Mesothelioma is a type of cancer which is caused by exposure to asbestos and is most commonly contracted due to exposure to asbestos at work. Mesothelioma is often known by the term ‘Meso’, a shortened version of the full name.
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What is Mesothelioma?
The name ‘Mesothelioma’ comes from the fact that the cells affected by this cancer are the mesothelial cells that cover the outer surface of the body’s internal organs.
Mesothelioma can be found in the lungs, the heart, or the abdomen.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for mesothelioma and after diagnosis, victims may only have a short time to live. It will usually be investigated whether surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy would be worthwhile; however, mesothelioma is considered to be a terminal illness.
If you have contracted mesothelioma, you may be entitled to make a mesothelioma claim and should consult a mesothelioma solicitor.
Types of Mesothelioma
Pleural Mesothelioma and Peritoneal Mesothelioma
There are two main types of mesothelioma, called Pleural Mesothelioma and Peritoneal Mesothelioma.
Pleural Mesothelioma is the most common and is caused by inhaling asbestos fibres into the lungs. A tumour forms on the lining (pleura) of the lungs, which makes breathing difficult and painful. The majority of mesothelioma claims we deal with are for Pleural Mesothelioma.
Peritoneal Mesothelioma is less common but is also caused by exposure to asbestos. A tumour then develops on the lining of the abdomen (peritoneum) which prevents it from working properly to lubricate the organs inside the abdomen. Although Peritoneal Mesothelioma is less common we have still dealt with mesothelioma claims for this disease.
How is Mesothelioma Contracted?
Causes of Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma is caused by breathing in asbestos dust. Mesothelioma affects approximately four times as many men as women. This is because in most cases the exposure to asbestos occurred at work in places such as shipyards, building sites, power stations, railway workshops and other factories where predominantly men were employed decades ago.
Unlike other asbestos related conditions, mesothelioma can develop even after exposure to relatively low levels of asbestos or where the exposure took place over a relatively short period of time.
Many women who have developed mesothelioma have contracted it after contact with the work clothes and overalls belonging to their male relatives although some were directly exposed at work or by living close by to a factory which released asbestos fibres into the surrounding environment.
How do I make a Medical Negligence Claim?
Consult a Medical Negligence Claim Solicitor
It is advisable for you to speak to an experienced Medical Negligence claim Solicitors to seek legal advice as soon as possible if you believe that you were not provided with an adequate or appropriate level of medical care under the care of a medical professional, which resulted in you sustaining an injury or illness due to any acts or omissions by a medical professional.
Obtain medical records
In order for the medical negligence claims to have merit, it must be proven that the injury or illness you have sustained was caused by the negligence of the medical practitioner/professional who provided your medical treatment and care.
After the consultation with your medical negligence solicitor, your solicitor will request access to your medical records and engage an independent medical expert to assess your records. The purpose of engaging in an independent expert is to establish whether there was any negligence on the part of the medical professional, and whether or not the medical professional’s negligence was the cause of your injury and illness. This independent third party will also be able to determine, in his opinion, whether the injury or illness sustained was avoidable or not, if the appropriate level of medical care had been provided.
Depending on the complexity of the injury or condition, it is oftentimes necessary to get two separate experts; one to determine the liability of the medical professional, and another to determine whether the negligence caused the injury (causation).
Medical Negligence Litigation
In the case where the independent medical expert has established that medical negligence did occur, upon your instructions your solicitor will commence the process of issuing legal proceedings in Court against the medical professional and/or hospital with a view to securing compensation for you either by way of Court Judgment, or settlement.
The person who has been injured as a result of negligence is called the ‘plaintiff’. The medical professional/hospital or other professional against whom the allegations are made is called the ‘Defendant’.
The process is as follows:
A letter of claim will be sent to the Defendant(s) setting out the allegations and injuries sustained by you. This letter invites the Defendant(s) to admit liability to you and to compensate you for the injuries sustained. If no meaningful response is received on foot of this correspondence, a personal injuries summons will be drafted by a barrister nominated by your solicitor setting out the particulars of negligence and breach of duty, and particulars of the injuries sustained. The personal injuries summons will set out the reliefs claimed by the plaintiff, which will include compensation for pain and suffering (known as General Damages), compensation for additional losses suffered; for example any expenses incurred by you as a result of the injury such as medical expenses, loss of earnings, care costs needs etc. (Known as special Damages).
The personal injuries proceedings will be issued in Court and litigation will thereby be initiated.
Depending on the complexity of the particular case, the litigation process can oftentimes take a minimum of two years to reach Hearing before a Court. This does not mean to say that the Defendant(s) will not seek to settle a claim prior to the Hearing of the action. However, it can be a lengthy process and oftentimes involves a lengthy discovery process whereby medical records and other relevant documentation is exchanged between the parties, an element of the process known as ‘Discovery’.
