Asbestosis Claims Solicitors
Asbestosis is a chronic lung disease that leads to long-term breathing complications. The disease does not have a cure. It is caused exclusively by exposure to asbestos but may not be diagnosed until decades after the exposure occurred.
What is Asbestosis?
Asbestos is a group of minerals with thin microscopic fibres. These fibres are resistant to heat, fire, and chemicals and do not conduct electricity.
These desirable properties made asbestos a very widely used material, and its use continued to grow throughout most of the 20th century until the carcinogenic effects of asbestos dust caused its effective demise as a mainstream construction and fireproofing material in most countries.
It should be noted that you can no longer buy, use or re-use asbestos products in Ireland, i.e., under EU legislation, there is now a ban on asbestos and asbestos-containing products being placed on the market.
Types of asbestos disease
Asbestos exposure becomes an issue if asbestos-containing materials become airborne – if products containing asbestos are disturbed, the tiny fibres are released into the air. When they are breathed in, they can become trapped in the lungs and stay there for many years. Over time these fibers can accumulate and lead to serious health problems.
- Asbestosis: an inflammatory condition of the lungs that can cause shortness of breath, coughing, and eventually scarring of the lungs that make it hard to breathe.
- Mesothelioma: rare cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, chest cavity, or abdomen.
- Pleural plaques: One of the most common indicators of significant exposure to asbestos. Characterised by areas of fibrous thickening on the lining of the lungs (pleura) or diaphragm, the condition typically arises 20 to 30 years after asbestos exposure. The plaques can calcify over time, but they do not cause long-term health problems. Pleural plaques are always benign and will never become cancerous but scientific evidence suggests that the presence of pleural plaques increases the risk of developing mesothelioma.
- Lung cancer
- Other lung problems
Symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of asbestosis
Asbestos-related diseases take many years to develop. The average interval between inhaling asbestos fibers and the onset of symptoms is around 35 years and can be as long as 50 years or more. The shortest latency period is between 10 to 15 years.
If you worked with asbestos, even if it was many years ago you may be affected. The asbestos-related diseases also occur among the wives and children of those who come into contact with the relative’s overalls worn whilst working with asbestos.
There are many different types of asbestos-related conditions and they each vary in severity. The conditions include Pleural Plaques, Mesothelioma, Lung Cancer, and Asbestosis. Asbestosis is often misused as a term for any asbestos-related disease.
If you have developed an asbestos-related condition (with the exception of pleural plaques) and, if it can be proven that you were exposed to the asbestos due to someone else’s fault then you would be entitled to bring in a workplace injury or asbestosis claims for compensation.
The chance of developing an asbestos-related illness from a one-off incident of low-level exposure is not impossible but very unlikely. One point to remember is that the earlier an asbestos-related disease is diagnosed, the better the condition can be monitored or treated.
X-rays, scans, and lung-function tests can diagnose an asbestos-related disease and monitor its progression.
Information about pleural plaques
What are pleural plaques?
Pleural plaques are a form of scarring of the outer lining of the lung. Although pleural plaques do not normally cause any symptoms they are an indication of previous exposure to asbestos.
People diagnosed with pleural plaques, often become anxious about whether they will develop a fatal asbestos-related illness in the future, such as mesothelioma
What is pleural thickening?
Pleural Thickening or Diffuse Pleural Thickening
Pleural Thickening can be caused by exposure to asbestos. The asbestos fibres which are inhaled through the nose or mouth into the lungs, can make their way out to the pleura (the two-layered membrane surrounding the lungs) and cause scarring and thickening.
If the areas of thickening are not widespread and are isolated to small areas they do not generally cause any symptoms and are known as pleural plaques; however if they cover a large area where they may make breathing difficult, they are known as diffuse pleural thickening.
Pleural Thickening can develop on one lung or on both lungs and causes the tissue to harden, which in turn prevents the lungs from working correctly, making the sufferer feel breathless.
Pleural Thickening can be a disabling condition by itself; however, it also proves that the sufferer has been exposed to asbestos in the past which puts them at risk of developing other asbestos-related diseases such as asbestosis or mesothelioma.
If you have been diagnosed with pleural thickening, you may be able to make a claim for pleural thickening compensation.
Identifying asbestos product
Many products that contain asbestos state the fact on the label. However, if you are unsure as to whether a product contains asbestos, you can contact the manufacturer or supplier directly to find out if asbestos is contained in the product. If you are still unsure, you should contact a competent person or consultant who will identify if the product is asbestos-containing and will assess the risk associated with the material. The advice can be obtained from the asbestos removals contractors, asbestos consultants, the Department of the Environment, and the Local Government. Where concerns relate to the workplace or work activities, the Health and Safety Authority can also give advice.
