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If you wish to instruct a specialist mesothelioma compensation solicitor, please get in touch with our team. We offer a personal and friendly advice line from our senior solicitor, Mr Ronnie Hutcheon, for all family members affected.

Family members can consider taking out power of attorney solicitors so that a decision about the affected person can be made while they well and able to. Such decisions can be financial such as paying bills, dealing with pension payments and the bank or health matters, like decisions of where the affected person would like to be treated such as at home, hospital or hospice.

 

Background on Mesothelioma for Families

The three main causes of death for an asbestos-related condition due to work in the United Kingdom are:

  • Mesothelioma
  • Asbestos related lung cancer
  • Asbestosis

The majority of mesothelioma cases affect the lungs. In cases of asbestos-related lung cancer, the fibres from asbestos become lodged in the lung tissue causing irritation and scarring over time. This irritation and scarring can then also develop into tumours. But in the case of malignant mesothelioma, the asbestos fibres scar and lead to tumours in the lining of the lungs (the mesothelium).

Research, according to the Health and Safety Executive, concerning asbestos-related deaths report around 2,500 deaths resulting from asbestos-related mesothelioma in 2015. Such deaths are recorded as the inhalation of asbestos fibres that can cause cancer such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis and pleural thickening.

 

The 5 Most Common Questions Answered

Further on in this guide, we have provided a comprehensive and detailed top 20 questions and answers for families faced with a diagnosis of mesothelioma. However, for a quicker guide, we have complied a aideo of the top 5 questions answered on mesothelioma.

 

Guide to Families Making a Claim

We have put together a collation of frequently asked questions for family members of the deceased who have lost their loved one due to contracting mesothelioma. We trust that this guide will help you make decisions about the best way forward, but if there is something that you are unsure of, please contact our helpline for private and confidential expert advice. If you are directly affected by exposure to asbestos dust at the workplace or are a family member making enquiries, please do not hesitate to contact us in respect of any asbestos-related condition.

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20 Mesothelioma Questions

After 30 years of representing families affected by the dangers of asbestos dust at work, we have put together a list of the most common 20 questions asked by family members who are enquiring about making a mesothelioma compensation claim. However, the guidance applies to all asbestos claims and is therefore not limited to mesothelioma.

1. Which Family Member Can Claim Compensation?

2. What If There Is No Surviving Partner?

3. What Happens If There Is A Will?

4. I'm Not A Partner, Child or Beneficiary In A Will, What Next?

5. Who Can Be A Dependent Of The Deceased?

6. Do You Have A List of Dependants Who Can Claim?

7. What Compensation for Mesothelioma Can Be Claimed?

8. How Much Compensation will I receive for a Mesothelioma Claim?

9. Any Examples of Compensation for Mesothelioma?

10. What if the Employers Are No Longer Trading?

11. Is There A Time Limit To Make A Claim?

12. What If Despite All Attempts The Employers Cannot Be Found?

13. What is the Diffuse Mesothelioma Compensation Scheme?

14. What Are The Common Occupations Causing Mesothelioma?

15. Do You Undertake No Win, No Fee, Service?

16. I've Been Told I Need A Grant Of Probate, What Does This Mean?

17. Who Can Claim For A Bereavement Award?

18. I Have Worked With Asbestos, Am I At Risk?

19. Can Smoking Prevent A Mesothelioma Compensation Claim?

20. What Are The Other Asbestos Diseases?

 

1. Which Family Member Can Claim Compensation?

The deceased's 'next of kin' is usually the main person who is entitled to bring a claim for compensation following the death of their loved one due to an asbestos-related condition such as mesothelioma. Therefore, the person who usually can bring a claim is the partner of the deceased, such as the wife or husband.

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2. What If There Is No Surviving Partner?

If there is no 'next of kin' or surviving partner, and no will left by the deceased, the law of intestacy will decide who will be entitled. Speaking in general terms, this will usually be the children of the deceased.

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3. What Happens If There Is A Will?

If a will is left by the deceased, it will provide details of who is the beneficiary of that will. There can be more than one beneficiary. Usually it is the spouse or children of the deceased who will be the beneficiary and executor. An executor is the person responsible to look after the deceased's estate, in other words, looking after the finances, bank accounts and property owned by the deceased.

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4. I'm Not A Partner, Child or Beneficiary In A Will, What Next?

If you are a brother or sister of the deceased, you may be entitled but you need to take legal advice on this. Also, even if you do not fit in with any of the criteria mentioned in the above questions, you may still be able to claim compensation in accordance with the Fatal Accident Act 1976 as a dependent of the deceased.

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5. Who Can Be A Dependent Of The Deceased?

The short answer is that there can be many people that includes and excludes family members, the main point is that the 'dependent' must have been reliant upon the Deceased before death or had a reasonable expectation that the Deceased would have provided for them but for the accident. This can be financial support, for instance before death, the Deceased provided financial support to the dependent, or cared for the dependent, so it does not have to be in money to make a claim.

