Asbestos Lawsuits In The UK

Asbestos Lawsuits In The UK

The United Kingdom is the country where asbestos was never mined. However, it was widely used in a few branches of industry. The biggest risk of asbestos exposure was in shipbuilding and vehicle building industries. The rates of death from mesothelioma (malignant disease caused by asbestos fibers) are six times bigger than the average national rate. The next big risk area is plumbing and gas fitting. Electricians, builders, carpenters, painters, sheet metal workers are also exposed to asbestos. Employers in these spheres are responsible to compensate the damages from various occupational health conditions, but in the UK (as opposite to the USA) it is rather uncommon to file asbestos lawsuits for receiving such compensation. As a rule, such claims are covered by Employer Liability insurance. Sometimes they are made under Public Liability coverage.

Two kinds of asbestos, brown and blue, have been forbidden in the UK since 1986, while white asbestos was banned only in 1999. The import of asbestos in any form (including pure asbestos and asbestos-containing cement, panels and other products) is banned by the Asbestos Regulations 1999. The aforementioned materials and products that were installed before these regulations came in force are allowed to stay on place during their service life. Another law was adopted in 2002 – the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2002. They strengthen the initial regulations of 1987, improving protection means for employees who directly contact with asbestos. The purpose of such laws is providing better security for workers and decreasing the number of asbestos lawsuits consequently. Now all workplaces with the risk of asbestos exposure must be monitored for complying with the legislation.

In the UK legislation there is a definite lack of regulations, and this fact is clearly seen in some lawsuits that produce fairly strange verdicts. For instance, one of the loudest cases in the UK asbestos history is the case of Arthur Fairchild. He was a carpenter, exposed to asbestos in two different workplaces. Mr.Fairchild died from mesothelioma, and both employers were brought on trial. They stated that mesothelioma was an indivisible disease that in theory could be caused by a single asbestos fiber. And there was no proof that either of employers was responsible for the exposure of that fatal fiber. As a result, the court decided that neither employer was guilty. This process was moved to higher instances where verdict was re-evaluated.

Traditionally payments in the UK for the asbestos exposure cover various losses related to its consequences. These are loss of wages, pain and suffering, expenses for caring and treatment. A proper claim can be filed to the Department of Work and Pensions, if the physical disease of the claimant is in the list of recognized asbestos-related diseases. If an employer is not able to pay off the compensation (e.g. it is a bankrupt), there is a chance to obtain it under the Pneumoconiosis Act. Other option is filing asbestos lawsuits against responsible employers. If the court decides to satisfy your demands, an employer will pay off the compensation from its EL coverage. The situation with EL coverage is complicated. It became mandatory since Jan 1 1972. Some employers haven’t purchased the the policy before this date or did not maintain required records.

In average a standard claim for compensating mesothelioma will bring around £100,000. The lung cancer caused by asbestos may bring compensation at the amount of £60,000, and asbestosis – £30,000. Claimants with less harmful asbestos-related diseases will bring around £10,000.

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