Asbestos-related illnesses cost governments, employers, and asbestos companies many millions in compensation payouts annually. In the USA, the average settlement in cases where a claimant developed mesothelioma due to exposure to asbestos in the work environment is between $1 million and $1.4 million. Recently, the BBC reported that the British government has paid out more than £40m in compensation between 2011 and 2021 to the families of people employed in Belfast’s shipbuilding industry. In Ireland, the family of a man who died following the diagnosis of terminal malignant mesothelioma, caused by exposure to asbestos whilst working for the ESB, settled a high court action with the energy company for more than €370,000.
The message is clear from these examples: if you or a member of your family have been diagnosed with mesothelioma linked to exposure to asbestos in the workplace, you are entitled to compensation. But how do you go about bringing a workplace mesothelioma claim in Ireland? The answer to this, and other common questions we are asked on this topic, are documented below.
What is mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that develops in the lining of certain tissues, such as the lungs (pleural mesothelioma) or the abdomen (peritoneal mesothelioma). The main cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos, with up to 80% of all cases associated to this risk factor. Diagnosis of mesothelioma can take from 20 to 60 years following initial exposure to asbestos.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for mesothelioma and, following diagnosis, the person who developed the disease may only have a short time to live.
What types of mesothelioma are caused by exposure to asbestos?
All three of the main types of mesothelioma have been linked to asbestos exposure. Pleural mesothelioma is the most frequently contracted variant and is caused by inhaling asbestos fibres into the lungs. Peritoneal mesothelioma is a less common variant that occurs when asbestos fibres become lodged in the abdomen after being ingested or inhaled. Pericardial mesothelioma is an extremely rare form of the disease affecting the lining of the heart, called the pericardium. Studies have also linked this rare version to asbestos exposure.
Who is most at risk of developing mesothelioma?
Any workers who have been placed in an environment where they were exposed to asbestos are at risk of developing mesothelioma. High-risk categories of workers include those performing manual labour tasks in industries such as construction, mining, shipbuilding, and insulation. High-risk job roles include boilermakers, laggers, electricians, joiners, carpenters, builders, mechanics, pipe fitters, and plumbers.
What are the symptoms of mesothelioma?
Symptoms of pleural mesothelioma include shortness of breath, chest pain, high temperature and sweating, a persistent cough, fatigue, swollen or clubbed fingertips, a loss of appetite and unexplained weight loss. Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma include tummy pain or swelling around the abdomen, feeling or being sick, diarrhoea or constipation, loss of appetite and unexplained weight loss.
What treatments are available for mesothelioma?
As there is no cure for mesothelioma and diagnosis is usually at a late stage, treatment is usually focused on controlling the symptoms, making the patient as comfortable as possible, and prolonging the patient’s life for as long as possible. This is known as palliative or supportive care. Treatments may include immunotherapy, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and, in some circumstances, surgery.
How do I start the process of bringing a mesothelioma compensation claim?
If you, or a member of your family, has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, and you believe the cause to be exposure to asbestos in the work environment, then the first thing you should do is speak to a lawyer who specialises in workplace injury cases. The team here at McCarthy + Co have over thirty years of experience in bringing successful personal injury claims, including cases involving exposure to asbestos.
How long do I have to bring a mesothelioma claim?
It’s important to initiate a claim for compensation as soon as possible after being diagnosed with mesothelioma. Under Irish law, the statute of limitations states that proceedings must be issued within 2 years of the injured party’s date of knowledge of having developed the disease. Even though the injured party may have contracted the disease as far back as 60 years ago, the two-year time limit starts from when the claimant became aware of the illness via diagnosis by a healthcare professional.
How does the mesothelioma claims process work in Ireland?
The process starts by assembling evidence, medical reports, expert witness reports, and preparing the paperwork for your application. An experienced personal injury solicitor will be able to guide you through this important initial phase of the process, helping you to obtain all the documents required to prepare and submit your application to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB).
Once the claim has been submitted, PIAB will issue a formal notification of claim to the defendant, or multiple defendants, who will then have 90 days to indicate whether they consent to the assessment of the claim. If they consent, PIAB will proceed to assess the claim. If they do not consent, PIAB will issue an authorisation to allow the claimant to issue court proceedings.
How much compensation can I expect for a mesothelioma claim?
As documented earlier, compensation payouts to workers exposed to asbestos can be substantial and often in the six-figure bracket. Guidelines for compensation awards can be viewed in The Judicial Council’s Personal Injuries Guidelines. The award for general damages will depend on the severity and impact of the disease on the claimant and the claimant’s dependants, such as their wife, husband, and children.
Hiring a mesothelioma lawyer
If you believe you have a case against a former employer who exposed you, or a family member, to asbestos, resulting in a diagnosis of mesothelioma, the next step is to hire a lawyer with experience in bringing these types of cases. Our legal team would be happy to assist you with any questions you might have about your case. Call us on 1800 390 555 and an experienced member of staff will discuss your situation and potential next steps. You can also email email@example.com and we will get back to you as soon as we can.