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
1. Pleural mesothelioma and peritoneal mesothelioma
There are two main types of mesothelioma, called Pleural Mesothelioma and Peritoneal Mesothelioma.
2. Pleural 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.
3. Peritoneal 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
1. 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
1. 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.
Elctrician 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.
2. Joiners, carpenters, and builders
They 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
Asbestosis is a serious medical condition caused by inhaling asbestos fibres, which can lead to lung damage and other respiratory problems. If you have been diagnosed with asbestosis or mesothelioma and believe that it is the result of exposure to asbestos in the workplace or from another source, you may be entitled to make a claim for compensation in Ireland.
The process for making an asbestosis / mesothelioma claim in Ireland will involve the following steps:
1. Consult a solicitor
It is recommended that you speak to a solicitor who specializes in asbestos / mesothelioma claims, as they will be able to advise you on the necessary requirements to pursue a claim.
2. Gather evidence
Your Solicitor will assist you in gathering the necessary evidence to support your claim, such as medical records, employment records, and other documentation that shows the extent of your exposure to asbestos and the impact that it has had on your health.
3. Submit your claim
Once the key information has been collated your solicitor will then submit your claim to the PIAB and to the party responsible for your exposure to asbestos.
If a settlement cannot be reached, your case may need to be taken to court. Your solicitor will represent you and present your case to the judge. It is important to note that the time frame for making an asbestosis claim can vary greatly and may take several months or even years to resolve, therefore it is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible if you believe that you have a claim.
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 PIAB 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
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 LLP 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. Contact Rose Sweeney or Philip Treacy by email or FREE phone us on 1800 844 104 to see how we can help you in relation to your injury or accident in the workplace.
Coleman Legal LLP
84 Talbot Street, Dublin 1
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