The following is a list of products that are presumed to contain Asbestos**:
- Sprayed on fireproofing and insulation in buildings
- Insulation for pipes and boilers
- Wall and ceiling insulation
- Ceiling and floor tiles
- Cement wall joint compounds and ceiling textures in older buildings
- Brake linings and clutch pads
(** Note: The following list does not include every product/material that may contain asbestos. It is intended as a general guide to show which types of materials may contain asbestos)
Asbestosis claim process in Ireland
1. Contact our asbestosis claim solicitors :
Our asbestosis claim solicitors are experts in advising clients on how to make these claims. Many people use a solicitor to aid with this application process as a lot of paperwork and filing are required, and our expert team is on hand to make the process as smooth as possible.
2. The PIAB Application:
The next step is to make an application to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB). If your personal injury claim concerns anything other than medical negligence, some assaults, and some cases of entirely psychological injury, then your claim can be brought through PIAB. Examples of claims that PIAB covers include:
3. Submitting information and documents to PIAB:
Your solicitor will obtain evidence, medical reports, and other expert reports required. And submits these documents to the Board for Assessment.
4. Consent to assess the claim:
Once the application is made, PIAB issue a formal notification of claim to the defendant(s). The defendant(s) must indicate within 90 days whether or not they consent or not to the assessment of the claim. If the defendant consents, then PIAB will proceed to assess the claim. If they decline to have the case assessed, the PIAB will issue an Authorisation to allow the claimant to issue court proceedings.
5. Claim assessment time:
If PIAB is assessing the claim, this will usually take about 9 months. They will then issue their Assessment of your claim, this amount reflects general and special damages awarded in respect of your claim. If the Assessment is accepted by both parties, the PIAB will issue an Order to Pay. The Order to Pay has the same status as an Order of the Court, and must be discharged by the defendant(s) within 10 days. A settlement cheque will then be issued to the claimant.
If the Assessment is rejected by either party, an Authorisation will be granted by PIAB to bring court proceedings.
How much compensation can I receive for a workplace injury in Ireland?
How much compensation you receive for an accident in the workplace is dictated by two legally binding documents known as:
The “Book of Quantum” and
The recently published Personal Injuries Guidelines by the Judicial Council of Ireland.
The Book of Quantum dictates how much compensation you are owed if your Authorisation was received from PIAB prior to the 21st of April 2021. In all other cases, compensation in respect of general damages is assessed with the aid of the Judicial council’s Personal Injuries Guidelines.
The Book of Quantum sets out general guidelines as to the amounts that may be awarded or assessed in Personal Injury Claims. The guidelines are divided into sections depending on what category of injury was suffered, e.g., head injuries, neck injuries, back injuries and spinal fractures, upper limb injuries, lower limb injuries, and body and internal organs. The Book of Quantum sets out 4 steps to assess what compensation is appropriate for the suffered injury. These steps are as follows:
- Identify the category of injury
- Assess the severity of the injury (through medical reports and records)
- Research the value range
- Consider the effect of multiple injuries
The Personal Injuries Guidelines were adopted by The Judicial Council on the 6th of March 2021. Similar to the Book of Quantum, this legal document sets out guidelines for assessing compensation in respect of general damages. The general principles for this assessment centre on three criteria:
- Awards of damages must be fair and reasonable to both the claimant and the defendant(s)
- Awards must be proportionate to the injuries sustained
- Awards must be compared on a scale of injuries that are both of a lesser and greater magnitude
One of the most substantial differences brought about by this update is that the average level of damages awarded has been reduced. The new guidelines have, however, provided more detail and more explanation for claimants, which is overall a welcomed change to the process of making a personal injury claim.
Injury at work employer responsibilities
Employer Liability / Employer Responsibility
Employers’ responsibilities to workers have evolved over the years in the civil courts, and the employer’s duty of care to each of his employees can be reduced to five headings.
Put simply, the employer must provide:
- Safe systems of work,
- A safe place of work,
- Plant and machinery that is safe to use,
- Competent supervision and/or suitable training and,
- Care in the selection of fellow employees.
All claims involving accidents in the workplace (employer liability cases) must be submitted to Personal Injuries Assessment Board before starting legal proceedings.
Employers must ensure the minimum health and safety standards in order to prevent (as much as possible) their employees from being injured due to an accident at work.
Under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 2005, employers have a duty to ensure their employee’s safety, health, and welfare at work as far as is reasonably practicable.
In order to prevent workplace injuries and ill health, you are required, among other things, to
- Provide and maintain a safe workplace, machinery, and equipment
- Prevent risks from use of any article or substance and from exposure to physical agents, noise, and vibration
- Prevent any improper conduct or behavior likely to put the safety, health, and welfare of employees at risk (“horseplay” and bullying at work come within these categories)
- Provide instruction and training to employees on health and safety
- Provide protective clothing and equipment to employees (at no cost to employees)
- Appoint a competent person as the organisation’s Safety Officer
Claiming compensation for a work accident or injury
There are four main components to an injury compensation settlement.
- Compensation for General pain and damages is calculated using the Book of Quantum (a publication that lists a variety of injuries and assigns them a financial value depending on the severity of the injury)
- Compensation for the non-financial changes you had to make in your life as a result of the injury – e.g., unable to complete domestic tasks, unable to participate in leisure pursuits or enjoy social events that would be a part of your normal routine, loss of amenity – such as being unable to care for your young children or elderly, or if you’re depressed due to incapacitation.