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6. Do You Have A List of Dependants Who Can Claim?

Below is a list of possible dependents who may have been financially dependent upon the deceased and/or received some form of care or ‘services’ from the deceased before death and that financial or service was likely to continue but for the death. You may also be a dependant if you had a reasonable expectation that the deceased would have provided for you had he/she not died.

Possible dependents:

  • The wife or husband or former wife or husband of the deceased.
  • The civil partner or former civil partner of the deceased.
  • An person living in the same household as the deceased least two years before death as spouse or civil partner.
  • Any parent or other ascendant of the deceased.
  • Any person treated by the deceased as his parent.
  • Any child or other descendant of the deceased.
  • Any person treated as a child of the deceased in any marriage or civil partnership.
  • Any brother, sister, uncle or aunt, or their children of the deceased.

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7. What Compensation for Mesothelioma Can Be Claimed?

The Claim can broken down into two. The first would be for compensation on behalf of the estate of the Deceased. The bulk of the claim for compensation for the estate in mesothelioma cases is the pain and suffering the deceased had to endure prior to death, this is the 'personal injury' claim plus a return for reasonable funeral expenses. The Estate Claim is made under the Law Reform Miscellaneous Provisions Act 1934. In addition the dependents can claim under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 for their financial dependency and for lost services such as care provided by the Deceased prior to death.  If the deceased was survived by a spouse or civil partner ta claim for a bereavement award can be made.

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8. How Much Compensation will I receive for a Mesothelioma Claim?

This is dependent upon particular facts of the case. In respect for the pain and suffering by the deceased prior to death. Generally speaking, the greater the duration of suffering by this disease the greater the compensation payment. There are decided case law that the courts will look to when deciding on the amount of compensation payable to the family. Again speaking in general terms mesothelioma claims have a range between £50,000 to £100.000 or more. In addition to this will be the funeral expenses and the dependency claim which can also attract a large amount of compensation.  An updated guide can be found, on claiming compensation for mesothelioma after death.

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9. Any Examples of Compensation for Mesothelioma?

Yes there are many, several examples are provided on our fatal accident website, Asbestos Compensation After Death.

Below are more examples of compensation payouts in real cases where a person has died due to mesothelioma.

Zambarda v Shipbreaking (Queenborough) Ltd. Total Award: £98,723 (75 years)

  • Past care and assistance £4,406
  • Past case management £3,674
  • Inability to provide services to others £3,656
  • Miscellaneous expenses £750
  • Bereavement damages £11,907
  • Funeral expenses £3,801
  • Loss of dependency on Income (past and future) £70,529
  • Overall total compensation payment: £98,723

McGregor v Genco (FC) Ltd [2014] £135,000
The claimant’s was aged 58, developed she malignant mesothelioma of the pleura. She began suffering with symptoms of mesothelioma in May 2012 with shortness of breath and lethargy and was diagnosed in August. The prognosis was poor. Total award for the asbestos compensation after death: £135,000.

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10. What if the Employers Are No Longer Trading?

A claim for mesothelioma for the family following death is made against the insurance company of where the Deceased worked that is said to have exposed him/her to the asbestos dust. It is not unusual for many of the employers of the Deceased are no longer trading or cannot be found. As specialist solicitors in this area, we have many years of experience and resources to help trace and find the insurance company (the 'Employer's Liability Insurers'). One tool to help is the Employer's Liability Tracing Tool

In addition if the family are not too sure where the Deceased worked or remember the dates of employment a search can be made for all of the employers the deceased had worked with when he/she made National Insurance Contributions. The Government hold records back to the early 1960's, to find out how to trace previous employers of the deceased a proof of employment form can be completed on the Government Web site.

Therefore if you are unsure, this should not put you off, we can help you with the relevant searches to establish where the Deceased worked and trace the Employers Liability Insurers who ultimately are responsible to pay out the compensation to family members due to mesothelioma at work.

If more than one employer exposed the deceased to asbestos dust but one or more are not longer traceable or their insurers cannot be found again this will not be an end to the claim.  The current science behind exposure to asbestos is that if there is more than one employer who is to blame, it is not always possible to determine,their proportion of fault.  Following some case law that proved to be helpful, Fairchild v Gelenheaven Funeral Services [2002 ],  a law was passed under s 3 of the Compensation Act 2006 where if there were multi-employers who exposed the deceased to asbestos dust, but only one could be found, that one employer would be liable for all of the claim for compensation.  The contribution from each employer was indivisible.

However families must remember that s 3 of the Compensation Act 2006 only helps workers who have died from mesothelioma, not from any other asbestos related illness.

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11. Is There A Time Limit To Make A Claim?

Yes, court proceedings must be taken within three years from when the deceased knew or suspected that the work place exposed him/her to dangerous levels of asbestos. If the death has occurred court proceedings must be issued within three years from the date of death. These periods may be extended if it is just and fair to do under section 33 of the Limitation Act. However, if you suspect that exposure to asbestos has caused harm you must not delay as the Employer's Insurers will not hesitate to strike out the asbestos claim for undue delay.