Your solicitor will advise you throughout the entire process, ensuring your best interests are met, and that you achieve the best outcome available in your particular case.
Symptoms of Mesothelioma
Seeking Medical help
Mesothelioma can develop between 15 and 40 years or more after an exposure to asbestos. If you have been exposed to asbestos in the past and you start to suffer from any of the following symptoms you should visit your GP and mention your concerns:
- Pains in the lower back, abdomen or chest
- A persistent cough
- Breathing difficulties, shortness of breath or a feeling of tightness in the chest
- Rapid weight loss
- Problems with appetite or difficulty swallowing
- Sweating, fevers, diarrhoea or constipation
- Nausea or vomiting
- Swelling of the abdomen
Some people with mesothelioma have no symptoms at all in the early stages; therefore, if you know that you have been exposed to asbestos in the past and believe it may be the cause of your symptoms, it is always a good idea to visit a doctor for medical advice. Any damage caused by asbestos may be possible to detect with a scan or x-ray.
Workers most at risk from developing Mesothelioma – Professions where asbestos was commonplace
Boilermakers and Laggers – It was commonplace for boilers to be insulated with asbestos lagging. Boilermakers also work alongside the contractors (laggers) who install and renew asbestos boiler insulation. This type of work has put boilermakers and laggers at a particularly high risk of developing mesothelioma.
Electricians – are at risk of developing mesothelioma because they also worked alongside laggers. Electricians also often have to cut or drill through asbestos insulation to install cable trays, instruments, switches and wiring systems.
Joiners and Carpenters and Builders – are also at risk of developing mesothelioma as a result of sawing, drilling and fixing or replacing asbestos cement board often used in partition walls, suspended ceilings, flooring, roof tiles and thermal insulation.
Motor Mechanics – may have been exposed to asbestos as it was frequently used in brake pads and clutches. This has put some Motor Mechanics at risk of developing mesothelioma.
Pipe Fitters and Plumbers – install, maintain and repair pipes, boilers and heating systems. The nature of their work means that they have to cut or drill through walls as well as cutting and assembling sections of pipe, removing and replacing damaged sections of pipe, valve and flanges etc. All of these tasks put them at risk of developing mesothelioma as pipes frequently used to be covered with asbestos lagging. As the pipes were cut, fibres from the asbestos lagging were released into the air and inhaled by the pipefitter or plumber.
Victims of mesothelioma are certainly not limited to the professions mentioned above. Our specialist mesothelioma solicitors / lawyers have helped victims of this asbestos related disease with their mesothelioma claims who have worked in many other professions including firefighters, teachers, police officers, managers and a professor.
There are also a number of other key issues that need to be addressed from the outset. If the company is still in existence, does it have sufficient assets to be in a position to discharge a judgment handed down by the courts? Have you been exposed to asbestos on different occasions, circumstances and/or workplaces? It is not unknown for companies defending claims to seek to ascertain, by way of court order, the circumstances surrounding your exposure to asbestos. We have experienced a situation where the defendant sought a court order to examine the claimant’s boiler house flue to determine if that is where the asbestos exposure arose!
When the above issues have been established there is a range of expertise required to bring the case to court which include the following:
- A respiratory physician
- In circumstances of mesothelioma, a consultant oncologist
- A nursing expert to quantify the cost of care in terms of assistance provided to a person with deteriorating health due to mesothelioma or asbestosis
- An occupational therapist to address the aids and appliances required by a person with mesothelioma/asbestosis i.e. hoists, shower adaptations, etc.
- A vocational expert to address any issue associated with loss of earnings or loss of pension entitlements arising from premature retirement or death
- A consultant actuary to calculate the capital losses associated with the foregoing situations.
How We Can Help ?
Pursuing a medical negligence claim in Ireland can be daunting, especially if you are still recovering. Our experienced team of medical negligence solicitors in Dublin and nationwide can advise you of all legal remedies available to you at this stressful time. By easing as much of the stress associated with medical negligence claims as possible, our aim is to help you through the trauma of your experience with empathy and understanding.
If you have sustained an injury or contracted an illness due to a situation involving medical negligence and have questions surrounding an incident, please contact our Medical Negligence Solicitors today at Coleman Legal.
Coleman Legal can help you find out if you are eligible for compensation. If you are eligible for compensation, we will fight for you while you recover, ensuring your best interests are met and that you receive the best settlement or Court Award that is fair to you in the entirety of the circumstances.
*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.
About Coleman Legal
Our highly experienced team of medical negligence solicitors has assisted many clients in recovering maximum damages and we believe in putting the needs of our clients first. We are committed to obtaining the best possible outcome for you and take pleasure in our sensitive approach.
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