Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Mesothelioma Compensation Claims Time Bomb

If you work with or around asbestos and aren't properly protected, there is a chance that prolonged exposure will leave you vulnerable to developing mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that is caused by exposure to asbestos. With mesothelioma, malignant cells grow in the mesothelium, which is the protective lining that covers many of the body's most important internal organs. The most common place for this cancer to develop in on the lining of the lungs or on the chest wall, although it can develop elsewhere within the body. Because mesothelioma can be prevented by safety equipment and because it is a work-related illness, compensation claims are a big issue.

The first claim against an asbestos manufacturer was in 1929, although as part of the lawsuit it was agreed to not pursue any further cases. It wasn't until the 1960's that asbestos was officially recognised as the cause of mesothelioma. An article was written in which more than 30 cases of people working with asbestos and suffering from the disease were recorded. Today, many claims are made by employees against employers who have failed to implement strict safety measures, rendering the employer negligent. In the US claims resulting from asbestos lawsuits have now reached into billions of dollars. In the UK claims are less common but the number of lawsuits citing asbestos as the primary cause of mesothelioma is growing steadily.

On the 20 August 2008 Thomas Renfrew of Ardrossan, Ayrshire, was awarded £130,000 in damages for ill health due to exposure to asbestos. He worked as a shipbuilder for 14 years, often coming into contact with asbestos. It was argued in court that Mr Renfrew could live for another 10 years with the disease and that the amount of money rewarded was to make the rest of his life a more pleasant one. The companies that he worked for wanted to pay significantly less because they estimated that he would only live for another 3 years, effectively admitting that his exposure to asbestos had affected his health and predicted life span.

Today, an increasing number of claims are being made due to mesothelioma. One of the reasons for this may be that the symptoms often don't appear until 20 to 50 years after the asbestos exposure. Symptoms include shortness of breath, persistent coughing, chest pains, weight loss, abdominal swelling and a wide range of other problems. In the later stages of the disease tumours develop throughout the body, although usually these tumours are located primarily in the lungs. As the symptoms of mesothelioma are similar to other illnesses, they can often be misdiagnosed. Obviously, as you can see in the case of Mr Renfrew, life expectancy is reduced dramatically.

If you have worked with asbestos in the past and you experience any of these symptoms then you should consult a doctor immediately. You may also wish to contact specialist claims lawyer who has experience with asbestos cases. As you can see from the Renfrew case, claims of asbestos poisoning and the contraction of mesothelioma are taken very seriously indeed. It is important to have a specialist lawyer working for you, as they will understand the legal proceedings that will directly apply to a claim of this nature. They will also be aware of past cases that can have a bearing on your own case.

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