Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that 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.
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.
Symptoms of Mesothelioma
Seeking Medical help
Mesothelioma can develop between 15 and 40 years or more after 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
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.
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, 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.
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 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 includes 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.
The mesothelioma claims process in Ireland
1. Contact our accidents in the workplace solicitor:
Our accidents in the workplace 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.
Claim advise for accidents in the workplace
If you decide to pursue a workplace injury claim, it is important to note that no two work compensation claims are likely to be the same, even when the injury sustained is identical. This is because of other factors such as your employment status, direct approaches from insurance companies, and sometimes, even your profession.
Therefore, it is advisable for you to speak to an experienced solicitor and seek legal advice regarding workplace injuries as soon as possible after receiving medical attention and treatment you need.
Most solicitors will offer a free initial evaluation of your situation and advise you whether you have potential legal action and whether you qualify for a successful workplace injury compensation.
After you decide that you would like to pursue a workplace injury claim with a solicitor acting on your behalf, your solicitor will advise you on the procedures you should take to support your claims and typically act on your behalf to gather relevant documents and witnesses to ensure you get the best and fairest settlement for your workplace injury while you recover.
Statute of limitations for a workplace injury claim
You have two years from the date of the accident within which to issue proceedings. If you are under 18, a separate set of rules apply, and we would recommend you contact our solicitors to discuss these. To learn more about the statute of limitation for a nerve damage claim, click here.
Choosing a solicitor for mesothelioma compensation 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 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.
Coleman Legal LLP
84 Talbot Street, Dublin 1
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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.