases where there are lots of defendants is often very difficult.  It is often complicated and frustrating. All too often one or more of the defendants will be awkward or will not look sensibly at the case. This can hold the entire case up. We often feel it is like trying to round up kittens. Normally the sensible ones will make an offer early to stop the costs of the case increasing. This freezes their liability to pay costs at an early stage. The remainder may then join them or raise issues or fight the claim.

Over a course of time we were able to reach settlement for Mr M with five of the six defendants.  Only one was left standing.

We were left with the option of either taking that one defendant to litigation or to let it rest.  Mr M was content to let the case rest as by now we had gathered a reasonable sum in compensation. 

However we did not think that that was fair.

Asbestos compensation – finishing the case

Over a course of time we put more pressure on this defendant. We reminded them that the other defendants had seen sense. We threatened to issue court proceedings against them alone. As they would have had to bear the costs of those proceedings themselves they eventually saw sense. They settled the case for their remaining percentage of the case.

They realised that if the case went to court question might be asked. In particular the key quesiton would be:-

Why are you defending this case when the other five have settled it?

Asbestos compensation – comments

Charlie Bradley asbestos specialist solicitor who won the the case commented

An enormous part of my work is persuading employers, insurers and their solicitors to get together and settle cases. I am always alert to the stress that fighting a claim puts on my elderly clients.

Mr M knew at an early stage that we would have a long battle ahead. However to his credit he left the matter for us to get on with. Mr M gave clear instructions. This meant I was able to get good and sensible settlements from five of the six companies involved.

It can be all too easy to give up when on or more defendants raise a fight. Defendants argue it is not proportionate to run cases where their share may only be a few hundred/ thousand pounds. However this cuts both ways.  Defendants who get their heads together early and speak to us may benefit. We might be more amenable to reaching a compromise or resolution. 

In this case the remaining defendant dug their heels in but this served no purpose.  The damages were agreed in the same sum. Their approach meant that have to bear a bigger bill for the costs involved in arguing it. That is money that could have been saved and could have meant Mr M had his money earlier.

In this case Mr M’s persistence paid off. He has some money to enjoy for the rest of his life. Most importantly – his approach was proved right

Can we help you?

Corries are leading work disease lawyers. We pride ourselves on going the extra mile. If you know someone who has been diagnosed with asbestos disease in the last three years then call us now FREE on 0800 083 7839.