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What is asbestosis?

Asbestosis is the name for pulmonary fibrosis of the lung caused by exposure to asbestos. The condition is often progressive and causes shortness of breath.

How is asbestosis caused?

There are many other causes of pulmonary fibrosis, some known and some unknown.
Asbestosis is caused by prolonged exposure to asbestos over time. Asbestos fibres breathed in damage the inner structure of the lungs and cause scarring.

Who is at risk of asbestosis?

The disease is dose related so will require regular at least moderate exposure over time.

What asbestosis treatment is available?

Your medical team will provide advice on the best treatment plan for you. Options include:

  • Pulmonary Rehabilitation: A programme of exercises and advice on muscle strengthening and general fitness designed to manage symptoms of breathlessness
  • Oxygen Therapy: can provide you with oxygen rich air from a machine or tank to help with breathing difficulty

What patient support is available?

Local support groups can provide help and advice to those suffering from asbestos related diseases and their families. The London Asbestos Support Awareness Group (LASAG) is a charity that operates across London and the South East. Their advisors can help by visiting at home and can be contacted by telephone. Their services are free.
London Asbestos Support Awareness Group: Freephone: 0808 278 251

Are financial benefits available?

You may be eligible for benefits, these include:

  • Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB): If you were exposed to asbestos during your employed work and suffer one of a number of certain asbestos related conditions, including asbestosis you can claim a weekly pension.
  • Pneumoconiosis Etc. (Workers’ Compensation) Act 1979: This scheme makes a lump sum payment that you may be entitled to if you are awarded IIDB.
  • War Pensions Scheme. If you were exposed to asbestos during service there are payments available depending on your circumstances.

You may also be entitled to claim other state benefits if you have difficulty walking or need help looking after yourself, for example:

  • Personal Independence Payment (PIP): a benefit for people aged under 65
  • Attendance Allowance: a benefit for people aged 65 or older.
  • Carer’s Allowance: a benefit for a carer looking after a disabled person.
  • Blue Badge Scheme: Disabled parking badge.

Industrial injury benefits are not means-tested. They could, however, have an effect on other means-tested benefits you may receive.

Can I claim compensation?

It is possible to claim civil compensation for asbestosis. You will need to be able to prove that your employers or occupier negligently exposed you to asbestos at a time when they knew or should have known that such exposure was liable to cause injury.

You will need to have a clear diagnosis of the condition so that the link to the disease and your exposure to asbestos can be made.

Asbestosis is caused by prolonged exposure to asbestos over time. This condition is known as a divisible injury, which means that every exposure to asbestos contributes to the overall extent of disability.

How much is my claim worth?

Each claim is individual and the value depends upon a range of circumstances such as age, length of time suffering from symptoms, extent of care needs past and future, and possible losses of earnings or pension.

We visit our clients at home to personally assess the needs of you and your family.

What are the time limits to bring a claim?

An injured person has three years from the date of knowledge of injury to issue court proceedings. This period is not always the date of diagnosis and runs from the date they knew or “should have known” that their injury was related to exposure to asbestos. This “should have known” issue can cause difficulties in disease cases.

The three year limitation will run from the date that the sufferer is aware of any injury caused by asbestos. You can only bring one claim for all asbestos injury.

Although it is possible to seek discretion to bring a late claim a lot depends on the circumstances and it will not always be given.

If someone dies of asbestos disease then their partner or next of kin can bring a claim and the time limit will start to run again from the date of death, providing the original three years has not expired.

Download our Asbestos Related Disease guide.

Client testimonials

“I am so grateful to you for all your great help and assistance over such a sad and difficult matter. Your Kindness to both my husband and myself together with your expertise is greatly admired and appreciated”

Case reports

Retired Electrician Mr L instructed Hodge Jones and Allen solicitors reading about the risks of lung disease caused by occupational exposure to asbestos.

He first suspected the link in 2014 when he was referred to hospital to investigate his shortness of breath and pain in his low back and ribs. At first Mr L was told that he had Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF), his doctor being unable to determine the cause. It wasn’t until Mr L made a detailed list of his previous working conditions and prolonged exposure to asbestos dust that the full extent of his exposure history was considered by his doctors and the chronic lung condition, asbestosis, was confirmed.

Mr L had worked for ICI’s chemical plant in Wilton for 26 years. During his long employment he regularly maintained the plant’s machinery, lighting and other electrical equipment. In the process he disturbed the asbestos-lagged piping which surrounded the electrics and causing the asbestos dust to become airborne in confined and poorly ventilated spaces. Mr L was not provided with any breathing protection or training about the dangers of asbestos and was unfortunately exposed to high levels of the deadly dust on a daily basis.

Isobel Lovett, Head of the Industrial Disease department at Hodge Jones and Allen solicitors took on his case and launched legal proceedings against ICI who were unable to admit or deny liability at the first show cause court hearing at which Mr L was awarded an interim payment. However, the judge in the case was satisfied that ICI had been negligent in failing to protect Mr L from the deadly hazard on the strength of Mr L’s detailed account of his working conditions.

Further medical evidence was obtained and through negotiations, the parties were able to agree a provisional settlement of the claim. A five-figure sum was subsequently approved by the Court. The advantage of having a provisional settlement is that in addition to recovering damages for the illness and its foreseeable effects, Mr L has the security of knowing that should his condition deteriorate further or should he develop another asbestos-related condition such as mesothelioma, he will be entitled to seek a further award from ICI.

Our Industrial Disease Solicitors are backed by four decades of experience. Our legal practice and team of London Solicitors have a strong track record of achieving favourable client outcomes. For expert legal advice use our contact form or call us on 0800 437 0322 today.

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