North East victims of asbestos and their families receive £2.7m payout

asbestos compensation

Each year, approximately 13,000 people die from diseases caused by work-related asbestos exposure. More often than that, the families of the victims are fortunate enough to receive compensation, with those currently suffering from these diseases able to apply for benefits.

For asbestos victims in the North East of England, an incredible amount has been raised by one especially effective support group.

The ASCG’s work for asbestos victims

 The Northern TUC Asbestos Support and Campaign Group consists of Macmillan Cancer Support, Northern TUC (Trades Union Congress), West View Resource and Advice Centre and various other trade unions.

As well as offering advice, information and support to asbestos exposure sufferers and their families, the group has helped to secure £2.7 million in payouts over the last year for 170 people in the region.

Besides benefitting those currently suffering from asbestos-related diseases, including the always-fatal mesothelioma (a form of cancer that affects the stomach lining and lungs), such money raised helps to support the families of those who have unfortunately succumbed to these diseases.

Asbestos: by no means a long-gone problem

Among the many to have been indirectly affected in recent times by the devastating effects of Susan Dean, who is attempting to acquire information on the working conditions of her late father, John Robert Harbottle.

Mr Harbottle worked at a shipyard in Wallsend from 1947 until the early 1960s. He sadly passed away due to heart and lung disease in 2014.

Groups like the ASCG are needed more than ever, as many of the tragedies caused by exposure to asbestos have only arisen in the last few years. Many diseases caused by exposure can take several decades to be detected, by which time it is often too late for treatment to be of any help.

Asbestos hasn’t been used as a building material since the last century, but it can still often lurk in old buildings or on building sites. Trident Surveying offers a range of services, including asbestos surveys and asbestos removal project management which helps to guard against workplace asbestos exposure.

For more information on Trident Surveying and what we can do for the safety of your own organisation’s workers where they may otherwise come under threat of lethal asbestos exposure, please get in touch today.

Settlement for relatives of Aston University employees

asbestos surveys Birmingham

 

If any news story serves to remind us of the great importance of asbestos surveys in Birmingham for the city’s modern day employers, it is the one recently reported by the Birmingham Mail of the compensation payout for the families of two former Aston University workers who died from asbestos-related diseases.

University secretary Valerie White and laboratory technician Robert Burns worked in the Birmingham University’s Biological Sciences department from the 1960s to the 1980s, where they were exposed to the killer dust due to its use for lagging pipes in the basement. Mr Burns, who died in September 2010 aged 75, was present during the on-site cutting up of asbestos insulation boards.

The researcher, who relocated to Cockermouth in Cumbria later in life, died from mesothelioma, a cancer in the lung lining widely known to be caused by asbestos exposure. The same disease was contracted by Mrs White from Wylde Green, Sutton Coldfield. She died in October 2009, aged just 52.

Legal action was launched by the relatives of both victims through Birmingham-based solicitors Irwin Mitchell, leading to an undisclosed payout.

Mrs White’s widower, Christopher, 61, commented: “Valerie’s illness came as such as shock to us and it was heart breaking to see her in pain and watch her strength slowly deteriorate at such a young age, knowing that ultimately there was no cure to the disease.

“Since Valerie died we have been determined to secure justice for her death and we are relieved that our legal team’s persistence paid off having now secured a settlement from Aston University.

“We hope that this will act as a reminder to employers to protect their workers from exposure to asbestos, so other families do not have to watch their loved ones endure so much pain and suffering.”

Mr Burns – known as Bob – was husband for 42 years to Jane, who said: “It was devastating to watch my husband go through so much pain in the final years of his life.

“The last four years since Bob’s death have been a terrible ordeal and I am very glad that the case is now over and the university have had to pay for the suffering they caused, although no amount of money can make up for Bob’s suffering or my loss.

“Our daughters and grandchildren miss him as I do and he will never be replaced in their hearts or mine.”

The case is certainly an extremely sad one that signals, once more, how thankful we should now be for the widespread use of professional asbestos surveys in Birmingham, including in public buildings like universities and hospitals, where it may still be a risk.

