Exposure to asbestos can be fatal, for the thousands of workers who have been affected by asbestos related illnesses, this much is clear. Up until recently, however, what was not so lucid was whether you were able to make a claim on behalf of someone who had died from an asbestos related cause. A new ruling from the Supreme Court in England has now given some clarity to this issue.
Asbestos was used widely in the construction industry in the UK between the 1950s and the 1980s. Exposure to the substance is strongly linked to several terminal illnesses, including mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis. However, the effects of being exposed to asbestos can take years to become apparent. In some cases a person seems unaffected until 30 or 40 years after the initial exposure.
Sometimes, it isn’t until after a person has died that their death is linked to asbestos exposure, which has led to some confusion over whether asbestos claims could be made posthumously, with some insurance companies questioning the legality of it. However, the new ruling by the Supreme Court states that family members are able to make a claim in memory of the deceased.
The ruling states that insurance liability falls at the time when an employee was exposed to asbestos, not when the asbestos related symptoms became apparent. It brings with it clarity on both sides and an end to years of uncertainty to families affected by asbestos related deaths.
This ruling has understandably been welcomed by the families affected by asbestos related deaths, however, such was the extent of the confusion surrounding the issue, it has also been met with gratitude by the Association of British Insurers, who welcomed the clarity if brought. The Association also claimed that the legal proceedings were only necessary because of the protestations by a minority of insurers.
The significance of this ruling will be far reaching as, according to a study carried out by the Institute of Cancer Research, the UK has the highest rate of asbestos related deaths in the world. Over 2000 people die a year as a result of asbestos exposure in the UK, with the number of mesothelioma deaths three to five times higher than in the US. It has allowed the hundreds of families affected to finally start their journey towards receiving the compensation their deceased family members are owed.
If you have been affected by an asbestos related death and think that you may have a claim, then you should contact a personal injury lawyer. A personal injury lawyer has the specialist expertise to help you make the right decisions when making a claim on behalf of a dead family member, which can be a difficult and confusing time. They will help you understand better whether you have a claim and how you can further it.