Compensation For Asbestos-Related Disease
The number of people at risk of asbestos-related diseases is far greater than at first feared. It’s not just the workers who directly handled asbestos, but also the many thousands of people who came into contact with it without knowing. Even asbestos workers’ family members could have contracted diseases as the deadly fibres shook off in the home.
The recent focus has been on the James Hardie court case which held the company chiefs accountable for breaching the law when they set up their asbestos compensation fund in 2001.
But now we are discovering asbestos was used more widely in households across Australia than we ever suspected. Hessian bags used to transport asbestos were used as carpet underlay. It is unknown how many homes have this ticking time bomb. It’s also been revealed driveways of thousands of homes were secretly built with asbestos waste.
All this means many people have been exposed to asbestos without ever suspecting it. This is particularly so for home renovators who disturb potentially hidden asbestos when they rip up the carpet or dig up their driveway.
The Dust Diseases Tribunal of NSW says there is no known safe level of exposure to
Asbestos is highly toxic and can cause a range of lung diseases. The most common are Asbestosis, where the lungs are scarred after prolonged exposure to asbestos, and Mesothelioma, a fatal cancer of the pleura (the lining of the lungs), which can occur even after minimal exposure to asbestos.
It can take between 10 and 50 years for symptoms to show. For this reason there is no time limit for victims to sue.
Even so, it’s important to act quickly. From the time of Mesothelioma diagnosis, the victim has, on average, only 12 months to live. The case must be underway before the death of the plaintiff, although general damages can be awarded after this time. The Dust Diseases Tribunal was set up to fast track asbestos claims, with urgent cases sometimes being heard within two weeks, often at the bedside of terminally ill plaintiffs.
You are entitled to make a claim even if you have left the place where you believe exposure occurred, or you’re not sure where it occurred, or if exposure happened many years ago, or even if you developed illness after 3rd party exposure (eg. through washing clothes containing asbestos particles).
A recent landmark court decision to award damages to Margaret Dawson which included covering the cost of childcare has widened the scope for damages.
If you are seeking compensation for an asbestos-related disease, you should get medical information from a doctor and then see a lawyer. Stacks has legal experts who specialise in asbestos litigation.