A spokesperson for Aston University stated: “We are pleased that a settlement has now been reached on these two cases, which relate to an earlier chapter in the history of the university.”

Damages ruling means continuing status quo for asbestos claims

asbestos compensation

Asbestos surveying companies like Trident Surveying have always played an important role in fulfilling their clients’ moral, financial and legal obligations with regard to any asbestos fibres that may be present in their premises and therefore pose a risk to their employees and the wider public. For such client companies, a recent High Court ruling is a significant confirmation of the legal status quo with regard to damages arising from asbestos claims.

With exposure to asbestos a frequent cause of the aggressive cancer mesothelioma, many of those diagnosed take legal action against their past employers or the employer’s insurance company. However, the legal situation surrounding asbestos claims looked set to change after the 2013 passage into law of the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO), which shifted the responsibility for legal costs from the losing party to the claimant.

 

Although people with mesothelioma were exempt from the new rules until the completion of a full review of the implications on this claimant group, the Government has since said that this review took place at the end of last year, and that mesothelioma sufferers would now be subject to the same rules. However, the review was slammed as “a bag of a fag packet review” by the Asbestos Support Victims’ Support Groups Forum UK, which took legal action against the Government.

The honourable Mr Justice William Davis sided with the asbestos victims in their challenge to Justice Secretary Justice Grayling’s proposal to allow the use of 25% of the damages awarded to mesothelioma sufferers for the payment of legal insurance premiums and costs. Ruling these attempts to deduct costs from damages as unlawful, the judge commented: “The issue is whether the Lord Chancellor conducted a proper review of the likely effect of the LASPO reforms on mesothelioma claims… I conclude that he did not.”

Doug Jewell, from the Asbestos Support Victims’ Support Groups Forum UK, said to the BBC News website: “We are very happy indeed. This lifts the burden of fear from thousands of mesothelioma sufferers. People ask about legal action because they want to look after their families after they’ve died, but they’re scared by the legal fees.

“Now they’re told they’re safe, it won’t cost you anything, and they can take action and provide for their families.”

The Ministry of Justice, meanwhile, expressed disappointment with the ruling, commenting: “Mesothelioma is an awful condition which can destroy lives in a frighteningly short amount of time, and we want to help sufferers and their families. We are committed to finding the best way to get claims settled fairly and quickly.

“It remains our view that the Ministry of Justice review of this issue was conducted fully and openly and we are disappointed with this judgment. We will now consider our next steps.”

As one of the leading asbestos surveying companies, Trident Surveying will keep you and your organisation up to date on the latest legal situation concerning asbestos claims.

 

 

 

 

 

Government U Turn on Asbestos

Asbestos BirminghamYet another government U-turn which this time will see victims of asbestos exposure and their families denied access to vital compensation.It was expected that the latest Queens Speech would include a Mesothelioma Bill which would provide payouts to sufferers who were – as in many cases unable to trace the employer who may have exposed them to the deadly asbestos fibres.Although there will be a fund, the £335m in it fell far short from what was promised.Previously a fund for a £400m was suggested – mainly funded by insurers – put forward by Labour, but progress ground to a halt after the Coalition came to power.So what does this mean now?Only victims of mesothelioma will be helped – not people dead, or dying, from other asbestos-related conditions.Because of a complicated banding system payouts will only be 70% of the average compensation levels for asbestos.A huge number of older cases will be denied help due to the fact that only those diagnosed after July 2012 will receive payouts.Under the original plan, payouts were promised for all those with fatal asbestos- related conditions with no insurer – not simply mesothelioma cases.Steve Murphy, general secretary of UCATT, said: “Deaths from asbestos are entirely preventable. For decades, Governments and employers knew the risks but chose to do nothing. “It is disgraceful that even now they are trying wherever possible to deny workers compensation.”UCATT seized on the revelation that major insurers met Lord Freud, the welfare minister, no fewer than 14 times to discuss the Bill, over two years.Mr Murphy added: “This watered down scheme demonstrates that the Conservatives are in the pocket of the insurance industry.”Asbestos was used in shipbuilding, construction and the automotive industry, exposing workers. Carpenters, joiners, plumbers and heating engineers are at particular risk.

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