- Compensation for any emotional trauma that you may have been diagnosed with due to the nature of the accident, how the accident had occurred, or development while you were in recovery. These are known as psychological injuries. It typically takes time to manifest and the consequences can be debilitating.
- Compensation of special damages to recover any expenses you may have incurred or may incur in the future as a result of your injury – such as loss of income, medical fees, therapy costs, pharmacy costs, using other forms of transport due to being unable to drive, and even restructuring your home if your accident has left you confined to a wheelchair.
These are generally the main examples of compensation under the four main components of an injury compensation settlement.
It is advisable to speak to a solicitor to determine which type of expenses can be recovered, and it is highly recommended to keep all receipts for anything you spend on (such as medical fees, pharmacy costs, transport costs, etc.) during the recovery of your injury at work. Having the receipts will smoothen the process of your solicitor negotiating the best and fairest possible settlement for you in all circumstances.
Statute of limitations for an asbestosis claim
Asbestos-related diseases can range from mild and benign to malignant and life-threatening and when it comes to a claim, time is of the essence. At Coleman Legal, we have extensive experience in progressing asbestosis claims within the limited timeframe required to achieve either a judgment or settlement.
Choosing a solicitor for an asbestosis claim
If you have experienced injury or an accident in the workplace and have questions surrounding the incident, please contact our workplace injury solicitors at Coleman Legal to find out if you have a potential legal action against your employer. Our dedicated team has a collective experience of over 30 years, and we are ready to advise and assist you with your asbestosis claim.
If you want to take legal action over an injury, you should consult our accidents in the workplace solicitors, who are members of the Law Society’s injury accreditation scheme and clinical negligence accreditation scheme.
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Accidents in the workplace claim FAQs
Is my Employer Covered with Insurance?
An employer is legally required to provide you with a safe place of work and a safe system of work. Historically agency workers were treated in an entirely different manner to those workers who were hired directly into the workforce.
Whilst the employment agency is the employer, the company is also responsible for breaches of the Safety, Health, and Welfare at Work Act, 2005.
Your right to being protected under Health and Safety Regulations are the responsibility of both the company company where you are doing the temporary work and the agency.
What is Employers Liability Insurance?
Employers Liability Insurance provides cover in case an employee is injured or killed at work or develops an illness associated from their job. For instance, if an employee is injured in your warehouse and your business is found to be negligent, Employers Liability would protect your business. The standard level of cover is €13 million, again this figure can be increased if required.
The definition of an employee within insurance typically covers any individual that is hired under a contract or apprenticeship scheme once this work falls within the business description.
Contributory Negligence and Claims for Injuries
Sometimes, there can be disagreement between the employer and employee in regards to who is responsible for the accident that caused the injury (when there is doubt as to who is responsible). In this case, the court may decide or the parties may ultimately agree that both the employer and employee are liable for the employee’s injury and hence the principle of contributory negligence will apply.
Contributory negligence is the legal principle where the injured party (employee) may have possibly contributed to their own injury by acting in a negligent manner, whether through conducting work when there are obvious and known risks, improper behaviour that will endanger themselves or others, failure to report any defects in equipment or place of work that may be a danger to health and safety to themselves or others, working under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and failure to seek the appropriate medical attention within a reasonable time frame, which can exacerbate the severity of the injury.
If you have concerns regarding whether you qualify for compensation for a work injury, or whether you may have contributed to either the cause of the accident or the severity of the injury, it is advisable to speak to a solicitor.
Liability for Injuries at Work
After establishing that a physical or psychological injury has been sustained at or from work, then the liability of the injury must be determined. Liability refers to the state of being responsible for something. Injuries at work do not always have to be a result of direct or indirect action from the employer. It can also be sustained through an unsafe working environment which would be a breach of duty by the employer under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005.
For a personal injury claim to be successful, the injury sustained must result from the negligence of someone who had a duty of care to the injured party.
A breach of the act includes not providing or maintaining a safe workplace, machinery, and equipment, inadequate prevention of risks that could cause harm to the employee’s health such as exposure to physical agents, loud noises, vibration and unsafe use of any article or substance, not preventing any improper conduct or behaviour that could cause harm to employees such as bullying and sexual harassment, inadequate training and instruction for employees to do their job safely and failure to provide personal protective equipment to the employee, amongst many.
The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 strictly provides the guidelines in protecting employees. In all of the cases above, there is a lack of reasonably practicable care for the employee’s health, safety and welfare from the employer’s end. If the negligent employer fails to take necessary precautions to prevent employees from possible injury, the liability hence falls on the employer.
In the case where the employee themselves have partially contributed to the risk of their injury, then it is known as Contributory Negligence and the liability will also fall on the employee.
*In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement. This statement is made in compliance with RE.8 of SI 518 of 2002.