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12. What If Despite All Attempts The Employers Cannot Be Found?

A Government Scheme has been set up to compensation victims of mesothelioma if diagnosed after July 2012 with a claimed average payout to family members of between £115,000 to £123,000 plus a contribution towards legal costs.

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13. What is the Diffuse Mesothelioma Compensation Scheme?

Affected family members my claim themselves free of charge or can use a Solicitor specialising in mesothelioma and asbestos related conditions. Be careful about who you instruct, there are company websites that look like solicitors but are Claim Management Companies. Look who regulates the company, Solicitors are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority whilst the Claim Management Companies are Regulated by the Ministry of Justice. They are completely different.

For information about how to claim under the Diffuse Mesothelioma Payments Scheme (DMPS).

Under DMPS a claim must be brought if the Deceased's employer or their insurer cannot be traced and so it is a compensation scheme of last resort. You or you solicitor will have to show you have made all reasonable enquiries to trace the relevant employers and insurers but have failed to locate them.

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14. What Are The Common Occupations Causing Mesothelioma?

Due to the wide array of asbestos’ uses, it is thought that anyone could be exposed to the harmful fibres in buildings which it was used. However primarily, the people who have the highest risk of developing an asbestos related disease are as follows:
• Shipbuilders;
• Construction Workers;
• Carpenters;
• Boilermakers;
• Joiners;
• Electricians;
• Plasterers;
• Roofers;
• Plumbers

This list in not exhaustive, for instance teachers and pupils may be exposed due to working in old Schools where asbestos still remains even today. Also there is case law where a family member, usually the wife of the deceased.

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15. Do You Undertake No Win, No Fee, Service?

Yes we offer a No Win, No Fee, No Worry Service, for all families affected by the loss of a loved one due to a death caused by exposure to asbestos dust resulting in a mesothelioma condition. Family members need not worry about money when instructing our firm, if for any reason the case is lost or withdrawn with our agreement no legal cost will be payable by the family. Therefore nothing should hold you back to make that call to our friendly team of lawyers who are here to help you and the family in this most difficult time.

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16. I've Been Told I Need A Grant Of Probate, What Does This Mean?

A grant of probate is required to show to the Court that the 'next of kin' see Question 1 above, has the 'legal authority' to deal with all the legal affairs and finances of the Deceased's estate. We will act for you to sort out the paper-work necessary to help you with obtaining a grant of probate. More information can be obtained by clicking on this link: Grant of Probate.

You may also wish to take out a power of attorney after diagnosis of mesothelioma to make important decisions whilst the person is alive about financial and or medical decisions.

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17. Who Can Claim For A Bereavement Award?

Following the death of a loved one due to the negligent exposure of asbestos dust at work causing mesothelioma, a limited class of family members can claim a bereavement award. It is quite restrictive. The bereavement award is payable under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976, it is a statutory compensation payment of £12,980.

There are only a limited class of people who can claim for bereavement compensation award in a civil claim set out under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 as follows:

Surviving spouse
Surviving civil partner
Parents (if the child was under 18)
Unmarried couples? (living together as husband and wife/same sex couple for at least two years prior to death.

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18. I Have Worked With Asbestos, Am I At Risk?

Many people who have been exposed my not show any symptoms and will live a normal life. However it depends often on the volume and type of asbestos at the work place. The problem with exposure to asbestos dust at work is that from first exposure until any symptoms develop can take years, 10 or 20 years are not uncommon. Guidance about symptoms can be viewed on the NHS Asbestosis website.

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19. Can Smoking Prevent A Mesothelioma Compensation Claim?

The short answer is no, smoking does not cause mesothelioma. However with other asbestos conditions it has proven to be more complex compared with a person who has not smoked when the Court considers 'cause and effect'.

Other asbestos conditions such as asbestos related lung cancer that affects the lining of the lungs if the deceased was exposed to asbestos and smoked they are at a much greater risk of developing lung cancer. If that was the case it does not bar making a claim. Often the courts will lower the compensation award to the family to reflect the probability that the deceased may have developed a type of lung cancer without exposure to asbestos.

In the case of Heneghan v Manchester Dry Docs Ltd a Court of Appeal where there were several employers who exposed the deceased (who was a smoker) to asbestos dust, the Court concluded that all of them materially contributed to the risk of him contracting lung cancer, but the evidence did not indicate that any one of the employers alone had doubled his risk.  The court therefore found that all of his employers should make a contribution towards his compensation in proportion of blame.

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20. What Are The Other Asbestos Diseases?

In addition to mesothelioma, the most other common asbestos related conditions are:

Asbestos related lung cancer, asbestosis and a condition called pleural thickening. You can find out more about each condition in respect of our asbestos compensation claims after death.

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